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JAMES L. LARSON v. PEIRCE JUNIOR COLLEGE (12/19/73)

decided: December 19, 1973.

JAMES L. LARSON, C. RICHARD RYAN, JOHN HUCKER AND EASTTOWN TOWNSHIP, APPELLANTS,
v.
PEIRCE JUNIOR COLLEGE, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County in case of Peirce Junior College, a Pennsylvania Nonprofit Educational Corporation, v. James L. Larson, Supervisor, C. Richard Ryan, John Hucker, and Easttown Township, a Second Class Township, No. 401 July Term, 1972.

COUNSEL

John S. Halsted, with him Gawthrop & Greenwood, for appellants.

Thomas A. Riley, Jr., with him Lentz, Riley, Cantor, Kilgore & Massey, Ltd. and, of counsel, Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen, for appellee.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer and Blatt. Judge Rogers did not participate. Opinion by Judge Kramer.

Author: Kramer

[ 11 Pa. Commw. Page 272]

This is an appeal from an Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County dated December 13, 1972 entering summary judgment on a complaint in mandamus.

In 1969, Peirce Junior College (Peirce), a Pennsylvania nonprofit educational institution with its principal office located in Philadelphia, purchased approximately 75 acres of land in Easttown Township (Easttown). A "manor house" was in existence on the land at the time of purchase. The purpose of the purchase was the establishment of a junior college campus. After

[ 11 Pa. Commw. Page 273]

    some informal meetings with township officials extending over a period of approximately two years, Peirce filed an application for a conditional use of the property for educational purposes. The land in question is located partially in an A.A. Zone and partially in an A.A.A. Zone. Under the Township Zoning Ordinance, educational uses are permitted in both zones as a conditional use.

Pursuant to the terms of Easttown's Zoning Ordinance, the matter was referred to Easttown's Planning Commission, and after hearings, the Planning Commission recommended approval of Peirce's application. Thereafter, the Supervisors of Easttown held a public meeting to consider Peirce's application for a conditional use. A record was made of that meeting. Thereafter, on June 5, 1971, the Board of Supervisors of Easttown publicly reconvened the hearings concerning the Peirce application, after having considered same in executive sessions. At this last meeting, the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors stated for the record:

"Given this confusion in the entire record, given the obvious inadequacy of the record with its contradictions, even to decide what is before us, and given the serious and important land use issues which ultimately underlie this applicant's plans, we decline now to approve this application.

"However, in fairness to the applicant, we will not disapprove it, pending an opportunity for the applicant to reconsider and clarify its position by appropriate further proceedings before the Planning Commission and, ultimately, our Board." It is apparent from the record that the Board of Supervisors was concerned with the fact that Peirce's application for a conditional use only involved the first phase of its development of a junior college. This phase included ...


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