Thursday, December 6, 2007
As I tell my students, no category of prospective neighbors shoots fear into the hearts of property owners as much as the prospect of … college students! In Slippery Rock, Pa., the township’s decision to approve a planned apartment development designed largely for college students (of the eponymous adjacent university) was recently affirmed by a Pennsylvania appellate court. (The case is Ligo v. Slippery Rock Township, No. 2216 C.D.2006 (Pa. Commonw. Ct. Nov. 29, 2007.)
The challengers raised 15 arguments against the township’s approval of a “planned residential development” (PRD). Among the most striking of the challenges were arguments that the local zoning ordinance requires a PRD to be primarily single-family houses, and that the buffer zone must be three feet per unit (there are 244 units planned) around the entire development, which would require a 732-foot buffer! The appellate court rejected these and other interpretations, in part with the principle that, “To the extent there is an ambiguity, a zoning ordinance is to be read in favor of the landowner and against any implied extension of restrictions on the use of one’s property.” Is this a “slippery” slope? (I couldn’t resist.)
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