Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, in case of Queen Village Neighbors Association, Inc. v. Zoning Board of Adjustment, No. 5577 January Term, 1984; Pennsylvania Parking Authority v. Zoning Board of Adjustment, No. 6152 January Term, 1984, and David & Roberta Gutman et al. v. Zoning Board of Adjustment, No. 6394 January Term, 1984.
Donald W. Kramer, with him, Frances A. McElhill, Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads, for appellant/appellee, Pennsylvania Parking, Inc.
Kathleen M. Lynch, with her, J. Philip Kirchner, Drinker, Biddle & Reath, for appellant/appellee, Queen Village Neighbors Association, Inc. et al.
Joy J. Bernstein, Assistant City Solicitor, for appellant/appellee, Zoning Board of Adjustment of the City of Philadelphia.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr., Judge Barry, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Crumlish, Jr. Judge Colins did not participate in the decision in this case.
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Pennsylvania Parking, Inc. (PPI) and the Queen Village Neighbors Association (Association) separately appeal a Philadelphia County Common Pleas Court order affirming a Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment (Board) decision which granted a one-year variance to PPI for the operation of a parking lot. PPI appeals the limitation of the variance to a one-year period; the Association, joined by individual neighbors,*fn1 appeals the grant of the variance.*fn2 We reverse as to the grant of a variance.
The subject property is situated at 706-712 South Third Street in the Queen Village section of the City of Philadelphia (City). It is zoned R-10 Residential and located within the Southwark National Historic District. When PPI first sought permission to operate a parking lot, the property contained a row of three vacant one-story garages which had been most recently used as warehouses.
PPI applied to the City's Department of Licenses and Inspection for two use permits to (1) demolish the existing buildings and establish a public parking lot
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with an attendant's booth and (2) erect a free-standing, illuminated sign. This application was denied because public parking lots are prohibited in an R-10 district*fn3 and free-standing signs are prohibited in the Southwark National Historic District.*fn4 PPI then applied to the Board for a variance authorizing these uses. A public hearing was held, at which testimony was heard from the owner of the land, PPI's president, neighbors supporting and opposing the variance request, and a representative of the City Planning Commission. The Board granted a variance by a vote of three to one. Despite the pendency of appeals from the Board's decision, PPI proceeded to demolish the garages and construct a public parking lot.
Because the common pleas court took no additional evidence, our scope of review is limited to determining whether the Board abused its discretion or committed an error of law. Heilman v. Zoning Board of Adjustment of Philadelphia County, 69 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 157, 450 A.2d 318 (1982).
In its appeal, the Association contends that the Board erred as a matter of law in granting a variance because PPI's evidence failed to demonstrate an unnecessary hardship ...