Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code

Article V - Subdivision and Land Development

Section 501. Grant of Power. The governing body of each municipality may regulate subdivisions and land development within the municipality by enacting a subdivision and land development ordinance. The ordinance shall require that all subdivision and land development plats of land situated within the municipality shall be submitted for approval to the governing body or, in lieu thereof, to a planning agency designated in the ordinance for this purpose, in which case any planning agency action shall be considered as action of the governing body. All powers granted herein to the governing body or the planning agency shall be exercised in accordance with the provisions of the subdivision and land development ordinance. In the case of any development governed by planned residential development provisions adopted pursuant to Article VII, however, the applicable provisions of the subdivision and land development ordinance shall be as modified by such provisions and the procedures which shall be followed in the approval of any plat, and the rights and duties of the parties thereto shall be governed by Article VII and the provisions adopted thereunder. Provisions regulating mobilehome parks shall be set forth in separate and distinct articles of any subdivision and land development ordinance adopted pursuant to Article V or any planned residential development provisions adopted pursuant to Article VII.

Section 502. Jurisdiction of County Planning Agencies; Adoption by Reference of County Subdivision and Land Development Ordinances.

(a) When any county has adopted a subdivision and land development ordinance in accordance with the terms of this article, a certified copy of the ordinance shall be sent to every municipality within the county. All amendments shall also be sent to the aforementioned municipalities. The powers of governing bodies of counties to enact, amend and repeal subdivision and land development ordinances shall be limited to land in those municipalities wholly or partly within the county which have no subdivision and land development ordinance in effect at the time a subdivision and land development ordinance is introduced before the governing body of the county, and until the municipal subdivision and land development ordinance is in effect and a certified copy of such ordinance is filed with the county planning agency, if one exists.

(b) The enactment of a subdivision and land development ordinance by any municipality, other than a county, whose land is subject to a county subdivision and land development ordinance shall act as a repeal protanto of the county subdivision and land development ordinance within the municipality adopting such ordinance. However, applications for subdivision and land development located within a municipality having adopted a subdivision and land development ordinance as set forth in this article shall be forwarded upon receipt by the municipality to the county planning agency for review and report together with a fee sufficient to cover the costs of the review and report which fee shall be paid by the applicant: Provided, That such municipalities shall not approve such applications until the county report is received or until the expiration of 30 days from the date the application was forwarded to the county.

(c) Further, any municipality other than a county may adopt by reference the subdivision and land development ordinance of the county, and may by separate ordinance designate the county planning agency, with the county planning agency’s concurrence, as its official administrative agency for review and approval of plats.

Section 502.1. Contiguous Municipalities.

(a) The county planning commission shall offer a mediation option to any municipality which believes that its citizens will experience harm as the result of an applicant’s proposed subdivision or development of land in a contiguous municipality, if the municipalities agree. In exercising such an option, the municipalities shall comply with the procedures set forth in Article IX. The cost of the mediation shall be shared equally by the municipalities unless otherwise agreed. The applicant shall have the right to participate in the mediation.

(b) The governing body of the municipality may appear and comment before the governing body of a contiguous municipality and the various boards and commissions of the contiguous municipality considering a proposed subdivision, change of land use or land development.

Section 503. Contents of Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance. The subdivision and land development ordinance may include, but need not be limited to:

(1) Provisions for the submittal and processing of plats, including the charging of review fees, and specifications for such plats, including certification as to the accuracy of plats and provisions for preliminary and final approval and for processing of final approval by stages or sections of development. Such plats and surveys shall be prepared in accordance with the act of May 23,1945 (P.L.913, No.367), known as the "Engineer, Land Surveyor and Geologist Registration Law,” except that this requirement shall not preclude the preparation of a plat in accordance with the act of January 24, 1966 (1965 P.L.1527, No.535), known as the “Landscape Architects’ Registration Law,” when it is appropriate to prepare the plat using professional services as set forth in the definition of the “practice of landscape architecture” under section 2 of that act. Review fees may include reasonable and necessary charges by the municipality's professional consultants for review and report thereon to the municipality. Such review fees shall be based upon a schedule established by ordinance or resolution. Such review fees shall be reasonable and in accordance with the ordinary and customary charges for similar service in the community, but in no event shall the fees exceed the rate or cost charged by the professional consultant for comparable services to the municipality for services which are not reimbursed or otherwise imposed on applicants. Fees charged to the municipality relating to any appeal of a decision on an application shall not be considered review fees and may not be charged to an applicant.

(i) The governing body shall submit to the applicant an itemized bill showing work performed, identifying the person performing the services and the time and date spent for each task. Nothing in this subparagraph shall prohibit interim itemized billing or municipal escrow or other security requirements. In the event the applicant disputes the amount of any such review fees, the applicant shall, no later than 45 days after the date of transmittal of the bill to the applicant, notify the municipality and the municipality’s professional consultant that such fees are disputed, and shall explain the basis of their objections to the fees charged, in which case the municipality shall not delay or disapprove a subdivision or land development application due to the applicant's dispute over fees. Failure of the applicant to dispute a bill within 45 days shall be a waiver of the applicant’s right to arbitration of that bill under section 510 (g).

