Delchester Developers, L.P. v. London Grove Twp. Bd. Supervisors, 161 A.3d 1106 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2016)
If at least one ground for denial is based on clear noncompliance with the ordinance, and that noncompliance is an objective, legitimate, and substantive planning issue, appeals of plan denials and preliminary subdivision and land development plans will be denied.
Developer appealed the denial of a preliminary subdivision and land development plan application, asserting the Board of Supervisors (BOS) did not provide specific reasons for denial, in contravention of Section 508(2) of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC). The Commonwealth Court affirmed the trial court’s decision to affirm the BOS denial. The Court held that, if at least one ground for denial is based on clear noncompliance with the ordinance, and that noncompliance is an objective, legitimate, and substantive planning issue, a plan denial will be affirmed. Issues that have been labeled as objective, legitimate, and substantive planning issues are (1) lot area, (2) stormwater requirements and grading requirements necessary for stormwater management calculations, (3) sewage or wastewater disposal requirements, (4) wetlands delineations, (5) highway access, (6) steep cross-section grades at the intersection with a public street, and (7) erosion and sedimentation controls. While Developer objected to some grounds of noncompliance, it did not object to two areas of noncompliance that consisted of nine grounds specific to the groundwater protection district. These nine grounds were sufficient to support the BOS’s denial.
Developer also argued the denial of its application was done in bad faith. The Court found no bad faith in the BOS’s actions because the BOS advised Developer on how to cure the deficiencies in the plan and provided enough time for Developer to act, yet Developer did not modify the plan. The Court noted Developer’s behavior provided an example of an applicant who sought to have ordinances adapted to its plan, instead of adapting the plan to the applicable ordinances.
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