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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: February 19, 2015 03:57 PM
From: Senator Patrick M. Browne
To: All Senate members
Subject: Amendments to the Uniform Planned Community Act and Uniform Condominium Act to address Shaffer v. Zoning Hearing Board of Chanceford Township Supreme Court Decision conflict
 
In the near future, I intend to re-introduce two pieces of legislation to amend the Uniform Planned Community Act and the Uniform Condominium Act to correct a conflict which was created by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision Shaffer v. Zoning Hearing Board of Chanceford Township.

The Shaffer court case relates to Chanceford Township’s rejection to the creation of a planned community and conveyance of parcels among family members of an individual property owner. Because there was no genuine intention to create an actual planned community by the property owner, the municipality’s rejection was understandable. In the course of this rejection, the township took the position, which was adopted by the county court and affirmed by the Commonwealth Court, that the creation of a planned community fell within the definition of land development under the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC). The Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the lower court without an opinion.

In rendering this decision, the Supreme Court did not address a conflict between the MPC and two statutes which provide for the regulation of planned communities and condominium associations: the Uniform Planned Community (UPC) Act and Uniform Condominium (UC) Act. This conflict will jeopardize the validity of many of these common ownership communities throughout the state, putting their title insurance policies and lending financing at risk. Ultimately it has also impeded financing of commercial and industrial projects throughout the Commonwealth, adding to the continuing economic woes of the building industry.

While municipal governments play a vital role in regulating the use and development of land under the MPC, the scope of a municipality's authority should not extend to the creation and conveyance of ownership interests in land that has historically fallen under the UPC and UC. Before Shaffer v. Zoning Hearing Board of Chanceford Township, both of these statutes were used to create condominiums and planned communities that were not part of a land development or subdivision plan on existing facilities and existing land for estate planning and financing purposes, among others.

This legislation will clarify that the creation of condominium associations and planned communities out of existing land or facilities would not require municipal approval unless and until new structures or buildings are constructed within the association or community. In addition, this legislation will eliminate the unnecessary conflict of legal statutes, protecting those interests historically granted to municipalities, while ensuring the viability of residential and commercial associations and communities throughout the Commonwealth.

This legislation will be a package of two bills: the first piece of legislation will make the change for the Uniform Planned Community Act, and the second will make the change for the Uniform Condominium Act. These bills were introduced last session as Senate Bill 1508 (Uniform Planned Community Act) and Senate Bill 1509 (Uniform Condominium Act.) Cosponsors of Senate Bill 1508 and Senate Bill 1509 included Senators Schwank and Baker.


Document #1

Introduced as SB687

Description: This legislation will be a package of two bills:  the first piece of legislation will make the change for the Uniform Planned Community Act, and the second will make the change for the Uniform Condominium Act.

This memo is related to the first bill in the package, which amends the Uniform Planned Community Act.
 

Document #2

Introduced as SB688

Description: This legislation will be a package of two bills:  the first piece of legislation will make the change for the Uniform Planned Community Act, and the second will make the change for the Uniform Condominium Act.

This memo is related to the second bill in the package, which amends the Uniform Condominium Act.