(ii) In the event that the municipality’s professional consultant and the applicant cannot agree on the amount of review fees which are reasonable and necessary, then the applicant and the municipality shall follow the procedure for dispute resolution set forth in section 510(g), provided that the arbitrator resolving such dispute shall be of the same profession or discipline as the professional consultant whose fees are being disputed.

(iii) Subsequent to a decision on an application, the governing body shall submit to the applicant an itemized bill for review fees, specifically designated as a final bill. The final bill shall include all review fees incurred at least through the date of the decision on the application. If for any reason additional review is required subsequent to the decision, including inspections and other work to satisfy the conditions of the approval, the review fees shall be charged to the applicant as a supplement to the final bill.

(1.1) Provisions for the exclusion of certain land development from the definition of land development contained in section 107 only when such land development involves:

(i) the conversion of an existing single-family detached dwelling or single family semi-detached dwelling into not more than three residential units, unless such units are intended to be a condominium;

(ii) the addition of an accessory building, including farm buildings, on a lot or lots subordinate to an existing principal building; or

(iii) the addition or conversion of buildings or rides within the confines of an enterprise which would be considered an amusement park. For purposes of this subclause, an amusement park is defined as a tract or area used principally as a location for permanent amusement structures or rides. This exclusion shall not apply to newly acquired acreage by an amusement park until initial plans for the expanded area have been approved by proper authorities.

(2) Provisions for insuring that:

(i) the layout or arrangement of the subdivision or land development shall conform to the comprehensive plan and to any regulations or maps adopted in furtherance thereof;

(ii) streets in and bordering a subdivision or land development shall be coordinated, and be of such widths and grades and in such locations as deemed necessary to accommodate prospective traffic, and facilitate fire protection;

(iii) adequate easements or rights-of-way shall be provided for drainage and utilities;

(iv) reservations if any by the developer of any area designed for use as public grounds shall be suitable size and location for their designated uses; and

(v) land which is subject to flooding, subsidence or underground fires either shall be made safe for the purpose for which such land is proposed to be used, or that such land shall be set aside for uses which shall not endanger life or property or further aggravate or increase the existing menace.

(3) Provisions governing the standards by which streets shall be designed, graded and improved, and walkways, curbs, gutters, street lights, fire hydrants, water and sewage facilities and other improvements shall be installed as a condition precedent to final approval of plats in accordance with the requirements of section 509. The standards shall insure that the streets be improved to such a condition that the streets are passable for vehicles which are intended to use that street: Provided, however, That no municipality shall be required to accept such streets for public dedication until the streets meet such additional standards and specifications as the municipality may require for public dedication.

(4) Provisions which take into account phased land development not intended for the immediate erection of buildings where streets, curbs, gutters, street lights, fire hydrants, water and sewage facilities and other improvements may not be possible to install as a condition precedent to final approval of plats, but will be a condition precedent to the erection of buildings on lands included in the approved plat.

(4.1) Provisions which apply uniformly throughout the municipality regulating minimum setback lines and minimum lot sizes which are based upon the availability of water and sewage, in the event the municipality has not enacted a zoning ordinance.

(5) Provisions for encouraging and promoting flexibility, economy and ingenuity in the layout and design of subdivisions and land developments, including provisions authorizing alterations in site requirements and for encouraging other practices which are in accordance with modern and evolving principles of site planning and development.

(6) Provisions for encouraging the use of renewable energy systems and energy-conserving building design.

(7) Provisions for soliciting reviews and reports from adjacent municipalities and other governmental agencies affected by the plans.

(8) Provisions for administering waivers or modifications to the minimum standards of the ordinance in accordance with section 512.1, when the literal compliance with mandatory provisions is shown to the satisfaction of the governing body or planning agency, where applicable, to be unreasonable, to cause undue hardship, or when an alternative standard can be demonstrated to provide equal or better results.

(9) Provisions for the approval of a plat, whether preliminary or final, subject to conditions acceptable to the applicant and a procedure for the applicant’s acceptance or rejection of any conditions which may be imposed, including a provision that approval of a plat shall be rescinded automatically upon the applicant’s failure to accept or reject such conditions within such time limit as may be established by the governing ordinance.

(10) Provisions and standards for insuring that new developments incorporate adequate provisions for a reliable, safe and adequate water supply to support intended uses within the capacity of available resources.

(11) Provisions requiring the public dedication of land suitable for the use intended; and, upon agreement with the applicant or developer, the construction of recreational facilities, the payment of fees in lieu thereof, the private reservation of the land, or a combination, for park or recreation purposes as a condition precedent to final plan approval, provided that:

(i) The provisions of this paragraph shall not apply to any plan application, whether preliminary or final, pending at the time of enactment of such provisions.

