Appeal, No. 341, Jan. T., 1959, from order of Court of Common Pleas No. 4 of Philadelphia County, Dec. T., 1958, No. 837, in case of Howard H. Yocum et al. v. John E. Power, Chairman et al. Order affirmed. Appeal by protestants from decision of zoning board of adjustment granting zoning permit. Opinion filed affirming decision of zoning board and dismissing appeal and order entered, opinion by GUERIN, J. Protestants appealed.
J. G. Gordon Yocum, with him James J. Phelan, Jr., and Jay H. Eiseman, for appellants.
Gordon Cavanaugh, Assistant City Solicitor, with him David Berger, City Solicitor, for Zoning Board of Adjustment, appellee.
Raymon Jenkins, for intervening appellee.
Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Bok and Mcbride, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO
This case involves a controversy between persons who would build a church and others who would prevent its being built. In June, 1957, the governing body of the First Lettish Baptist Church of Philadelphia purchased some land at 6933 Sherwood Road, Philadelphia for the purpose of erecting on it a new church. In pursuance of this objective, the congregation voted to sell their old church and made arrangements to worship at the Eastern Baptist Seminary at City Line and Lancaster Avenue during the interim between quitting the old church and moving into the new one. An architect
and engineer were employed and they proceeded to make preliminary sketches. The final drawings were ready on August 10, 1958. On August 13, 1958, the Church applied for and received a zoning use permit for building a new church on the purchased ground located in an area zoned "A" Residential, which permits the construction of ecclesiastical structures. In anticipation of the new church, which was to be ready for occupancy in the Spring of 1959, the pastor moved to a locality in the immediate vicinity of 6933 Sherwood Road.
In the meantime, however, forces were at work to prevent that the planned church should rise. On June 12, 1958, a bill was introduced in City Council, at the behest of neighbors in the 6933 Sherwood area, which would reclassify the involved area as "AA" Residential, a classification which excludes new churches. No notice was given to the church builders of this proposed legislation, and it was not until August 4, 1958, when a public hearing on the proposed legislation was announced, that the governing body of the First Lettish Baptist Church learned of the device to prevent the turning of a sectarian spade in their acquired land. An application was made at once for a zoning permit and, as already stated, the permit issued on August 13, 1958. The building permit followed on August 18, 1958.
One of the neighbors, Howard H. Yocum, and two others petitioned the board of adjustment to revoke the zoning permit, and thus became opponents of the permit. The Church intervened and became proponents of the permit. The Board held a public hearing to air the controversy and, on November 26, 1958, rejected the appeal of Yocum et al., thus affirming the grant of the zoning permit. Yocum and three others appealed ...