Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County in case of Frank J. Kadi, George E. Schlegel and Raymond Hoving v. Zoning Hearing Board of the Township of Lynn, No. 81-C-1090.
Gerald M. Barr, Steckel & Stopp, for appellant.
No appearance for appellee.
Judges Blatt, Williams, Jr. and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
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The Ontelaunee Rod and Gun Club (Club) appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County which reversed the decision of the Zoning Hearing Board of Lynn Township (Board) which had granted the Club a special exception.
The Club, which was organized in 1937, owns 62 acres of land utilized for trapshooting and other outdoor
[ 73 Pa. Commw. Page 297]
recreational activities, including archery, fishing, hunting, picnics and family outings. It filed an application with the Board seeking a special exception permitting it to install outdoor illumination for two of its eight trap houses. This application was approved on September 19, 1979, by a vote of two to one. The appellees, who are the objectors*fn1 to the Club's application, then filed an appeal to the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County, alleging that the Board had been prejudiced inasmuch as one of its members was a member of the Club and had failed to disqualify himself from participating in the Board's hearing and adjudication. The court reversed and remanded the Board's order, and another hearing was subsequently held before a new Board. On March 2, 1981, this Board, by a three to zero vote, once again found in favor of the Club and granted the special exception. The objectors once more appealed to the court of common pleas, which found that the Board had abused its discretion by failing to find a nuisance in fact.
Where, as here, the trial court has taken no additional evidence, the scope of our review is determining whether or not the Board committed an abuse of discretion or an error of law.*fn2 Waber v. Zoning Board of Adjustment, 41 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 565, 400 A.2d 893 (1979). And it is well-settled that, in reviewing
[ 73 Pa. Commw. Page 298]
the decisions of the Board, a court should not act as a super zoning board of adjustment and impose its own preference on local municipalities. Eighteenth & Rittenhouse Associates v. Zoning Board of Adjustment, 26 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 554, 364 A.2d 973 (1976). In this case, however, it appears that the trial court has attempted to substitute its own findings and conclusions for those of the Board, contrary to the law. See B & B Shoe Products Co. v. Zoning Hearing Board, 28 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 475, 368 A.2d 1332 (1977).
Among its 23 detailed and comprehensive findings of fact, the Board here found that the proposed use of lights for trapshooting and the noise generated by the additional shooting time will not cause additional annoyance or discomfort to the adjoining property owners.*fn3 This finding has ample support in the record,*fn4 especially when considered in the very limited context ...