(ii) The ordinance includes definite standards for determining the proportion of a development to be dedicated and the amount of any fee to be paid in lieu thereof.

(iii) The land or fees, or combination thereof, are to be used only for the purpose of providing park or recreational facilities accessible to the development.

(iv) The governing body has a formally adopted recreation plan, and the park and recreational facilities are in accordance with definite principles and standards contained in the subdivision and land development ordinance.

(v) The amount and location of land to be dedicated or the fees to be paid shall bear a reasonable relationship to the use of the park and recreational facilities by future inhabitants of the development or subdivision.

(vi) A fee authorized under this subsection shall, upon its receipt by a municipality, be deposited in an interest-bearing account, clearly identifying the specific recreation facilities for which the fee was received. Interest earned on such accounts shall become funds of that account. Funds from such accounts shall be expended only in properly allocable portions of the cost incurred to construct the specific recreation facilities for which the funds were collected.

(vii) Upon request of any person who paid any fee under this subsection, the municipality shall refund such fee, plus interest accumulated thereon from the date of payment, if the municipality had failed to utilize the fee paid for the purposes set forth in this section within three years from the date such fee was paid.

(viii) No municipality shall have the power to require the construction of recreational facilities or the dedication of land, or fees in lieu thereof, or private reservation except as may be provided by statute.

Section 503.1. Water Supply. Every ordinance adopted pursuant to this article shall include a provision that, if water is to be provided by means other than by private wells owned and maintained by the individual owners of lots within the subdivision or development, applicants shall present evidence to the governing body or planning agency, as the case may be, that the subdivision or development is to be supplied by a certificated public utility, a bona fide cooperative association of lot owners, or by a municipal corporation, authority or utility. A copy of a Certificate of Public Convenience from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission or an application for such certificate, a cooperative agreement or a commitment or agreement to serve the area in question, whichever is appropriate, shall be acceptable evidence.

Section 504. Enactment of Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance.

(a) Before voting on the enactment of a proposed subdivision and land development ordinance, the governing body shall hold a public hearing thereon pursuant to public notice. A brief summary setting forth the principal provisions of the proposed ordinance and a reference to the place within the municipality where copies of the proposed ordinance may be secured or examined shall be incorporated in the public notice. Unless the proposed subdivision and land development ordinance shall have been prepared by the planning agency, the governing body shall submit the ordinance to the planning agency at least 45 days prior to the hearing on such ordinance to provide the planning agency an opportunity to submit recommendations. If a county planning agency shall have been created for the county in which the municipality adopting the ordinance is located, then, at least 45 days prior to the public hearing on the ordinance, the municipality shall submit the proposed ordinance to said county planning agency for recommendations.

(b) Within 30 days after adoption, the governing body of a municipality, other than a county, shall forward a certified copy of the subdivision and land development ordinance 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.

Section 505. Enactment of Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance Amendment.

(a) Amendments to the subdivision and land development ordinance shall become effective only after a public hearing held pursuant to public notice in the manner prescribed for enactment of a proposed ordinance by this article. In addition, in case of an amendment other than that prepared by the planning agency, the governing body shall submit each such amendment to the planning agency for recommendations at least 30 days prior to the date fixed for the public hearing on such proposed amendment. If a county planning agency shall have been created for the county in which the municipality proposing the amendment is located, then, at least 30 days prior to the hearing on the amendment, the municipality shall submit the proposed amendment to said county planning agency for recommendations.

(b) Within 30 days after adoption, the governing body of a municipality, other than a county, shall forward a certified copy of any amendment to the subdivision and land development ordinance 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.

Section 506. Publication, Advertisement and Availability of Ordinance.

(a) Proposed subdivision and land development ordinances and amendments shall not be enacted unless notice of proposed enactment is given in the manner set forth in this section, and shall include the time and place of the meeting at which passage will be considered, a reference to a place within the municipality where copies of the proposed ordinance or amendment may be examined without charge or obtained for a charge not greater than the cost thereof. The governing body shall publish the proposed ordinance or amendment once in one newspaper of general circulation in the municipality not more than 60 days nor less than seven days prior to passage. Publication of the proposed ordinance or amendment shall include either the full text thereof or the title and a brief summary, prepared by the municipal solicitor and setting forth all the provisions in reasonable detail. If the full text is not included:

(1) A copy thereof shall be supplied to a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality at the time the public notice is published.

(2) An attested copy of the proposed ordinance shall be filed in the county law library or other county office designated by the county commissioners, who may impose a fee no greater than that necessary to cover the actual costs of storing said ordinances.

(b) In the event substantial amendments are made in the proposed ordinance or amendment, before voting upon enactment, the governing body shall, at least ten days prior to enactment, readvertise, in one newspaper of general circulation in the municipality, a brief summary setting forth all the provisions in reasonable detail together with a summary of the amendments.

