Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County in case of Appeal of Philadelphia Center for Developmental Services, Inc. from the decision of the Zoning Hearing Board of the Township of Upper Moreland, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, No. 81-18494.
S. Gerald Corso, for appellant.
Michael J. O'Donoghue, with him Harris F. Goldich, Wisler, Pearlstine, Talone, Craig & Garrity, for appellee.
Judges Blatt, MacPhail and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.
The Township of Upper Moreland (Township) has appealed from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County which reversed a decision of the Township's Zoning Hearing Board (Board) to deny a special exception application filed by the Philadelphia Center for Developmental Services (Appellee).
Appellee, a non-profit corporation, currently leases a single family dwelling located in an R-3 residential district in the Township. Appellee filed a request for a special exception to allow occupancy of the building as a single family dwelling by not more than four unrelated individuals. Prior to the filing of its application Appellee had been using the dwelling as the permanent residence for three mentally retarded adult males and claims that this use, termed a Community Living Arrangement (CLA), falls within the following Township zoning ordinance definition of a "family":
Any number of individuals living and cooking together as a single housekeeping unit, provided that not more then [sic] two (2) of such number are unrelated to all of the others by blood, marriage or legal adoption. As a special exception, the Zoning Hearing Board may interpret the term "family" to apply to a group of individuals, not exceeding four (4), not related to each other by blood, marriage or legal adoption, living and cooking together as a single housekeeping unit. Domestic servants shall be considered an adjunct to the term "family" (Emphasis added.)
As noted by the Board, the young adults currently residing in the subject dwelling require twenty-four
hour care which is provided by two staff persons during waking hours and one at night.
The Board conducted a public hearing on Appellee's application at which various neighboring residents testified in opposition to the grant of a special exception. Following the hearing the Board issued an opinion and order denying the application which, on appeal, was reversed by the court of common pleas. The record reflects that the court of common pleas heard oral argument but did not take any additional evidence.
Our scope of review, where the court of common pleas has taken no additional evidence, is to determine whether or not the zoning board abused its discretion or committed an error of law. Children's Aid Society v. Zoning Board of Adjustment, 44 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 123, 402 A.2d 1162 (1979). We ...