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Although bipartisan support for the American Jobs Plan remains up in the air, the $2.3 trillion plan has garnered much attention for its proposal to tackle America’s failing infrastructure, as well as zoning and land use regulations.

With the AJP on the horizon, there could be big changes ahead for landowners and real estate developers not just throughout Northeast Pennsylvania but across the country. At Hoegen & Associates, PC, our land use and zoning attorneys are here to explore what you could expect in Pennsylvania if Congress passes the American Jobs Plan.

The American Jobs Plan & Exclusionary Zoning

According to the White House’s website, the American Jobs Plan will “eliminate state and local exclusionary zoning laws, which drive up the cost of construction and keep families from moving to neighborhoods with more opportunities for them and their kids.”

Before we delve into the specifics of the American Jobs Plan, let’s first explore exclusionary zoning, what it means, and what it currently looks like.

What Is Exclusionary Zoning?

Exclusionary zoning is an ordinance that excludes land use from a particular community. Typically, these policies minimize lot sizes or square footage requirements. These policies can also mandate parking, prohibit multifamily housing, or drive up the costs of building codes.

It’s argued that exclusionary zoning makes it more difficult for low-income residents to occupy a home in a certain area, which is why it has recently come under fire in the American Jobs Plan.

Despite the Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibiting racial, religious, and national origin discrimination in the housing market, it’s widely believed that exclusionary zoning drives class-based discrimination. It’s also argued that exclusionary zoning has inflated housing and construction costs, and led to the rise of concentrated poverty in the United States.

The Impact of the AJP on Zoning & Land Use

If the American Jobs Plan passes, it promises to provide funding for local and state jurisdictions that will incentivize the elimination of barriers that promote exclusionary zoning.

What does this mean for real estate developers in Pennsylvania? In Pennsylvania, anti-exclusionary zone legislation exists and “spot zoning” is illegal, but landowners and real estate developers can still initiate validity challenges. If the AJP comes to fruition, challenging land use and zoning ordinances and regulations could become more challenging. Also, stricter regulations and the enforcement of anti-exclusionary and spot zoning laws could become more commonplace.

Should landowners and real estate developers violate AJP-influenced ordinances and regulations in the future, they could potentially face heavier legal and financial consequences. Non-compliance with the changes in land use and zoning regulation also has the potential to drive up the costs to complete construction projects, which will have negative implications for those landowners and real estate developers.

How You Can Prepare for the American Jobs Plan

In addition to helping real estate developers and landowners obtain required permits or authorizations, our attorneys can also help them navigate and challenge new land use and zoning regulations and ordinances that may result from the American Jobs Plan.

If you are a landowner or real estate developer in Pennsylvania, or if you’re planning to construct a commercial construction project in the coming years, we encourage you to reach out to us. Our attorneys can keep you up-to-date and prepared for changes happening in Pennsylvania land use and zoning regulations.