(c) Subdivision and land development ordinances and amendments may be incorporated into official ordinance books by reference with the same force and effect as if duly recorded therein.

Section 507. Effect of Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance. Where a subdivision and land development ordinance has been enacted by a municipality under the authority of this article no subdivision or land development of any lot, tract or parcel of land shall be made, no street, sanitary sewer, storm sewer, water main or other improvements in connection therewith shall be laid out, constructed, opened or dedicated for public use or travel, or for the common use of occupants of buildings abutting thereon, except in accordance with the provisions of such ordinance.

Section 508. Approval of Plats. All applications for approval of a plat (other than those governed by Article VII), whether preliminary or final, shall be acted upon by the governing body or the planning agency within such time limits as may be fixed in the subdivision and land development ordinance but the governing body or the planning agency shall render its decision and communicate it to the applicant not later than 90 days following the date of the regular meeting of the governing body or the planning agency (whichever first reviews the application) next following the date the application is filed, or after a final order of the court remanding an application, provided that should the said next regular meeting occur more than 30 days following the filing of the application, or the final order of the court, the said 90-day period shall be measured from the 30th day following the day the application has been filed.

(1) The decision of the governing body or the planning agency shall be in writing and shall be communicated to the applicant personally or mailed to him at his last known address not later than 15 days following the decision.

(2) When the application is not approved in terms as filed the decision shall specify the defects found in the application and describe the requirements which have not been met and shall, in each case, cite to the provisions of the statute or ordinance relied upon.

(3) Failure of the governing body or agency to render a decision and communicate it to the applicant within the time and in the manner required herein shall be deemed an approval of the application in terms as presented unless the applicant has agreed in writing to an extension of time or change in the prescribed manner of presentation of communication of the decision, in which case, failure to meet the extended time or change in manner of presentation of communication shall have like effect.

(4) Changes in the ordinance shall affect plats as follows:

(i) From the time an application for approval of a plat, whether preliminary or final, is duly filed as provided in the subdivision and land development ordinance, and while such application is pending approval or disapproval, no change or amendment of the zoning, subdivision or other governing ordinance or plan shall affect the decision on such application adversely to the applicant and the applicant shall be entitled to a decision in accordance with the provisions of the governing ordinances or plans as they stood at the time the application was duly filed. In addition, when a preliminary application has been duly approved, the applicant shall be entitled to final approval in accordance with the terms of the approved preliminary application as hereinafter provided. However, if an application is properly and finally denied, any subsequent application shall be subject to the intervening change in governing regulations.

(ii) When an application for approval of a plat, whether preliminary or final, has been approved without conditions or approved by the applicant’s acceptance of conditions, no subsequent change or amendment in the zoning, subdivision or other governing ordinance or plan shall be applied to affect adversely the right of the applicant to commence and to complete any aspect of the approved development in accordance with the terms of such approval within five years from such approval. The five-year period shall be extended for the duration of any litigation, including appeals, which prevent the commencement or completion of the development, and for the duration of any sewer or utility moratorium or prohibition which was imposed subsequent to the filing of an application for preliminary approval of a plat. In the event of an appeal filed by any party from the approval or disapproval of a plat, the five-year period shall be extended by the total time from the date the appeal was filed until a final order in such matter has been entered and all appeals have been concluded and any period for filing appeals or requests for reconsideration have expired. Provided, however, no extension shall be based upon any water or sewer moratorium which was in effect as of the date of the filing of a preliminary application.

(iii) Where final approval is preceded by preliminary approval, the aforesaid five-year period shall be counted from the date of the preliminary approval. In the case of any doubt as to the terms of a preliminary approval, the terms shall be construed in the light of the provisions of the governing ordinances or plans as they stood at the time when the application for such approval was duly filed.

(iv) Where the landowner has substantially completed the required improvements as depicted upon the final plat within the aforesaid five-year limit, or any extension thereof as may be granted by the governing body, no change of municipal ordinance or plan enacted subsequent to the date of filing of the preliminary plat shall modify or revoke any aspect of the approved final plat pertaining to zoning classification or density, lot, building, street or utility location.

(v) In the case of a preliminary plat calling for the installation of improvements beyond the five-year period, a schedule shall be filed by the landowner with the preliminary plat delineating all proposed sections as well as deadlines within which applications for final plat approval of each section are intended to be filed. Such schedule shall be updated annually by the applicant on or before the anniversary of the preliminary plat approval, until final plat approval of the final section has been granted and any modification in the aforesaid schedule shall be subject to approval of the governing body in its discretion.

