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Pennsylvania Supreme Court to hear cases that could impact zoning

3/14/2016 | Real Estate Blog

Zoning issues can have an impact of the development of property where construction is concerned. That is not the only situation in which disputes regarding the way in which land is used can arise however. Currently environmental protection is taking center stage in the use of some property in Pennsylvania. Two cases regarding this issue are slated to be heard by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court this month.

The issues relate specifically to gas drilling in the state and different groups are hoping for different outcomes.

Among other things, the interpretation of another recent drilling case—Robinson Township v. Commonwealth is at issue. Environmental legal scholars and conservation groups are hoping the courts will come down on the side of environmental rights contained in the state constitution. This action would also solidify the central, nonbinding, opinion of that case, wherein a plurality of justices struck down the limits in place to local zoning control of nature gas operations. To do so, they cited Article 1, Section 27 of Pennsylvania’s state constitution—the environmental rights amendment.

Those representing certain government agencies and business groups would like the court to remove the confusion the Robinson decision created. They would also like the outcome to support the government’s role in making decision regarding public natural resources.

The decisions reached could have implications regarding right-of-way access, eminent domain issues, the way transmission line projects are handled by the PUC and zoning exemptions. Because of this we will provide relevant updates on the matter as they become available.