This chapter shall be considered to set forth the minimum requirements for the protection of the public health, safety, comfort, property or general welfare, pursuant to the authority of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, Act No. 247, 1968 Sessions, as amended, or such statutes hereinafter in effect, and shall be construed most favorably to the Borough as encouraging standards of planning and development exceeding these basic and minimum regulations.
The Old Forge Borough Planning Commission and the Old Forge Borough Council shall be charged with the responsibility for the administration of the provisions of this chapter as herein provided, including the exercise by the Borough Council of the municipal authority to approve or reject any and all subdivision and land development plans and to enforce the provisions of this chapter on behalf of the Borough of Old Forge. The Borough Council also reserves, with respect to this chapter, the authority to negotiate, approve, accept, hold and release security paid by developers in lieu of the completion of required improvements.
Initiation of action. In addition to other remedies provided herein, the municipality may, on behalf of the Borough, institute and maintain appropriate actions by law or in equity to restrain, correct or abate violations, to prevent unlawful construction, to recover damages and to prevent illegal occupancy of a building, structure or premises. The description by metes and bounds in the instrument of transfer or other documents used in the process of selling or transferring shall not exempt the seller or transferor from such penalties or from the remedies herein provided.
Refusal to issue permits. The municipality may refuse to issue (or order municipal refusal to issue) any permit or grant any approval necessary to further improve or develop any real property which has been developed or which has resulted from a subdivision of real property in violation of this chapter. This authority to deny such a permit or approval shall apply to any of the following applicants:
The owner of record at the time of such violation.
The vendee or lessee of the owner of record at the time of such violation, without regard as to whether such vendee or lessee had actual or constructive knowledge of the violation.
The current owner of record who acquired the property subsequent to the time of violation, without regard as to whether such current owner had actual or constructive knowledge of the violation.
The vendee or lessee of the current owner of record who acquired the property subsequent to the time of violation, without regard as to whether such vendee or lessee had actual or constructive knowledge of the violation.
Compliance with prior conditions. As an additional condition for issuance of a permit or the granting of an approval to any such owner, current owner, vendee or lessee for the development of any such real property, the municipality may require compliance with the conditions that would have been applicable to the property at the time the applicant acquired an interest in such real property.
Modification standards. The provisions of this chapter are intended as minimum standards for the protection of the public health, safety and welfare of the residents and inhabitants of Lackawanna County. The municipality may grant a modification of the requirements of one or more provisions of this chapter if the municipality concludes that the literal enforcement will exact undue hardship because of peculiar conditions pertaining to the land in question, provided that such modifications will not be contrary to the public interest and that the purpose and intent of this chapter is observed.
Modification procedures. All requests for a modification shall be in writing to the municipality and shall accompany and be part of the application for development. The request shall state in full the grounds and facts of unreasonableness or hardship on which the request is based, the provision or provisions of this chapter involved and the minimum modification necessary.
Modification review and approval. All such modification requests shall be approved or disapproved by the municipality. Any modification or exception granted and the full particulars for such grant shall be recorded in the minutes of the Commission. A statement of modification or exception showing the date such grant was made shall be attached to all copies of the final plan.
A subdivider or developer aggrieved by any action of the municipality regarding refusal to approve a subdivision or land development plan may, within 30 days of such refusal, appeal to the Common Pleas Court of Lackawanna County. Such an appeal, as well as any other appeals by aggrieved parties or other landowners, shall be subject to the appeal procedures outlined in Article X-A of Act 247.
General rules on fees.
No plat or site plan shall be signed, nor shall any zoning permits, building permits, certificates of occupancy or any other types of permits be issued, with respect to any approved application for development until all bills for reimbursable services have been received by the municipality from professional personnel rendering services in connection with such application and payment has been approved by the municipality, unless the applicant shall have deposited with the Borough Secretary an amount agreed upon by the applicant and the municipality as likely to be sufficient to cover all reimbursable items, and upon posting said deposit with the Borough Secretary or payment of said approved bills for reimbursable services, the appropriate maps or permits may be signed and released or issued to the developer.
If the amount of the deposit exceeds the actual cost as approved for payment by the municipality, the developer shall be entitled to a return of the excess deposit, together with such interest as allowed by the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, Act 247. But if the charges submitted and approved by the municipality exceed the amount of the deposit, the developer shall be liable for payment of such deficiency.
No professional personnel submitting charges to the Borough for any of the services referred to this section shall charge for any of the services contemplated by this section at any higher rate or in any different manner than would normally be charged the municipality for similar work as ascertained by the professional's contract of employment with the Borough or by provisions of a municipal salary ordinance.
Payment of any bill rendered by a professional to the municipality with respect to any service for which the Borough is entitled to reimbursement under this chapter shall in no way be contingent upon receipt of reimbursement by the developer, nor shall any payment to a professional be delayed pending reimbursement from a developer.
Deposits received from any developer pursuant to this section shall be deposited in a banking institution or savings-and-loan association in this state insured by an agency of the federal government or in any other fund or depository on time or savings deposits. The municipality shall notify the applicant, in writing, of the name and address of the institution or depository in which the deposit is made and the amount of the deposit.
The municipality shall not be required to refund an amount of interest paid on a deposit which does not exceed $100 for the year. If the amount of interest exceeds $100, that entire amount shall belong to the applicant and shall be refunded to him or her by the municipality annually or at the time the deposit is repaid or applied to the purposes for which it was deposited, as the case may be, except that the municipality may retain for administrative expenses a sum equivalent to no more than 33 1/3% of that entire amount, which shall be in lieu of all other administrative and custodial expenses.
