The Commonwealth Court of PA has ruled that while an appeal of approvals for a development is pending, a municipality has the power to approve another development plan submitted by the same developer for the same property. In James DeFilippo v. Cranberry Township Board of Supervisors, the developer proposed to construct an automobile sales and service center which required 13 waivers from Township ordinances. The Township Board of Supervisors approved the proposal and granted all 13 waivers requested by the developer. Objectors filed a land use appeal challenging the approval of the land development plan.

During the pendency of the appeal, the developer filed a new land development plan with the Township. The new plan was a revised proposal which reduced the need for waivers from 13 waivers to 5 waivers. The Township Board of Supervisors granted approval of the new plan and conditional use approval for the development.

The objectors argued that the Board of Supervisors lacked authority to act on the second plan while the appeal of the first plan was pending. The Commonwealth Court rejected that argument and held that a municipality does not lose all jurisdiction over a parcel of land when a land use appeal is filed and may consider a different land development plan or zoning application by the same developer for the same property.

Philadelphia City Council voted to adopt a new zoning code Dec. 15, 2011. Mayor Nutter will sign the zoning code bill on Dec. 22, 2011. The new code will become effective in August 2012.

Philadelphia’s current zoning code was adopted in 1962 and has been amended several times. It has become complex and cumbersome. The new zoning code is simplified and organized in a way that will make it easier for individuals to develop in the City. For example, rather than 55 zoning classifications and dozens of overlay districts, the new zoning code identifies only 35 zoning classifications and 12 overlay districts. All of the existing zoning districts will be converted to a new corresponding district. There have not been any substantive changes to the zoning designations. Three new zoning districts were created that do not have existing corresponding districts: CMX-2.5 (Commercial Mixed Use 2.5), IRMX (Industrial Residential Mixed Use) and SP-AIR (Airport Special Purpose District).