Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, No. 62-11933, in case of Norate Corporation, Inc. v. Zoning Board of Adjustment of Upper Moreland Township.
Bernard J. Avellino, with him Fred J. Silverman, for applicant, appellant.
H. Lyle Houpt, for Board of Commissioners, appellee.
D. Stewart McElhone, with him Duffy, McTighe & McElhone, for intervenors, appellees.
Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Jones.
On June 2, 1939, Upper Moreland Township (Township), Montgomery County, adopted a zoning ordinance which was later amended, revised and reenacted in 1955 and 1960. On September 8, 1959, the Township adopted an ordinance (No. 394) known as the "Sign Regulations" Ordinance*fn1 (Sign Ordinance). This Sign Ordinance regulates signs, billboards, marquees and street clocks and makes it unlawful "to erect, repair, alter, relocate or maintain" any "sign or other advertising structure", as defined in the ordinance, anywhere in the Township, without first securing an "erection permit" and paying a stipulated fee. Exempt from this ordinance are "on-site" real estate signs, professional name plates of a certain size, public, charitable or religious institutions' "on-site" bulletin boards of a limited size, temporary construction signs of a limited size, occupational signs, memorial signs or tablets, traffic and municipal signs.
Prior to November 13, 1962, § 3(b) of the Sign Ordinance read as follows: "Signs or any other advertising
structure . . . are not permitted except those advertising that which is handled, sold or manufactured on the premises." On November 13, 1962, § 3(b) was amended (by Ordinance No. 492) as follows: "With the exception of signs advertising motels located within the Township, signs are not permitted except those advertising that which is handled, sold or manufactured on the premises. By special exception of the Zoning Board of Adjustment, motels shall be permitted two signs on properties other than the motel site, such signs are restricted to the industrial area along the Pennsylvania Turnpike."
Norate Corporation, Inc. (Norate), owns premises on North Easton Road upon which it operates a motel called "Fiesta Motor Inn". After passage of the amendment to § 3(b), Norate applied thereunder for a special exception to install two metal signs, -- 10' high, 24' wide and illuminated by floodlights --, advertising the motel. One sign was to be installed on the property of one Piunti, facing the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Turnpike), -- five-eighths of a mile from the point at which the Turnpike intersects Easton Road -- and the other sign was to be installed on the property of one Goodman, facing the Turnpike, -- at the point where the Turnpike intersects Easton Road.
After a public hearing, the zoning board of adjustment (Board), denied a special exception on two grounds: (a) that the proposed use would adversely affect the health, safety, morals or general welfare of the community and (b) that the amendment to § 3(b) (Ordinance No. 492) was invalid because it was "unreasonably discriminatory" and bore no reasonable relationship to the health, safety, morals or general welfare of the community. An appeal was taken to the Court of Common Pleas ...