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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. EARL H. HELLERMAN (06/08/77)

decided: June 8, 1977.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, RICHLAND TOWNSHIP
v.
EARL H. HELLERMAN, SR. AND PRODEX, INC., APPELLANTS



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Richland Township v. Earl H. Hellerman, Sr. and Prodex, Inc., No. 140 Misc. Term, 1975.

COUNSEL

Walton B. Yoder, Jr., for appellants.

Richard A. Rosenberger, with him Souder, Rosenberger & Bricker, for appellee.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Mencer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.

Author: Mencer

[ 30 Pa. Commw. Page 439]

Appellants, Earl H. Hellerman, Sr., and Prodex, Inc., were convicted in summary proceedings of violating certain provisions of the Richland Township Zoning Ordinance of 1972. Richland Township is a part of Bucks County.

Prior to the enactment of the township's zoning ordinance in 1972, appellants used part of a leased lot for their metal fabrication operation. The lot is located on the south side of Cherry Road and extends southward along Nice Street, which is perpendicular to Cherry Road.

Appellant's industrial use became a legal nonconforming use under the 1972 ordinance. The ordinance allows such uses to continue, but it specifies that extension or enlargement of nonconforming uses shall be permitted only by special exception. The ordinance also provides that no use shall produce a strong, dazzling light beyond its lot lines.

[ 30 Pa. Commw. Page 440]

There is no doubt that appellants extended or enlarged their nonconforming use without obtaining a special exception. Nor is it contested that the frequent welding operations on the lot created a dazzling light which was visible beyond lot lines. It is therefore not surprising that appellants were convicted of violating the aforementioned provisions of the zoning ordinance after summary proceedings before a district justice and a trial de novo in the common pleas court.

Appellants submit to this Court that the fines imposed for violations of the ordinance provisions are improper. First, they contend that the charge of extending a nonconforming use without following the prescribed procedure should be dismissed. Specifically, they maintain that the court below erred when it found that the prezoning use of the lot was confined to approximately 130 feet of the lot's southward extension along Nice Street, because some evidence tended to establish that appellants' use had extended a few feet further. Appellants do not contest a finding that at the time of their conviction their use extended approximately 250 feet southward along Nice Street.

Appellants' second contention concerns the "dazzling light beyond lot lines" provision. They suggest that the term "dazzling" is unconstitutionally vague and therefore their conviction under this provision cannot stand.

Our review of the decision of the court below, rendered after a trial de novo, is limited to determining whether the court manifestly abused its discretion or committed ...


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