Recently, several members of the Building Industry Association of Lancaster County were granted class certification in a lawsuit against a township accused of charging excessive water-tapping fees. Achieving class certification means that thirty-seven builders may combine their factual and legal claims against the defendants in one lawsuit, rather than forcing each individual builder the file his or her own case.
The lawsuit, initially filed in 2014 by five Lancaster County builders, alleges that defendants Manheim Township and Manheim Township General Municipal Authority violated the Pennsylvania Municipality Authorities Act (PMMA) by imposing water tapping fees when there was no authority to do so.
Further, the builders allege the municipal defendants miscalculated the fees, and utilized the funds collected for general welfare rather than to specifically benefit the builders that paid the fees. If true, those actions would directly violate Article III, Section 31 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.
Plaintiff builders also claim that Arro Consulting, Inc. conspired with the municipal defendants to violate the PMMA by intentionally or recklessly miscalculating the tapping fees.
Manheim Township has previously denied construction permits for builders that choose not to pay the miscalculated tapping fee.
Over the last several years, the township’s tapping fees have amounted to approximately $5,600 per connection, and the total cost of the fees sought to be recovered is well above $1 million.
If successful, the lawsuit will both assist the named builders in obtaining a financial settlement and prevent the municipality from harming future construction projects with excessive and incorrect tapping fees.
This is the second lawsuit launched against Manheim Township concerning its tapping fees. The first, brought by a single developer in 2011, is still pending.
For more news and updates from PBA's Government Affairs team, go to www.pabuilders.org/government-affairs
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