Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County in case of Liberty Bell Medical Center v. Zoning Board of Adjustment of the City of Philadelphia, No. 1448 November Term, 1972.
Steven B. Berger, Assistant City Solicitor, with him John Mattioni, Deputy City Solicitor, and Martin Weinberg, City Solicitor, for appellant Board.
Stanley F. Mankas, with him Bellwoar, Rich & Mankas, for intervening appellant.
Samuel P. Lavine, with him John P. Quinn, and Steinberg, Greenstein, Richman & Price, for appellee.
Judges Mencer, Rogers and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
[ 17 Pa. Commw. Page 214]
Liberty Bell Medical Center (Liberty Bell) is a limited partnership consisting of five doctors and a corporation whose stock is owned exclusively by the five doctor-members of the partnership. It owns the purchase rights to a 2.14 acre lot located in an R-4 residential district in the Torresdale section of Philadelphia, where it desires to demolish an existing building and to erect a medical center consisting of two structures of one and two stories respectively. The doctors presently maintain individual private officers of their own in the general vicinity, but they believe that combining offices on this property will provide a more economical use of their clerical and technical resources.
Under the Philadelphia zoning ordinance, a medical center is permitted in an R-4 district only if the applicant for that use obtains a use certificate which is identical to a special exception as such is provided for in many other zoning ordinances.
[ 17 Pa. Commw. Page 215]
Liberty Bell, therefore, applied to the Zoning Board of Adjustment (Board) for such a use certificate.
Section 14-1803 of the Philadelphia Code provides as follows with respect to the grant of a use certificate: "(1) The Zoning Board of Adjustment shall consider the following criteria in granting a Zoning Board of Adjustment Certificate under § 14-1801(1)(d): (a) that the grant of the Certificate will not substantially increase congestion in the public streets; (b) that the grant of the Certificate will not increase the danger of fire or otherwise endanger the public safety; (c) that the grant of the Certificate will not over-crowd the land or create an undue concentration of population; (d) that the grant of the Certificate will not impair an adequate supply of light and air to adjacent property; (e) that the grant of the Certificate will not adversely affect transportation or unduly burden water, sewer, school, park, or other public facilities; (f) that the grant of the Certificate will not adversely affect the public health, safety or general welfare; (g) that the grant of the Certificate will be in harmony with the spirit and purpose of this Title, and (h) that the grant of the Certificate will not adversely affect in a substantial manner any area redevelopment plan approved by the City Council or the Comprehensive Plan for the City approved by the City Planning Commission. (2) The applicant shall have the duty of presenting evidence relating to the criteria set forth herein."
Liberty Bell also applied for a variance, and, after a hearing, the Board denied the use certificate on the basis that Liberty Bell had failed to present the required evidence specifically with respect to provisions (1)(a), (b), (c), (e), (f) and (g) of Section 14-1803. The Board also denied the variance. Liberty Bell then appealed to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas which, without taking additional evidence, affirmed the Board's denial of ...