Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code

Article III - Comprehensive Plan

Section 301. Preparation of Comprehensive Plan.

(a) The municipal, multimunicipal or county comprehensive plan, consisting of maps, charts and textual matter, shall include, but need not be limited to, the following related basic elements:

(1) A statement of objectives of the municipality concerning its future development, including, but not limited to, the location, character and timing of future development, that may also serve as a statement of community development objectives as provided in section 606.

(2) A plan for land use, which may include provisions for the amount, intensity, character and timing of land use proposed for residence, industry, business, agriculture, major traffic and transit facilities, utilities, community facilities, public grounds, parks and recreation, preservation of prime agricultural lands, flood plains and other areas of special hazards and other similar uses.

(2.1) A plan to meet the housing needs of present residents and of those individuals and families anticipated to reside in the municipality, which may include conservation of presently sound housing, rehabilitation of housing in declining neighborhoods and the accommodation of expected new housing in different dwelling types and at appropriate densities for households of all income levels.

(3) A plan for movement of people and goods, which may include expressways, highways, local street systems, parking facilities, pedestrian and bikeway systems, public transit routes, terminals, airfields, port facilities, railroad facilities and other similar facilities or uses.

(4) A plan for community facilities and utilities, which may include public and private education, recreation, municipal buildings, fire and police stations, libraries, hospitals, water supply and distribution, sewerage and waste treatment, solid waste management, storm drainage, and flood plain management, utility corridors and associated facilities, and other similar facilities or uses.

(4.1) A statement of the interrelationships among the various plan components, which may include an estimate of the environmental, energy conservation, fiscal, economic development and social consequences on the municipality.

(4.2) A discussion of short- and long-range plan implementation strategies, which may include implications for capital improvements programming, new or updated development regulations, and identification of public funds potentially available.

(5) A statement indicating that the existing and proposed development of the municipality is compatible with the existing and proposed development and plans in contiguous portions of neighboring municipalities, or a statement indicating measures which have been taken to provide buffers or other transitional devices between disparate uses, and a statement indicating that the existing and proposed development of the municipality is generally consistent with the objectives and plans of the county comprehensive plan.

(6) A plan for the protection of natural and historic resources to the extent not preempted by federal or state law. This clause includes, but is not limited to, wetlands and aquifer recharge zones, woodlands, steep slopes, prime agricultural land, flood plains, unique natural areas and historic sites. The plan shall be consistent with and may not exceed those requirements imposed under the following:

(i) Act of June 22, 1937 (P.L.1987, No.394), known as “The Clean Streams Law”.

(ii) Act of May 31, 1945 (P.L.1198, No.418), known as the “Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Act”.

(iii) Act of April 27, 1966 (1st SP.SESS., P.L.31, No.1), known as “The Bituminous Mine Subsidence and Land Conservation Act”.

(iv) Act of September 24, 1968 (P.L.1040, No.318), known as the “Coal Refuse Disposal Control Act”.

(v) Act of December 19, 1984 (P.L.1140, No.223), known as the “Oil and Gas Act”.

(vi) Act of December 19, 1984 (P.L.1093, No.219), known as the “Noncoal Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Act”.

(vii) Act of June 30, 1981 (P.L.128, No.43), known as the “Agricultural Area Security Law”.

(viii) Act of June 10, 1982 (P.L.454, No.133), entitled “An Act Protecting Agricultural Operations from Nuisance Suits and Ordinances Under Certain Circumstances”.

(ix) Act of May 20, 1993 (P.L.12, No.6), known as the “Nutrient Management Act,” regardless of whether any agricultural operation within the area to be affected by the plan is a concentrated animal operation as defined under the act.

(7) In addition to any other requirements of this act, a county comprehensive plan shall:

(i) Identify land uses as they relate to important natural resources and appropriate utilization of existing minerals.

(ii) Identify current and proposed land uses which have a regional impact and significance, such as large shopping centers, major industrial parks, mines and related activities, office parks, storage facilities, large residential developments, regional entertainment and recreational complexes, hospitals, airports and port facilities.

(iii) Identify a plan for the preservation and enhancement of prime agricultural land and encourage the compatibility of land use regulation with existing agricultural operations.

(iv) Identify a plan for historic preservation.

(b) The comprehensive plan shall include a plan for the reliable supply of water, considering current and future water resources availability, uses and limitations, including provisions adequate to protect water supply sources. Any such plan shall be generally consistent with the State Water Plan and any applicable water resources plan adopted by a river basin commission. It shall also contain a statement recognizing that:

(1) Lawful activities such as extraction of minerals impact water supply sources and such activities are governed by statutes regulating mineral extraction that specify replacement and restoration of water supplies affected by such activities.

(2) Commercial agriculture production impact water supply sources.

