CH- field sign

KEVIN TUSTIN - MEDIANEWS GROUP

This is the sign for the Clifton Heights Athletic Fields on North Springfield Road on a piece of land owned by the Upper Darby School District. 

MEDIA COURTHOUSE — A county judge this week announced the first legal proceeding in the land-use appeal suit brought by Upper Darby School District against Clifton Heights Borough and its borough council.

Common Pleas Court Judge Barry Dozor scheduled an Aug. 14 pretrial conference in the civil suit initiated by the school district arguing against procedural challenges in four ordinances (Nos. 867, 868, 869 and 870) approved by Clifton Heights Borough Council on May 28 that amended its zoning code. These ordinances, the school district claims in its June 27 appeal, were rushed by the borough to thwart the district’s plans to construct a middle school on a 14-acre parcel of district-owned property on North Springfield Road in the borough.

The codes that were amended through the ordinances now demands more information for impact statements required for larger land development projects, removing the by-right use to build a school on the Clifton fields to a conditional use, incorporating build specifications and updating the borough’s standards for subdivision and land development to confirm to The Delaware County Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance of 2016.

A statement released by the school district on July 3 said one of the issues to be discussed at that conference is whether or not the court will consider the new ordinances in its review of the plan, or the ordinances that were in place at the time of the district’s submission of its plan to build the new school. The district submitted land development plans to the borough a week before the ordinances were adopted.

The district’s appeal listed alleged failures to comply with notice and enactment procedures of the Municipal Planning Code: o publish a notice of Ordinance No. 869 that summarized the provisions in reasonable detail; to provide a copy of Ordinance No. 870 for comment by the Delaware County Planning Commission prior to enactment; and to hold a “public hearing” on ordinance Nos. 867-870 prior to enactment.

“Because the borough failed to strictly complete with the statutory procedures under the MPC, the ordinances should be declared procedurally defective and void ab initio,” reads part of the appeal.

Clifton Heights Solicitor Francis Catania said last week when the appeal was filed the district is trying to avoid scrutiny under these ordinances.

The borough planning commission was set to review the district’s land-development application on July 9, but that meeting has been canceled.

The pretrial conference is scheduled for Aug. 14 at 3 p.m. in courtroom 7.

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