A new bill requiring electronic and mailed notices to property owners affected by new zoning ordinances or an amendment to an existing zoning ordinance becomes effective on August 31, 2013.
Governor Corbett, on July 2, 2013, signed Act 36 of 2013 (House Bill 515) amending the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (Act 247 of 1968, or “MPC”) by requiring electronic notice and mailed notice to certain property owners in advance of public hearings. The Act becomes effective in 60 days.
The new law amends Section 107 of the MPC by adding definitions for “electronic notice” and “mailed notice”. The new law creates a new Section 109 of the MPC creating rules regarding electronic and mailed notice, including:
- An owner of a tract or parcel of land located within a municipality, or the owner of the mineral rights of a tract or parcel of land within a municipality, may request that the municipality provide written or electronic notice of a public hearing which may affect such tract or parcel of land.
- The notices are required only if the owner has made a written request that the notice either be sent electronically or mailed, and the owner must provide needed information such as an electronic or mailing address and a stamped, self-addressed envelope prior to the public hearing.
- If the owner complies with the above provisions, a municipality must mail the notice or provide electronic notice not more than 30 days and not less than seven days prior to the scheduled date of the hearing.
- For each public hearing, the municipal secretary or zoning officer shall prepare, sign, and maintain a list of all mailed notices, mailing dates, electronic notices, and electronic notice dates.
- The mailed notice shall be deemed received by an owner on the date deposited in the United States mail. The electronic notice shall be deemed received by an owner on the date the municipality electronically notifies the owner.
The new provisions regarding electronic notice or mailed notice apply only to Sections 608 and 609 of the MPC, which govern the adoption and amendment of zoning ordinances. Sections 608 and 609 of the MPC now require that an electronic or mailed notice be sent to an owner, who has made a timely request, before voting on a zoning ordinance or amendment. If a proposed amendment is changed substantially or revised to include land previously not affected by it, the governing body shall hold another public hearing pursuant to public notice, mailed notice and electronic notice, before proceeding to vote on the amendment.
Municipalities are encouraged to review their existing zoning ordinances to ensure they comply with this new law.