Over the past several years there has been a sense of security in the development community relating to the expiration of development permits and approvals resulting from the enactment of the Development Permit Extension Act (“Act”). The Act effectively extended municipal land use approvals during the Great Recession, which started in 2007. The Extension Period under the Act expires on July 2, 2016. One critical question under the Act had been how to calculate the “Extension Period.” Several municipalities have taken the position that all permits and approvals covered by the Act will expire on July 2, 2016.
To provide clarity, Act No. 31 of 2015 was just signed into law by Governor Wolf. Act No. 31 provides that the time clock on the validity of those development approvals covered by the Act in effect between December 31, 2008 and July 2, 2013 are automatically suspendeduntil July 2, 2016. For example, if an applicant received a variance that was valid for a period of six (6) months from a date of issuance of February 1, 2012, six (6) months would be added to the end of the Extension Period, with the new expiration date of the variance approval being January 2, 2017. If a developer received Preliminary Land Development Plan approval on July 1, 2012, the portion of the 5-year vesting period remaining as of July 1, 2013 (4 years) would be added to the end of the Extension Period, with the new expiration date of the vesting period being July 2, 2020.
Act No. 31 is important because there is no appellate court authority interpreting the calculation of the Extension Period. Until the passage of this legislation, the entire development community was at risk that all development approvals covered under the Act would have expired on July 2, 2016. Act No. 31 now clarifies that the legislature did not intend such a result.
If you have any questions regarding the Development Permit Extension Act or this change, please contact Alyson Zarro at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-458-4400 or any other of our land use attorneys.
For More Information, Contact: Alyson M. Zarro, Esquire