Governor Allows Construction to Resume May 1; New Law Tolls Time for Action on Land Use Applications: Updates from MacElree Harvey, Ltd.’s Land Use Department
Brian L. Nagle • J. Charles Gerbron, Jr. • Lindsay A. Dunn • Matthew M. McKeon
Of Counsel: Ronald C. Nagle • Jane M. Shields • Cara E. Williams
Pennsylvania’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is constantly developing, and the recent actions below will affect construction and land use/land development applications in the Commonwealth.
Governor Wolf Announces Limited Construction Activities to Resume May 1
- On April 20, Governor Wolf amended his prior order closing non-life-sustaining businesses to allow public and private residential and non-residential construction to resume in-person operations statewide beginning May 8. On April 22, Governor Wolf announced the start date would be moved up to May 1.
- These construction activities will be subject to the safety and social distancing requirements announced by the Secretary of Health on April 6 and April 15. Additional guidelines will be announced by the Wolf administration shortly.
Act 15 Affects Hearings and Decisions on Land Use and Development Applications
- On April 20, Governor Wolf signed Act 15/Senate Bill 841 (“Act 15”) into law. Act 15 tolls the number of days within which a local municipal body (including governing bodies, zoning hearing boards, commissions, and municipal authorities) must review, hold a hearing on, and decide applications. It also tolls time limits related to prior approvals (e.g., construction start date, appeals).
- The time is tolled as of March 6 (the date of the Governor’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency [the “Proclamation”]) for applications received or conditional approval made prior to March 6, and will resume on May 20. The time for applications received after March 6 will be tolled as of the date the application was received and will begin May 20.
- The municipal body shall provide written notice to applicants and parties affected by this extension of time, but lack of notice will not defeat the tolling of the time limits.
- Municipal bodies may – but are not required to – conduct a hearing or meeting by an authorized telecommunication platform prior to the termination of the Proclamation. These meetings or hearings will have amended requirements for notice, quorum, minutes, and public participation.
- Before May 20, applicants may request a hearing or meeting on their application to occur prior to the termination of the Proclamation. If the municipal body authorizes the hearing or meeting, the applicant and other parties receiving notice waive challenges to the proceedings based on failure to comply with 65 Pa. C.S., Chapter 7 or other law governing procedural requirements.
If you are unsure about how these developments may apply to you or have other land use questions concerning COVID-19, please contact Matthew M. McKeon at [email protected] or at (717)-574-5534, or another attorney in MacElree Harvey’s Land Use Department.