Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County in case of H.A. Steen Industries, Inc. v. The Zoning Hearing Board of Bensalem Township, No. 77-3692-10-5.
Leslie G. Dias and Henry F. Huhn, for Bensalem Township.
David H. Moskowitz, with him Moskowitz & Zamparelli, for H.A. Steen Industries, Inc.
John W. Potkay and Emil F. Toften, for Zoning Hearing Board of Bensalem Township.
Judges Mencer, Blatt and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.
[ 39 Pa. Commw. Page 453]
We have for our consideration appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County which directed that a variance be granted for the erection of a sign and that the variance provide "for maximum compliance with the zoning ordinance as is possible."
The following preceded the order in question. In 1976, H.A. Steen Industries, Inc. (Steen) purchased an irregularly shaped triangular piece of property with side dimensions of 25 feet, 105 feet, and 108 feet. Steen's reason for this purchase was for the erection of a billboard on this vacant, landlocked lot. The property is zoned C-General Commercial. Steen desires to erect a double-faced sign in the shape of a "V" or wedge to be situated with the juncture of the sides at the property line fronting on Street Road.
Steen applied to the ordinance enforcement officer for a sign permit, but this application was rejected. Steen then appealed to the Bensalem Township Zoning Hearing Board (Board), alleging that it was entitled to a variance or, alternatively, that the zoning ordinance was unconstitutional insofar as it totally prohibited off-site signs. The Board, after a hearing, rejected both of Steen's allegations and Steen appealed to the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County.
Our scope of review, when the trial court, as here, has not taken additional evidence, is to determine whether or not the Board abused its discretion or committed an error of law. Schaffer v. Zoning Hearing Board, 32 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 261, 378 A.2d 1054 (1977).
[ 39 Pa. Commw. Page 454]
An owner of land is entitled to a variance only where the property is subjected to an unnecessary hardship, unique or peculiar to itself, and where the grant thereof will not be contrary to the public interest. The reasons to justify the granting of a variance must be substantial, serious, and compelling. Magrann v. Zoning Board of Adjustment, 404 Pa. 198, 170 A.2d 553 (1961).
In Poster Advertising Co., Inc. v. Zoning Board of Adjustment, 408 Pa. 248, 182 A.2d 521 (1962), dealing with a fact situation similar to the one in the instant case, the Supreme Court reversed the lower court and zoning board of adjustment which had denied a variance to permit the construction of outdoor ...