Each subdivision or land development plan application shall be accompanied by the required review and recording fees and Engineer's review and inspection fee deposit, as established herein. Fees shall be payable at the time of plan submission (unless otherwise noted herein), and plan processing, approval and recording shall not be completed until all required fees are paid.
There shall be no refund or credit of fees or a portion of any fee should the subdivider or developer withdraw the plan during the review process or fail to receive plan approval.
The fee schedule called for in this section shall be established and may be amended from time to time by adoption of a resolution by the Old Forge Borough Council setting forth such fees.
Escrow deposits to be paid in addition to fees.
In addition to municipality review and processing fees, an applicant shall be responsible to reimburse the Borough for:
All expenses of professional personnel incurred and paid to process an application for development before the municipality, such as, but not limited to:
Charges for reviews by professional personnel of applications and accompanying documents, including field inspection of project sites and site conditions.
Issuance of reports by professional personnel to the Planning Commission and/or the Borough Council setting forth recommendations resulting from the review of any document submitted by the applicant.
Charges for any telephone conference or meeting requested or initiated by the applicant, his or her attorney or any of the applicant's experts.
Review of additional documents submitted by an applicant after the submission of a completed application and issuance of reports relating thereto.
Review or preparation of easements, developer's agreements, deeds or the like.
On-site inspection of any and all project improvements required to affirm that the developer has complied will the terms of an approved development plan, preliminary or final.
Preparation for and attendance at special meetings.
The cost of expert advice or testimony obtained by the Borough for the purpose of corroborating testimony of the applicant's experts, provided that the municipal agency gives prior notice to the applicant of its intention to obtain such additional expert advice or testimony and affords an applicant an opportunity to be heard as to the necessity for such additional devices or testimony and definition of the limitation on the nature and extent thereof.
No applicant shall be responsible to reimburse the Borough for any of the following:
Attendance by the municipality's professional personnel at any regularly scheduled meeting of the Planning Commission or Borough Council; provided, however, that the municipality shall be entitled to be reimbursed for attendance of its professional personnel at special meetings of a municipal agency which were requested to be called by the applicant for the applicant's convenience.
The preparation of a resolution or memorializing resolution setting forth the findings and conclusions of the municipal agency with respect to an application.
The term "professional personnel" or "professional services," as used herein, shall include the services of a duly licensed engineer, surveyor, planner, attorney, realtor, appraiser or other expert who would provide professional services to ensure an application meets all performance standards set forth in this chapter and any other experts whose testimony relates to or rebuts a subject testified to by the applicant's expert.
Lackawanna County Regional Planning Commission plan review fee. The Borough shall collect and transmit any and all such plan review fees required by the Lackawanna County Regional Planning Commission. Failure or refusal by a developer to pay such a fee shall constitute grounds for declaring any application for plan approval to be incomplete. Alternatively, developers who submit their plans to the County Planning Commission independently shall also assume responsibility for the payment of such fees as the County Planning Commission shall require.
Fines. Any person, partnership or corporation who or which has violated the provisions of this chapter shall, upon being found liable therefor in a civil enforcement proceeding commenced by the municipality, pay a judgment of not more than $500, plus all court costs, including reasonable attorney fees incurred by the Borough as a result thereof.
Jurisdiction. Magisterial District Judges shall have initial jurisdiction in proceedings brought by the municipality in accordance with this section. No judgment shall commence or be imposed, levied or be payable until the date of the determination of a violation by the Magisterial District Judge. If the defendant neither pays nor timely appeals the judgment, the municipality may enforce the judgment on behalf of the Borough pursuant to the applicable rules of civil procedure. Each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate violation, unless the Magisterial District Judge determining that there has been a violation further determines that there was a good faith basis for the person, partnership or corporation violating the chapter to have believed that there was no violation, in which event there shall be deemed to have been only one such violation until the fifth day following the date of the determination of a violation by the Magisterial District Judge, and thereafter each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate violation.
Amendments to this chapter may be initiated by the Borough Planning Commission or the Old Forge Borough Council from time to time in accordance with the requirements and procedures set forth in the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended.
If the amendments are initiated by the Old Forge Borough Council, the proposed amendment or amendments shall be submitted to the Borough Planning Commission for review and comment at least 30 days prior to a public hearing. Before enactment of a proposed amendment or amendments, the Old Forge Borough Council shall hold a public hearing thereon pursuant to public notice.
The modification or repeal of any prior ordinance, resolution or regulation by this chapter shall not annul or otherwise relieve any party from any permit issued, condition imposed, approval granted, approval denied, order issued or violation, penalty or other liability incurred pursuant to such affected ordinance, resolution or regulation.
The approval of a subdivision and/or land development plan or of any improvement installed shall not constitute a representation, guaranty or warranty of any kind or nature by the municipality or any official, employee or appointee thereof of the safety of any land, improvement, property or use from any cause whatsoever and shall create no liability upon or a cause of action against the municipality or such official, employee or appointee for any damage that may result pursuant thereto.
The municipality, including both the Borough Council and the Borough Planning Commission, shall keep a complete record of all of its findings, decisions and recommendations relative to all applications for approval of subdivision and land development plans filed with the municipality for its review.
This chapter shall be in full force and effect from and after its date of passage. This chapter, however, shall have no effect on written agreements to sell, options and/or written offers to purchase pending at the time of public notice of the introduction and intended passage of this chapter, provided that said written agreements shall be registered with the Borough Manager within 60 days of the date of passage of this chapter.