Allegheny County, PA
 
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
A. 
Enabling authority/adoption. The County Council of Allegheny County, in accordance with the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, Act 247 of 1968, as reenacted and amended by Act 170 of 1988, and as subsequently amended, 53 P.S. § 10101 et seq. (MPC), enacts the following chapter to regulate the subdivision and development of land in Allegheny County (County).
B. 
Planning agency authority. The Allegheny County Department of Economic Development (Department) is designated as the County planning agency with authority to administer this chapter and to review and approve applications for subdivision and land development.
C. 
Repealer. Any prior County ordinances or regulations or parts thereof conflicting with the provisions of this chapter, including but not limited to the Allegheny County Subdivision and Land Development Regulations adopted in 1983 (designated as Agreement No. 18870) and the amendments thereto adopted in 1987 (designated Agreement No. 19241) and the Allegheny County Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance of 1998, are hereby repealed.
D. 
Title. This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Allegheny County Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance of 2012."
E. 
Separability. Any section, subsection or provision of this chapter that is declared to be invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction shall not affect the validity of any other part of this chapter or the chapter as a whole.
F. 
Amendments. This chapter may be amended by the County Council in accordance with the procedures specified in the MPC.
G. 
Effective date. This chapter shall become effective 14 days after the date of enactment.
A. 
General purpose. It is the purpose of this chapter to protect and promote the public health, safety and welfare through the establishment of standards and procedures for the review and approval of subdivisions and land development in Allegheny County.
B. 
Specific purposes. The provisions of this chapter are intended to achieve the following specific purposes:
(1) 
To encourage new development that is well-designed, of high quality and suited to the natural conditions of this site.
(2) 
To encourage the coordinated growth of communities and compact, efficient and economic patterns of development, and to avoid excessive public costs of scattered development.
(3) 
To prevent development which may be hazardous because of the physical character of land and to protect and preserve valued natural, historic and cultural features of the environment.
(4) 
To ensure the provision of public improvements which are necessary and appropriate for the development and which are coordinated with nearby areas.
(5) 
To provide flexibility in standards and requirements so that the design of development can be fitted to the character of its site and to the community in which it is located.
(6) 
To reflect and implement municipal, County and regional plans and policies.
(7) 
To provide standards and procedures for the uniform preparation and recording of plans so that the land records of the County are accurate, complete and legible.
(8) 
To coordinate consistency with local municipalities.
(9) 
To plan for greenway connectivity throughout the County, as promoted by the County Comprehensive Plan (Allegheny Places).
(10) 
To coordinate and provide a system of or network of pedestrian and bicycling trails and paths throughout the County and its governed municipalities.
(11) 
To optimize access to rivers.
(12) 
To encourage concentrated development and maximize use of existing highways, transit, and utilities.
(13) 
To promote energy conservation.
(14) 
To control light pollution.
(15) 
To encourage sustainable design techniques, including the use of renewable energy systems and energy efficient building design.
A. 
Approval authority. These regulations shall govern the review and approval of subdivisions and land developments in municipalities within the County which have not enacted a subdivision and land development ordinance in accordance with MPC § 504.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10504.
B. 
Municipal adoption by reference. These regulations shall also govern the review and approval of subdivisions and land developments in municipalities within the County that have chosen to adopt this chapter as their local subdivision and land development ordinance and have designated the Department to administer the regulations in this chapter on their behalf. The designation of the Department to administer this chapter as the subdivision and land development ordinance of a municipality shall not become effective without the concurrence of the Department.
C. 
Review authority. In municipalities which have enacted a subdivision and land development ordinance, all applications for preliminary or final approval of subdivisions and land developments shall be forwarded upon receipt by the municipality to the Department for review and report.
D. 
Review period. A municipality with its own ordinance shall not approve an application for subdivision or land development until the expiration of 30 days from the date the application was forwarded to the Department unless the report of the Department has been received.
E. 
Exemption. The City of Pittsburgh is exempt from the provisions of the MPC and, therefore, from this chapter.
A. 
General. No subdivision or land development of any lot, tract or parcel of land shall be made, no street, sanitary sewer, storm sewer, water main or other improvements in connection therewith shall be laid out, constructed, opened or dedicated for public use or travel, or for the common use of occupants of buildings abutting thereon, except in accordance with the provisions of this chapter and of any applicable municipal ordinance.
B. 
Recording required. All plans of subdivision and land developments shall be recorded in the Allegheny County Department of Real Estate within 90 days after final approval or within 90 days after the date of delivery of an approved plat signed by the Director following completion of conditions imposed for such approval, whichever is later.
C. 
County approval or review notation required. The Department of Real Estate shall not accept any plan for recording unless the plan officially notes the approval of the approving authority and review by the Department where the Department is responsible for review, but not approval, of a plan.
D. 
Effect on applications pending or previously approved.
(1) 
Pending applications. The provisions of this chapter shall not affect any application for subdivision or land development which is pending approval prior to the effective date of this chapter. Such applications shall comply with regulations in effect at the time they were filed.
(2) 
Approved applications. No provision of this chapter shall adversely affect the right of an applicant to complete any aspect of a plan that was approved prior to the effective date of this chapter in accordance with the terms of such approval within five years from the date of first approval.
A. 
