Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in the case of Joseph Molnar and Margaret Molnar, his wife v. Borough of Prospect Park Zoning Hearing Board, No. 15445 of 1978.
F. Martin Duus, Fronefield and deFuria, for appellant.
Edward F. Muller, Jr., Lawhorne, Muller & DelSordo, for appellees.
Judges MacPhail, Williams, Jr. and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr.
[ 57 Pa. Commw. Page 100]
The Borough of Prospect Park (appellant) appeals from an Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County which reversed a decision of the Zoning Hearing Board of the Borough of Prospect Park (Board). The Board had denied Joseph and Margaret Molnar (appellees) permission to expand a non-conforming use of their property.
The facts of this case are not in dispute. Appellees, Joseph and Margaret Molnar, filed an application with the Board for a special permit to expand a non-conforming use of their property. The property had been used as a light metal fabrication and sales business. It was located in an area where certain business
[ 57 Pa. Commw. Page 101]
uses, excluding that of appellees, were authorized by special exception.*fn1
An initial hearing was held by the Board on August 10, 1978, at which appellees produced evidence in support of their application. A public meeting was held on September 19, 1978. In attendance at that meeting were appellees and all of the members of the Board. It was at that time, in the presence of the appellees, that the Board orally voted unanimously to deny the appellees' request for a special permit to expand their non-conforming use. No other communication occurred between the appellant and the appellees until October 13, 1978, when the Board issued a written decision denying the appellees' application. That decision was received by the appellees the following day.
The appellees filed an appeal to the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County from the adverse decision of the Board. In addition to contesting the merits of the case, the appellees contended that under Section 908(9) of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC),*fn2 the decision of the Board must be deemed to be in their favor. In that regard, the appellees asserted that that result was compelled because the Board's detailed written decision was not mailed to the appellees within forty-five days after the hearing as required by Section 908(9) of the MPC. Without taking additional testimony, the Court reversed the Board's decision solely on the ground that the Board had not complied with Section 908(9) of the MPC.
[ 57 Pa. Commw. Page 102]
Appellant thereafter filed the instant appeal, arguing that although it did not strictly comply with Section 908(9) of the MPC, it complied with the spirit of that provision. Appellant contends that where a decision has been made within the statutory forty-five day period at a public meeting of the Board at which the applicants were in attendance, actual notice of the Board's decision has been provided. Thus, the appellant argues, there has been ...