Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of Allegheny West Civic Council, Inc. v. Zoning Board of Adjustment of the City of Pittsburgh v. Community College of Allegheny County, No. S.A. 605 of 1981.
Frederick R. Nene, for appellant.
William P. Bresnahan, with him Kellen McClendon and Denise L. Wilsher, for appellees.
Judges Rogers, MacPhail and Barry, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Barry.
Allegheny West Civic Council, Inc. (Appellant) has appealed from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County entered following our prior ruling and remand in Allegheny West Civic Council, Inc. v. Zoning Board of Adjustment (Allegheny West I), 67 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 54, 446 A.2d 334 (1982).
The underlying zoning dispute involves an application for a special exception filed by the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) to enable it to use an existing building for administrative offices. The Zoning Board of Adjustment of the City of Pittsburgh (Board) originally granted the application and the common pleas court affirmed. On appeal, we determined in Allegheny West I that a remand was necessary for further fact findings and resolution of the issue of whether the proposed administrative offices constitute an "educational institution" use as that term is defined by Pittsburgh's Zoning Ordinance (Ordinance). The importance of this issue results from the fact that if the use falls within the category of an "educational institution", then CCAC must seek approval by way of a conditional use application, which must ultimately be acted on by City Council rather than the Board. If, on the other hand, the offices are not a part of the educational institution, they would be entitled to approval as a continuation of the existing office use. Allegheny West I, 67 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. at 59 n. 2, 446 A.2d at 336 n. 2.
An "educational institution" is defined in Section 903.02(e) of the Ordinance as follows:
Educational institution means a college or university giving general academic instruction,
as prescribed by the Commonwealth. Included within this term are areas or structures used for administration, housing of students or faculty, dining halls, or social or athletic activities, when located on the institution's land that is not detached from that portion of the campus where classroom facilities are maintained, by more than street and/or other property owned by the institution. (Emphasis added.)
In Allegheny West I, 67 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. at 57, 446 A.2d at 335, we interpreted this provision to require that streets and other property owned by an educational institution be disregarded in determining whether an administration building is so detached from the institution's classroom facilities as to be treated separately from the college for land use planning purposes. Since neither the Board nor the common pleas court had made findings regarding the contiguity of the proposed offices to campus classrooms, we remanded.
The court of common pleas on remand declined to conduct an evidentiary hearing itself and, instead, referred the matter to the Board for proceedings consistent with our decision in Allegheny West I. The Board subsequently conducted a hearing at which certain pertinent amendments were made to CCAC's application. First, CCAC altered its application to specify that the proposed administrative offices would be ...