PRINTER'S NO. 359

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA


HOUSE BILL

No. 318 Session of 2007


        INTRODUCED BY O'NEILL, BOYD, CALTAGIRONE, COHEN, CREIGHTON,
           DALEY, GRUCELA, HENNESSEY, KOTIK, MELIO, PETRI, SCAVELLO,
           SCHRODER AND STERN, FEBRUARY 7, 2007

        REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT, FEBRUARY 7, 2007

                                     AN ACT

     1  Authorizing municipalities to acquire highway corridor
     2     conservation easements; and providing for highway corridor
     3     overlay zoning and for outdoor advertising permits.

     4     The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
     5  hereby enacts as follows:
     6  Section 1.  Short title.
     7     This act shall be known and may be cited as the Highway
     8  Corridor Enhancement Act.
     9  Section 2.  Purpose.
    10     The purpose of this act is:
    11         (1)  To provide municipalities with alternative means to
    12     retain or protect, for the public and economic benefit, the
    13     natural, historical, architectural, archeological, cultural,
    14     scenic or open space values of real property along public
    15     highway corridors.
    16         (2)  To better enable municipalities to control the
    17     erection and maintenance of outdoor advertising devices in
    18     areas along the highways within this Commonwealth in order:

     1             (i)  To assure the reasonable, orderly and effective
     2         display of outdoor advertising while protecting the
     3         public investment in the Federal, State and local
     4         highways.
     5             (ii)  To promote the welfare, convenience and
     6         recreational value of public travel.
     7             (iii)  To preserve natural beauty.
     8  Section 3.  Definitions.
     9     The following words and phrases when used in this act shall
    10  have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
    11  context clearly indicates otherwise:
    12     "Comprehensive plan."  A municipal, multimunicipal or county
    13  comprehensive plan as delineated in the act of July 31, 1968
    14  (P.L.805, No.247), known as the Pennsylvania Municipalities
    15  Planning Code.
    16     "Department."  The Department of Transportation of the
    17  Commonwealth.
    18     "Highway."  A portion of right-of-way that is open to the use
    19  of the public for purposes of vehicular travel. The term does
    20  not include an unimproved right-of-way, private road or drive.
    21     "Highway corridor conservation easement."  A nonpossessory
    22  interest in real property, whether appurtenant or in gross,
    23  imposing limitations or affirmative obligations, the purposes of
    24  which may include, but are not limited to:
    25         (1)  retaining or protecting for the public and economic
    26     benefit the natural, scenic or open space values of real
    27     property adjacent to or within view of highways;
    28         (2)  assuring its availability for agricultural, forest,
    29     recreational or open space use;
    30         (3)  protecting, conserving or managing the use of
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     1     natural resources;
     2         (4)  protecting wildlife;
     3         (5)  maintaining or enhancing land, air or water quality
     4     or preserving the historical, architectural, archaeological
     5     or cultural aspects of real property adjacent to, or within
     6     view of, highways. Such interest may impose limitations on
     7     the use of the property for outdoor advertising devices for
     8     such purposes.
     9     "Land trust."  A charitable corporation, charitable
    10  association or charitable trust that is registered with the
    11  Bureau of Charitable Organizations of the Department of State
    12  and is exempt from taxation pursuant to section 501(c)(3) of the
    13  Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (Public Law 99-514, 26 U.S.C. §
    14  501(c)(3)) or other Federal or Commonwealth statutes or
    15  regulations, the purposes or powers of which include:
    16         (1)  retaining or protecting the natural, scenic,
    17     agricultural or open space values of real property;
    18         (2)  assuring the availability of real property for
    19     agricultural, forest, recreational or open space use;
    20         (3)  protecting, conserving or managing the use of
    21     natural resources;
    22         (4)  protecting wildlife;
    23         (5)  maintaining or enhancing land, air or water quality;
    24     or
    25         (6)  preserving the historical, architectural,
    26     archaeological or cultural aspects of real property.
    27     "Municipality."  Either of the following:
    28         (1)  a municipal corporation as defined in 1 Pa.C.S. §
    29     1991 (relating to definitions) or any similar general purpose
    30     unit of local government; or
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     1         (2)  a unit created by joint action of two or more
