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SUNNY FARMS v. NORTH CODORUS TOWNSHIP AND O.U.C.H (04/06/84)

decided: April 6, 1984.

SUNNY FARMS, LTD., APPELLANT
v.
NORTH CODORUS TOWNSHIP AND O.U.C.H, INC., APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of York County in the case of North Codorus Township v. Sunny Farms, Ltd., No. 80-C-3000.

COUNSEL

Pamela S. Goodwin, with her Robert J. Shostak and Michael E. Calderone, Shostak & Rosen, P.C., for appellant.

Daniel M. Frey, Crabbs, Cashman and Frey, for North Codorus Township, Appellee.

Michael O. Davis, Campbell, Spitzer, Davis & Turgeon, for O.U.C.H., Inc., Appellee.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Williams, Jr. and Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr.

Author: Williams

[ 81 Pa. Commw. Page 373]

Sunny Farms, Ltd. appeals from a final decree of the York County Common Pleas Court prohibiting the construction and operation of an underground, hazardous waste disposal facility in violation of Ordinance No. 18 of North Codorus Township (a second class township). Section 4(c) of that Ordinance provides the following:

No such site for incineration or for disposition by the Sanitary Land Fill method shall be established within Five hundred (500) yards of any dwelling, church, school or any other building or buildings which, from time to time, are utilized for human occupancy.

Sunny Farms challenges the validity of the 500 yard proximity provision primarily on constitutional and state preemption grounds. We affirm.

In August 1980, Sunny Farms began construction of an underground, hazardous waste dump on approximately 325 acres of its land situate in the township. The township, seeking to restrain Sunny Farms from constructing and operating a waste dump within 500 yards of existing dwellings in contravention of the setback requirement of Ordinance No. 18, instituted an equity action in common pleas court. The court subsequently granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting the disposal of wastes within 500 yards of residences. Before trial and without hearing, intervention status was given to O.U.C.H., Inc., a neighborhood group comprised of adjacent property owners opposed to the hazardous waste landfill. In the chancellor's adjudication and decree nisi the validity of Ordinance No.

[ 81 Pa. Commw. Page 37418]

was upheld, and, upon dismissing exceptions, the common pleas court entered a final decree permanently enjoining Sunny Farms from operating a hazardous waste landfill within 500 yards of existing dwellings.

The primary question is whether the 500 yard proximity provision of Ordinance No. 18 is valid. Asserting the contrary, Sunny Farms raises numerous arguments challenging the ordinance, each of which is numbered as follows.

I. State Preemption.

We reject the contention that Ordinance No. 18 is preempted by the Solid Waste Management Act (Act 97)*fn1 thus rendering the township powerless to require a buffer zone between the waste site and occupied residences. Both Act 97 and its predecessor, the now repealed Pennsylvania Solid Waste Management Act (Act 241),*fn2 are substantially similar in that each provides for extensive state regulation of the construction and operation of solid waste disposal facilities. When we construed Act 241 and failed to find explicit language evincing a legislative intent to override local zoning regulations, we allowed local regulation of sanitary landfills on the condition that engineering and geological standards were not stricter than the state's. Greene Township v. Kuhl, 32 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 592, 379 A.2d 1383 (1977) (applicant securing a state permit to operate a sanitary landfill must also obtain zoning permits); see ...


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