Pittsburgh Developers Push Back on Zoning Review Fees

An increase in fees for commercial construction projects is raising concerns from local developers who say the industry already faces rising costs to build in the city.

1 minute read

March 30, 2023, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Mihai_Andritoiu / Shutterstock

Pittsburgh developers are calling an increase in zoning review fees for commercial properties “egregious and excessive” and an “unreasonable burden” that is driving up the cost of building in the city, reports Mark Belko for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 

According to Brandon Mendoza, executive director of an association representing developers and other real estate professionals, the new fee of $3 per $1,000 of commercial project “amounts to a twenty-fold increase over what developers were charged last year for the same zoning review.” Developers argue the new fees will have a chilling effect on construction in the city, drive builders away, and undermine efforts to boost affordable housing production. Belko notes that fees for residential permits are $1 per $1,000 of project, “not as hefty as for commercial but still substantial.”

Some developers argue the new fee schedule is “borderline illegal” because “Pennsylvania law does not allow municipalities to use their power to charge fees ‘for issuing licenses or permits for the purpose of raising revenue.’” A lawyer for Walnut Capital said any fees above and beyond the costs associated with issuing the permit are an “unauthorized tax” and not permitted by state law. Developers are asking the city to suspend and review the new fee schedule.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023 in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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