     2     municipalities that is authorized to be created by the
     3     General Assembly, including cooperation by two or more
     4     municipalities in accordance with 53 Pa.C.S. Ch. 23 Subch. A
     5     (relating to intergovernmental cooperation).
     6     "Outdoor advertising device."  An outdoor sign, display,
     7  light, figure, painting, drawing, message, plaque, poster,
     8  billboard or other object that is designed, intended or used to
     9  advertise or inform. The term does not include:
    10         (1)  An official sign and notice that is required or
    11     authorized by law and conforms to the national standards
    12     promulgated by the Secretary of Transportation of the United
    13     States pursuant to 23 U.S.C. § 131 (relating to control of
    14     outdoor advertising).
    15         (2)  An outdoor advertising device that advertises the
    16     sale or lease of the real property on which it is located.
    17         (3)  An outdoor advertising device that advertises an
    18     activity conducted on the property on which it is located.
    19         (4)  A directional sign including, but not limited to, a
    20     sign pertaining to natural wonders, scenic and historical
    21     attractions and other points of interest to the traveling
    22     public that conforms to the national standards promulgated by
    23     the Secretary of Transportation of the United States pursuant
    24     to 23 U.S.C. § 131 (relating to control of outdoor
    25     advertising).
    26         (5)  An outdoor advertising device in the specific
    27     interest of the traveling public that is authorized to be
    28     erected or maintained by the Secretary of Transportation of
    29     the Commonwealth and is designed to give information in the
    30     interest of the traveling public.
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     1     "Right-of-way."  The entire area of land contiguous with and
     2  including a highway, that either:
     3         (1)  the Department of Transportation or a municipality
     4     has acquired for highway purposes; or
     5         (2)  the Department of Transportation or a municipality
     6     otherwise has lawful rights of access, occupation,
     7     construction and maintenance for highway purposes.
     8     "Secretary."  The Secretary of Transportation of the
     9  Commonwealth.
    10  Section 4.  Highway corridor conservation easements.
    11     (a)  Authorization.--In accordance with the act of June 22,
    12  2001 (P.L.390, No.29), known as the Conservation and
    13  Preservation Easements Act, a land trust or municipality may
    14  acquire by purchase, contract, gift or devise a highway corridor
    15  conservation easement.
    16     (b)  Scope.--A highway corridor conservation easement may
    17  encompass an entire fee simple interest in a parcel or real
    18  property or any portion thereof or an estate therein.
    19     (c)  Assessment.--
    20         (1)  A highway corridor conservation easement interest
    21     acquired by a municipality or a land trust under this act
    22     shall be held for public purpose and shall be exempt from
    23     taxation.
    24         (2)  The assessment of a private interest in land subject
    25     to a highway conservation easement interest under this act
    26     shall reflect any change in market value of the property that
    27     may result from the acquisition of a conservation easement
    28     interest by a municipality or a land trust.
    29     (d)  Limitations and planning requirements.--
    30         (1)  (i)  A municipality may not acquire a highway
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     1         corridor conservation easement unless the real property
     2         has been designated for any of the purposes of such an
     3         easement in a park, recreation and open space plan, or
     4         its equivalent, or a comprehensive plan recommended by
     5         the planning commission of the municipality in which the
     6         real property is located and adopted by the governing
     7         body of that municipality.
     8             (ii)  Where the municipality in which the real
     9         property to be acquired is located has no planning
    10         commission, the municipality may not acquire a highway
    11         corridor conservation easement unless the real property
    12         has been designated for any of the purposes of such
    13         easement in a park, recreation and open space plan, or
    14         its equivalent, or a comprehensive plan approved by the
    15         planning commission of the county in which the real
    16         property is located and adopted by the governing body of
    17         the municipality wherein the real property is located.
    18         (2)  The use of a highway corridor conservation easement
    19     may not serve a de facto exclusionary purpose if the highway
    20     corridor conservation easement is acquired or held by a
    21     municipality.
