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DONALD C. METZGER v. ZONING HEARING BOARD TOWNSHIP WARRINGTON (09/25/84)

decided: September 25, 1984.

DONALD C. METZGER, APPELLANT
v.
ZONING HEARING BOARD OF THE TOWNSHIP OF WARRINGTON, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County in case of In Re: The Appeal of Donald C. Metzger from decision of the Zoning Hearing Board of the Township of Warrington, No. 82-4890.

COUNSEL

David L. Shenkle, Eastburn and Gray, for appellant.

R. Barry McAndrews, for appellee.

Judges Craig, Doyle and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.

Author: Blatt

[ 85 Pa. Commw. Page 302]

The appellant, Donald Metzger, appeals here from an order of the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas dismissing his appeal from a decision of the Warrington Township Zoning Hearing Board (Board).

On November 23, 1981, the appellant was issued a cease and desist order by the Township's Zoning Officer directing him to remove all vehicles, automobile parts and equipment from his property in the Township, on which he had purportedly been conducting a prohibited junk and salvage yard operation with unlawful outside storage. On December 7, 1981, he conveyed the property in question to the Nockamixon-Bucks County Industrial Authority, which in turn held legal title for the benefit of the Johnson Philadelphia Company, the current owner (owner). The owner leased the property back to the appellant, subject to

[ 85 Pa. Commw. Page 303]

    a proviso that the appellant could terminate the lease upon sixty days notice if he was unsuccessful in appealing the cease and desist order.

On May 5, 1982, the Township held a hearing on the appellant's appeal from the action of the Zoning Officer. And on May 10, 1981, the owner gave the appellant sixty days' notice to clean up the property and vacate the premises. On June 16, 1982, the Board issued its order, which, inter alia, directed the appellant to comply with the cease and desist order.

The appellant thereafter discontinued his business, cleared up the property, and removed himself therefrom within sixty days of the Board's order. He subsequently appealed the Board's order to the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas which, after supplementing the Board's record by deposition and additional documents, dismissed the appeal as moot, holding that there was no longer a controversy and that the appellant lacked standing. The instant appeal ensued.

Our scope of review in a case where, as here, the lower court took additional evidence, is to determine whether or not the lower court abused its discretion or committed an error of law. Minnick v. Zoning Hearing Board, Town of McCandless, 71 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 333, 455 A.2d 243 (1983).

The appellant contends that the court below erred in dismissing his appeal as moot, asserting that he possesses an equitable leasehold in the subject property, and is thereby a "landowner" for purposes of pursuing a zoning appeal. He alternatively contends that he has a sufficient ...


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