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

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

Business owners are constantly looking for ways to remain competitive and take advantage of trade opportunities. Often, this means businesses will incorporate new operations or undergo expansion to generate supplemental sources of income. Before renovating or adding onto facilities to accommodate expanded operations, however, business owners should confirm that such an expansion is permitted under local zoning regulations.

In Pennsylvania, almost every municipality maintains its own zoning ordinance that regulates how a property in a specific zone can be used. While a business may begin its operations when a use is expressly permitted, changes in zoning ordinances can render the use nonconforming. In that case, if a business was legally established at its present location, the use will be permitted to continue, despite now being prohibited, because it is a lawfully pre-existing nonconformity (“nonconforming use”).

Pennsylvania law provides certain protections to nonconforming uses. One such protection is the right to expand, in accordance with the court-created natural expansion doctrine. In sum, the doctrine permits a landowner to expand a nonconforming use despite its nonconforming status. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has held that this right is not unlimited, however, and municipalities may impose reasonable restrictions on the expansion of a nonconforming use.

Continue Reading Expanding Your Business may Implicate Pennsylvania’s Doctrine of Natural Expansion

Manager vacancies are increasingly common, with many long-term managers contemplating retirement and others taking advantage of a very hot labor market.  With tight budgets and lean staffing, most municipalities do not have the luxury of grooming a clear heir apparent.  But there are some things you can do now to prepare, and there are certainly best practices that you can consider if your municipal or authority manager position becomes vacant.
Continue Reading Webinar: Manager Succession Planning

Pennsylvania counties and municipalities could see a windfall from the nearly $14 billion in aid that will be delivered to the Commonwealth through the recently passed American Rescue Plan Act (“Rescue Act”).  While it will be welcome financial relief, counties and local governments should be aware of the rules and regulations regarding how those funds should be spent.  In fact, the Rescue Act rules and requirements will present similar challenges to the CARES Act requirements for local governments.

Last year, Zelenkofske Axelrod (“ZA”) helped nearly half of the state’s 67 counties navigate the regulatory issues related to the federal CARES Act financial relief package.
Continue Reading With Great Funding Comes Great Responsibility: Assisting Municipalities with American Rescue Plan Compliance

McNees is hosting a Municipal Leader Roundtable to discuss ideas about how governments can address budget shortfalls expected to occur as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The discussion will include an overview and update regarding options available to municipalities, and the efforts of the state’s elected officials to assist municipalities facing significant budgetary constraints.

In an earlier blog post, we discussed how the Commonwealth Court reversed the decision by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (“PUC”) to no longer issue certificates of public convenience to neutral host distributed antenna system (“DAS”) network operators.  Having a certificate of public convenience is important to a DAS network operator since it affords the operator access to public rights-of-way and limits the applicability of municipal regulation to DAS networks.  The Commonwealth Court had determined that the PUC’s new interpretation of the statutory language was not entitled to much deference and was not supported by the statutory language, precedent or federal law.  The PUC appealed and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently affirmed the Commonwealth Court’s decision.

The Court first held that the Commonwealth Court was
Continue Reading Are Distributed Antenna Networks Public Utilities? The Pennsylvania Supreme Court Has Decided

With protestors afoot outside the Capitol building in Harrisburg, Governor Wolf provided additional information on the Commonwealth’s plans to begin reopening businesses, including construction sites, within Pennsylvania.  Per the Governor, “limited construction” activities will be permitted to resume on May 8, to the extent such activities can occur in compliance with job site regulations the