Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in the case of H. A. Steen Industries, Inc. v. Zoning Hearing Board of the Borough of Folcroft and Borough of Folcroft, No. 86-8630.
Stephen J. Polaha, with him, David E. Auerbach, Of Counsel: Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte & Moses, for appellant.
David H. Moskowitz, for appellee.
Judges Craig and Doyle, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 113 Pa. Commw. Page 616]
The Borough of Folcroft appeals a decision of Judge Howard F. Reed, of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, reversing a decision of the Folcroft Zoning Hearing Board, and ordering the borough to grant H. A. Steen Industries permits to erect outdoor advertising signs.
The issues are (1) whether Steen's applications for permits to install advertising signs were deemed approved under Section 1 of the Act of July 9, 1976, P.L. 919, as amended, 53 P.S. § 4104 (1976 permit law); and (2) whether Steen could raise the issue of deemed approval in its appeal to the zoning hearing board.
Because we conclude that Steen's applications for the sign permits are deemed approved, and because the issue of deemed approval can be raised in an appeal to a zoning hearing board, we affirm.
[ 113 Pa. Commw. Page 617]
The facts are not disputed. On November 21, 1984, Steen filed four permit applications for outdoor sign advertising with the borough zoning officer. The borough informed Steen that it would have to request a meeting of the borough planning commission to review the applications. Steen requested the planning commission meeting, and the borough scheduled the meeting for February 14, 1985. On January 29, 1985, Steen notified the borough that its lawyers could not attend the February 14 meeting and requested a continuance until sometime after February 25, 1985. The borough agreed to the continuance and the planning commission meeting was held on March 14, 1985. On May 2, 1985, the borough notified Steen that borough council had denied the applications.
Steen appealed the denial to the Folcroft Zoning Hearing Board on zoning grounds, consisting of claims for variances and special exceptions and, alternatively, a claim that the zoning restrictions upon signs were invalid. Before the board, Steen withdrew the variance and special exception claims, and without abandoning the invalidity attack on the zoning ordinance, presented a claim of deemed approval under the permit law cited above. The zoning hearing board, empowered by Ordinance No. 520 (amending both the zoning ordinance and the sign ordinance) to review sign permit actions, affirmed the dismissal of Steen's applications.
Steen appealed to the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, preserving the zoning invalidity attack and again asserting that his application had been deemed approved by the township's failure to render a decision on the initial application within ninety days. Judge Howard F. Reed, based solely on the record established before the zoning hearing board, reversed the decision of the board, ...