This guide describes the basic elements of land use planning and regulation available to municipal and county governments under the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.
A municipality may express an interest in acquiring specific land (or easements thereon) for trails, streets, parks, open space networks and other public purposes by establishing an “official map” that “reserves” this land. If a landowner seeks to develop reserved land, the municipality has a year to pursue acquisition of the land from the owner before the owner may freely build or subdivide.
Pennsylvania municipalities may require developers to provide parkland for new developments. They may also offer developers the option to instead pay fees, construct facilities, or establish private parkland.
When a local government is approving a subdivision and land development plan, a landowner or developer sometimes agrees to place restrictions on the land to ensure that no further subdivision or development of common open space or large lots can occur beyond that contemplated in the plan being approved. Pathways to establishing these restrictions in Pennsylvania so that they are successful in the long run are described in this guide.