Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County in case of Harold A. J. Hauser, Jr. and Jean M. Hauser v. Borough of Catasauqua Zoning Hearing Board, No. 504 January Term, 1974.
James N. Diefenderfer, for appellants.
Charles J. Fonzone, with him Martin J. Karess and Walker, Thomas, Karess, Lipson & Ziegler, for appellees.
Judges Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
[ 20 Pa. Commw. Page 314]
This is a zoning appeal taken by Harold A. J. Hauser and Jean M. Hauser (landowners) from the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County which affirmed the Zoning Hearing Board (Board) of the Borough of Catasauqua (Borough). The Board had held that the landowners' application to convert a pre-existing nonconforming use should be denied in part and granted in part.
The landowners' property, located on both sides of Lehigh Street in the Borough, was originally zoned in
[ 20 Pa. Commw. Page 315]
June of 1962 when the Borough adopted a zoning ordinance. At that time the property was being used as a coal yard, and as such was permitted to continue as a nonconforming use. In 1966, Robert Jones, then the occupant, applied to change that nonconforming use to another nonconforming use as an "automotive body and upholstery shop and a used car lot." The Board, after a hearing, approved the change subject to certain restrictions. The property was operated thereafter as "Jones' Auto Center." Subsequently, in 1970, George Schlacter applied to change the use of the property once more so that it could be utilized for "office, storage and garages." This was another nonconforming use of the premises, which the Board approved in 1971.*fn1 Schlacter then used the premises during the daytime hours in connection with a roofing and general contracting business, "G&S Home Improvement Company." During the evening hours, however, the property continued to be used for auto repair work, although the record is unclear as to whether such work was being done commercially as part of the business or merely as a hobby.
The landowners involved in the present appeal purchased the property in June of 1973 and shortly thereafter sought the approval of the Board to use the premises as a warehouse and automobile and truck repair shop as well as for the parking and storage of motor vehicles, including trucks. At the hearing before the Board, Mr. Hauser described the nature of the motor vehicle repair business which he proposed to conduct on the premises. He stated that ninety percent of his work would be done on the road in response to emergency phone calls for which his employees would be available on a 24-hour per
[ 20 Pa. Commw. Page 316]
day basis. The other ten percent of the work, which would have to be done in a shop, would be conducted on the property here concerned from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. five days a week. Most of the work would involve the repair of trucks, although Hauser did state that he might also work on automobiles at times. Hauser said that he would employ two full-time and four part-time employees and would utilize six three-quarter-ton service trucks in the business. The building located on the premises contains garages with overhead doors and there is various repair equipment inside, including an overhead lift. This equipment was apparently built in part and used by the preceding occupants.
Following a hearing, the Board decided that the present landowners should be permitted only to continue utilizing the subject premises as a "warehouse and storage facility" and to continue on-site vehicle repairs incidental to the business. The parking request was also granted. They were, however, denied permission to conduct a truck and ...