Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code

Article II - Planning Agencies

Section 201. Creation of Planning Agencies. The governing body of any municipality shall have the power to create or abolish, by ordinance, a planning commission or planning department, or both. An ordinance which creates both a planning commission and a planning department shall specify which of the powers and duties conferred on planning agencies by this act; each shall exercise and may confer upon each additional powers, duties and advisory functions not inconsistent with this act. In lieu of a planning commission or planning department, the governing body may elect to assign the powers and duties conferred by this act upon a planning committee comprised of members appointed from the governing body. The engineer for the municipality, or an engineer appointed by the governing body, shall serve the planning agency as engineering advisor. The solicitor for the municipality, or an attorney appointed by the governing body, shall serve the planning agency as legal advisor.

Section 202. Planning Commission. If the governing body of any municipality shall elect to create a planning commission, such commission shall have not less than three nor more than nine members. Except for elected or appointed officers or employees of the municipality, members of the commission may receive compensation in an amount fixed by the governing body. Compensation shall not exceed the rate of compensation authorized to be paid to members of the governing body. Without exception, members of the planning commission may be reimbursed for necessary and reasonable expenses. However, elected or appointed officers or employees of the municipality shall not, by reason of membership thereon, forfeit the right to exercise the powers, perform the duties or receive the compensations of the municipal offices held by them during such membership.

Section 203. Appointment, Term and Vacancy.

(a) All members of the commission shall be appointed by the appointing authority of the municipality. All such appointments shall be approved by the governing body, except where the governing body is the appointing authority.

(b) The term of each of the members of the commission shall be for four years, or until his successor is appointed and qualified, except that the terms of the members first appointed pursuant to this act shall be so fixed that on commissions of eight members or less no more than two shall be reappointed or replaced during any future calendar year, and on commissions of nine members no more than three shall be so reappointed or replaced.

(c) The chairman of the planning commission shall promptly notify the appointing authority of the municipality concerning vacancies in the commission, and such vacancy shall be filled for the unexpired term. If a vacancy shall occur otherwise than by expiration of term, it shall be filled by appointment for the unexpired term according to the terms of this article.

(d) Should the governing body of any municipality determine to increase the number of members of an already existing planning commission, the additional members shall be appointed as provided in this article. If the governing body of any municipality shall determine to reduce the number of members on any existing planning commission, such reduction shall be effectuated by allowing the terms to expire and by making no new appointments to fill the vacancy. Any reduction or increase shall be by ordinance.

Section 204. Members of Existing Commissions. (204 repealed Dec. 21, 1988, P.L.1329, No.170)

Section 205. Membership. All of the members of the planning commission shall be residents of the municipality. On all planning commissions appointed pursuant to this act, a certain number of the members, designated as citizen members shall not be officers or employees of the municipality. On a commission of three members at least two shall be citizen members. On a commission of four or five members at least three shall be citizen members. On a commission of either six or seven members at least five shall be citizen members, and on commissions of either eight or nine members at least six shall be citizen members.

Section 206. Removal. Any member of a planning commission once qualified and appointed may be removed from office for malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance in office or for other just cause by a majority vote of the governing body taken after the member has received 15 days’ advance notice of the intent to take such a vote. A hearing shall be held in connection with the vote if the member shall request it in writing. Any appointment to fill a vacancy created by removal shall be only for the unexpired term.

Section 207. Conduct of Business. The commission shall elect its own chairman and vice-chairman and create and fill such other offices as it may determine. Officers shall serve annual terms and may succeed themselves. The commission may make and alter by laws and rules and regulations to govern its procedures consistent with the ordinances of the municipality and the laws of the Commonwealth. The commission shall keep a full record of its business and shall annually make a written report by March 1 of each year of its activities to the governing body. Interim reports may be made as often as may be necessary, or as requested by the governing body.

Section 208. Planning Department Director. For the administration of each planning department, the appointing authority may appoint a director of planning who shall be, in the opinion of the appointing authority, qualified for the duties of his position. Each such appointment shall be with the approval of the governing body, except where the governing body is the appointing authority. The director of planning shall be in charge of the administration of the department, and shall exercise the powers and be subject to the duties that are granted or imposed on a planning agency by this act, except that where a municipality creates both a planning commission and a planning department, the director of planning shall exercise only those powers and be subject to only those duties which are specifically conferred upon him by ordinance enacted pursuant to this article.

