Appeals from the Orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in cases of Oakhouse Associates, a limited partnership, v. Board of Standards and Appeals of the City of Pittsburgh, and Paul J. Imhoff, Superintendent, Bureau of Building Inspection of the City of Pittsburgh, No. SA 55 of 1972 and City of Pittsburgh, a municipal corporation, v. Oakhouse Associates, a corporation, and/or W. K. Kerschbaumer and others t/d/b/a Oakhouse Associates, No. 2203 January Term, 1972.
John R. Valaw, Assistant City Solicitor, with him Daniel M. Curtin, Assistant City Solicitor, and Ralph Lynch, Jr., City Solicitor, for appellant.
David W. Craig, with him Baskin, Boreman, Wilner, Sachs, Gondelman & Craig, for appellee.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Mencer.
Before 1969, the building site in this case, located at 5326 Pocusset Street, Pittsburgh, was zoned S, Special District, a classification governing hillside-type development. A portion of the same premises, between
the building site and the street, was zoned R-2 Two-Family Dwelling District, as it is now. At that time the site was owned by four tenants-in-common, Messrs. Kerschbaumer, Starr, Kilbaney, and Schroeder (hereinafter the prior developer group).
This prior developer group applied to Pittsburgh City Council in 1969 to change the S classification of the building site to a less restrictive R-3 Multiple-Family Dwelling District classification. It was strongly represented to City Council that 14 units of row houses or townhouses would be erected on the site.
The City Planning Commission recommended that the building site be rezoned from S to R-3 but specifically also recommended that the access area, between the site and the street, be left as R-2 so that "no intrusion of multiple-family type housing occurs along the one and two-family type frontage on Pocusset Street." That approach had been proposed to the Commission by the City Planning Department.
City Council rezoned the building site from S to R-3 without attempting to attach any limitations or conditions or restrictive covenants to the ordinance amendment. City Council also left the access area R-2, as recommended.
Under R-3 zoning, an apartment building ("multiple-family dwelling"), with a maximum height of 2 1/2 stories, is permitted outright, but a group of townhouses requires a subsequent conditional use permit for "unit group development."
The attorney for the prior developer group, in emphasizing that the group proposed to build only townhouses, offered to provide a recorded document in the nature of a restrictive covenant to placate objecting neighbors who opposed construction of the townhouses, but these neighbors declined to relinquish their opposition and no restrictive agreement was made.
After the rezoning, the prior developer group proceeded in 1969 and 1970 with plans for townhouses and obtained a conditional use permit. Evidently because of financial and other problems, they were later required to obtain a renewal of that permit because such permits expire after 6 months if material commencement of construction has not occurred. Such renewals are presented to the Planning Department and, we are informed, are invariably forwarded to City Council for routine approval.
Here, however, for disputed reasons, the prior developer group's application for renewal of the permit never got beyond the City Planning Department. Allegedly as a consequence of this, three-fourths (Messrs. Schroeder, ...