Governor Wolf Approves Shaffer Bills

Jul 10, 2015

Update - July 10, 2015, 11:50 AM: CAI was notified a short time ago that Governor Wolf has affixed his signature to Senate Bills 687 and 688. 

After five years of negotiations with opponents, conversations with legislators and meetings in the Capitol, the state legislature has passed, and sent to the Governor, Senate Bills 687 and 688, commonly referred to as the Shaffer Case Bills. Unanimous passage by the state House of Representatives yesterday afternoon capped this five year effort by CAI's Pennsylvania Legislative Action Committee.

CAI has sent a communication to Governor Wolf urging him to sign the legislation.

In the case of Shaffer v. Zoning Hearing Board of Chanceford Township, the township objected to the creation of a planned community and conveyance of parcels among family members. The township took the position, which was adopted by the county court and affirmed by the Commonwealth Court, that the creation of a planned community fell within the definition of land development under the Municipalities Planning Code. The PA Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Commonwealth Court without an opinion. CAI seeks a resolution to the conflict created by the courts between the Municipalities Planning Code and the Uniform Planned Community Act and Uniform Condominium Act. Both of these statutes, which provide for the regulation of planned communities and condominium associations in Pennsylvania, state that the creation of a planned community or condominium form of ownership on a property does not constitute a subdivision or land development. This conflict will jeopardize the validity of existing residential and commercial planned communities and condominium associations throughout the state and put their title insurance policies and lender financing at great risk. This decision impedes financing of commercial and industrial projects throughout the Commonwealth, adversely affects housing opportunities for first-time buyers and retirees and adds to the current economic woes of the building industry in Pennsylvania.

While municipal governments play a vital role in regulating the use and development of land in Pennsylvania under the Municipalities Planning Code, the scope of municipalities’ authority should not extend to the change in form of ownership of a property through the creation and conveyance of interests in land that have historically come under the Uniform Condominium Act and the Uniform Planned Community Act. Both of these statutes, prior to this court decision, have been used to create condominiums and planned communities that were not part of a land development or subdivision plan on existing facilities and existing land for estate planning and financing purposes, among others. Therefore, CAI advocated for this legislation which will make it clear that the creation of condominium associations and planned communities out of existing land or facilities does not require municipal approval unless and until new structures or buildings are constructed within the association or planned community.  This legislation eliminates the unnecessary conflict of legal statutes to which condominium associations and planned communities are now exposed and removes a  potential impediment to the viability of residential and commercial associations and communities throughout the Commonwealth.

Visit our legislative page for more information on the legislation, including links to the text of the Bills and voting histories. 

CAI's Pennsylvania Legislative Action Committee represents the interests of an estimated 2.8 million Pennsylvania residents, comprising nearly one‐fourth of the state’s population, living in approximately 10,000-12,000 condominium associations, cooperative associations, and homeowner associations throughout Pennsylvania. Through legislative days at the state capitol, meetings with legislators and updates to members on legislative issues, the LAC works to support legislation that it deems helpful and to defeat legislation deemed harmful to community associations and homeowners. The cost of lobbying and government relations is significant and your contribution helps PALAC retain the services of professionals who help CAI shape the legislative agenda in Harrisburg concerning issues important to CAI members. 

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