(vi) Each section in any residential subdivision or land development, except for the last section, shall contain a minimum of 25% of the total number of dwelling units as depicted on the preliminary plan, unless a lesser percentage is approved by the governing body in its discretion. Provided the landowner has not defaulted with regard to or violated any of the conditions of the preliminary plat approval, including compliance with landowner’s aforesaid schedule of submission of final plats for the various sections, then the aforesaid protections afforded by substantially completing the improvements depicted upon the final plat within five years shall apply and for any section or sections, beyond the initial section, in which the required improvements have not been substantially completed within said five-year period the aforesaid protections shall apply for an additional term or terms of three years from the date of final plat approval for each section.

(vii) Failure of landowner to adhere to the aforesaid schedule of submission of final plats for the various sections shall subject any such section to any and all changes in zoning, subdivision and other governing ordinance enacted by the municipality subsequent to the date of the initial preliminary plan submission.

(5) Before acting on any subdivision plat, the governing body or the planning agency, as the case may be, may hold a public hearing thereon after public notice.

(6) No plat which will require access to a highway under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation shall be finally approved unless the plat contains a notice that a highway occupancy permit is required pursuant to section 420 of the act of June 1, 1945 (P.L.1242, No.428), known as the “State Highway Law,” before driveway access to a State highway is permitted. The department shall, within sixty days of the date of receipt of an application for a highway occupancy permit,

(i) approve the permit, which shall be valid thereafter unless, prior to commencement of construction thereunder, the geographic, physical or other conditions under which the permit is approved change, requiring modification or denial of the permit, in which event the department shall give notice thereof in accordance with regulations,

(ii) deny the permit,

(iii) return the application for additional information or correction to conform with department regulations or,

(iv) determine that no permit is required in which case the department shall notify the municipality and the applicant in writing. If the department shall fail to take any action within the 60-day period, the permit will be deemed to be issued. The plat shall be marked to indicate that access to the State highway shall be only as authorized by a highway occupancy permit. Neither the department nor any municipality to which permit-issuing authority has been delegated under section 420 of the “State Highway Law” shall be liable in damages for any injury to persons or property arising out of the issuance or denial of a driveway permit, or for failure to regulate any driveway. Furthermore, the municipality from which the building permit approval has been requested shall not be held liable for damages to persons or property arising out of the issuance or denial of a driveway permit by the department.

(7) The municipality may offer a mediation option as an aid in completing proceedings authorized by this section. In exercising such an option, the municipality and mediating parties shall meet the stipulations and follow the procedures set forth in Article IX.

Section 509. Completion of Improvements or Guarantee Thereof Prerequisite to Final Plat Approval.

(a) No plat shall be finally approved unless the streets shown on such plat have been improved to a mud-free or otherwise permanently passable condition, or improved as may be required by the sub-division and land development ordinance and any walkways, curbs, gutters, street lights, fire hydrants, shade trees, water mains, sanitary sewers, storm sewers and other improvements as may be required by the subdivision and land development ordinance have been installed in accordance with such ordinance. In lieu of the completion of any improvements required as a condition for the final approval of a plat, including improvements or fees required pursuant to section 509(i), the subdivision and land development ordinance shall provide for the deposit with the municipality of financial security in an amount sufficient to cover the costs of such improvements or common amenities including, but not limited to, roads, storm water detention and/or retention basins and other related drainage facilities, recreational facilities, open space improvements, or buffer or screen plantings which may be required. The applicant shall not be required to provide financial security for the costs of any improvements for which financial security is required by and provided to the Department of Transportation in connection with the issuance of a highway occupancy permit pursuant to section 420 of the act of June 1, 1945 (P.L.1242, No.428) known as the “State Highway Law.”

(b) When requested by the developer, in order to facilitate financing, the governing body or the planning agency, if designated, shall furnish the developer with a signed copy of a resolution indicating approval of the final plat contingent upon the developer obtaining a satisfactory financial security. The final plat or record plan shall not be signed nor recorded until the financial improvements agreement is executed. The resolution or letter of contingent approval shall expire and be deemed to be revoked if the financial security agreement is not executed within 90 days unless a written extension is granted by the governing body; such extension shall not be unreasonably withheld and shall be placed in writing at the request of the developer.

(c) Without limitation as to other types of financial security which the municipality may approve, which approval shall not be unreasonably withheld, Federal or Commonwealth chartered lending institution irrevocable letters of credit and restrictive or escrow accounts in such lending institutions shall be deemed acceptable financial security for the purposes of this section.

(d) Such financial security shall be posted with a bonding company or Federal or Commonwealth chartered lending institution chosen by the party posting the financial security, provided said bonding company or lending institution is authorized to conduct such business within the Commonwealth.

(e) Such bond, or other security shall provide for, and secure to the public, the completion of any improvements which may be required on or before the date fixed in the formal action of approval or accompanying agreement for completion of the improvements.

