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LANDIS v. ZONING BOARD ADJUSTMENT (ET AL. (03/17/64)

March 17, 1964

LANDIS
v.
ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT (ET AL., APPELLANT).



Appeal, No. 27, Jan. T., 1964, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, No. 62-8462, in case of Willard M. Landis, Gladys Landis, Howard Buffington et al. v. Zoning Board of Adjustment of Hatfield Township. Order reversed.

COUNSEL

H. Francis De Lone, with him Thomas B. Morris, Jr., and Dechert, Price & Rhoads, for appellant.

William R. Cooper, II, for appellees.

Before Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'brien and Roberts, JJ.

Author: Musmanno

[ 414 Pa. Page 147]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

The balata tree is a sap-bearing tree which flourishes in the Columbian and Brazilian jungles where

[ 414 Pa. Page 148]

    natives chop it down, strip it and guide its juices into the sap is heated, poured into molds to form blocks which the natives carry on their heads to the nearest river where they are loaded into boats and barges which float down to the sea. At an appropriate seaport the blocks are placed aboard ships which transport them to various parts of the world where, after undergoing various treatments, they become important ingredients in the manufacture of golf balls which bounce from refreshing greenswards wherever men and women meet in friendship and competitive sports.

One of the factories engaged in the transformation of balata into golf balls is located in Hatfield Township, Montgomery County, and is owned by Huntingdon Industries, Inc., the intervening appellant in this case. Here the balata blocks, which have come from the equatorial regions are softened in warm water and the different species are intermixed so as to create a homogeneous compound. This is processed through a milling machine which reduces the mass into small pieces and they in turn are immersed in a hexane solvent which washes away all impurities. The final product is shipped to golf ball manufacturers.

In July, 1962, the Huntingdon Industries, Inc. applied to the zoning board of adjustment in Hatfield Township for a building or zoning permit to erect an industrial plant for processing balata. The area in which the plant was to be constructed was zoned Light Industrial. The board acted favorably on the application and the plant was erected. Persons, who, at the hearing before the board, protested against the granting of the building permit, appealed to the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, which reversed the decision of the board; and Huntingdon Industries, as intervenor, appealed to this Court.

[ 414 Pa. Page 149]

The purpose of zoning regulations is to protect the health and safety as well as the moral and economic well-being of the community. Once these criteria are met, the legislative body may not impose unreasonable conditions on a landowner in the untrammeled use of his property. In Lord Appeal, 368 Pa. 121, Chief Justice BELL, quoting from the leading case of White's Appeal, 287 Pa. 259, said: "'... all property is held in subordination to the right of its reasonable regulation by the government clearly necessary to preserve the health, safety or morals [or general welfare] of the people. ... There is one matter that is quite certain, the power to thus regulate does not extend to an arbitrary, ...


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