(c) The municipal or multimunicipal comprehensive plan shall be reviewed at least every ten years. The municipal or multimunicipal comprehensive plan shall be sent to the governing bodies of contiguous municipalities for review and comment and shall also be sent to the Center for Local Government Services for informational purposes. The municipal or multimunicipal comprehensive plan shall also be sent to the county planning commissions or, upon request of a county planning commission, a regional planning commission when the comprehensive plan is updated or at ten-year intervals, whichever comes first, for review and comment on whether the municipal or multimunicipal comprehensive plan remains generally consistent with the county comprehensive plan and to indicate where the local plan may deviate from the county comprehensive plan.

(d) The municipal, multimunicipal or county comprehensive plan may identify those areas where growth and development will occur so that a full range of public infrastructure services, including sewer, water, highways, police and fire protection, public schools, parks, open space and other services can be adequately planned and provided as needed to accommodate growth.

Section 301.1. Energy Conservation Plan Element. To promote energy conservation and the effective utilization of renewable energy sources, the comprehensive plan may include an energy conservation plan element which systematically analyzes the impact of each other component and element of the comprehensive plan on the present and future use of energy in the municipality, details specific measures contained in the other plan elements designed to reduce energy consumption and proposes other measures that the municipality may take to reduce energy consumption and to promote the effective utilization of renewable energy sources.

Section 301.2. Surveys by Planning Agency. In preparing the comprehensive plan, the planning agency shall make careful surveys, studies and analyses of housing, demographic, and economic characteristics and trends; amount, type and general location and interrelationships of different categories of land use; general location and extent of transportation and community facilities; natural features affecting development; natural, historic and cultural resources; and the prospects for future growth in the municipality.

Section 301.3. Submission of Plan to County Planning Agency. If a county planning agency has been created for the county in which the municipality is located, then at least 45 days prior to the public hearing required in section 302 on the comprehensive plan or amendment thereof, the municipality shall forward a copy of that plan or amendment to the county planning agency for its comments. At the same time, the municipality shall also forward copies of the proposed plan or amendment to all contiguous municipalities and to the local school district for their review and comments.

Section 301.4. Compliance by Counties.

(a) If a county does not have a comprehensive plan, then that county shall, within three years of the effective date of this act, and with the opportunity for the review, comment and participation of the municipalities and school districts within the respective county and contiguous counties school districts and municipalities, prepare and adopt a comprehensive plan in accordance with the requirements of section 301. Municipal comprehensive plans which are adopted shall be generally consistent with the adopted county comprehensive plan.

(b) County planning commissions shall publish advisory guidelines to promote general consistency with the adopted county comprehensive plan. These guidelines shall promote uniformity with respect to local planning and zoning terminology and common types of municipal land use regulations.

Section 301.5 Funding of Municipal Planning. Priority for state grants to develop or revise comprehensive plans shall be given to those municipalities which agree to adopt comprehensive plans generally consistent with the county comprehensive plan and which agree to enact a new zoning ordinance or amendment which would fully implement the municipal comprehensive plan. No more than 25% of the total funds available for these grants shall be disbursed under priority status pursuant to this provision. Municipalities and counties shall comply with these agreements within three years. Failure to comply with the agreements shall be taken into consideration for future state funding.

Section 302. Adoption of Municipal, Multimunicipal and County Comprehensive Plans and Plan Amendments.

(a) The governing body may adopt and amend the comprehensive plan as a whole or in part. Before adopting or amending a comprehensive plan, or any part thereof, the planning agency shall hold at least one public meeting before forwarding the proposed comprehensive plan or amendment thereof to the governing body. In reviewing the proposed comprehensive plan, the governing body shall consider the comments of the county, contiguous municipalities and the school district within the county and contiguous school districts as well as the public meeting comments and the recommendations of the municipal planning agency. The comments of the county, contiguous municipalities and the local school district shall be made to the governing body within 15 45 days of receipt, by the governing body, and the proposed plan or amendment thereto shall not be acted upon until such comment is received. If, however, the contiguous municipalities and the local school district fail to respond within 45 days, the governing body may proceed without their comments.

(a.1) The governing body of the county may adopt and amend the county comprehensive plan in whole or in part. Before adopting or amending a comprehensive plan, or any part thereof, the county planning agency shall hold at least one public meeting before forwarding the proposed comprehensive plan or amendment thereof to the governing body. In reviewing the proposed comprehensive plan, the governing body shall consider the comments of municipalities and school districts within the county and contiguous school districts, municipalities and counties as well as the public meeting comments and the recommendations of the county planning agency. The comments of the counties, municipalities and school districts shall be made to the governing body within 45 days of receipt by the governing body, and the proposed comprehensive plan or amendment thereto shall not be acted upon until such comment is received. If, however, the counties, municipalities and school districts fail to respond within 45 days, the governing body may proceed without their comments.

