Several polls indicate that housing affordability continues to be a major issue across the nation.

As discussed in past blog posts, the Federal and state and local governments continue pushing for changes in zoning regulations to ensure that more housing units are affordable to more people in more areas.

In support of that goal, several communities, including Pittsburgh, are pursuing an approach called inclusionary zoning to ensure that residential developments include a minimum amount of housing units that are affordable to low- or moderate-income residents. The idea behind inclusionary zoning is to create mixed-income developments and neighborhoods. Municipalities are seeking to achieve inclusionary zoning by implementing either voluntary or mandatory zoning regulations.

Continue Reading Inclusionary Zoning: Carrots Taste Better and Aren’t as Painful as Sticks

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (the “Commission”) recently announced that it is looking for Pennsylvania landowners with stream frontages to enter into conservation easement agreements in exchange for a one-time payment. The Commission is seeking these easements in furtherance of the Voluntary Public Access-Habitat Incentive Program (the “VPA-HIP”), a competitive grant program of the U.S. Department of Agricultural Natural Resources Conservation Service designed to provide funding to state governments for the benefit of public hunting, fishing, and other wildlife-dependent recreation. Portions of Pennsylvania’s VPA-HIP allocated funds are administered by the Commission for the purpose of providing Pennsylvania’s anglers with enhanced public fishing opportunities. Qualifying landowners who enter into a VPA-HIP conservation easement with the Commission will be awarded a one-time payment in consideration for permitting members of the public to access and fish on their properties. The amount of compensation for providing these easements depends on several factors, including (i) the length of the stream frontage that is made available for public access, (ii) the location of the property, and (iii) the fishing quality of the stream.

Continue Reading The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission: Fishing for Landowners to Execute Conservation Easement Agreements

In its recent decision, Appeal of Best Homes DDJ, LLC, 239-40 C.D. 2020 (Dec. 23, 2021), the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court considered, among other issues, whether MS4 fees imposed by the City of Chester Stormwater Authority constituted an impermissible tax. The case involved a challenge by certain rate/fee-payers that the Authority’s “fees” were actually “taxes” because, according to Appellants, the fees were revenue-generating and used for projects unrelated to stormwater management. Holding in favor of the Authority, the Court concluded that the evidence presented by the Appellants was insufficient to meet their burden of proving that the fees were invalid. The Court’s decision is important because it outlines the significant fact evidence required to overturn a stormwater user fee. A full explanation of the Court’s decision, including other legal challenges brought against the Authority, can be found HERE on our State and Local Tax Blog.

The quote above comes from my favorite attraction in Walt Disney World – the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover located in the Magic Kingdom.  Most readers will not know this, but my family and I are Disney World fanatics.  We regularly trek down to Florida to visit the Mouse.  It’s rare for my professional and personal interests to intersect so directly, but when I read this it was – dare I say – magic?

Continue Reading “Paging Mr. Morrow – Mr. Tom Morrow.” Is a Disney Community Coming to Your Municipality Soon?

Pennsylvania recently created the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority (the “Authority”) to oversee broadband deployment to unserved and underserved areas in Pennsylvania and to authorize grant awards from the $100 million allocated to Pennsylvania by the Federal government.  The federal infrastructure bill (the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act), signed into law by President Biden in November 2021, is the source of the federal funds.  The Authority – located in the Department of Community and Economic Development – will serve as the single point of contact for entities desiring to deploy broadband in the Commonwealth.

Continue Reading Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority to Oversee Disbursement of $100 Million in Federal Infrastructure Funds

Kicking off 2022, we can celebrate a win for builders and developers with the enactment of PA Senate Bill 208, which was signed into law by Governor Wolf on December 22, 2021.

SB 208 made numerous changes to Section 509 of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (the “MPC”), which deals with posting financial security to guarantee completion of the public improvements depicted on a plat. Pursuant to Section 509, a municipality can require a developer to post financial security (usually in the form of a letter of credit or a bond) in an amount equal to 110% of the cost of the public improvements shown on the plan before releasing it for recording. These bonded improvements typically include roads, stormwater and drainage facilities, open space improvements, and required buffer landscaping.

Continue Reading Amendments to the MPC Clarify Municipal Bonding Requirements

Thank you for continuing to follow our Land Use Blog into 2022. Below are the top 5 most viewed posts of 2021. Enjoy!

TOP 5 POSTS OF 2021

  1. Kandice Hull – PennDOT’s Capital Beltway Project Is Moving Forward
  2. Jon Andrews – More Sunshine? What Do Changes to the Sunshine Act Mean to Developers?
  3. Jon Andrews – Here Comes the Sun…Solar Development in Pennsylvania
  4. Rachel Rowe – Expanding Your Business may Implicate Pennsylvania’s Doctrine of Natural Expansion
  5. Zachary Einsig – Cryptocurrencies & Blockchain: Implications for Commercial Real Estate

If you enjoyed these posts or others, please take a moment to click “Subscribe” to the right so that you do not miss any of our posts in 2022!

Latrobe. As a kid growing up in Western PA, it has always meant Steelers’ preseason football camp. In my 20s, “33” and Rolling Rock’s green pony bottles – “from the glass lined tanks of Old Latrobe” – stole the limelight. Although the Steelers are still in Latrobe, Anheuser-Busch moved production of the classic pale ale in green bottles to New Jersey years ago. But it seems as if “green” might again be the second color of Latrobe.

Continue Reading Latrobe, PA: From Green Bottles to Green Charging Stations

When purchasing, selling, or developing real estate, business owners should be attentive to the market value of their property. Put simply, market value is “the price a purchaser, who is willing, but not obliged to buy, would pay an owner, willing, but not obliged to sell, taking into consideration all uses to which the property is adapted and might in reason be applied.” Not only does market value drive transactions, but valuations are also integral for those seeking a mortgage. If the property is being used as collateral, market value will determine the amount of credit given to an individual. Further, market value factors into the amount of property tax charged on a portion of property.

Pennsylvania appraisers use three methods to arrive at a property’s market value: 1) the Sales Comparison Approach (SCA); 2) the Cost Approach Method (CAM); and 3) the Income Approach (IA). No one method is an exact science, and there are benefits and detriments to each based on the differing characteristics of your property.

Continue Reading What’s Your Property Worth? How Pennsylvania Appraisers Calculate the Market Value of Real Estate

Fans of the series “The Office” may remember the episode “Money” which shows Jim and Pam’s first visit to Schrute Farm, a working beet farm fictionally set in northern Pennsylvania.  Dwight describes how Schrute Farm is open to visitors as it offers certain on-farm activities and experiences, including beet wine making, manure spreading, tours of the fields and barns, Cousin Mose’s table making demonstration, overnight stays in one of the three themed rooms (i.e., America, Irrigation and Nighttime), and of course, use of the outhouse. Dwight goes on to explain that “Agritourism is a lot more than a bed and breakfast. It consists of tourists coming to a farm. Showing them around. Giving them a bed. Giving them breakfast.”

Continue Reading Schrute Farm and PA’s Agritourism Protection Act