Section 209.1. Powers and Duties of Planning Agency.

(a) The planning agency shall at the request of the governing body have the power and shall be required to:

(1) Prepare the comprehensive plan for the development of the municipality as set forth in this act, and present it for the consideration of the governing body.

(2) Maintain and keep on file records of its action. All records and files of the planning agency shall be in the possession of the governing body.

(b) The planning agency at the request of the governing body may:

(1) Make recommendations to the governing body concerning the adoption or amendment of an official map.

(2) Prepare and present to the governing body of the municipality a zoning ordinance, and make recommendations to the governing body on proposed amendments to it as set forth in this act.

(3) Prepare, recommend and administer subdivision and land development and planned residential development regulations, as set forth in this act.

(4) Prepare and present to the governing body of the municipality a building code and a housing code and make recommendations concerning proposed amendments thereto.

(5) Do such other acts or make such studies as may be necessary to fulfill the duties and obligations imposed by this act.

(6) Prepare and present to the governing body of the municipality an environmental study.

(7) Submit to the governing body of a municipality a recommended capital improvements program.

(7.1) Prepare and present to the governing body of the municipality a water survey, which shall consistent with the State Water Plan and any applicable water resources plan adopted by a river basin commission. The water survey shall be conducted in consultation with any public water supplier in the area to be surveyed.

(8) Promote public interest in, and understanding of, the comprehensive plan and planning.

(9) Make recommendations to governmental, civic and private agencies and individuals as to the effectiveness of the proposals of such agencies and individuals.

(10) Hold public hearings and meetings.

(10.1) Present testimony before any board.

(11) Require from other departments and agencies of the municipality such available information as relates to the work of the planning agency.

(12) In the performance of its functions, enter upon any land to make examinations and surveys with the consent of the owner.

(13) Prepare and present to the governing body of the municipality a study regarding the feasibility and practicability of using renewable energy sources in specific areas within the municipality.

(14) Review the zoning ordinance, subdivision and land development ordinance, official map, provisions for planned residential development, and such other ordinances and regulations governing the development of land no less frequently than it reviews the comprehensive plan.

Section 210. Administrative and Technical Assistance. The appointing authority may employ administrative and technical services to aid in carrying out the provisions of this act either as consultants on particular matters or as regular employees of the municipality. A county planning agency, with the consent of its governing body may perform planning services for any municipality whose governing body requests such assistance and may enter into agreements or contracts for such work.

Section 211. Assistance. The planning agency may, with the consent of the governing body, accept and utilize any funds, personnel or other assistance made available by the county, the Commonwealth or the Federal government or any of their agencies, or from private sources. The governing body may enter into agreements or contracts regarding the acceptance or utilization of the funds or assistance in accordance with the governmental procedures of the municipality.

Section 212. Intergovernmental Cooperation. For the purposes of this act, the governing body may utilize the authority granted under 53 PA.C.S. §§ 2303(a) (relating to intergovernmental cooperation authorized) and 2315 (Relating to effect of joint cooperation agreements).

Table of Contents

  • Article I General Provisions (click here)
  • Article II Planning Agencies (click here)
  • Article III Comprehensive Plan (click here)
  • Article IV Official Map (click here)
  • Article V Subdivision and Land Development (click here)
  • Article V-A Municipal Capital Improvement (click here)
  • Article VI Zoning (click here)
  • Article VII Planned Residential Development (click here)
  • Article VII-A Traditional Neighborhood Development (click here)
  • Article VIII Zoning Challenges; General Provisions (click here)
  • Article VIII-A Joint Municipal Zoning (click here)
  • Article IX Zoning Hearing Board and other Administrative Proceedings (click here)
  • Article X Appeals (click here)
  • Article X-A Appeals to Court (click here)
  • Article XI Intergovernmental Cooperative Planning and Implementation Agreements (click here)
  • Article XI-A Joint Municipal Zoning (click here)
  • Article XII Repeals (click here)

 

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