Appeal from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Centre County in the case of Ferguson Township v. The Zoning Hearing Board of Ferguson Township and Furniture Exchange, Inc., No. 1979-2624A.
Richard L. Campbell, Miller, Kistler & Campbell, Inc., for appellant.
Ronald M. Lucas, Corneal, Mason & Lucas, for appellee.
Judges Rogers, Barry and Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barry. Judge Craig did not participate in this decision.
[ 82 Pa. Commw. Page 297]
The appellant, Donald Dreibelbis, filed an appeal from an order of the Ferguson Township Zoning Officer denying an application for a zoning permit for a commercial use on his twenty-three-acre tract of land. The Zoning Hearing Board of Ferguson Township (Board) held hearings on the matter, and thereafter granted the appeal and overruled the zoning officer. Subsequently, Ferguson Township (Township) filed an appeal from the decision of the Board to the Court of Common Pleas of Centre County. The trial court reversed the Board and upheld the zoning officer's decision to deny the zoning permit. An appeal from this order followed.
There are two large buildings on appellant's land, the more northern of which housed a poultry business.
[ 82 Pa. Commw. Page 298]
In July of 1966, the appellant requested that his tract be rezoned from R-2, Low Density Residence District, to C-2, Planned Commercial District. The Township approved this request, but due to particular procedural problems the Township did not adopt the rezoning ordinance until 1977. Between 1966 and 1977 the northern building was used largely for a poultry operation while the southern building was used for housing cattle, food processing, and a retail outlet for milk and other products.
In January of 1978, the appellant sold his poultry and livestock. He intended to discontinue the existing operations on the premises and to rent the buildings for commercial use.
On May 30, 1978, the appellant telephoned the Township Zoning Officer and inquired about the permitted uses of the property. The zoning officer informed the appellant that the property could be used for any purpose which complied with the C-2 zoning classification of the Township. He also sent the appellant a copy of the Township Ordinance which listed proper C-2 uses. In late June of 1978, the appellant entered into an oral lease for the northern building effective in the spring of 1979, with Furniture Exchange, Inc., and its owner Mr. Herbert Taub. During the same month, the appellant telephoned the zoning officer to inquire if any permits were required for the proposed renovation. Appellant spoke with the zoning officer's secretary who informed him that he did not need permits. Later, the appellant spoke with the assistant zoning officer on whether he needed permits. The assistant zoning officer informed him that he did not need a permit.
From the summer of 1978 through May of 1979, improvements were made to the building leased to Taub. By the end of July of 1978 the appellant had sold the ...