(f) The amount of financial security to be posted for the completion of the required improvements shall be equal to 110% of the cost of completion estimated as of 90 days following the date scheduled for completion by the developer. Annually, the municipality may adjust the amount of the financial security by comparing the actual cost of the improvements which have been completed and the estimated cost for the completion of the remaining improvements as of the expiration of the 90th day after either the original date scheduled for completion or a rescheduled date of completion. Subsequent to said adjustment, the municipality may require the developer to post additional security in order to assure that the financial security equals said 110%. Any additional security shall be posted by the developer in accordance with this subsection.

(g) The amount of financial security required shall be based upon an estimate of the cost of completion of the required improvements, submitted by an applicant or developer and prepared by a professional engineer licensed as such in this Commonwealth and certified by such engineer to be a fair and reasonable estimate of such cost. The municipality, upon the recommendation of the municipal engineer, may refuse to accept such estimate for good cause shown. If the applicant or developer and the municipality are unable to agree upon an estimate, then the estimate shall be recalculated and recertified by another professional engineer licensed as such in this Commonwealth and chosen mutually by the municipality and the applicant or developer. The estimate certified by the third engineer shall be presumed fair and reasonable and shall be the final estimate. In the event that a third engineer is so chosen, fees for the services of said engineer shall be paid equally by the municipality and the applicant or developer.

(h) If the party posting the financial security requires more than one year from the date of posting of the financial security to complete the required improvements, the amount of financial security may be increased by an additional 10% for each one-year period beyond the first anniversary date from posting of financial security or to an amount not exceeding 110% of the cost of completing the required improvements as reestablished on or about the expiration of the preceding one-year period by using the above bidding procedure.

(i) In the case where development is projected over a period of years, the governing body or the planning agency may authorize submission of final plats by section or stages of development subject to such requirements or guarantees as to improvements in future sections or stages of development as it finds essential for the protection of any finally approved section of the development.

(j) As the work of installing the required improvements proceeds, the party posting the financial security may request the governing body to release or authorize the release, from time to time, such portions of the financial security necessary for payment to the contractor or contractors performing the work. Any such requests shall be in writing addressed to the governing body, and the governing body shall have 45 days from receipt of such request within which to allow the municipal engineer to certify, in writing, to the governing body that such 29 portion of the work upon the improvements has been competed in accordance with the approved plat. Upon such certification the governing body shall authorize release by the bonding company or lending institution of an amount as estimated by the municipal engineer fairly representing the value of the improvements completed or, if the governing body fails to act within said 45-day period, the governing body shall be deemed to have approved the release of funds as requested. The governing body may, prior to final release at the time of completion and certification by its engineer, require retention of 10% of the estimated cost of the aforesaid improvements.

(k) Where the governing body accepts dedication of all or some of the required improvements following completion, the governing body may require the posting of financial security to secure structural integrity of said improvements as well as the functioning of said improvements in accordance with the design and specifications as depicted on the final plat for a term not to exceed 18 months from the date of acceptance of dedication. Said financial security shall be of the same type as otherwise required in this section with regard to installation of such improvements, and the amount of the financial security shall not exceed 15% of the actual cost of installation of said improvements.

(l) If water mains or sanitary sewer lines, or both, along with apparatus or facilities related thereto, are to be installed under the jurisdiction and pursuant to the rules and regulations of a public utility or municipal authority separate and distinct from the municipality, financial security to assure proper completion and maintenance thereof shall be posted in accordance with the regulations of the controlling public utility or municipal authority and shall not be included within the financial security as otherwise required by this section.

(m) If financial security has been provided in lieu of the completion of improvements required as a condition for the final approval of a plat as set forth in this section, the municipality shall not condition the issuance of building, grading or other permits relating to the erection or placement of improvements, including buildings, upon the lots or land as depicted upon the final plat upon actual completion of the improvements depicted upon the approved final plat. Moreover, if said financial security has been provided, occupancy permits for any building or buildings to be erected shall not be withheld following: the improvement of the streets providing access to and from existing public roads to such building or buildings to a mud-free or otherwise permanently passable condition, as well as the completion of all other improvements as depicted upon the approved plat, either upon the lot or lots or beyond the lot or lots in question if such improvements are necessary for the reasonable use of or occupancy of the building or buildings. Any ordinance or statute inconsistent herewith is hereby expressly repealed.

Section 510. Release from Improvement Bond.

(a) When the developer has completed all of the necessary and appropriate improvements, the developer shall notify the municipal governing body, in writing, by certified or registered mail, of the completion of the aforesaid improvements and shall send a copy thereof to the municipal engineer. The municipal governing body shall, within ten days after receipt of such notice, direct and authorize the municipal engineer to inspect all of the aforesaid improvements. The municipal engineer shall, thereupon, file a report, in writing, with the municipal governing body, and shall promptly mail a copy of the same to the developer by certified or registered mail. The report shall be made and mailed within 30 days after receipt by the municipal engineer of the aforesaid authorization from the governing body; said report shall be detailed and shall indicate approval or rejection of said improvements, either in whole or in part, and if said improvements, or any portion thereof, shall not be approved or shall be rejected by the municipal engineer, said report shall contain a statement of reasons for such nonapproval or rejection.

