Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of Rennerdale Volunteer Fire Department v. Zoning Hearing Board of Collier Township, No. SA 535 of 1983.
Barry E. Wood, with him, Phillip D. Paull, for appellants and intervening appellees.
James C. Larrimer, Dougherty, Larrimer & Lee, for appellee, Rennerdale Volunteer Fire Department.
Judges Rogers, MacPhail and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino. Judge Williams, Jr. did not participate in the decision in this case.
[ 90 Pa. Commw. Page 637]
This is an appeal from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County (trial court) which reversed a decision of the Collier Township Zoning Hearing Board (Board) denying a zoning variance to applicant Rennerdale Volunteer Fire Department (Department). For the reasons set forth below, we reverse the order of the trial court.
As the trial court took no additional evidence, we must determine whether the findings of the Board are supported by substantial evidence, and whether the Board abused its discretion or committed an error of law in denying the Department's request for a variance. Allegheny West Civic Council, Inc. v. Zoning Board of Adjustment of the City of Pittsburgh, 80 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 79, 470 A.2d 128 (1984).
The Department's property consists of three contiguous lots acquired in 1944, 1947 and 1958 which, pursuant to the Township's Zoning Ordinance (Ordinance), are located in an area zoned R-2 Single Family Residential District. Located on one of the lots is the Department's two-bay fire station which was constructed in 1947, with a fourteen foot addition added in 1957 or 1958. On the lot to the east of the station is located a water pond covering in excess of one-half its area. The third lot is "L" shaped extending to the north and west of the station. According to the Ordinance, fire stations are permitted in R-2 districts as a conditional use.*fn1 The westerly side of the existing station is located 4.22 feet from an adjacent residential lot, in contravention of the Ordinance provision
[ 90 Pa. Commw. Page 638]
which requires, at a minimum, that a non-residential structure be located no closer than 40 feet to any other lot in any R-2 district.
On April 25, 1983, the Department submitted an application to the Township's Zoning Officer for a building permit to construct an addition to the existing station so as to accommodate all of the Department's vehicles. The proposed addition, which would be twice the size of the existing station and consist of four bays, was to be located on the "L" shaped lot to the north of the station. The westerly side of the proposed addition would continue along the same line as the existing station and thus would also be within 4.22 feet of the adjacent residential lot. Moreover, the northerly side of the proposed addition would be located 23.93 feet from another adjacent residential lot.
The Zoning Officer denied the Department's application for a building permit noting (1) that the side and rear yard requirement of forty feet must be met and (2) that a nonconforming use may not be expanded unless to a conforming use, except as permitted by the Board in accordance with the Ordinance. The Department then applied to the Board for variances from the applicable provisions of the Ordinance. After two hearings on the matter, the Board denied the Department's application concluding (1) that the proposed building would create a second non-conforming use in that it would violate the Ordinance's side and rear yard requirement; and (2) that the Department failed to establish its entitlement to variances from this requirement. On appeal, ...