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DAVID AARON v. BOROUGH JENKINTOWN (12/31/81)

decided: December 31, 1981.

DAVID AARON, LTD., APPELLANT
v.
BOROUGH OF JENKINTOWN, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County in the case of Borough of Jenkintown v. David Aaron, Ltd., No. 1178-80.

COUNSEL

John F. X. Fenerty, Charleston & Fenerty, for appellant.

George B. Ditter, with him Frank W. Jenkins, Tarquini & Jenkins, for appellee.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges MacPhail and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino.

Author: Palladino

[ 63 Pa. Commw. Page 578]

This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County finding David Aaron, Ltd. (Appellant) guilty of a summary violation of the zoning ordinance of the Borough of Jenkintown (Borough). We affirm.

Appellant operates a jewelry store in the Borough, in front of which and at a right angle to is a permanent sign thirty-two square feet in size. In February, 1980, Appellant erected a second sign, which was temporary in nature and which was also located at a right angle to the store. The Borough Zoning Officer, viewing the aggregate size of the two signs as being well in excess of forty square feet, ordered Appellant to remove the temporary sign in a cease and desist order dated March 3, 1980, on the grounds that there was a violation of Section 16-32 of the Borough's zoning ordinance. Section 16-32 reads, in pertinent part:

     a. The following types of signs and no other shall be permitted: . . .

[ 63 Pa. Commw. Page 5795]

. Signs in Commercial Districts, or on the lower two floors of Special Use Districts, advertising a business conducted on the premises, or articles or merchandise for sale on the premises which shall not exceed forty (40) square foot in area when placed at right angles to a building; and shall not exceed one hundred sixty (160) square feet when placed upon the face or upon the same plane of a building. Signs not in accordance with these provisions may be allowed when authorized as special exception by the Zoning Hearing Board. On a corner lot, signs permitted by this subsection shall apply to each side of a building which faces and adjoins a street.

Appellant, contending that Section 16-32 permits an unlimited number of signs to be placed at right angles to a building so long as each sign measures less than forty square feet in size, refused to remove the temporary sign and was subsequently found guilty of a summary violation of Section 16-32 by a district justice.*fn1 The summary conviction was appealed and, following a de novo hearing, the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County also found Appellant guilty, holding that Section 16-32's forty square foot size limitation could be violated if the combined size of the signs exceeded forty square feet.*fn2

[ 63 Pa. Commw. Page 580]

Before this Court, Appellant challenges its conviction on the grounds that the reference to "signs" in Section 16-32 is ambiguous and the interpretation that it means the aggregate measure of all signs placed at right angles to a building is contrary to law because it ...


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