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Philadelphia Construction Law Blog

Bad Faith Land Taking: New Jersey Superior Court Judge Slams New Jersey's Readington Township and Awards Attorney and Expert's Fees to Landowner

Posted by: Karin Corbett  (kcorbett@kaplaw.com)

Hunterdon County Superior Court Judge Paul Armstrong has invalidated Readington Township's taking of the property that is Solberg-Hunterdon Airport and ordered the Township to pay attorney and expert fees, citing "manifest abuse of the power of eminent domain."

In a 54 page opinion, the Court admonishes the Township stating "[i]ndeed, the evidence clearly and convincingly shows that these reasons were a pre-text for Readington Township's true purpose, which was to limit the airport's capacity to remain economically competitive and to limit its expansion." The decision notes a series of events occurring just after Solberg released a master plan to expand and improve upon its airport in 1997, including the Township's hiring of a public relations firm to handle the expansion which the PR firm identified as the Township's "main issue" and a "problem".

Subsequently, in 2006, the Township enacted an ordinance authorizing the taking of 724 acres of land owned by Solberg Aviation Co., which fueled a long legal battle captioned Readington Township v. Solberg Aviation, involving several appeals and has continued through to this most recent decision. This most recent opinion comes after the Appellate Division remanded the matter to the trial court in 2009 directing that the trial court determine whether the taking was proper under the New Jersey Eminent Domain Act. Armstrong's opinion, however, highlights that the critical issue is not whether a municipality has the right to condemn land for non-use purposes, but whether a township may "engage in concerted subterfuge to reach [an] objective".

The Township's attorney informs that he and his client are "disappointed in the outcome" and are reviewing options.

New Philadelphia City Ordinance Requires Contractors To Have OSHA 30 Hour or OSHA 10 Hour Certificate To Get License

Posted by:  Josh Quinter  (jquinter@kaplaw.com)

As part of the reaction to the tragic loss of life when a demolition contractor caused a building collapse at 22nd and Market Streets approximately 2 years ago, Philadelphia City Council passed a new city ordinance imposing licensure requirements for demolition contractors. That law, which was signed by Mayor Nutter, also imposed a new training requirement for some contractors to obtain and keep their contractor's license.

The City of Philadelphia is reminding contractor's that changes to the code requiring OSHA certifications to carry a license will go into effect on September 30, 2015. More specifically, contractors that are required to carry a license to work in the City of Philadelphia must show completion of an extended course of training "certified by the Department to provide significant public safety benefit, appropriate to the position, which course may include OSHA 30 training". The only carve out in the ordinance for this particular requirement is for plumbers, fire suppression and fire suppression contractors, and electricians when any of those trades are not serving as general contractors. The exception exists because of pre-existing training requirements in those fields.

The language in the law is not entirely clear. It suggests that courses which are the equivalent of an OSHA approved class can be approved, but no information is provided as to what other programs are available. Questions surrounding who decides what is equivalent also remain. These questions, however, will not delay implementation of the law. As a result, contractors should be aware and seek out OSHA certified training that provides the applicable OSHA 10 Hour or OSHA 30 Hour Certifications. These are the only programs that are known to be compliant.

BILL ELIMINATING EXEMPTION FOR STALKING, HARRASSMENT, AND THREATS TO USE WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION IN LABOR DISPUTE FROM CRIMINAL CODE PASSES PENNSYLVANIA STATE HOUSE

Posted by:  Josh Quinter  (jquinter@kaplaw.com)

In Pennsylvania, the law currently provides an exception in the criminal code that prohibits the prosecution of the crimes of harassment, stalking, and threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction if those otherwise criminal acts are done as part of a labor dispute. Beginning last year, an effort was undertaken in the state legislature to close that loophole.

Former House Bill 1154 was the subject of much maneuvering between the State Senate and the State House as Governor Corbett prepared to leave office last year. Due to differences between leaders in the two chambers, two separate versions were passed and never reconciled in conference committee. As a result, the session expired without a final version being passed and sent to the Governor for signature.

KAPLIN STEWART MARKS ADMINSTRATIVE ASSISTANTS' DAY

Today is Adminstrative Assistants' Day!  Here at Kaplin Stewart, we always pause to recognize this day and thank our staff for all the wonderful things they do to make our law firm a success.  Kaplin Stewart would not be as succssful as it is without the help of the secretaries, accounting personnel, support services staff, and so many more that make sure things get done efficiently and correctly.

We pride ourselves on client service here at Kaplin Stewart.  We are proud to put our adminstrative staff on the front line of this effort because they are great at what they do.

Thank you to all of you for making Kaplin Stewart a top notch law firm and a wonderful place to work!

Legislation Introduced to Amend the Construction Workplace Misclassification Act and the Mechanic's Lien Law

Posted by:  Josh Quinter (jquinter@kaplaw.com)

It remains early in both Governor Tom Wolf's term and the 2015 legislative session. Nonetheless, there is already some legislation which would impact the construction industry making the rounds in Harrisburg.

