Land-use webinar offered by Penn State Extension to focus on zoning ethics

January 03, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Dealing with claims of conflict of interest, bias or bad faith leveled against municipal planners in zoning and land-development proceedings will be the topic of a web-based seminar presented by Penn State Extension.

The 75-minute webinar, which begins at noon on Jan. 16, will feature Michael Crotty and Eric Brown, attorneys with the Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, firm of Siana, Bellwoar and McAndrew.

Claims of conflict of interest, bias and bad faith are addressed in either the state's Ethics Act or due process laws, Brown noted. "The Municipalities Planning Code requires municipalities to exercise good faith when processing and reviewing subdivision and land-development-plan applications," he said. "Municipal planning and zoning officials need to be aware of the process of zoning and land-development approval as well as the role of other parties, including the governing body, township engineer and zoning officer."

The webinar will cover the zoning and land-development process; the roles of the governing body, township engineer, zoning officer and zoning hearing board in the process; practical guidance on how to avoid claims of conflicts of interest, bias and bad faith; and recent legal decisions that impact zoning and land-development decisions. 

The speakers also will discuss the impact of abstentions on voting and the appointment of special counsel to represent the interests of the township and/or planning commission on zoning matters before the board of supervisors. 

"Zoning Ethics" is the first webinar in the Penn State Extension Winter/Spring 2019 Land Use Webinar Series that runs from Jan. 16 to May 15. The webinar series assists municipal elected and appointed officials, planners, landowners, farmers and community organizations in being informed about land-use issues and decisions in their communities.

Other topics and dates in the webinar series include the following:

–Feb. 20: "Geodesign: Using Data Transparency and Community Voices for Enhanced Land-use Planning."

–March 20: "Municipal Options for Meeting MS4 Compliance Without Breaking the Budget."

–April 17: "Making the Most of Historical and Heritage Assets: How a Preservation-based Design Ethic Can Promote Economic and Community Vitality."

–May 15: "The Benefits and Challenges of Ride-sharing on the Transportation System."

 All of these programs will be recorded and available for later viewing.

The cost of the webinar series is $50 for all five sessions, or $95 for all five sessions for those who want to receive AICP certification maintenance credits from the American Planning Association. The cost is also $95 for all five sessions for professional engineers needing PDH credits. 

In addition, registered landscape architects can receive continuing education credits for a fee of $65.

For more information, contact Peter Wulfhorst at 570-296-3400 or by email at To register for the webinars, visit the Penn State Extension website.

Last Updated January 03, 2019