Pennsylvania Governor Rendell Signs House Bills 1621 & 1627

Measures Grant Riparian Rights Along Delaware River

Feb 22, 2008, 00:00 ET from Pennsylvania Office of the Governor

    HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Edward G.
 Rendell today signed House Bill 1621 and House Bill 1627 into law, and
 issued the following signing message:
     "Today I am signing HB 1621 and HB 1627. These bills authorize the
 grant of riparian rights along the Delaware River in Philadelphia for two
 very important residential developments that I am happy to see move
     "However, it should be pointed out that the bills deviate from the
 valuation policy developed by the Department of General Services last year
 during a period of suspension of the consideration of bills dealing with
 the grant of riparian rights in Philadelphia that I requested in mid-2006.
 DGS' policy was formulated after a thorough and careful consideration of a
 variety of proposed methods for the valuation of these rights. It is a
 sound policy because of its consistency and transparency and the ease with
 which the rent can be built into the project and financed and it adequately
 compensates the Commonwealth -- both in terms of actual dollars collected
 and in terms of the preservation of public access to the waterfront -- for
 the grant of these rights. We will continue to encourage the use of DGS'
 policy going forward. I understand, however, that the developers involved
 in the projects described in these bills are amenable to the valuation
 provisions in the bills.
     "In addition, the bills as they were originally passed by both chambers
 contained ambiguous language regarding the General Assembly's purported
 exclusive authority to grant riparian rights along the Commonwealth's
 waterways in all instances. However, under certain circumstances enumerated
 in the Dam Safety and Encroachments Act and the Administrative Code the
 Department of Environmental Protection also has discretion to grant
 riparian rights and the original language in the bills called this
 discretion into question. As a result, I was not inclined to sign the bills
 as they were originally passed. Instead, I asked my staff to work with the
 sponsors of the bills to make sure they understood the ramifications of the
 language that had been added to the bills and to craft revisions that would
 appropriately preserve DEP's authority. They did that and as a result I am
 in a position to sign the bills.
     "All of that having been said, the issue of whether local governments
 -- in this instance, the City of Philadelphia -- also have some authority
 to grant riparian rights along waterways abutting their boundaries is
 currently the subject of litigation pending before the Pennsylvania Supreme
 Court. As a result, I think it is unwise for any of us to articulate a
 position regarding this subject. Consequently, my signature on these bills
 should not be viewed as my support for or against this position. Rather, I
 am signing the bills, as mentioned above, in order to move the underlying
 projects forward expeditiously."
     The Rendell administration is committed to creating a first-rate public
 education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing
 economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out
 more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his weekly
 newsletter, visit
     CONTACT: Chuck Ardo 717-783-1116

SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor