Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County in case of Township of Hilltown v. Eugene C. Bevans and Marie G. Bevans, h/w, No. 80-9350-11-5.
William R. Cooper, with him Stewart J. Greenleaf, Cooper & Greenleaf, for appellants.
Jeffrey A. Drake, with him Charles S. Wilson, Charles S. Wilson & Associates, for appellee.
Judges Blatt, Craig and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 72 Pa. Commw. Page 228]
Mr. and Mrs. Eugene C. Bevans, as landowners, appeal a zoning decision of the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas, which ordered them to cease operation of their trucking enterprise in Hilltown Township.
The facts leading to the appeal are as follows:
On August 26, 1977, the owners bought property located in a district zoned Rural Residential (RR) under the township's zoning ordinance. The previous owner, who had owned the land since 1949, was a general contractor, who, on occasion, had parked several of his trucks on the premises.
After purchasing the property, the owners built a parking lot and facilities to service and accommodate an average of nine trucks daily.*fn1 On October 19, 1979, a township zoning officer, categorizing the owners' enterprise as a truck terminal, served them with an order to stop their operation, on the ground that their use was not permitted in an RR district. Because they did not comply, the township ultimately filed a complaint in equity to enjoin the trucking operation.
[ 72 Pa. Commw. Page 229]
Before addressing the zoning question, we must first consider the owners' procedural claim. The Bevans had responded to the township's complaint by filing an anwer and new matter. The township replied to the new matter, often responding as follows: "Denied. It is denied [reiteration of averment]." The owners contend that, under Pa. R.C.P. No. 1029(b),*fn2 the township's general denial must be construed as an admission.*fn3
However, we need not focus on whether the general denials constituted admissions*fn4 because, shortly after the trial began, the common pleas court allowed the township to amend its pleadings to respond to the ...