Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, in case of John F. Rayel and Nancy Rayel v. Bridgeton Township Zoning Hearing Board, No. 84-3858-10-6.
Rhae L. Blynt, Curtin and Heefner, for appellants.
Christopher F. Stouffer, Hepburn, Willcox, Hamilton & Putnam, for appellee.
Judges Craig and Barry, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barry.
[ 98 Pa. Commw. Page 456]
John F. Rayel and Nancy Rayel, the appellants, appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County which affirmed a decision of the Bridgeton Township Zoning Hearing Board denying the appellants a use permit for property in which they held an equitable interest.
The property in question had been owned by Esther Morrow and Carl Morrow, husband and wife, (the Morrows) since 1970. The property was used as a drive-in restaurant, serving fast food and ice cream. Sometime after the commencement of this use, the Township passed a zoning ordinance which made the use a non-conforming one.
In 1979, the Morrows borrowed $46,450.00 from the National State Bank of Elizabeth, New Jersey (Bank). The loan was secured by a mortgage on the property. Having fallen in default to the Bank, the Morrows filed for bankruptcy in October of 1980. Following the filing of the bankruptcy petition, the property was not being used as a restaurant or for any other purpose.
In order to release the property from the Bankruptcy Court's automatic stay, the Bank filed an adversary
[ 98 Pa. Commw. Page 457]
proceeding. In January of 1982, the Morrows and the Bank filed a stipulation of settlement of the adversary proceeding wherein the parties agreed that the Morrows had until March 15, 1982, to sell the property. If the Morrows were unsuccessful in their efforts, the property would be subject to a foreclosure action by the Bank. Furthermore, the parties agreed that the Bank could immediately institute the foreclosure action on the condition that the property not be listed for sheriff's sale prior to May 14, 1982.
When the Morrows were unable to sell the property, they filed an answer and new matter to the Bank's complaint in mortgage foreclosure. After filing a reply to the Morrow's new matter, the Bank filed a praecipe setting the case for a hearing. The hearing was held in September of 1982 and the trial court issued a decision in favor of the Bank. The Morrows filed exceptions, thereby necessitating arguments on the exceptions which were held in February of 1983. On August 30, 1983, the trial court dismissed the Morrows' exceptions and entered a final decree in the Bank's favor.
The Bank thereafter entered judgment against the Morrows and listed the property for the next available sheriff's sale. At that sale, which was held in January of 1984, the Bank purchased the property. The Bank received a deed conveying the ...