John B. Rice is a highly experienced attorney who concentrates his legal practice in the areas of municipal law, zoning and land use and eminent domain law. His experience includes over 25 years of service to municipalities, municipal authorities, citizens groups and individual clients. He has litigated land use, environmental, and regulatory issues before local and state administrative agencies. John has a strong track record of client satisfaction, and he has argued numerous successful land use appeals before the Commonwealth Court and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. His dedication and commitment provide both municipalities and individual clients a diverse range of solutions in the field of municipal law.
F l 215.257.5374
AREAS OF PRACTICE
- Land Preservation
- Land Use Litigation
- Eminent Domain
West Virginia University College of Law, J.D., 1986
Pennsylvania State University, B.S., 1974
Major: Administration of Justice
U.S. District Court – Eastern District of Pennsylvania
Pennridge Development Enterprises, Inc. v. Volovnik, et al, 624 A.2d 674, (Pa. 1993)
The Commonwealth Court upheld the Board of Supervisors’ decision requiring conditional use approval for any expansion of Airport operations where the Airport was reclassified from a nonconforming use to a use permitted by conditional use.
AWACS, Inc. v. Warwick Township Zoning Hearing Board, 656 A.2d 608, 1995 (Pa. Commw. 1995)
The Commonwealth Court, in affirming the Zoning Hearing Board, found that a cell site standing alone is not a “public utility”, but rather a “telephone central office.” Therefore, a cell site cannot be constructed in an area where a “telephone central office” is not permitted.
Bernie Enterprises v. Hilltown Township Zoning Hearing Board, 657 A.2d 1364, (Pa. Commw. 1995)
The Commonwealth Court reversed the Trial Court and affirmed the Zoning Hearing Board which had limited the expansion of the applicant’s junkyard use. The Court found that the Zoning Hearing Board had correctly determined that the applicant failed to meet the standards for a variance by estoppel.
Heritage Building Group, Inc. v. Bedminster Township Board of Supervisors, 742 A.2d 708, (Pa. Commw. 1999)
Heritage filed a curative amendment alleging that the Township Zoning Ordinance was exclusionary for failing to provide a fair share of land for mobile home parks and multi-family dwellings. On appeal, the Commonwealth Court affirmed the Board’s denial of the curative amendment, stating that the Township had provided for adequate population growth through the year 2010.
C&M Developers, Inc. v. Bedminster Township Zoning Hearing Board, 573 Pa. 2, 820 A.2d 143 (Pa Supreme 2002)
The Supreme Court reversed the Commonwealth Court which had affirmed the Board of Supervisors’ decision denying the landowner’s challenge to the agricultural zoning of the local municipality. Although the Supreme Court affirmed the 60% agricultural soils preservation provisions of the Zoning Ordinance, the Court struck down the “one good acre” minimum lot size provisions of the Township’s ordinance.
Heritage Building Group, Inc. v. Plumstead Township Board of Supervisors, 833 A.2d 1205, (Pa. Commw. 2003)
The Commonwealth Court, on appeal from a curative amendment denial by the Township Board of Supervisors, reviewed the “fair share” test set forth in Surrick v. Zoning Hearing Board of the Township of Upper Providence, 476 Pa. 182 (1978). The Court determined that the Township had provided for its “fair share” of multi-family housing and that active agricultural uses are uses which should be considered “development” for purposes of determining how much land was available in a municipality for the construction of housing.
In Re: Petition of Dolington Land Group and Toll Brothers, Inc., From the Decision of the Zoning Hearing Board of Upper Makefield Township, 576 Pa. 519, 839 A.2d 1021 (Pa. Supreme 2003)
This case discussed the application of the Surrick case to the assessment of the validity of a multi-municipal zoning ordinance which has been authorized by Article VIII-A of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code. The Court addressed the issues surrounding the determination of “the path of urban-suburban growth” in relation to joint municipal zoning. The Court also discussed the benefits of regional planning within the Commonwealth.
Piper Group, Inc., et al v. Bedminster Township Board of Supervisors, 30 A.3rd 1083 (Pa. 2011)
The Supreme Court affirmed the Board of Supervisors’ decision which had rejected Piper’s proposed curative amendment where the Township followed the curative amendment hearing procedures set forth at Section 609.1(c) of the MPC. The Court also examined the interaction between Section 609.1(c) of the MPC with its prior decisions which had interpreted the Pending Ordinance Rule.
A. Rhoades Wilson v. Plumstead Township Zoning Hearing Board , 936 A.2d 1061 (Pa. 2007)
The Supreme Court affirmed the Commonwealth Court, which had reversed the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas, granting a use variance to the landowner. The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of the use variance on the basis that there was no showing of a hardship unique or peculiar to the property as distinguished from the hardship arising from the impact of zoning regulations on an entire district. The Court also addressed the different standards for variances applied to Philadelphia zoning cases under the Court’s Valley View and East Torresdale decisions and variance cases located in municipalities covered by the MPC.
PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS AND EXPERIENCE:
Bucks County Association of Township Officials
Bucks County Bar Association
Pennsylvania Bar Association
Pennsylvania Township Solicitor’s Association
Pennridge Regional Police Commission
Lower Moreland Township
Lower Providence Township