(b) The municipal governing body shall notify the developer, within 15 days of receipt of the engineer’s report, in writing by certified or registered mail of the action of said municipal governing body with relation thereto.

(c) If the municipal governing body or the municipal engineer fails to comply with the time limitation provisions contained herein, all improvements will be deemed to have been approved and the developer shall be released from all liability, pursuant to its performance guaranty bond or other security agreement.

(d) If any portion of the said improvements shall not be approved or shall be rejected by the municipal governing body, the developer shall proceed to complete the same and, upon completion, the same procedure of notification, as outlined herein, shall be followed.

(e) Nothing herein, however, shall be construed in limitation of the developer’s right to contest or question by legal proceedings or otherwise, any determination of the municipal governing body or the municipal engineer.

(f) Where herein reference is made to the municipal engineer, he shall be a duly registered professional engineer employed by the municipality or engaged as a consultant thereto.

(g) The municipality may prescribe that the applicant shall reimburse the municipality for the reasonable and necessary expense incurred in connection with the inspection of improvements. The applicant shall not be required to reimburse the governing body for any inspection which is duplicative of inspections conducted by other governmental agencies or public utilities. The burden of proving that any inspection is duplicative shall be upon the objecting applicant. Such reimbursement shall be based upon a schedule established by ordinance or resolution. Such expense shall be reasonable and in accordance with the ordinary and customary fees charged by the municipality’s professional consultant for work performed for similar services in the community, but in no event shall the fees exceed the rate or cost charged by the professional consultant to the municipality for comparable services when fees are not reimbursed or otherwise imposed on applicants.

(1) The governing body shall submit to the applicant an itemized bill showing the work performed in connection with the inspection of improvements performed, identifying the person performing the services and the time and date spent for each task. In the event the applicant disputes the amount of any such expense in connection with the inspection of improvements, the applicant shall, no later than 30 days after the date of transmittal of a bill for inspection services, notify the municipality and the municipality’s professional consultant that such inspection expenses are disputed as unreasonable or unnecessary and shall explain the basis of their objections to the fees charged, in which case the municipality shall not delay or disapprove a request for release of financial security, a subdivision or land development application or any approval or permit related to development due to the applicant's dispute of inspection expenses. Failure of the applicant to dispute a bill within 30 days shall be a waiver of the applicant’s right to arbitration of that bill under this section.

(1.1) Subsequent to the final release of financial security for completion of improvements for a subdivision or land development, or any phase thereof, the professional consultant shall submit to the governing body a bill for inspection services, specifically designated as a final bill. The final bill shall include inspection fees incurred through the release of financial security.

(2) If, the professional consultant and the applicant cannot agree on the amount of expenses which are reasonable and necessary, then the applicant shall have the right, within 45 days of the transmittal of the final bill or supplement to the final bill to the applicant, to request the appointment of another professional consultant to serve as an arbitrator. The applicant and professional consultant whose fess are being challenged shall by mutual agreement, appoint another professional consultant to review any bills the applicant has disputed and which remain unresolved and make a determination as to the amount thereof which is reasonable and necessary. The arbitrator shall be of the same profession as the professional consultant whose fees are being challenged.

(3) The arbitrator so appointed shall hear such evidence and review such documentation as the arbitrator in his or her sole opinion deems necessary and shall render a decision no later than 50 days after the date of appointment. Based on the decision of the arbitrator, the applicant or the professional consultant whose fees were challenged shall be required to pay any amounts necessary to implement the decision within 60 days. In the event the municipality has paid the professional consultant an amount in excess of the amount determined to be reasonable and necessary, the professional consultant shall within 60 days reimburse the excess payment

(4) In the event that the municipality’s professional consultant and applicant cannot agree upon the arbitrator to be appointed within 20 days of the request for appointment of an arbitrator, then, upon application of either party, the President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of the judicial district in which the municipality is located (or if at the time there be no President Judge, then the senior active judge then sitting) shall appoint such arbitrator, who, in that case, shall be neither the municipality’s professional consultant nor any professional consultant who has been retained by, or performed services for, the municipality or the applicant within the preceding five years.

(5) The fee of the arbitrator shall be paid by the applicant if the review fee charged is sustained by the arbitrator, otherwise it shall be divided equally between the parties. If the disputed fees are found to be excessive by more than $5,000, the arbitrator shall have the discretion to assess the arbitration fee in whole or in part against either the applicant or the professional consultant. The governing body and the consultant whose fees are the subject of the dispute shall be parties to the proceeding.

