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?
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.
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.
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
- Kandice Hull – PennDOT’s Capital Beltway Project Is Moving Forward
- Jon Andrews – More Sunshine? What Do Changes to the Sunshine Act Mean to Developers?
- Jon Andrews – Here Comes the Sun…Solar Development in Pennsylvania
- Rachel Rowe – Expanding Your Business may Implicate Pennsylvania’s Doctrine of Natural Expansion
- 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.