    22     (e)  Construction.--Nothing contained in this section shall
    23  be construed as altering, modifying or superseding either the
    24  method of creating an agricultural conservation easement or the
    25  rights, duties, powers and obligations appurtenant to such
    26  easements under the provisions of the act of December 19, 1974
    27  (P.L.973, No.319), known as the Pennsylvania Farmland and Forest
    28  Land Assessment Act of 1974, the act of June 30, 1981 (P.L.128,
    29  No.43), known as the Agricultural Area Security Law, and
    30  preservation of coal rights as provided in section 9 of the
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     1  Conservation and Preservation Easements Act.
     2  Section 5.  Highway corridor overlay zoning.
     3     (a)  Establishment of highway corridor overlay districts.--
     4  Pursuant to the act of July 31, 1968 (P.L.805, No.247), known as
     5  the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, a municipality
     6  may establish a highway corridor overlay district within 660
     7  feet of the nearest edge of the right-of-way of any highway or
     8  portion of a highway within the municipality in order to further
     9  promote the purposes of this act. The zoning ordinance or
    10  amendment thereto establishing the highway corridor overlay
    11  district may include, but shall not be limited to, any of the
    12  following:
    13         (1)  Restrictions of commercial or industrial use or
    14     development of property within the district, including
    15     limitations on the use of property for outdoor advertising
    16     devices.
    17         (2)  (i)  Restrictions on destruction, damage,
    18         disturbance or removal of vegetation within the district
    19         for a purpose other than for agriculture, farming,
    20         forestry or parks and recreation.
    21             (ii)  Nothing contained in this paragraph shall be
    22         construed as altering, modifying or superseding the
    23         provisions of the act of December 20, 1983 (P.L.293,
    24         No.79), known as the Highway Vegetation Control Act.
    25         (3)  Provisions for the abandonment and removal of any
    26     lawful use of property deemed nonconforming by the enactment
    27     of the zoning ordinance or amendment establishing the
    28     district.
    29     (b)  Consent required for removal of lawful use.--Any lawful
    30  use of property deemed nonconforming by the establishment of a
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     1  highway corridor overlay district and not abandoned may not be
     2  removed without the consent of the owner thereof unless just
     3  compensation is paid in accordance with law.
     4     (c)  Limitation.--The enactment or enforcement of a zoning
     5  ordinance or amendment establishing a highway corridor overlay
     6  district may not prohibit an otherwise lawful use of property
     7  from occurring anywhere within the municipality.
     8     (d)  Plans required.--
     9         (1)  Highway corridor overlay zoning shall be designated
    10     in a park, recreation and open space plan, or its equivalent,
    11     or a comprehensive plan recommended by the planning
    12     commission of the municipality in which the real property is
    13     located and adopted by the governing body of that
    14     municipality.
    15         (2)  Where the municipality in which highway corridor
    16     overlay zoning is proposed has no planning commission, a
    17     municipality may not establish a highway corridor overlay
    18     district unless it has been designated in a park, recreation
    19     and open space plan, or its equivalent, or a comprehensive
    20     plan approved by the planning commission of the county in
    21     which the real property is located and adopted by the
    22     governing body of the municipality wherein the real property
    23     is located.
    24     (e)  Definitions.--For purposes of this section, the term
    25  "commercial or industrial use or development of property" does
    26  not include:
    27         (1)  Agricultural, forestry, grazing, farming and related
    28     activities, including, but not limited to, wayside fresh
    29     produce stands for which at least 50% of the commodities sold
    30     are produced on the property.
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     1         (2)  "Official signs and notices," "public utility signs"
     2     and "public service signs," as defined in the act of December
     3     15, 1971 (P.L.596, No.160), known as the Outdoor Advertising
     4     Control Act of 1971, and the regulations promulgated under
     5     that act.
     6  Section 6.  Outdoor advertising permits.
     7     (a)  Ordinances authorized.--Subject to the provisions of
     8  subsection (b), a municipality may, by ordinance, provide for
     9  permitting of outdoor advertising devices proposed, constructed
    10  or maintained within the limits of the municipality in order to
