Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in case of Township of Haverford v. The Zoning Hearing Board of Haverford Township and Havwyn Manor, Inc., No. 4787 of 1974.
William E. Mowatt, with him Mowatt, McErlean, Pinto, Theodore & Rubin, for appellant.
Stephen J. McEwen, Jr., with him Henry B. Fitzpatrick, Jr., and Liebert, Short, Fitzpatrick & Lavin, for appellee.
Judges Kramer, Mencer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Kramer. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Mencer. Judge Blatt joins in this dissent.
[ 21 Pa. Commw. Page 209]
This is an appeal filed by the Township of Haverford (Township) from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, dated October 17, 1974, which affirmed an adjudication of the Zoning Hearing Board of Haverford Township (Board) granting a variance to Havwyn Manor, Inc. (Havwyn).
Havwyn is the owner of a tract of ground consisting of 29.58 acres through which the boundary line between Haverford Township and Radnor Township runs. 10.7 acres of the tract are situated in Haverford Township and the remainder in Radnor Township. When Havwyn purchased the tract in 1969, the portion located in Radnor Township was zoned I-Institutional under that Township's zoning ordinance. At the time of purchase, the tract was used primarily as a residence for nursing students at Villanova University during the school year, and as a residence for the Sisters of the Order of St. Francis during the summer. Havwyn decided to develop the entire acreage as an adult community limited to
[ 21 Pa. Commw. Page 210]
residents 50 years of age or older, and proposed to construct buildings in the nature of townhouses with four units per building throughout the tract. Without going into unnecessary detail concerning the zoning procedure experience of Havwyn in Radnor, it need only be stated that at the times pertinent to this case, Havwyn was in the process of constructing 18 such buildings (with four units in each) providing a density of approximately 3.8 units per acre.
After having been denied building permits to complete its plan on the acreage (10.7 acres) situated in Haverford Township, and also having been denied a request for a rezoning of the Haverford Township portion, Havwyn revised its plan and filed a new application for a building permit on January 17, 1974, requesting permission to erect ten quadruplexes. At the time of the application, the property was located in an "AA" Residence District which permitted only single-family dwellings on a minimum of one-acre lots together with the usual front, rear, and side-yard requirements. After being denied the building permit, Havwyn filed an appeal with the Board, which held hearings and issued an adjudication granting a variance.
The 10.7 acres here in question is a rather narrow strip of land approximately 360 feet in width, running from north to south, by 1,180 feet in length, running from east to west. Topographically, the land rises in height some 50 feet from its southern boundary to its northern boundary. At its northerly side Havwyn has already received permission from Radnor Township to construct several of the quadruplexes on the boundary line between the two townships. Along most of the southerly boundary is an expansive parking lot, which is to the rear of the rectory, garage, church, convent and school of the Blessed John Neumann Church plant. It is apparent from the record that this parking lot is also used as a playground area for the children attending the
[ 21 Pa. Commw. Page 211]
parochial school. On the westerly side, the plot is bounded by a public road, and on the ...