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BOARD SUPERVISORS RICHLAND TOWNSHIP v. TOHICKON CREEK ASSOCIATES (01/25/89)

decided: January 25, 1989.

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF RICHLAND TOWNSHIP, APPELLANT
v.
TOHICKON CREEK ASSOCIATES, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, in the case of Tohickon Creek Associates v. Board of Supervisors of The Township of Richland, No. 87-03748.

COUNSEL

Richard A. Rosenberger, Souder, Rosenberger & Bricker, for appellant.

John A. VanLuvanee, with him, Christopher H. Schubert, Eastburn and Gray, for appellee.

Judges Craig and Barry, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 123 Pa. Commw. Page 112]

The Board of Supervisors (governing body) of Richland Township appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County that granted a writ of mandamus to the Tohickon Creek Associates (Tohickon) ordering the township to approve the final subdivision plan which Tohickon Creek Associates had submitted for a proposed land development project.

Tohickon submitted an application for final subdivision approval to the township's planning commission on March 25, 1986. By letter dated May 2, 1986 the planning commission informed Tohickon that the commission had disapproved the final plan. The commission included in the letter the specific reasons why the commission had denied Tohickon's application.

The trial court held that the township's ordinance does not validly designate the township planning commission as the final authority to deny a subdivision application, and that therefore, the failure of the governing

[ 123 Pa. Commw. Page 113]

    body to render a timely decision on Tohickon's application resulted in a "deemed approval".

The question for review is whether the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC)*fn1 permits a township ordinance to delegate to a planning commission a limited authority to act upon subdivision applications, where the ordinance provides that a decision of the planning commission to deny a subdivision application is final, but the governing body retains the power of final approval if the planning commission acts favorably upon the subdivision application.*fn2

Because we conclude that the MPC allows a limited delegation of subdivision approval power to a planning commission, as provided in the township's ordinance, we must reverse the trial court's decision.

The MPC clearly allows municipalities to delegate subdivision approval power:

Section 501. Grant of Power. -- The governing body of each municipality may regulate subdivisions and land development within the municipality by enacting a subdivision and land development ordinance. The ordinance may require that all plats of land lying within the municipality shall be submitted for approval to the governing body or in lieu thereof to a planning agency designated in the ordinance for this purpose. All powers granted herein to the governing body or the planning agency shall be exercised in accordance with

[ 123 Pa. Commw. Page 114]

    the provisions of the subdivision and land ...


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