Appeals, Nos. 114 and 115, Jan. T., 1951, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County, Dec. T., 1949, Nos. 14 and 16, in re Application for Certificate of Occupancy for Premises known as 501 Paxinosa Avenue, Easton. Order reversed.
Clyde W. Teel, with him Walter R. Rodgers, 3rd., and Fackenthal, Teel & Danser, for appellants.
George F. Coffin and Edward J. Fox, Jr., with them Fox & Oldt, for appellees.
Before Stern, Stearne, Jones, Bell and Lander, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE HORACE STERN
Where the maintenance of a multiple family dwelling -- in other words an apartment house -- was a nonconforming use in a single family district under the provisions of a zoning ordinance, but was in existence at the time of the enactment of the ordinance, may it subsequently increase the number of its apartments? This is the sole question involved in these proceedings.
No. 501 Paxinosa Avenue, in Easton, is a lot 100 feet in front and 130 feet in depth and on it is erected a large dwelling house. At the time of the adoption by the City
of Easton of a zoning ordinance this house was divided as follows: a duplex apartment occupying part of the first floor and part of the second floor, a first floor apartment, a second floor apartment, and a third floor suite which had been occupied from time to time by servants of the owner. It was therefore used as a residence by three families (exclusive of the use of the third floor).
On February 23, 1935 Easton adopted an ordinance in which these premises fell into an "A" residence district in which were permitted only one-family and two-family dwellings, as against multiple dwellings which were defined as dwellings designed or occupied otherwise than as a one-family or a two-family dwelling, and as including apartment houses and all other family dwellings of similar character. However, the ordinance provided (Article IV, section 18 (b)) that "The lawful use of a building or structure, existing at the time of the adoption of this ordinance,... although such use does not conform to the provisions hereof, may be continued and such use may be extended throughout the building; provided no structural alterations are made,...." There was also a provision (Article IX, section 37(e)) that a Certificate of Occupancy should be issued for the purpose of maintaining, changing or extending a nonconforming use existing at the time of the passage of the ordinance, and that the Administrative Officer should mail such certificate to the occupants or owners of all such property within 90 days after the passage of the ordinance. It seems that the Administrative Officer failed to do this as to the property here in question.
Some time between 1936 and 1939 the first floor apartment of the house was divided into two separate apartments. This was accomplished merely by means of partitioning and did not involve any structural alterations, which were defined in the ordinance ...