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March 2016 Archives

Understanding development agreements in Pennsylvania

This blog has written repeatedly about the effect of comprehensive plans, zoning maps and zoning overlays on real estate development in Philadelphia. In virtually every such post, the issue was a conflict between the developer and either the municipality or a community group. A new type of land use control is being used to minimize these conflicts and provide municipalities a more flexible means of controlling commercial real estate development.

Chestnut Hill Association creates preservation task force

Philadelphia's older suburbs appear to be caught between two competing development phenomena: increasing population density and preserving historic older buildings. Increased population density brings with it demand for more housing and commercial services. The latter acts as a brake on development even if a new project is clearly beneficial. This conflict has prompted the Chestnut Hill Community Association ("CHCA") to create a task force to guide future rezoning and land use in ways that will preserve and protect the community's historic fabric.

Severance damages in Pennsylvania

Most property owners in Pennsylvania understand that the state has the power to force them to sell their land to it so long as they receive "just compensation." But what happens when the state (or any other entity with the power of eminent domain) wants to condemn only a portion of an owner's property? What happens, say, if the portion taken by the state leaves the remaining portion without access to a public street? Or what happens if the remaining portion is too small or so irregularly shaped that it has little or no remaining profitable use? Can an owner recover just compensation for these adverse impacts?

Stormwater runoff seen as concern for school expansion

This blog has frequently written about the conflict between groups that wish to preserve Philadelphia's historic buildings and private developers who want to demolish or significantly modify such structures. The focus of such disputes is usually the conflict between the supposed economic benefit that attaches to residential and commercial real estate development and the unique culture represented by the city's finite supply of historic buildings. But other issues can cause similar disputes. In a case arising on the Main Line, weather has become the issue that divides two sides of a land use dispute.

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