Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County in case of Stanley E. Reinert v. Weisenberg Zoning Board, No. 251 January Term, 1978.
W. F. Steigerwalt, for appellant.
Charles W. Stoop, for appellee.
William E. Doyle, for intervenors.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., DiSalle and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail. This decision was reached prior to the expiration of the term of office of Judge DiSalle.
[ 48 Pa. Commw. Page 520]
This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County dismissing the appeal of Stanley E. Reinert (Appellant) and affirming the decision of the Weisenberg Zoning Board (Board).
In 1966 Appellant acquired a 20 foot by 40 foot house situated on a one acre lot in a rural area of Weisenberg Township (Township). One year later Appellant constructed a 22 foot by 26 foot garage on the same lot. Upon completion of the garage, Appellant contends that he began an automobile repair business which, he also contends, continued to exist on and after February 3, 1972 when the Township adopted a Zoning Ordinance. That Ordinance placed Appellant's property in a Rural District. The Ordinance does not provide for an automobile repair shop in a Rural District as either a permitted, accessory or Special Exception Use.
[ 48 Pa. Commw. Page 521]
In April of 1977 Appellant applied to the Township's zoning officer for a permit to erect another building on his premises in which he proposed to conduct an automobile repair business. His application was denied whereupon Appellant appealed to the Board. After a hearing the Board likewise denied the application in a decision containing findings of fact and conclusions of law. On Appellant's subsequent appeal to the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County, that Court, without taking additional evidence, found no error of law or abuse of discretion in the Board's determination. Our scope of review is limited to those same considerations. Appeal of Emmanuel Baptist Church, 26 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 427, 364 A.2d 536 (1976).
At the hearing before the Board, Appellant offered his own testimony and the testimony of his construction engineer. Appellant testified that although he had been repairing cars for his own benefit and for his friends since 1967, he had never charged anyone, received any payments, or paid any sales tax on his labor. The record indicates that prior to 1977 no applications for licenses or permits for the premises had been filed. At no time prior to that same year had Appellant advertised and it was not until April of 1977 that a fictitious name was recorded for the premises.
Appellant testified that if his application is approved he will operate a mechanical and automobile repair shop out of a proposed 27 foot by 40 foot by 18 foot high wood frame and aluminum siding structure. According to the testimony of Appellant's engineer, the structure, as described by him, would be situated behind the present garage at the rear of the lot. The business would be conducted by Appellant and one full time mechanic. Upon approval, from the Commonwealth of ...