Interpretation. The provisions of this chapter shall be held to be minimum requirements for subdivisions and land developments in municipalities where the Department is responsible for the approval of applications.
B. 
Conflict with other laws/regulations. If any provision of this chapter imposes restrictions which are different from those imposed by any other applicable ordinance, regulation or provision of law, the provision that is more restrictive or which imposes higher standards shall control.
C. 
Conflict with private provisions. If the requirements of this chapter are different from those contained in deed restrictions, covenants or other private agreements, the requirements that are more restrictive or which impose higher standards shall govern, provided that the private provisions are otherwise lawful.
D. 
Liability. The review or approval of a subdivision or land development by the Department in accordance with the provisions of this chapter shall not constitute a guarantee of any kind that the proposed development is safe and shall create no liability upon the County, its officials or employees.
A. 
Department may grant. The Department may grant a modification or waiver of the requirements of one or more provisions of this chapter for the following reasons, provided that such modification or waiver will not be contrary to the public interest and that the purposes of the chapter are observed:
(1) 
Hardship. The literal enforcement of the provision will exact undue hardship because of peculiar conditions pertaining to the land in question.
(2) 
Alternative standard. An alternative standard can be demonstrated to provide equal or better results.
B. 
Requests in writing. All requests for modifications or waivers shall be in writing and shall accompany and be a part of the application. The requests shall state in full the grounds and facts of hardship or evidence of equal or better result on which the request is based, the provision or provisions of the chapter involved and the minimum modification necessary.
C. 
Records required. The Department shall keep a written record of all actions on requests for modifications.
A. 
Mediation as an option. The Department may offer mediation as an aid in reaching decisions on applications for approval of subdivision or development of land and as an alternative to appeals from such decisions. Mediation shall supplement, not replace, those procedures once they have been formally initiated. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as expanding or limiting the County's police powers or as modifying any principle of substantive law.
B. 
Voluntary participation. Participation in mediation shall be wholly voluntary. The appropriateness of mediation shall be determined by the particulars of each case and the willingness of the parties to negotiate. The Department shall assist, in each case, the mediating parties, assisted by the mediator, as appropriate, develop terms and conditions for:
(1) 
Funding mediation.
(2) 
Selecting a mediator who, at a minimum, shall have a working knowledge of zoning and subdivision procedures and demonstrated skills in mediation.
(3) 
Completing mediation, including the time limits for such completion.
(4) 
Suspending time limits otherwise authorized in this chapter, provided that there is written consent by the mediating parties and by an applicant or the Department if either is not a party to the mediation.
(5) 
Identifying all parties and affording them the opportunity to participate.
(6) 
Subject to legal restraints, determining whether some or all of the mediation sessions shall be open or closed to the public.
(7) 
Assuring that mediated solutions are in writing and signed by the parties and become subject to review and approval by the Department pursuant to the procedures for approval contained in this chapter.
C. 
Final agreement admissible as evidence. No offers or statements made in the mediation sessions, excluding the final written mediated agreement, shall be admissible as evidence in any subsequent judicial or administrative proceedings.
Any person aggrieved by a decision of the Department concerning an application for approval of a subdivision or land development may appeal the decision in accordance with the procedures specified in Article X-A of the MPC.
A. 
Preventive remedies. In addition to other remedies, the County or a municipality may institute and maintain actions by law or in equity to restrain, correct or abate violations of this chapter, to prevent unlawful construction, to recover damages and to prevent illegal occupancy of a building, structure or premises.
(1) 
No exemption in metes and bounds descriptions. 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 the penalties or remedies provided.
(2) 
Further development not permitted. The County or a municipality in which a violation of this chapter occurs may refuse to issue any permit or grant any approval necessary to further improve or develop real property which has been developed or which has resulted from a subdivision of real property in violation of this chapter. The authority to deny such a permit or approval shall apply to any of the following applicants:
(a) 
The owner of record at the time of such violation.
(b) 
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 notice of the violation.
(c) 
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.
(d) 
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.
(3) 
Compliance with chapter required for permit. As an additional condition for issuance of a permit or the granting of an approval for any such owner, current owner, vendee or lessee for the development of any such real property, the County and/or 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.
B. 
Enforcement remedies.
(1) 
Initial jurisdiction. District Justices shall have initial jurisdiction in proceedings brought under this section.
(2) 
Judgment. 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 County, pay a judgment of not more than $500, plus all court costs, including reasonable attorney fees incurred by the County as a result thereof.
(a) 
No judgment shall commence or be imposed, levied or be payable until the date of the determination of a violation by the District Justice.
(b) 
If the defendant neither pays nor timely appeals the judgment, then the County may enforce the judgment pursuant to the applicable rules of civil procedure.
(c) 
Each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate violation unless the District Justice determining that there has been a violation further determines that there was a good faith basis for the persons, partnership or corporation violating this chapter to have believed that there was no such 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 District Justice, and thereafter, each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate violation.
(3) 
Stay of judgment. The Court of Common Pleas, upon petition, may stay the occurrence of a per-day or daily violation during the pendency of any appeal in accordance with MPC § 515.3(b).[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10515.3(b).
(4) 
Enforcement by County. Nothing in this section shall be construed or interpreted to grant to any person or entity other than the County the right to commence any action for enforcement pursuant to this section.