    11  promote the purposes of this act.
    12     (b)  Contents of ordinance.--Any ordinance enacted under the
    13  authority of this section shall include, but not be limited to,
    14  any of the following:
    15         (1)  (i)  In a municipality without zoning, reasonable,
    16         objective standards for the construction, location, size,
    17         spacing, lighting and maintenance of outdoor advertising
    18         in accordance with the act of December 15, 1971 (P.L.596,
    19         No.160), known as the Outdoor Advertising Control Act of
    20         1971, and the regulations promulgated thereunder.
    21             (ii)  Issuance, continuation or renewal of any permit
    22         shall be conditioned upon compliance with such standards.
    23         The ordinance shall provide that any outdoor advertising
    24         device in violation of the Outdoor Advertising Control
    25         Act of 1971 is in violation of the ordinance and subject
    26         to penalty or removal.
    27             (iii)  Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed
    28         to prohibit a municipality from establishing reasonable,
    29         objective standards that exceed those of this act.
    30         (2)  In a municipality with zoning, provisions
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     1     conditioning the issuance, continuation or renewal of a
     2     permit in compliance with all applicable ordinances enacted
     3     pursuant to the act of July 31, 1968 (P.L.805, No.247), known
     4     as the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.
     5         (3)  (i)  Provisions for the submission and prompt review
     6         of an application for a permit that may require the
     7         applicant to provide drawings, design specifications,
     8         leases or other information relevant to the determination
     9         that the sign is in compliance with all applicable
    10         municipal ordinances.
    11             (ii)  In no event shall the review of a permit
    12         application exceed 60 days.
    13             (iii)  The decision to issue, renew or deny a permit
    14         shall be in writing and, in a case where a permit is
    15         denied, shall recite the appropriate sections of any
    16         ordinance upon which such denial is based.
    17         (4)  (i)  Provisions for the designation of a sign
    18         administrator whose duties shall include, but not be
    19         limited to, the issuance of permits and written decisions
    20         as required by this section and the enforcement of any
    21         ordinance enacted under this section.
    22             (ii)  The sign administrator shall conduct
    23         inspections, issue citations and notices and initiate any
    24         appropriate action in accordance with law in instances of
    25         noncompliance.
    26             (iii)  The sign administrator may not be a member of
    27         the governing body of the municipality.
    28         (5)  (i)  Provisions for an appeal to the governing body
    29         of the municipality for review of a decision of the sign
    30         administrator in accordance with the provisions of 2
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     1         Pa.C.S. Ch. 5 Subch. B (relating to practice and
     2         procedure of local agencies) and Ch. 7 Subch. B (relating
     3         to judicial review of local agency action).
     4             (ii)  Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to
     5         limit the right of any party to further appeal to the
     6         court of common pleas of the county.
     7         (6)  Provisions for reasonable, annual permit fees.
     8         (7)  Provisions for the revocation of a permit, removal
     9     of an abandoned sign and the impositions of fines and
    10     penalties not to exceed $1,000 per violation. The ordinance
    11     may provide that a separate offense shall arise for each day
    12     or portion thereof in which a violation is found to exist or
    13     for each section of the ordinance that is found to have been
    14     violated.
    15     (c)  Prohibited provisions.--No ordinance enacted pursuant to
    16  this section may:
    17         (1)  Regulate the content or viewpoint of an outdoor
    18     advertising device.
    19         (2)  Be administered or applied in such a manner as to
    20     totally prohibit outdoor advertising devices within the
    21     municipality.
    22         (3)  Be administered or applied to impair contracts
    23     existing on the effective date of the ordinance.
    24  Section 7.  Other laws.
    25     The powers and duties granted to a municipality under this
    26  act shall be considered supplemental to any other municipal
    27  power and shall not be interpreted as preempted or superseded by
    28  any other act unless expressly so provided.
    29  Section 8.  Effective date.
    30     This act shall take effect in 60 days.
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