Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County in the case of Geoffrey Hopkins, Beth Hopkins and Ken-Crest Center, Inc. v Zoning Hearing Board of Abington Township, No. 79-10301.
David M. Jordan, of counsel, Wisler, Pearlstine, Talone, Craig & Garrity, for appellant.
Elias S. Cohen, with him Joseph L. Higgins, for appellees.
Howard Ulan, Assistant Attorney General, for Amicus Curiae, Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare.
Judges MacPhail, Williams, Jr. and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.
[ 55 Pa. Commw. Page 366]
The Township of Abington (Township) has filed an appeal from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County reversing the denial by the Zoning Hearing Board of Abington Township (Board) of a request by Geoffrey Hopkins, Beth Hopkins, and Ken-Crest Centers, Inc. (Appellees) to add one more unrelated person in an area zoned single family residential than the zoning ordinance allows. We affirm.
Appellees Geoffrey and Beth Hopkins purchased a house in an area zoned "T" residential*fn1 by the township zoning ordinance. Mr. and Mrs. Hopkins were assured by their real estate agent and by an unknown woman in the zoning office that they could use the house as a site for a Community Living Arrangement Program (CLA).
A CLA is a program developed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through the Department of Public Welfare. The purpose of the program is to place persons disabled by mental retardation into a family setting as nearly normal as possible and into the mainstream of society.
[ 55 Pa. Commw. Page 367]
Geoffrey and Beth Hopkins entered into a lease agreement with Ken-Crest Centers, Inc., a non-profit corporation providing services to Montgomery County, whereby the house would be used as a home for three mentally retarded children. Beth Hopkins was hired to serve as full-time house parent; Geoffrey Hopkins works for Ken-Crest Centers, Inc. in an area unrelated to the CLA in question.
In January of 1979, approximately one month after the Appellees had begun the CLA program, the township zoning officer informed Appellees that their use of the property was prohibited by the zoning ordinance.
Appellees appealed to the Zoning Hearing Board from the decision of the zoning officer. After a hearing the Board entered its decision refusing ...