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JAMES A. WEST v. TOWNSHIP SUPERVISORS ADAMS TOWNSHIP AND STANLEY WILHELM AND CLARA WILHELM (08/12/86)

decided: August 12, 1986.

JAMES A. WEST, APPELLANT
v.
TOWNSHIP SUPERVISORS OF ADAMS TOWNSHIP AND STANLEY WILHELM AND CLARA WILHELM, WAYNE HINDMAN AND PAT HINDMAN, AND THOMAS LOWER AND SHIRLEY LOWER, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County in the case of James A. West v. Township Supervisors of Adams Township, Stanley Wilhelm and Clara Wilhelm, Wayne Hindman and Pat Hindman, and Thomas Lower and Shirley Lower, No. 80-726, Book 119, page 61.

COUNSEL

Frederick A. Boehm, with him, Patrick J. Clair, Goehring, Rutter & Boehm, for appellant.

Frank P. Krizner, for appellees, Supervisors of Adams Township.

Richard L. Rosenzweig, with him, Gilbert M. Coogler, Rosenzweig & Burton, for intervenors/appellees, Wilhelm, Hindman and Lower.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., and Judges Rogers, Craig, MacPhail, Barry, Colins and Palladino. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 99 Pa. Commw. Page 600]

The key issue in this exclusionary zoning case, now before this court for a second time, is as follows:

Where a township zoning ordinance has entirely excluded mobilehome parks and all other multi-family residential uses from the municipality, and the trial court has found, on the basis of substantial evidence, that the municipality is not a logical area for development and population growth, is the zoning ordinance's prohibition legally invalid?

The first judicial determination in this case was the decision of Judge Brydon, of the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County, when, in April of 1983, he declared

[ 99 Pa. Commw. Page 601]

    the zoning ordinance of Adams Township unconstitutional to the extent that it totally prohibited the use of any land in the municipality for a mobilehome park, soundly relying upon Environmental Communities v. North Coventry Township, 49 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 167, 412 A.2d 650 (1980). In accordance with Environmental Communities and other decisions of this court, Judge Brydon concluded that the ordinance's total exclusion of mobilehome parks caused it to be invalidity exclusionary despite the existence of some mobilehome parks in the township as nonconforming uses and regardless of the township's fair-share defense, in that the township had not met its burden of showing a threat to the health, safety and general welfare of the community as a justification for the total prohibition. Whitemarsh Township v. Kravitz, 39 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 306, 395 A.2d 629 (1978).

That trial court decision was issued pursuant to an appeal of the landowner-developer, James A. West, from an action of the Adams Township Board of Supervisors which had rejected West's curative amendment challenge to the ordinance's validity under sections 609.1 and 1004 of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC), Act of July 31, 1968, P.L. 805, as amended, 53 P.S. §§ 609.1, 1004.

West's development proposal to the township involved a 150-acre tract located in the township's A-Agricultural Zoning District, on which he proposed a mobilehome park of 228 units at a density of 1-1/2 units per acre. In 1980, the time period governing this case, the township zoning ordinance totally prohibited mobilehome parks by listing among the permitted residential uses only single-family dwellings in the A and R-1 districts and, in addition, two-family dwellings in the A and R-2 districts; by special exception provision applicable in the latter two district classifications, a

[ 99 Pa. Commw. Page 602]

    landowner could add a "conversion apartment" as a second dwelling unit under specified circumstances. The ordinance required a minimum lot size of 40,000 square feet for each residential use.

When West initially appealed from the township supervisors to the trial court, he submitted a new mobilehome park plan providing for 502 units at a density of 3-1/3 units per acre.

Pursuant to the township's appeal of that first decision of the trial court, this court, in Township Supervisors of Adams Township v. James A. West (West I), 79 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 254, 469 A.2d 701 (1983), vacated the trial court order and remanded the case so that, pursuant to further hearing, the trial court could reconsider the validity of the prohibition in the light of Surrick v. Zoning Hearing Board of Upper Providence Township, 476 Pa. 182, 382 A.2d 105 (1977), calling for a three-element judicial inquiry, as follows:

1. Is the community a logical place for development and growth?

2. Is the community already highly developed?

3. Is the exclusion total or partial?

Pursuant to our remand, the trial court received additional evidence and found that the Adams Township location, unlike nearby Cranberry Township, is not in the logical path for growth and development. In accordance with that finding, which is supported by substantial evidence of record, the trial judge decided against West, who filed this present appeal.

In West I, this court succinctly stated our precedential basis for introducing the Surrick analysis as follows:

Recently, however, in Fernley v. Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township, 76 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 409, 464 A.2d 587 (1983), we held that residential use cases involving even a total

[ 99 Pa. Commw. Page 603]

    prohibition must be subjected to the analysis called ...


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