Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County in case of William A. Zeiders and Doretta L. Zeiders, his wife, t/a/d/b/a B & L Garden Center v. Zoning Hearing Board of Adjustment of West Hanover Township, No. 1909 March Term, 1976.
Thomas W. Scott, with him Killian & Gephart, for appellants.
Robert P. Reed, with him Metzger, Wickersham, Knauss & Erb, for appellee.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., DiSalle and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Wilkinson, Jr.
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The owners of a garden center and nursery business (appellants) in West Hanover Township appeal an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County affirming a decision of the Zoning Hearing Board of Adjustment (Board) of the township denying
[ 39 Pa. Commw. Page 647]
an application for a special exception to rebuild a shade house used in connection with appellants' business. We reverse.
Appellants constructed the shade house in 1958 to protect tender plants and for use as a sales area at the corner of their property located at Route 39 and Red Top Road in the township. Upon enactment of the township zoning ordinance in 1968 the shade house, constructed of wooden support beams and a wood slatted roof, was nonconforming with regard to a setback requirement of 75 feet from the two roads, being located 52.5 feet from Route 39 and 32.83 feet from Red Top Road. Through the years, the support beams and roof gradually deteriorated due to exposure to the weather. After a windstorm destroyed a portion of the roof in March 1975, appellants removed the remainder of the structure, and, without securing a building permit, began reconstruction on the same foundation. After the township zoning officer informed appellants that a building permit was required, appellants applied for a permit which was denied because the proposed structure did not meet the set-back requirements. Subsequently, appellants sought a special exception from the Board, proposing to reconstruct the shade house using a tubular metal framework and plastic roofing material on the grounds the reconstruction was permissible under the zoning regulations providing for the continuation of nonconforming uses. The Board, however, concluded the regulation does not permit replacement or reconstruction where a building is demolished because of a natural deterioration. The common pleas court, without taking additional testimony, affirmed.
Appellants assert they are entitled as of right to a special exception because they have satisfied the conditions of Article IV of the township zoning ordinance
[ 39 Pa. Commw. Page 648]
regarding the continuation, alteration and repair of nonconforming buildings. Accordingly, they allege the Board erred as a matter of law in interpreting the township ordinance.
Article IV provides generally that, "All lawful uses . . . existing on the effective date of this Ordinance may be continued, altered, restored, reconstructed, changed, sold or maintained even though such use may not conform to the use, height, area, yard and other regulations of the district in which it is located. . . ." Section C.1 of Article IV, titled "Alterations and Repairs," provides, "Repairs and structural alterations may be made to a nonconforming building or a building occupied by a nonconforming use." "Structural alteration" is ...