Section 511. Remedies to Effect Completion of Improvements. In the event that any improvements which may be required have not been installed as provided in the subdivision and land development ordinance or in accord with the approved final plat the governing body of the municipality is hereby granted the power to enforce any corporate bond, or other security by appropriate legal and equitable remedies. If proceeds of such bond, or other security are insufficient to pay the cost of installing or making repairs or corrections to all the improvements covered by said security, the governing body of the municipality may, at its option, install part of such improvements in all or part of the subdivision or land development and may institute appropriate legal or equitable action to recover the moneys necessary to complete the remainder of the improvements. All of the proceeds, whether resulting from the security or from any legal or equitable action brought against the developer, or both, shall be used solely for the installation of the improvements covered by such security, and not for any other municipal purpose.

Section 512.1. Modifications.

(a) The governing body or the planning agency, if authorized to approve applications within the subdivision and land development ordinance, may grant a modification of the requirements of one or more provisions if the literal enforcement will exact undue hardship because of peculiar conditions pertaining to the land in question, provided that such modification will not be contrary to the public interest and that the purpose and intent of the ordinance is observed.

(b) All requests for a modification shall be in writing and shall accompany and be a part of the application for development. The request shall state in full the grounds and facts of unreasonableness or hardship on which the request is based, the provision or provisions of the ordinance involved and the minimum modification necessary.

(c) If approval power is reserved by the governing body, the request for modification may be referred to the planning agency for advisory comments.

(d) The governing body or the planning agency, as the case may be, shall keep a written record of all action on all requests for modifications.

Section 513. Recording Plats and Deeds.

(a) Upon the approval of a final plat, the developer shall within 90 days of such final approval or 90 days after the date of delivery of an approved plat signed by the governing body, following completion of conditions imposed for such approval, whichever is later, record such plat in the office of the recorder of deeds of the county in which the municipality is located. Whenever such plat approval is required by a municipality, the recorder of deeds of the county shall not accept any plat for recording, unless such plat officially notes the approval of the governing body and review by the county planning agency, if one exists.

(b) The recording of the plat shall not constitute grounds for assessment increases until such time as lots are sold or improvements are installed on the land included within the subject plat.

Section 514. Effect of Plat Approval on Official Map. After a plat has been approved and recorded as provided in this article, all streets and public grounds on such plat shall be, and become a part of the official map of the municipality without public hearing.

Section 515. Penalties. (515 repealed Dec. 21, 1988, P.L.1329, No.170)

Section 515.1. Preventive Remedies.

(a) In addition to other remedies, the municipality may institute and maintain appropriate actions by law or in equity to restrain, correct or abate violations, to prevent unlawful construction, to recover damages and to prevent illegal occupancy of a building, structure or premises. The description by metes and bounds in the instrument of transfer or other documents used in the process of selling or transferring shall not exempt the seller or transferor from such penalties or from the remedies herein provided.

(b) A municipality may refuse to issue any permit or grant any approval necessary to further improve or develop any real property which has been developed or which has resulted from a subdivision of real property in violation of any ordinance adopted pursuant to this article. This authority to deny such a permit or approval shall apply to any of the following applicants:

(1) The owner of record at the time of such violation.

(2) The vendee or lessee of the owner of record at the time of such violation without regard as to whether such vendee or lessee had actual or constructive knowledge of the violation.

(3) The current owner of record who acquired the property subsequent to the time of violation without regard as to whether such current owner had actual or constructive knowledge of the violation.

(4) The vendee or lessee of the current owner of record who acquired the property subsequent to the time of violation without regard as to whether such vendee or lessee had actual or constructive knowledge of the violation. As an additional condition for issuance of a permit or the granting of an approval to any such owner, current owner, vendee or lessee for the development of any such real property, the municipality may require compliance with the conditions that would have been applicable to the property at the time the applicant acquired an interest in such real property.

Section 515.2. Jurisdiction. District justices shall have initial jurisdiction in proceedings brought under section 515.3.

Section 515.3. Enforcement Remedies.

(a) Any person, partnership or corporation who or which has violated the provisions of any subdivision or land development ordinance enacted under this act or prior enabling laws shall, upon being found liable therefor in a civil enforcement proceeding commenced by a municipality, pay a judgment of not more than $500 plus all 33 court costs, including reasonable attorney fees incurred by the municipality as a result thereof. No judgment shall commence or be imposed, levied or payable until the date of the determination of a violation by the district justice. If the defendant neither pays nor timely appeals the judgment, the municipality may enforce the judgment pursuant to the applicable rules of civil procedure. Each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate violation, unless the district justice determining that there has been a violation further determines that there was a good faith basis for the person, partnership or corporation violating the ordinance to have believed that there was no such violation, in which event there shall be deemed to have been only one such violation until the fifth day following the date of the determination of a violation by the district justice and thereafter each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate violation.

(b) The court of common pleas, upon petition, may grant an order of stay, upon cause shown, tolling the per diem judgment pending a final adjudication of the violation and judgment.

(c) Nothing contained in this section shall be construed or interpreted to grant to any person or entity other than the municipality the right to commence any action for enforcement pursuant to this section.

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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