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Commonwealth Court Strikes Down Act 13 Local Zoning Provision, Corbett Administration to Appeal Decision

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court issued a decision in a lawsuit brought against the state by seven municipalities challenging the legality of Act 13, the Marcellus Shale extraction fee legislation.

The Court ruled 4-3 in a decision that the limitations placed on municipality in Act 13 to manage local zoning violate the state constitution, and would leave municipalities defenseless to protect property owners from being surrounded by drilling sites. The Court also ruled that setback provisions in the law were unconstitutional.

The Corbett administration was quick to file an appeal against the court’s ruling. In a press release, Gov. Tom Corbett said the court’s decision “casually set aside” months of compromise and negotiation, and also endangers the impact fee and environmental standards of Act 13.

“This is a wonderful victory for local government, a recognition that local municipal officials have a valid interest in protecting the property of their citizens,” said Jordan Yeager, one of the lawyers who argued on behalf of the municipalities. “Act 13 took that away and the court said that the governor and the Legislature had gone too far.”