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APPEAL ATLANTIC RICHFIELD COMPANY FROM DECISION ZONING HEARING BOARD BOROUGH NORRISTOWN (12/30/83)

decided: December 30, 1983.

IN RE: APPEAL OF ATLANTIC RICHFIELD COMPANY FROM DECISION OF THE ZONING HEARING BOARD OF THE BOROUGH OF NORRISTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA. BOROUGH OF NORRISTOWN, APPELLANT


Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County in case of In Re: Appeal of Atlantic Richfield Company from decision of the Zoning Hearing Board of the Borough of Norristown, Pennsylvania, No. 81-10699.

COUNSEL

Maurino J. Rossanese, with him Paul C. Vangrossi, Solicitor, for appellant.

Albert F. Phelan, for appellee.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Williams, Jr. and Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr. Judge Craig did not participate in the decision in this case.

Author: Crumlish

[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 286]

The Borough of Norristown appeals a Montgomery County Common Pleas Court order invalidating the borough's ordinance barring operation of self-service gasoline stations and granting Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) conditional permission to convert an existing full-service gasoline station to a self-service facility. We affirm.

ARCO filed a substantive challenge to the ordinance's validity with the Norristown Zoning Hearing Board pursuant to Section 1004 of the Municipalities Planning Code,*fn1 requesting approval of its plan to convert an existing full-service gasoline station into a self-service facility. ARCO contended that the ordinance was invalid because the Commonwealth has preempted regulation of gasoline service station operations and, also, because the ordinance has no relationship to public safety. The board rejected both contentions and upheld the ordinance but, on appeal, the common pleas court reversed without taking additional evidence, determining that the state had preempted regulatory authority in this area.

Where a common pleas court has addressed an appeal of a zoning hearing board decision without taking

[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 287]

    additional evidence, our scope of review is limited to determining whether the board made findings unsupported by substantial evidence, committed an error of law, or abused its discretion. Atlantic Richfield Company v. City of Bethlehem, 69 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 6, 450 A.2d 248 (1982).

I.

Norristown now argues, and we agree, that the common pleas court erred in determining that the Commonwealth has preempted regulation of gasoline service stations.

In determinations of whether a municipal ordinance is invalid by reason of state preemption of regulation in a given area, the general rule is that an ordinance is valid unless it purports to exercise regulatory authority which the Commonwealth has explicitly or implicitly reserved to itself through statute or regulation. See, e.g., ...


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