Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in the case of Bakerstown Container Corporation v. Richland Township, a Political Subdivision, No. SA 186 of 1982.
Gene E. Arnold, for appellant.
Stanley M. Stein, Feldstein, Grinberg, Stein & McKee, for appellee.
Judges Rogers, Barry and Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barbieri. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Rogers.
[ 82 Pa. Commw. Page 288]
Richland Township (Township) appeals here from a decision and order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County reversing a decision of the Zoning Hearing Board of Richland Township (Board) denying a construction permit to the Bakerstown Container Corporation (Bakerstown) for the construction of a drum reconditioning plant in an area of the Township zoned RLI. We reverse.
Our scope of review where, as here, the common pleas court took no additional evidence, is limited to determining whether the Board abused its discretion, committed an error of law, or made factual findings which are not supported by substantial evidence. Davis v. Zoning Board of Adjustment, 78 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 645, 468 A.2d 1183 (1983).
Before the Board a representative from Bakerstown testified that the proposed plant would process residual wastes from used metal drums into a paste or sludge which would then be disposed of. He further testified that the remaining empty drums would then be cleaned, shot blasted, repainted, and tested for leaks at the plant. Based on this testimony Bakerstown maintained (1) that its proposed plant would be a "cooperage" and (2) that this use was accordingly specifically permitted by the provisions of Section 10.112 of the Township's zoning ordinance which authorizes "[b]ox, cooperage or packaging materials manufacturing" in Township RLI districts. The Board subsequently concluded, however, that the proposed use was not authorized by Section 10.112, and upon a further appeal the common pleas court reversed
[ 82 Pa. Commw. Page 289]
on the basis that the term "cooper," as defined in Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, encompasses an individual who repairs "casks or tubs." The present appeal followed.
Before this Court the Township asserts that the common pleas court erred as a matter of law by concluding that the use proposed by Bakerstown is authorized by Section 10.112 of the Township's zoning ordinance. We agree.
While we do not disagree with the view of the common pleas court that the term "cooperage" may include repair as well as manufacture of barrels, casks, tubs, etc.,*fn1 and it may be that the zoning ordinance should be liberally construed so that a cooperage may include metal drums as well as the more traditional wooden barrels,*fn2 we are unable to fault the Board in its determination that Section 10.112 may not be "interpreted as to include this drum reconditioning plant . . . ,"*fn3 since, in our view, Section 10.112 only authorizes manufacturing in RLI districts. To interpret the language otherwise would make nonsense of its terms. In short, we see as the only sensible interpretation the one stated by the Zoning ...