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BARONOFF v. ZONING BOARD ADJUSTMENT. (04/16/56)

April 16, 1956

BARONOFF, APPELLANT,
v.
ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT.



Appeal, No. 1, Jan. T., 1956, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, Sept. T., 1955, No. 117, in case of Robert Baronoff v. Zoning Board of Adjustment of the Township of Lower Makefield. Order reversed.

COUNSEL

George T. Kelton, with him John P. Fullam and Eastburn, Begley & Fullam, for appellant.

Willard S. Curtin, with him Curtin & Heefner, for appellee.

Before Stern, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Bell and Chidsey, JJ.

Author: Chidsey

[ 385 Pa. Page 111]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE CHIDSEY

The questions presented in this appeal are whether the appellant was entitled to a variance under a zoning regulation, and the constitutional validity of the regulation as applied to appellant's property.

In 1952 appellant, Robert Baronoff, acquired an irregular shaped tract of land containing 7.187 acres in Bucks County, Pennsylvania for the purpose of constructing and operating thereon a "Drive-In" theatre. The parcel fronts on a public road known as West Trenton Avenue and extends northwestwardly therefrom an irregular distance of between 600 and 700 feet. It is about 474 feet in width. The front and major portion of the tract, 5.357 acres, is situate in Falls Township and the rear portion, 1.830 acres, lies within Lower Makefield Township. At and prior to the time of the hearing before the court below, the front or Falls

[ 385 Pa. Page 112]

Township portion of the tract was subject to no use restriction or regulation, Falls Township having no zoning ordinance. The rear portion of the tract is within a residential district in Lower Makefield Township as zoned by an ordinance of the latter adopted March 3, 1939, as revised July 1, 1946, permitting use only for residential, educational, farm or public utility purposes and uses accessory thereto. The entire tract has been held in single and separate ownership by the appellant and his predecessors in title since a time prior to the adoption of the Lower Makefield Township zoning ordinance. It extends about 157 feet beyond the boundary line of the two townships and the rear or Lower Makefield Township portion is, as found by the court below, completely land-locked and useless except in so far as the use of that portion is coordinated with the use of the Falls Township portion. There are no means of ingress or egress other than by use of appellant's property in Falls Township.

Appellant constructed the theatre at an approximate cost of $90,000 (including the purchase price of $25,000 for the land) and began operations in August, 1953. The picture screen, projection booth and other accessory structures are located in Falls Township near West Trenton Avenue and the area for patrons is to the northwest and laid out in concentric ramps converging on the picture screen. Space and facilities for approximately 587 cars were provided. There was so-called "in-car" speakers, one for each automobile parking space. These speakers, each an independent unit, to permit the occupants of the individual cars to hear the recorded sound track of the motion picture being shown, were designed to be taken within the car by the patron and individually controlled as to the volume of sound. When not in use, they were hung in pairs on posts provided for every other parking

[ 385 Pa. Page 113]

    space. It would appear that three or four ramps for accommodation at the rear were ...


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