Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County in the case of The Philadelphia Center for Developmental Services, Inc. v. The Zoning Hearing Board of Plymouth Township, Nos. 83-8636, 83-8637 and 83-8638.
Herbert F. Rubenstein, Beeghley, Rubenstein and Moore, with him, Arthur Lefkoe, Wisler, Pearlstine, Talone, Craig & Garrity, for appellant.
Edmond T. Tiryak, for appellee.
Thomas K. Gilhool, Judith Gran and Frank J. Laski, for Amicus Curiae, Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Citizens.
Judges Craig and Colins and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 89 Pa. Commw. Page 592]
Plymouth Township appeals from an order of the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court which reversed a ruling of the Plymouth Township Zoning Hearing Board which had refused zoning approval as to three existing residential, nonprofit community living
[ 89 Pa. Commw. Page 593]
arrangements (CLA)*fn1 for mentally retarded citizens. The township contends that the three CLA's, each housing three non-related, mentally retarded citizens in a supervised, residential home atmosphere designed to assist these persons to adjust to mainstream society, are actually mini-institutions and accordingly cannot be considered to be single-family residences because of the township definition of "family."
Appellee Philadelphia Center for Developmental Services (Center) is a nonprofit corporation which operates the three CLA's questioned here. Each CLA is located in a B Residential District, where the only residential use allowed is a single-family detached dwelling. Two full-time day and one overnight staff member assist the residents with cooking and housekeeping chores. The residents perform other daily living tasks and attend workshops during the day to help them develop the skills needed to function independently. Center supervisory personnel visit each CLA several times weekly.
Before the township challenged the arrangement, the Center had operated CLA's in Plymouth Township for several years. In fall 1982, the township governing body required that all CLA's located in the township apply for a special exception under the zoning ordinance in order to continue operation.
The Center filed applications for special exceptions, under protest, and argued that its CLA's already complied with the township zoning ordinance and ...