Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County in the case of WMI Properties, Inc. v. Falls Township Zoning Hearing Board, No. 85-09135-05-5.
Fred P. Bosselman, with him, Edward F. Ryan and Mark E. Burkland, Burke, Bosselman & Weaver, and William J. Carlin and John P. Koopman, Begley, Carlin & Mandio, for appellant.
John W. Donaghy, with him, James J. Auchinleck, Curtin and Heefner, for appellee.
Judges Craig and Barry, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 102 Pa. Commw. Page 252]
WMI Properties, Inc. (WMI) appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County affirming
[ 102 Pa. Commw. Page 253]
the Falls Township Zoning Hearing Board's denial of WMI's application for a sanitary landfill use. This court's decision must be to reverse and remand.
The salient question is whether the township zoning ordinance is invalidity exclusionary for failure to make provision for sanitary landfills as a land use, particularly in view of the fact that WMI itself presently conducts a sanitary landfill use on land adjacent to the parcel covered by the application.
Because the trial court took no evidence beyond that received by the zoning hearing board, judicial review -- as the trial judge recognized -- must look to the findings and record of the zoning hearing board for the facts, confining the judicial scope of review to determining if the board has committed an abuse of discretion or an error of law. Williams v. Salem Township, 92 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 634, 500 A.2d 933 (1985).
According to the board's explicit findings of fact, WMI has been operating on a 155-acre parcel presently zoned SL District, the only sanitary landfill now functioning in Falls Township. Because that facility is approaching its capacity, it had only approximately eighteen months of further use left as of August 21, 1985, which was the date when WMI filed its application for sanitary landfill use upon an adjacent 78-acre parcel (the subject property). That application is the one at issue in this case.
Originally zoned as HI Heavy Industrial District under the zoning ordinance, the subject property in 1976 was rezoned into high-, medium- and low-density planned residential classifications, which constitute its current zoning. The subject property remains undeveloped vacant land.
As the zoning hearing board's brief confirms, WMI's existing sanitary landfill has been in continuous operation on the 155-acre ...