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813 ASSOCIATES v. ZONING HEARING BOARD SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP (08/09/84)

decided: August 9, 1984.

813 ASSOCIATES, APPELLANT
v.
THE ZONING HEARING BOARD OF SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County in the case of 813 Associates v. The Zoning Hearing Board of Springfield Township, No. 82-07115.

COUNSEL

John W. Lauffer, Barbin, Lauffer & O'Connell, for appellant.

James J. Garrity, with him, Thomas M. Garrity, Wisler, Pearlstein, Talone, Craig & Garrity, for appellee.

Judges Williams, Jr., Barry and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barry.

Author: Barry

[ 84 Pa. Commw. Page 421]

This appeal is from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County which upheld an order of the Zoning Hearing Board of Springfield Township (Board). The Board denied the application of the appellants, 813 Associates, for a variance pursuant to Section 114-61 of the Springfield Township Zoning Code.

The appellant is the owner of a lot at 813 Bethlehem Pike, Erdenheim, Springfield Township, Montgomery County. The lot has approximately 104 feet of frontage on Bethlehem Pike and a depth of approximately 585 feet. A zoning district boundary line bisects the lot at a depth of 170 feet. The portion of the lot closest to Bethlehem Pike is zoned Business 1; the remainder of the lot is zoned AA residential.

The appellant operates a 4,800 square foot medical office building on the front part of the lot. In 1978 the appellant, pursuant to Section 114-33 of the Springfield Township Zoning Code, was granted a special exception extending commercial use to a depth of 50 feet into the AA residential zone. The appellant is now seeking a variance which would extend its commercial use an additional 50 feet into the AA residential zone in order to construct approximately 12 parking spaces. These parking spaces are necessary because the appellant wishes to construct a 1600 square foot addition to its office building which would eliminate four existing parking spaces and, at the same time, create the need for eight new spaces.

The Board denied the appellant's request for a variance because appellant introduced no evidence showing that the zoning ordinance imposed an unnecessary hardship on the appellant's lot, as a whole, as required for the grant of a variance under Section 114-61 of the Springfield Township Zone Code.

[ 84 Pa. Commw. Page 422]

The Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County upheld the Board's decision that the property as a whole did not suffer from an unnecessary hardship. Additionally, the court found within the meaning of Michener Appeal, 382 Pa. 401, 115 A.2d 367 (1955), that the hardship alleged by the appellant was not unique to itself as distinguished from one arising from the impact of the zoning regulations on the entire district.

Where, as here, the trial court receives no evidence, our scope of review is limited to a determination of whether the Board abused its discretion or committed an error of law. Atlantic Richfield Co. v. City of Bethlehem, 69 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 6, 13, n. 3, 450 A.2d 248, 252, n.3 (1982). For the reasons that follow, we believe the Board did not abuse its discretion nor did it commit an error of law and, therefore, we affirm the holding of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County.

The appellant contends that the Board made a mistake of law in denying the variance because it was under the impression that it did not have the power to grant the variance and that appellant would have to seek relief from the township commissioners. This is evidenced, the appellant contends, by the fact that at the conclusion of the hearing the chairman of the zoning hearing board stated on the record that the appellant had proved the necessary hardship and ...


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