With passage of Act 15 of 2020 (“Act 15”), Pennsylvania has opened the door for local municipalities to again conduct business and act on land use applications and appeals, even under the severe restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 Pandemic. This is, of course, welcome news to landowners and developers whose projects have been stuck in limbo for the last month, and many may take this opportunity to push through a stalled project or appeal. However, just because municipalities are now allowed to meet “virtually” via a telecommunications device, many of the logistical and procedural issues that prevented these meetings or hearings in the first place still remain.
Stevens & Lee land use attorneys are working with clients and local officials to minimize the risks associated with proceeding with remote meetings under these new rules. While the desire to keep a project or appeal moving to a swift conclusion is understandable, due consideration must be given to avoiding costly procedural or legal missteps that may ultimately result in a longer delay or worse, protracted litigation. Ensuring that necessary public notice has been given, handling remote electronic exhibits, addressing participation of objectors and the public, and navigating witness testimony are some of the many issues that we are seeing as municipal business again ramps up.
If you have any questions or need assistance in navigating this uncertain new arena of remote municipal government, please contact any member if our Real Estate and Land Use team or the Stevens & Lee attorney with whom you normally work.