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Township v. Pennsylvania Builders Association of Chester and Delaware Counties

October 19, 2010

SCHUYLKILL TOWNSHIP, APPELLANT
v.
PENNSYLVANIA BUILDERS ASSOCIATION OF CHESTER AND DELAWARE COUNTIES, THE BASILE CORPORATION AND SHC, INC., APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court entered 09-06-2007 at No. 1800 CD 2006 which affirmed the Order of Chester County Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, entered 08-ASSOCIATION, HOME BUILDERS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mr. Justice Eakin

CASTILLE, C.J., SAYLOR, EAKIN, BAER, TODD, McCAFFERY, GREENSPAN, JJ.

ARGUED: October 22, 2008

29-2006 at No. 05-09962

OPINION

Schuylkill Township appeals the Commonwealth Court's order affirming a Department of Labor and Industry adjudication invalidating the Township's sprinkler ordinance; the Ordinance required standards beyond the minimum requirements of the Uniform Construction Code (UCC), and that court found no local circumstances or conditions exist in the Township justifying such an exception. We affirm.

The Pennsylvania Construction Code Act (PCCA), 35 P.S. § 7210.101 et seq., stresses uniformity: "[t]he way to insure uniform, modern construction standards and regulations throughout this Commonwealth is to adopt a Uniform Construction Code." Id., § 7210.102(a)(3). Section 301 of the PCCA granted the Department of Labor and Industry authority to promulgate uniform statewide construction standards, id., § 7210.301(a)(1), which it did by adopting the UCC in April, 2004. 34 Pa.Code § 401.1 et seq.; Allegheny Inspection Service, Inc. v. North Union Township, 964 A.2d 878, 881 (Pa. 2009). "[T]he provisions of the [UCC] . preempt and rescind construction standards provided by a statute, local ordinance or regulation. The rescission or preemption does not apply to ordinances in effect on July 1, 1999 .." 34 Pa.Code § 403.2(a). Ordinances enacted after the effective date which require more than ("exceed") the UCC's minimum requirements are subject to review by the Department of Labor and Industry pursuant to 35 P.S. § 7210.503(j).

Schuylkill Township enacted Ordinance 2005-01, requiring sprinklers in all new structures or dwellings, including basements, additions, and structural alterations. Ordinance 2005-01 provides, in relevant part:

Section 1 - Fire Suppression Systems - As set out herein, a fully operational automatic fire suppression system . is hereby required:

A. All new construction of a structure or dwelling . shall be equipped with a fully operational automatic Fire Suppression System ..

B. All new addition(s) or structural alteration(s) . representing 1,000 square feet or more of gross floor area . shall be equipped with a fully operational Fire Suppression System throughout the existing structure and any new addition(s). Additions or alterations to an existing sprinklered structure shall be sprinklered no matter the square footage of the addition or alteration.

C. Fire Suppression System[s] shall be required throughout basements of newly constructed buildings.

Id. The Ordinance applies to structures or dwellings as defined in the Schuylkill Township Zoning Ordinance of 1955.*fn1

It is undisputed Ordinance 2005-01's sprinkler mandate exceeds the UCC because the UCC did not require sprinklers.*fn2 An ordinance exceeding the UCC must meet all four standards ...


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