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

Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania General Assembly enacted the Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act (Act 50) which took effect on August 29, 2021.  Act 50 addresses the deployment of small wireless facilities, including new utility poles to support the facilities, in the public rights-of-way.  The term “small wireless facility” is defined in Act 50 (generally each antenna can’t be more than three cubic feet in volume) and such facilities are permitted by right anywhere in a municipality with the exception of areas where the municipality requires all cable and utility facilities to be located underground.  However, the municipality must permit an applicant to seek a waiver from the underground requirement for the installation of a new utility pole to support a facility.

Continue Reading Small Wireless Facilities in the Public Rights-of-Way: New State Regulations Impact Municipalities

Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology—contemporary buzzwords dominating conversations in the modern era. But what exactly comes to mind when these buzzwords are referenced? Alternative currency? Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin? Investment? Hedging? Disruption? While these associative terms are likely commonplace, they only begin to scratch the surface with respect to the breadth of the topic. Ultimately, a deep dive into the cryptocurrency and blockchain world presents wide-ranging implications that have the potential to touch nearly all aspects of our world. Such implications stretch from the practical minutia of how the SEC defines a security to the theoretical vulnerabilities of the dollar’s reserve currency status.

This blog post is the first entry in a series of posts that will seek to shed light on the crypto/blockchain buzzwords, particularly in relation to the legal ramifications touching commercial real estate.

Continue Reading Cryptocurrencies & Blockchain: Implications for Commercial Real Estate

The Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation (“CAEDC”) is hosting a series of roundtable discussions focused on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on various industries across the Cumberland Valley. Panelists representing affected industries will discuss, among other things, the pandemic’s effect on production, delivery, labor, material, logistics, childcare and health issues.

The series, labeled “Come Back to Cumberland Valley: Economy Series”, kicked off on August 25, 2021 with a construction Webinar analyzing the pandemic’s impacts on the industry from March 2020 to the present. The panelists, which comprised of professionals of varying backgrounds and expertise, including real estate attorney Jon Andrews of McNees Wallace & Nurick, also discussed strategies for effectively navigating the next 18 months in a post-COVID climate.

Continue Reading Come Back to Cumberland Valley: Economy Series

Problem:  A clean, renewable energy (CRE) developer is proposing to construct a solar energy project on land within a rural agricultural area of our community. We have government goals and initiatives promoting the reduction of carbon footprints by accelerating the pace of replacing dependence on fossil fuels with CRE sources (e.g., solar, wind). At the same time, similar goals and initiatives suggest supporting farmers and preserving more farmland. We think that both are important. Do we create a win-lose scenario by supporting one and sacrificing the other?

Answer: You may not have to choose.
Continue Reading Agrivolatics: Two for One – Harvesting Crops and Solar

The Commonwealth Court recently found that a Stroud Township ordinance prohibiting the unauthorized discharge of firearms in the Township did not pass constitutional muster.  The constitutionality of the ordinance was challenged by a Township resident who had submitted a permit application for a proposed shooting range on his property that was denied by the Township zoning officer.  The resident’s property was located in the Township’s R-1 Low Density Residential Zoning District.  The ordinance in question permitted the discharging of firearms at shooting ranges but only at locations where the use is permitted by the Township’s zoning ordinance.  The zoning ordinance permits shooting ranges in two of the
Continue Reading Shooting Ranges Are Protected Under the Second Amendment

As mentioned before in this blog, an increasing number of state and local governments are revising plans and zoning regulations to help overcome the exclusionary effects of single-family only zoning.  The purpose of these initiatives is to provide additional housing opportunities that are affordable to more people in more areas.  Zoning revisions may include permitting multiple dwelling uses by right in zoning districts that normally are less dense.  Examples of uses include:  (i) garage apartments or accessory dwelling units on
Continue Reading Uncle Sam Giving You More Chances to Love More New Neighbors?

As mentioned before on this blog, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (“PennDOT”) has a plan in place to improve Harrisburg’s Beltway.  The I-83 Master Plan is the agency’s effort to address worsening road conditions, high traffic volumes, and safety along the I-83 corridor through Harrisburg.  More details about the plan can be found here:  I83 Capital Beltway- Home (i-83beltway.com).

The project, like many other initiatives, has been delayed by the pandemic, but PennDOT is now moving forward with its plans to complete Section II and Section III of the Master Plan.   The agency has begun its efforts to acquire the land it needs to expand the highway.  PennDOT needs to
Continue Reading PennDOT’s Capital Beltway Project Is Moving Forward

Since the 1920s, a large sign has overlooked downtown Pittsburgh from nearby Mount Washington.  Mount Washington is well known for its funiculars, the Monongahela Incline and the Duquesne Incline.  Recently, it has also been known for the controversial sign which has been at the center of an ongoing dispute between the City of Pittsburgh and Lamar, the owner of the sign.  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in Lamar Advantage GP Company, LLC v. City of Pittsburgh Zoning Board of Adjustment, et al., recently resolved the dispute in favor of Lamar.

The sign at issue is a large concrete structure.  From the 1930s to 2016, the larger concrete sign structure supported a smaller electronic display.  In 2014, Lamar proposed
Continue Reading Supreme Court: Yinz Can Keep Your Sign

Monetization is the process of converting assets into economic value. Looking for more options to generate revenue, municipalities have begun using solar projects to help monetize formerly “passive” or unused public assets, such as vacant land, rooftops, parking lots and storm basins. There is a tremendous upside for such development, and in recent years potential liabilities have shifted from municipalities to the solar companies.

Today’s common model for a municipal solar development is similar to a public-private partnership. The municipality provides the land or space for the project, and the solar company
Continue Reading Monetizing “Passive” Public Assets with Solar Projects