House Bill 816 seeks to make several changes to the Construction Workplace Misclassification Act. The 3 primary changes are:

PA State Representative Caltagirone.jpg(1) It adds conviction of an offense for fraudulent business practices under 18 Pa.C.S.A. ยง 4107 as a violation of the act.

(2) It changes the grading of the criminal elements of the statute by changing all violations presently categorized as third degree misdemeanors to second degree misdemeanors. It also increases anything presently classified as a second degree misdemeanor as a first degree offense.

(3) Finally, it imposes a penalty of debarment for all work with the state for 5 years if found to be in violation.

The primary sponsor of this legislation is Representative Caltagirone. It has been referred to the Committee on Labor and Industry.

Green Parking Initiative

Posted by:  Josh Quinter  (jquinter@kaplaw.com)

The Green Building Certification Institute, which handles certification for the U.S. Green Building Council responsible for LEED Certification, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Parking Institute and the Green Parking Council. The goal of the cooperation agreement is to encourage sustainability in the transportation network that supports green buildings. The ultimate goal is to create and promote a Green Garage Certification program that will apply the same ideas that drive the LEED Certification process in the parking component of construction.

The certification program will include about 50 elements that, ironically, include promotion of alternative modes of transportation and discourage automobile use. Although not stated directly by those involved, it can safely be assumed that the elements involved in the evaluation process will be focused on the ultimate goal of cutting carbon emissions. It is unclear whether this will become part of the LEED Certification process or remain a separate element.

2014 A Better Year For Construction In Place Numbers

Posted by:  Josh Quinter  (jquinter@kapaw.com)

According to the Raleigh, North Carolina based form FMI Corp., 2014 was a vastly better year than 2013 in terms of total construction in place (CPIP). The total for 2014 was $62 billion more - a 7 percent increase - than the year before. The gross number for 2014 was estimated to be around $972 billion. In even better news, the projected number for 2015 exceeds $1 trillion.

Construction in the commercial and manufacturing segments of the industry led the way in 2014. They came in at $111 billion in new construction. FMI attributed a great deal of this growth to the construction associated with the boom in energy production. It is leading to the need for more refineries and processing facilities, as well as opportunities for more manufacturing that relies on the energy sector to be profitable. A good deal of foreign investment is part of this growth.

New Construction Technology Helps Immensely With As-Builts

Posted by:  Josh Quinter  (jquinter@kaplaw.com)

As-built drawings, or renderings of the building as constructed, are common in the industry. Many contracts require that the contractor or subcontractor providing the labor and materials to construct the project provide them as part of the close out documents. This is because there is often variation between the design, specifications, and final constructed product. Sometimes this change is known; while on other occasions it can be an unknown fact until it is measured.

Accounting for changes in scope by change orders for purposes of as-builts is easy to do. Smaller variations that come from work being slightly different than how it was designed because of small errors in measurements, for example, harder to detect. This makes it harder for follow-on trades who arrive on site to perform their work and are reliant on knowing that the site is really ready for them to start work. It can also make it harder for maintenance and repair contractors who come on site years later to perform work and don't have accurate as-builts.

A Primer for Open Shop Contractor's On Philadelphia's New Sick Leave Law

Posted by:  Josh Quinter  (jquinter@kaplaw.com)

Open shop developers and contractors alike will soon have a new rule to contend with when they work in Philadelphia. The new ordinance mandating paid sick leave for companies with 10 or more employees will go into effect on June 13, 2015. Employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement or working as independent contractors are exempt from the new law.

As for the specifics, the ordinance requires that employers give each employee covered by the law 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. The sick leave earned by employees can be used when the employee is sick or for a number of other purposes, including the illness of a family member or to seek care or support for domestic violence.

Many employers already provide sufficient sick leave policies, so no adjustment will be required. If one is necessary, however, there are requirements about establishing and announcing the new policy. Advocates have praised the new law as recognition of "workers' rights" and helping to prevent others working with a sick coworker from getting sick themselves. Opponents object on the basis that it drives up costs, encourages employees to take time off and/or abuse the system, and hurts businesses.

Construction Trivia - Super Bowl Style

Posted by:  Josh Quinter  (jquinter@kaplaw.com)

This weekend's Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks is being played in Glendale, Arizona at the University of Phoenix Stadium. Home to the Arizona Cardinals of the NFL, University of Phoenix Stadium was constructed at a cost of $455 million and took 3 years to build.

University_of_Phoenix_Stadium_aerial.jpgThe building itself contains enough concrete to build 900 miles of sidewalk, has enough seats to span 9 miles if all 63,500 were lined up in a row, and has a retractable roof. It also has one other unique feature that was the first of its kind in a construction project. Can you name that unique design and construction element?

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