Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Cumberland County, in case of Christopher P. Markley, et al. v. Carlisle Zoning Hearing Board and Helen H. Stevens Community Mental Health Center, No. 85 Civil 1986.
Marcus A. McKnight, III, Irwin, Irwin & McKnight, for Mental Health Center.
Charles E. Zaleski, Tive, Hetrick & Pierce, P.C., for Intervenor Markley, et al.
Judges Craig and Palladino, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig. Judge Palladino dissents.
[ 106 Pa. Commw. Page 580]
In these consolidated appeals, intervenor Helen H. Stevens Community Mental Health Center (center) appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Cumberland County which reversed the decision of the Carlisle Zoning Hearing Board and concluded that the center's proposed operation of a community residential rehabilitation service (CRRS) program for mentally disturbed individuals in an apartment building in a residential district would change the use of that building from that of an "apartment building" to a "convalescent home," which would constitute a prohibited change of the legal non-conforming apartment use.
In their precautionary cross-appeal, Christopher Markley and other citizens (citizens' group) contest the trial court's conclusion that the program's clients occupying each dwelling unit would live independently of each other.
Where the trial court, in reviewing a zoning appeal has taken no evidence beyond that presented to the zoning hearing board, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has stated that:
[T]he scope of our review is limited to determining whether the Board committed a manifest abuse of discretion or an error of law. . . . (Citations omitted.) We may conclude that the Board abused its discretion only if its findings are not supported by substantial evidence, 53 P.S. § 11010 (1972) [Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code § 11010]; 2 Pa. C.S. § 754(b) [Local Agency Law] (citations omitted). By 'substantial evidence' we mean such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
[ 106 Pa. Commw. Page 581]
support a conclusion. (Citations omitted.) Valley View Civic Association v. Zoning Board of Adjustment, 501 Pa. 550, 554-55, 462 A.2d 637, 639-40 (1983).
The policy objective of the CRRS program, briefly stated, is to assist persons with chronic psychiatric disability to live as independently as possible by providing training and assistance in the skills of community living. The CRRS program pursues those objectives through:
(1) A homelike, non-institutional environment providing maximum opportunity to learn the skills necessary ...