Court Vacates Vineyard Commons Development Approval and Orders Concord Township to Hold Hearings
In a stunning decision, the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County nullified the approvals for the Vineyard Commons development and ordered the Concord Township Board of Supervisors to hold evidentiary hearings on the controversial development. This was a significant win for the objectors, Eileen Mutschler, John Michel, and Diana McCarthy, represented by Marc D. Jonas, Esq., Michael E. Peters, Esq., Robert McKinstry, Jr., Esq, and Allison In, Esq.
In oral argument before the court, Mr. Jonas contended that the township had improperly rejected the objectors’ request for an evidentiary hearing and that the series of decisions by Concord Township approving the development of the historic and unique property were not supported by any findings or reasons. The court rejected the arguments of the property owner, Woodlawn Trustees-Penna. Inc, and of the developers, Eastern States Development Company, Inc. and McKee-Concord Homes, L.P., that the objectors’ appeals should be dismissed, which would have allowed the Vineyard Commons Development to proceed. The evidentiary hearings could take many months to compete, giving the complex legal and factual issues, including Concord Township’s previous refusal to consider the implications of the Environmental Rights Amendment of the Pennsylvania Constitution. In the order, the court specifically directs Concord Township to consider the very critical constitutional issues relating to the environmental impact of the Woodlawn Trust development.
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Mr. Jonas was named the 2017 Lawyer of the Year for Land Use and Zoning Law in Philadelphia by The Best Lawyers in America®. He also has been named a Leader in Real Estate/Land Use law by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business. Mr. Jonas’ peers have recognized him as a Pennsylvania “Super Lawyer,” and he has been selected repeatedly by U.S. News as a “Best Lawyer” in both Land Use and Zoning Law and Land Use and Zoning litigation for the Philadelphia Metropolitan area. He is a former Chairman of the Montgomery County Planning Commission.
Mr. Peters represents commercial and residential clients before zoning hearing boards and municipal governing bodies in land development and zoning matters. He has appeared in courts of common pleas throughout the Commonwealth and Commonwealth Court in land use and municipal law litigation and appeals. Mr. Peters is a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University and The George Washington University Law School. Mr. Peters has been named an Associate to Watch in Real Estate/Land Use law by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business.