Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County in cases of St. Paul's United Church of Christ v. The Zoning Hearing Board of East Hempfield Township, Trust Book 42, Page 440, and School Lane Hills, Inc. v. East Hempfield Township Zoning Hearing Board, Trust Book 42, Page 442.
T. Roberts Appel, II, with him James W. Appel, and Appel, Herr & Appel, for appellant.
Charles B. Grove, Jr., with him May, Grove, Stork & Blakinger, for appellee.
David E. Alspach, with him Alfred C. Alspach and Alspach and Ryder, for intervening appellee, St. Paul's United Church of Christ.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Judge Wilkinson, Jr. did not participate. Opinion by President Judge Bowman.
[ 18 Pa. Commw. Page 521]
Aaron J. Brubaker and H. Arlene Brubaker are the record owners of an 84 acre tract of land, situated in East Hempfield Township, Lancaster County. At some date prior to December 11, 1973, the Brubakers entered into an agreement to convey this property to St. Paul's United Church of Christ (St. Paul's). St Paul's initially contemplated the development of the Brubaker tract into a church-community center project, containing the following facilities: a church; apartment units for the elderly; two nursing care units, one providing full care and the other intermediate care; a rehabilitation center for crippled childen and adults; and an occupational therapy and training center for retarded persons. Although the proposed project found its impetus in the membership of St. Paul's, two other philanthropic organizations involved themselves. The Easter Seal Society intends to assume the sponsorship and maintenance of the rehabilitation center, while the Child Development Center will do the same with regards to the therapy and training center (which, incidentally, will bear its name).
Under the East Hempfield Township Zoning Ordinance (ordinance), the Brubaker property lies in an R-2 Residential District. None of the uses proposed in St. Paul's project is a "permitted use" in such a district. Therefore, on December 11, 1973, the Brubakers, on behalf of St. Paul's, applied to the East Hempfield Township Zoning Hearing Board for a special exception. This application recited that all aspects of St. Paul's project
[ 18 Pa. Commw. Page 522]
fell within uses allowed by special exception of "appropriate public uses." School Lane Hills, Inc. (appellant), the developer of a tract of land which abuts the Brubaker property, opposed the entire request for special exception and intervened in the hearing before the Board.
"Appropriate public uses" are defined by the ordinance as follows:
"Public Uses, Appropriate: Includes public and semi-public uses of a welfare and educational nature, such as schools, parks, churches, cemeteries, civic centers, historical restorations, fire stations, municipal buildings, essential public utilities that require enclosure within a building; non-profit recreational facilities; and easements for alleys, streets, and public utility rights-of-way." (Emphasis added.)
By a decision dated March 18, 1974, the Board denied a special exception as to the apartment and nursing care units, but granted same as to the rehabilitation and occupational training and therapy centers.*fn1 That part of the decision favorable to St. Paul's (and its co-developers) was predicated upon ...