Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Columbia County in case of In Re: Appeal of R. G. Smith from Report and Decision of South Centre Township Supervisors concerning Application for Zoning Change, No. 441 October Term, 1971.
David C. Dickson, Jr., for appellant.
John M. Kuchka, for appellee.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. President Judge Bowman did not participate. Opinion by Judge Kramer.
[ 12 Pa. Commw. Page 286]
This is an appeal by R. G. Smith (Smith) from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Columbia County which "denied" Smith's appeal from the refusal of the South Centre Township Board of Supervisors (Township) to approve his application for a rezoning of his property.
In 1958, when Smith purchased approximately five acres of land adjoining U.S. Route 11 in South Centre
[ 12 Pa. Commw. Page 287]
Township, there was no applicable zoning ordinance. Subsequent to Smith's purchase of this property (at a time not specifically set forth in the record), a portion of the land was condemned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Highways for use in the construction of an interchange ramp onto Interstate Route 80 (Keystone Shortway), for which Smith received approximately $9,700. A fence was erected along the property boundary adjoining the highway, and a township road was utilized for access to the property. Smith purchased a metal building (42 feet by 60 feet) which had been used by a contractor in the construction of the Keystone Shortway for the repair of roadbuilding equipment. Smith subsequently has used this building for automobile and truck repairs.
In 1963, South Centre Township enacted a zoning ordinance in which Smith's land was zoned "interchange or beautification." It should be noted here that when Smith purchased the property it was described as a rather large depression in the land about four feet below the level of U.S. Route 11. Smith filled the depression with about 24,000 yards of fill to bring it up to the level of U.S. Route 11. The record indicates that the other properties along U.S. Route 11 are characterized as commercial and are, in fact, zoned "general commercial." Smith's property lies between U.S. Route 11 and residential properties. Although neither the language of the entire zoning ordinance nor any specific part of it (other than for the commercial zone) can be found in the record, it is quite clear that under the "interchange and beautification" zoning classification Smith may use his property only for the growing of grasses, flowers, and shrubbery.
In 1969, Smith applied for permission to continue the nonconforming use of the metal building, which application was denied by the Township's Zoning Board of Adjustment. On appeal, in that case, the Common
[ 12 Pa. Commw. Page 288]
Pleas Court of Columbia County on February 22, 1971, after holding that Smith was entitled to a variance, granted him a special exception to continue the use of the property as a garage and motor vehicle repair business. Following this, Smith filed an application in which he requested that the Township rezone his property from "interchange or beautification" to a general commercial classification. A hearing was held before the Township Board of Supervisors, which issued its "Report and Decision" on December 29, 1971, wherein it denied Smith's application. On January 26, 1972, Smith filed a petition for appeal with the court below. The Scenic Knolls Civic Association, an organization representing a group of residents in close proximity to Smith's property, was permitted to intervene. A hearing was held before the court below, at which testimony was taken and evidence received, after which, the court on May 11, 1973, issued its opinion and order. At the trial Smith contended that the zoning ordinance of the ...