(b) The governing body shall hold at least one public hearing pursuant to public notice. If, after the public hearing held upon the proposed plan or amendment to the plan, the proposed plan or proposed amendment thereto is substantially revised, the governing body shall hold another public hearing, pursuant to public notice, before proceeding to vote on the plan or amendment thereto.

(c) The adoption of the comprehensive plan, or any part thereof, or any amendment thereto, shall be by resolution carried by the affirmative votes of not less than a majority of all the members of the governing body. The resolution shall refer expressly to the maps, charts, textual matter, and other matters intended to form the whole or part of the plan, and the action shall be recorded on the adopted plan or part.

(d) Counties shall in accordance with subsection (a.1) consider amendments to their comprehensive plan proposed by municipalities which are considering adoption or revision of their municipal comprehensive plans so as to achieve general consistency between the respective plans. County comprehensive plans shall be updated at least every ten years. Where two or more contiguous municipalities request amendments to a county comprehensive plan for the purpose of achieving general consistency between the municipal plans or multimunicipal plan and the county comprehensive plan, the county must accept the amendments unless good cause for their refusal is established.

Section 303. Legal Status of Comprehensive Plan Within the Jurisdiction that Adopted the Plan.

(a) Whenever the governing body, pursuant to the procedures provided in section 302, has adopted a comprehensive plan or any part thereof, any subsequent proposed action of the governing body, its departments, agencies and appointed authorities shall be submitted to the planning agency for its recommendations when the proposed action relates to:

(1) the location, opening, vacation, extension, widening, narrowing or enlargement of any street, public ground, pierhead or watercourse;

(2) the location, erection, demolition, removal or sale of any public structure located within the municipality; adoption, amendment or repeal of an official map, subdivision and land development ordinance, zoning ordinance or provisions for planned residential development, or capital improvements program; or

(3) the adoption, amendment or repeal of an official map, subdivision and land development ordinance, zoning ordinance or provisions for planned residential development, or capital improvements program: or

(4) the construction, extension or abandonment of any water line, sewer line or sewage treatment facility.

(b) The recommendations of the planning agency including a specific statement as to whether or not the proposed action is in accordance with the objectives of the formally adopted comprehensive plan shall be made in writing to the governing body within 45 days.

(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of this act, no action by the governing body of a municipality shall be invalid nor shall the same be subject to challenge or appeal on the basis that such action is inconsistent with, or fails to comply with, the provision of a comprehensive plan.

(d) Municipal zoning, subdivision and land development regulations and capital improvement programs shall generally implement the municipal and multimunicipal comprehensive plan or, where none exists, the municipal statement of community development objectives.

Section 304. Legal Status of County Comprehensive Plans Within Municipalities.

(a) Following the adoption of a comprehensive plan or any part thereof by a county, pursuant to the procedures in section 302, any proposed action of the governing body of a municipality, its departments, agencies and appointed authorities within the county shall be submitted to the county planning agency for its recommendations if the proposed action relates to:

(1) the location, opening, vacation, extension, widening, narrowing or enlargement of any street, public ground, pierhead or watercourse;

(2) the location, erection, demolition, removal or sale of any public structures located within the municipality;

(3) the adoption, amendment or repeal of any comprehensive plan, official map, subdivision or land ordinance, zoning ordinance or provisions for planned residential development; or

(4) the construction, extension or abandonment of any water line, sewer line or sewage treatment facility.

(b) The recommendation of the planning agency shall be made to the governing body of the municipality within 45 days and the proposed action shall not be taken until such recommendation is made. If, however, the planning agency fails to act within 45 days, the governing body shall proceed without its recommendation.

Section 305. The Legal Status of Comprehensive Plans Within School Districts. Following the adoption of a comprehensive plan or any part thereof by any municipality or county governing body, pursuant to the procedures in section 302, any proposed action of the governing body of any public school district located within the municipality or county relating to the location, demolition, removal, sale or lease of any school district structure or land shall be submitted to the municipal and county planning agencies for their recommendations at least 45 days prior to the execution of such proposed action by the governing body of the school district.

Section 306. Municipal and County Comprehensive Plans.

(a) When a municipality having a comprehensive plan is located in a county which has adopted a comprehensive plan, both the county and the municipality shall each give the plan of the other consideration in order that the objectives of each plan can be protected to the greatest extent possible.

(b) Within 30 days after adoption, the governing body of a municipality, other than a county, shall forward a certified copy of the comprehensive plan, or part thereof or amendment thereto, to the county planning agency or, in counties where no planning agency exists, to the governing body of the county in which the municipality is located.

(c) Counties shall consult with municipalities and solicit comment from school districts, municipal authorities, the Center for Local Government Services, for information purposes, and public utilities during the process of preparing or upgrading a county comprehensive plan in order to determine future growth needs.

Section 307. State Land Use and Growth Management Report. The Center for Local Government Services shall issue a land use and growth management report by the year 2005 and shall review and update the report at five-year intervals.


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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