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October 2016 Archives

Statements of Support for developer do not bind township

Real estate developers in Philadelphia and its suburbs frequently seek informal backing from zoning officials before investing money in a project. Occasionally, an informal expression of approval by one or more members of a zoning board can lead to a dispute about the board's intentions if the project is formally rejected. A recent court ruling has shown how verbal assurances of support for a project do not bind the municipality.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court decides eminent domain case

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently ruled that a state law that allows for the seizure of private lands by companies for certain natural gas projects is unconstitutional. The ruling was unanimous and may have a significant impact on one of the biggest proposed pipelines in the state. The original rule from 2012 permitted any company the authority to take private land for the purposes of storing natural gas underground using the eminent domain process.

Historic church headed toward 'adaptive reuse' as daycare, condos

This blog has written about numerous instances in Philadelphia where an historic church has been slated for demolition or renovation only to encounter opposition from former parishoners or other preservationists. Another historic church may have been headed for a similar fate when a developer purchased the building and announced a redevelopment plan that preserved the "interior fabric" of the church. The plan has just received approval from the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Resolving disputed ownership claims for real property

As we have noted before in this blog, land is a unique form of property where mere possession does not necessary indicate ownership. In a city as old as Philadelphia, a single parcel of land may have been sold, subdivided or had its boundaries modified on dozens of occasions. Determining ownership in such cases may be necessary to secure a loan, to obtain development approval from the City or resolve the status of property bequeathed in a will.

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