On March 22, 2017, we blogged about the importance of the United States Supreme Court’s looming decision in Murr v. Wisconsin – a regulatory takings case that was poised to resolve a key question long left unanswered by the Court’s takings jurisprudence: how do you define the relevant parcel in determining a regulation’s impact on “the parcel as a whole?” On June 23, 2017, the Court issued its ruling, and in a 5-3 decision answered definitively that it depends. Sometimes a regulation may go so far as to effect a “taking” of one’s property. In determining when a regulation has gone so far, the Court has previously instructed that reviewing courts must consider the regulation’s interference with property rights “in the parcel as a whole.” But the precise boundaries of “the parcel” are not always clear and, in many cases, may prove to be dispositive of whether there was a taking at all. The Court described the problem in Keystone Bituminous Coal Assn. v. DeBenedictis, explaining that because the regulatory takings analysis requires a comparison between the value taken from the property to the value which remains, “one of the critical questions is determining how to define the unit of property whose...
What Parcel? SCOTUS Hears Arguments in Case Poised to Clarify the Court’s Regulatory Takings Jurisprudence
The Supreme Court of the United States entertained arguments on Monday, March 20, 2017 in a case likely to fortify its Fifth Amendment regulatory takings jurisprudence. The case, Murr v. Wisconsin, is on appeal from Wisconsin’s high court and, when decided, should answer a question left open by the Court’s 1978 ruling in Penn Central Transportation Company v. City of New York. In Penn Central, the Court instructed that in determining whether a regulation has gone far enough to constitute a taking of private property, courts should not limit their analysis to the regulation’s effect on some discrete segment or portion of the subject property, but should instead consider the regulation’s interference with property rights “in the parcel as a whole.” The question of how reviewing courts should define that parcel, however, has gone unanswered for decades. Enter the Murr children, whose parents purchased two adjacent tracts of land along the St. Croix River in the early 1960s. The Murr parents built a cabin on the first lot and maintained title to it in the name of their business. The second lot, purchased afterwards, was kept in their name and remained largely undeveloped. In 1976, a county ordinance was passed establishing new minimum...
The revised Philadelphia Zoning Code will be effective before your Labor Day barbeque is over, and there is a smorgasbord of changes to digest. For instance, let’s take “notice,” a contentious issue the new Code seeks to resolve with procedural safeguards and requirements. A frequent area of conflict under the current (soon to be former) Code centered on interactions between developers and neighbors during the zoning/use approval process. Many times, a developer would complain that it did not know which neighborhood civic association represented a particular area, or that a civic association’s meeting schedule resulted in delays in the zoning hearing and approval process. Conversely, neighbors would charge that they were not given adequate notice of applications filed or permits issued with enough lead time to have meaningful input into the process. The revised Code seeks to balance the property owner/developer’s interest in certainty, both in terms of time required to complete the application process and identification of potentially interested parties, against the neighbors’ need for notice of the application and an opportunity to participate.
Ready or not, the revised Philadelphia Zoning Code becomes effective on August 22, 2012. This massive and comprehensive overhaul of the Zoning Code, its first since 1962, required over four years to complete. It was coordinated by the thirty-one member Philadelphia Zoning Code Commission, and is the culmination of countless hours of work by the ZCC, including scores of regular meetings, informational meetings, community meetings, meetings with stakeholder groups and public hearings. The changes from the current Code are many and significant, with important modifications to base and overlay zoning districts, use categories, area and bulk requirements, floor area ratio calculations, parking standards and, perhaps most meaningful, the administrative process. We will be examining these and other major revisions in this blog on a regular basis, both as the Code’s implementation date approaches as well as after it is in effect.
On Monday December 6, 2010, New Jersey’s first black bear hunt in five years opened. It lasted for six days, coinciding with the annual deer hunt. An attempt to enjoin the hunt filed by Animal Protection League of New Jersey, the Bear Education and Resource Group and two individuals was rejected on Friday by the New Jersey Appellate Division in a per curiam decision that found that the appellants failed to meet the legal requisites for a stay. An emergent application to the New Jersey Supreme Court on Saturday also was unsuccessful.
Neither Presence Nor Participation at Township Proceedings Required in Order to Appeal Subdivision/ Land Development Approval in Pennsylvania
In what appears to be a case of first impression in Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania found that a party has standing to appeal a township’s grant of subdivision/land development approval even if that party was not present at, or did not participate in, the township proceedings on the application. This decision, filed on October 28, 2010, is in sharp contrast to established Pennsylvania case law concerning the standing of a party to appeal the decision of the Zoning Hearing Board, where that party’s appearance or objection at the Zoning Hearing Board level is a prerequisite to its ability to appeal.
New York Subdivision Law Amended to Allow Planning Boards Greater Flexibility in Granting Extensions
Due to the current economic climate and project financing difficulties, Section 276(7)(c) of the New York Town Law was recently amended to allow planning boards greater flexibility in extending subdivision approval beyond the two ninety (90) day extensions previously allowed. Town Law 276(7)(c) provides that a conditional final subdivision plat expires 180 days following the date of the resolution of approval unless all conditions are satisfied. It further authorizes planning boards to grant two extensions, having a duration of ninety (90) days each, after expiration of the original 180-day timeframe for satisfaction of conditions of approval.
Last week, Governor Rendell signed the Permit Extension Act (“Act”) into law as part of the approval of the budget, breathing life into expired and expiring permits and the development projects they represent. The Act, found at pages 99-110 of the budget bill, extends the expiration date of many governmental approvals, permits and agreements, including building permits and construction permits, relating to construction and development projects.