Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County in case of Appeal of Anthony Lonzetta from Decision of the Zoning Hearing Board of Hazle Township, No. 3626 of 1975.
Thomas L. Kennedy, for appellant.
James V. Senape, Jr., for appellee.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Mencer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer. Judge Crumlish, Jr. concurs in decision.
[ 30 Pa. Commw. Page 504]
Anthony Lonzetta, who operates Lonzetta Plumbing and Heating Company, wants to install a 10,000-gallon underground oil storage tank on property he owns in Hazle Township, Luzerne County. The Township's resistance has engendered this zoning case.
[ 30 Pa. Commw. Page 505]
Lonzetta's property is situate within an area zoned "Mining District" under the Township of Hazle Zoning Ordinance.*fn1 When Lonzetta advised the Township zoning officer of his intention to install the underground storage tank, he was informed that, because his proposed use was essentially a commercial use not related to mining, approval of the Zoning Hearing Board of Hazle Township (Board) was required. Lonzetta suggested that, because the ordinance permitted "Extraction and Underground Storage of Gas and Oil" without Board approval, his proposed use did not require approval of the Board. Upon insistence of the zoning officer, he nevertheless applied for Board permission.
A hearing was held before the Board on the application of Lonzetta for a special exception. When
[ 30 Pa. Commw. Page 506]
the application was denied, Lonzetta appealed to the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County. After taking additional testimony, the court concluded that the proposed use did not require Board approval, and it accordingly reversed the order of that body. The Township appealed to this Court.
In its decision, the lower court correctly noted that, where additional evidence is taken, the court is not to review the action of the Board but rather to decide the case on the merits. On appeal from the lower court's decision, the issue before us is whether the court manifestly abused its discretion or committed en error of law. Appeal of Benech, 28 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 415, 368 A.2d 828 (1977). We hold that it did neither.
The instant dispute involves an ambiguity in the zoning ordinance: whether the underground storage of oil in the Mining District is permitted without approval because it falls within the "Extraction and Underground Storage of Gas and Oil" provision or whether the use requires ...