Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County in case of Robert J. Champaine and Royalwood, Inc. v. Zoning Hearing Board of East Bradford Township, No. 235 April Term, 1974.
Ross A. Unruh, with him MacElree, Harvey, Gallagher & Kean, Ltd., for appellant.
John Spangler, with him Lawrence E. Wood, and Wood, Parke & Barnes, for appellee.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Mencer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.
[ 30 Pa. Commw. Page 545]
The narrow question raised in this zoning appeal is whether the regular and substantial sale of tack, saddlery, and horse trailers is customarily incidental to the operation of a horse farm. Because the evidence of record does not establish such customary incidence, we reverse the court below.
The appellees, Robert J. Champaine and Royalwood, Inc., operate a horse farm in a residential district of East Bradford Township, Chester County, which also permits agricultural uses. Their operation entails the buying, selling, boarding, and training of horses. It also encompasses the sale of horse equipment. The entire operation has grown steadily since appellees purchased their property in 1966. Presently, appellees are among the largest horse dealers in the area and are the largest Hartman horse-trailer dealer in the world. In 1973, for example, they sold 72 trailers at an average price of $1800. The income from the trailer sales represents about 15 percent of appellees' total income. Another 10 percent is generated by the sale of tack and saddlery. The remainder of appellees' income is derived from the sale and rental of horses, a use which they maintain is agricultural.
On December 10, 1973, the township zoning officer issued a cease-and-desist order which directed appellees to discontinue their horse-equipment sales because
[ 30 Pa. Commw. Page 546]
the sales did not constitute an agricultural use or a customary agricultural-accessory use. A timely appeal was taken to the Zoning Hearing Board of East Bradford Township (Board).
The Board held several hearings on the general question of whether the equipment sales were proper. In its decision of March 28, 1974, the Board concluded that the sales were not accessory to an agricultural use. The Board also expressed the broader concern that such sales might seriously jeopardize the preservation of the R-1 Residential District in which appellees' property is located. Accordingly, the Board affirmed the order of the township zoning officer, and an appeal was taken to the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County.*fn1
The lower court reviewed the extensive record developed before the Board and, without taking additional testimony, determined that appellees' equipment sales were an accessory use to the operation of a horse farm. It therefore reversed the Board. The case is presently before this Court on the township's appeal.
Where, as here, the court below took no additional evidence, our duty is to determine whether the Board abused its discretion or committed an error of law. Fun Bun, Inc. v. Zoning Board of Adjustment, 5 Pa. Commonwealth ...