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Subdivision and Land Development (SALDO)

What is Subdivision and Land Development (SALDO)?
Subdivision and land development ordinances (often referred to as SALDO) are the most common form of land use regulation in the Commonwealth. The term "subdivision" refers to the act of dividing land and making new lot lines; "land development" is improving the land for some purpose. Both municipalities and counties use this form or regulation. County regulations take effect only in the municipalities in the county that do not have their own regulations. Enactment of a SALDO by a municipality automatically repeals the application of the county ordinance in that municipality. 

Nevertheless, there is a significant relationship between municipalities and county governments in the plan review process. The Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) requires that all plans for subdivision and land development coming to a municipality must be reviewed by the planning county agency. Municipal action on a plan must wait for at least 30 days so the county can provide its review. It is important to understand how subdivision and land development ordinances are being used in Pennsylvania.

Ensuring that land development is orderly and provides necessary improvements is essential to implementing the goals of any community. The primary purposes of subdivision and land development regulations are:
  • to provide adequate sites for development and public use;
  • to maintain reasonable and acceptable design standards; and
  • to coordinate public improvements with private development interests. 
SALDO do not provide the same level of control on development as zoning ordinances. SALDO offer a degree of protection against poor planning by assuring the placement of public improvements, such as roads, sidewalks, public utilities, and storm water controls at the time of development. SALDO do not control where uses may be located or the density at which they may be established. A SALDO strictly deals with how activities relate to the land they take place upon. 

The Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) provides definitions for both "subdivision" and "land development". The MPC defines a "subdivision" as: 
  1. The division or redivision of a lot, tract, or parcel of land by any means into two or more lots, tracts, parcels or other divisions of land including changes in existing lot lines for the purpose, whether immediate or future, of lease, partition by the court for distribution to heirs or devisees, transfer of ownership or building  or lot development: Provided however, that the subdivision by lease of land for agricultural purposes into parcels of more than ten acres, not involving any new street or easement of access or any residential dwelling shall be exempted.

"Land Development" is defined by the MPC as any of the following:
  1. The important of one lot or two or more contiguous lots, tracts or parcels of land for any purpose involving:
    1. a group of two or more residential or nonresidential buildings, whether proposed initially or cumulatively, or a single nonresidential building on a lot or lots regardless of the number of occupants or tenure; or
    2. the division or allocation of land or space, whether initially or cumulatively, between or among two or more existing or prospective occupants by means of, or for the purpose of streets, common areas, leaseholds, condominiums, building groups or other features.
  2. A subdivision of land.
  3. Development in accordance with Section 503 (1.1)
The MPC also provides a list of contents that should be included within a subdivision and land development ordinance. While this list contains a list of suggested contents of a SALDO, municipalities can include fewer or additional requirements as deemed necessary to meet the needs of the community: 
  • Plan submission and processing requirements, including payment schedule for charging of review fees
  • Certification as to the accuracy of plans
  • Layout standards
  • Uniform provisions for minimum setback lines and lot sizes based on availability of water and sewage facilities where there is no zoning
  • Design specifications
  • Standards for streets
  • Standards for other public improvements located on site
  • Provisions for phased developments
  • Provisions to encourage flexible and innovative layout and design
  • Administrative procedures for granting waivers of modifications where literal compliance with mandatory standards is not possible or reasonable, or alternatives are available
  • Provisions to encourage the use of renewable energy systems and energy conservation building design
  • Provisions for public dedication of land for recreation purposes
  • Provisions for exclusion of certain development from the definition of land development
Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance in Longswamp Township - 
Longswamp Township Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance - Ordinance 2006-231
Longswamp Township Amending Ordinance 2006-231-Ordinance 293 Definition of Land Development

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