Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County in case of Leon Ephross and Selma Ephross, h/w v. Solebury Township Zoning Hearing Board, No. 74-3460-08-6.
Ian A. Abarbanel, with him Bruce K. Doman, and Weber and Abarbanel, for appellants.
Carl L. Lindsay, Jr., for appellee.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Mencer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer. Judge Kramer did not participate in the decision in this case.
[ 25 Pa. Commw. Page 141]
This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County affirming the decision of the Solebury Township Zoning Hearing Board (Board) which denied the variance application of Leon Ephross and Selma Ephross (appellants).
[ 25 Pa. Commw. Page 142]
In 1966, the owner of the Honey Hollow Village development received the township's approval for the subdivision of its land. At that time, and presently, the township's zoning ordinance mandated one-acre plots for the R-1 residential district in which the development is located. Nevertheless, the land was divided into 22 numbered lots, each containing an acre or more,*fn1 and two unnumbered lots, each containing less than an acre.*fn2 In January of 1972, appellants purchased the development, including the numbered and unnumbered lots. At the time of purchase, appellants, who have extensive experience as builders and developers, were familiar with the boundaries of the subdivision plan and the zoning restrictions of the township.
In November of 1973, appellants applied for a variance for the construction of a one-family residence on the larger of the two unnumbered and undersized tracts. After a hearing, the Board, in a well-written and thorough opinion, denied that request because of appellants' alleged failure to prove any legal hardship and because any hardship, even if proved, would have been self-inflicted. On appeal, the trial court, after receiving some additional evidence, affirmed the Board by a well-reasoned opinion which included extensive findings of fact.
Our scope of review in zoning appeals where, as here, the court below admitted some additional evidence is limited to a determination of whether or not the trial court committed an error of law or abused its discretion. Snyder v. Zoning Hearing Board, Borough of Zelienople, 20 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 139, 341 A.2d 546 (1975). We have closely examined the record
[ 25 Pa. Commw. Page 143]
in this case and are convinced that the trial court neither abused its discretion nor committed an error of law.
Initially, we note that the appellants, as applicants for a variance, are required by law to carry the heavy burden of proving that there exists an unnecessary hardship unique to their property and that the variance, if granted, would not be contrary to the public health, safety, welfare, or morals. See J. Richard Fretz, Inc. v. Hilltown Township Zoning Hearing Board, 18 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 471, 336 A.2d 464 (1975); Radnor Township v. Falcone, 16 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 283, 328 A.2d 216 (1974). While we are persuaded by appellants' argument that the record does not reveal that the construction would have an adverse impact on the public health, welfare, safety, ...