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DELAWARE COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE APPEAL (06/30/69)

decided: June 30, 1969.

DELAWARE COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE APPEAL


Appeals from order of Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, No. 14149 of 1968, in re Appeal of Community College of Delaware County from decision of Zoning Board of Adjustment of Township of Marple.

COUNSEL

Domenic D. Jerome, for township, appellant.

Marcus Manoff, in propria persona, for appellants.

D. Barry Gibbons, with him Gibbons & Buckley, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Pomeroy, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts. Mr. Justice Cohen concurs in the result. Mr. Chief Justice Bell and Mr. Justice Jones took no part in the Consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Roberts

[ 435 Pa. Page 265]

Appellee is the Community College of Delaware County, an institution created pursuant to the Community College Act, Act of August 24, 1963, P.L. 1132, § 1 et seq., 24 P.S. § 5201 et seq. The college was established on March 1, 1967, sponsored by twenty-one local school districts, not including the Marple-New-town School District. The college commenced operations in temporary facilities in September, 1967. On May 1, 1968, the college entered into an agreement to purchase certain property for a permanent home, the sale being conditioned on the college's obtaining zoning approval.

The tract in question is located in a primarily residential area, and is zoned R-A and R-B residential, the two highest zoning classifications in the township. Of the tract's 122 acres, approximately four are to be used for buildings, 34 for parking areas and roadways, with the remainder (approximately 68%) to be maintained

[ 435 Pa. Page 266]

    in natural and/or landscaped condition. Initially the college will have about 1,000 full-time equivalent students, with ultimate expansion resulting in a full-time equivalent student body of 5,000.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment held a hearing and denied the college's application for a special exception. On appeal, the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County took no additional testimony, but accepting the facts found by the Zoning Board ruled that the Board's reasons for denying the application were legally insufficient, and thus ordered the college's application to be granted. We agree with the excellent reasoning and decision of the court below and affirm its decree.

Initially we must note that § 301 (2) and § 401 of the Marple Township Zoning Ordinance allow a special exception in R-A and R-B zones for "educational, religious, or philanthropic use, hospital or sanitarium." Appellants argue, however, that a community college is not an "educational use" within the ordinance, which they apparently would apply to only elementary and secondary schools, public, private and parochial. Appellants then argue that since the community college cannot properly be granted a special exception, and since it requires too great a change in the zoning scheme to receive a variance, cf. Di Santo v. Zoning Board of Adjustment, 410 Pa. 331, 189 A.2d 135 (1963); Crafton Borough Appeal, 409 Pa. 82, 185 A.2d 533 (1962), the Board could not validly grant the college's application.

We cannot accept appellants' contention that a community college is not an "educational use." Without a contrary indication in the ordinance, we must assume that "educational" has been used in its logical and broadest sense. Gilden Appeal, 406 ...


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