Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County in case of In Re: Appeal of Atlantic Richfield Company from the Decision of the Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board, No. 80-12214-09-5.
John A. VanLuvanee, Eastburn and Gray, for appellant.
C. David Krewson, Stuckert, Yates & Krewson, for appellee.
Judges Rogers, Williams, Jr. and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr.
[ 77 Pa. Commw. Page 311]
This zoning case comes before us on appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County. The court affirmed a decision of the Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board (Board) denying appellant Atlantic Richfield Company's (ARCO) request for a special exception.
The appellant is the owner of a parcel of land in Newtown Township on which it presently operates a service station. This use of the property was permitted by the grant of a special exception to the appellant in 1967. Since that time, the premises have been used for automobile repairs and services, the sale of gasoline, and the sale of automobile parts and supplies. In 1972, the area within which the tract is located was rezoned to high-density residential, making appellant's service station a nonconforming use.
On or about April 3, 1980, ARCO applied to the Board for a special exception under Section 1001.3 of the Newtown Township Zoning Ordinance. This Section provides in pertinent part:
Changes. A nonconforming use of a structure or land may be changed to a nonconforming use of the same or a more restricted classification, if no structural alterations are made therein, provided that such change may include structural alteration when authorized as a special exception.
In its application, ARCO proposed to change the nonconforming use of the property as a service station to an "AM/PM Mini-Market," another nonconforming
[ 77 Pa. Commw. Page 312]
use. The service station business would be discontinued with respect to repairs, mechanical work, and the sale of parts and supplies. Gas would continue to be sold, although on a self-service basis only. In addition, the station building would be converted to a convenience store for the sale of items such as groceries, sandwiches, and coffee. Structural alterations to the building would include the removal of the large overhead doors to the garage bays and their replacement with windows and a passage door.
After several hearings on ARCO's application were held before it, the Board rendered a decision denying the request for a special exception. ARCO filed a timely appeal to the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, which affirmed the Board's decision by order dated February ...