Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in the case of Newtown Heights Civic Association v. The Zoning Hearing Board of Newtown Township and J. Allan Lester, Zanet N. Lester, William B. Lester, Elizabeth B. Lester, Harold H. Earnshaw, Elizabeth L. Earnshaw, John D. Thompson and Anne L. Thompson, No. 81-2125.
Charles W. Proctor, III, for appellant.
Michael R. Schwartz, with him Angelo Di Pasqua, for intervenors/appellees.
Gregory H. Lindsay, for Amicus Curaie, Joseph F. and Ann G. Ciampaglia.
Judges Rogers, Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 71 Pa. Commw. Page 439]
In this appeal from an order by Judge Labrum of the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas, we must decide if the Newtown Heights Civic Association (Association) lacked standing as an "aggrieved party" under section 1007 of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC)*fn1 to appeal a Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board decision which granted intervenors J. Allan Lester and his family a special exception to use their newly-acquired home as a religious film library and mail-order distribution center.
Specifically, on the intervenors' motion to dismiss, the common pleas court found that, in the record of the December 18, 1980 hearing before the board, there was "no mention . . . to support the existence of a group known as the Newtown Heights Civic Association. . . . [and] no record of any entry of appearance before the Board which would evidence the Association as having been a party at the hearing." Upon careful review of the record, we affirm.
[ 71 Pa. Commw. Page 440]
Because the Association has not challenged the validity of the zoning ordinance and because it is not a landowner seeking review or correction of a land use decision, section 1007 of the MPC governs its standing to appeal to the common pleas court. Baker v. Zoning Hearing Board of West Goshen Township, 27 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 602, 367 A.2d 819 (1976).
Section 1007 provides, in pertinent part, that "[a]ppeals to court from the decision of the zoning hearing board may be taken by any party aggrieved." (Emphasis added.) Section 908(3) of the MPC, 53 P.S. § 10908(3), defines a "party" as follows:
The parties to the hearing shall be the municipality, any person affected by the application who has made timely appearance of record before the board, and any other person including civic or community organizations permitted to appear by the board. The board shall have the power to require that all persons who wish to be considered parties enter appearances in writing on forms provided by the board for that purpose. (Emphasis added.)
Thus, to attain party status, civic or community organizations must enter or make a recognized appearance in some manner, the entry of an appearance in writing on forms provided by the board being one, but not the exclusive, method for securing that recognition. ...