Thursday, December 6, 2007

The invasion of college students on a slippery rock …

  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.)

Slipperyrockmap   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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