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TIDEWATER OIL COMPANY v. POORE (ET AL. (03/16/59)

March 16, 1959

TIDEWATER OIL COMPANY
v.
POORE (ET AL., APPELLANT).



Appeals, Nos. 54 and 59, Jan. T., 1959, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, Sept. T., 1957, No. 383, in case of Tidewater Oil Company v. F. S. Poore et al. Order reversed; reargument refused April 13, 1959.

COUNSEL

William A. Welsh for Board of Commissioners of Upper Chichester Township, intervening appellants.

Guy G. deFuria, with him J. Robert Twombley, and deFuria, Larkin and deFuria, for property owners, intervening appellants.

Albert Blumberg, with him Arthur Levy, and McClenachan, Blumberg & Levy, for appellee.

Before Jones, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen and Mcbride, JJ.

Author: Musmanno

[ 395 Pa. Page 90]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

Viewed from an airplane in midflight, a "tank farm" looks like a field dotted with neat, dignified mushrooms. Visited on the ground, however, a tank farm looks exactly like what it is - a succession of mastodonic, metallic tanks filled with liquids and gases of an inflammable and explosive character. The tanks under consideration in this case, 9 to 40 in number, were designed to measure from 40 to 48 feet in height, 70 to 120 feet in diameter, and calculated to hold from 1,334,000 to 4,032,000 gallons of gasoline and petroleum products, each. It would not take much imagination to see, in several formidable rows of tanks of this character, a potential combined Johnstown's Flood and Dante's Inferno, in the event of any mishap which, despite every precaution, is always within the awesome realm of possibility.

The Tidewater Oil Company, with the prospect of erecting and installing such tanks, purchased, through

[ 395 Pa. Page 91]

    its agent, Simon and Company, the Longbotham Farm*fn1 of 62 acres in Upper Chichester Township, Delaware County. The tract is open farm land, well drained, excellently suited for home construction and located within an area zoned "A Residential." Agents for The Tidewater Oil Company applied to the Board of Upper Chichester Township to have the zoning classification of the Longbotham Farm changed from "A" Residence to "C" Industrial. The change was refused. An attempt was then made to obtain a permit from the township building inspector to accomplish the same end, and this request was also declined. An appeal followed to the township zoning board of adjustment, and again the answer was No. Undaunted, Tidewater now appealed to the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, and here perseverance was rewarded. The court of common pleas reversed the decision of the zoning board. The Commissioners of Upper Chichester Township filed exceptions to the order and decree; they argued before a court en banc, and Tidewater still held its decision. Tidewater's long-contested-for victory, however, was a Pyrrhic one because the township commissioners, also persevering, have appealed to this Court which, now, under the established facts and the applicable law, decides, for reasons which will soon be outlined, to reverse the decision of the court of common pleas, thus saving Upper Chichester Township from the invasion of the Tidewater tanks. An appeal was also taken by the owners of adjacent or nearby properties who had intervened in the court below.

The Delaware County court, in reversing the zoning board of Upper Chichester Township, said: "The contention of the ...


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