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WEST GOSHEN TOWNSHIP v. DONALD V. CRATER AND KATHARINE R. CRATER (03/07/88)

decided: March 7, 1988.

WEST GOSHEN TOWNSHIP, APPELLANT
v.
DONALD V. CRATER AND KATHARINE R. CRATER, HIS WIFE, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, in case of Donald V. Crater and Katharine R. Crater, his wife v. Zoning Hearing Board of West Goshen Township, No. 84-05792.

COUNSEL

Ronald C. Nagle, Buckley, Nagle, Gentry, McGuire & Morris, for appellant.

Arthur L. Sagnor, III, with him, Joseph E. Brion, Lachall, Brion, Cohen & Lawson, for appellees.

Judges Craig, Doyle and Colins, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle.

Author: Doyle

[ 114 Pa. Commw. Page 246]

West Goshen Township (Township) appeals from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County which reversed the decision of the West Goshen Township Zoning Hearing Board (Board) and granted a special exception to Donald and Katharine Crater (Appellees). We reverse.

On February 10, 1965, Appellees purchased a single-family home on a property described in an approved subdivision plan at lots 26, 27, and 28. The home itself was situated on lot 27, with lot 28 being a vacant lot which was separately described in the deed conveying the property. Just prior to purchasing the property, Appellees inquired of the Township Administrator whether lot 28 could be sold separately and developed as a residential property. The Township official responded by letter dated July 2, 1964 and indicated that it could, since lot 28 was a separate lot in an approved subdivision plan. Soon after Appellees purchased the property, however, the Township passed a zoning ordinance which established a minimum lot area of 30,000 square feet in Appellees' residential zone, which exceeded the total area of Appellees' lot 28.

In 1984, Appellees first expressed a desire to convey lot 28 and inquired of the Township whether it would

[ 114 Pa. Commw. Page 247]

    issue a building permit for the construction of a single-family home on the lot. The Township responded that it would not issue such a building permit because the lot did not meet the minimum lot area of 30,000 square feet as required by the zoning ordinance. Appellees appealed to the Zoning Hearing Board, requesting a special exception or a variance from the minimum lot size requirement. Appellees' request for a special exception was based on Section 84-58(L) of the Township Zoning Ordinance which states:

L. Non-Conforming Lots Containing No Buildings.

A non-conforming lot, which contains no buildings, and which is in single and separate ownership at the effective date of this Chapter, and which is not of the required minimum area or width, or which is of unusual dimensions such that the owner could not provide the open spaces required for the district, may be used or a building erected thereon under the following conditions:

1. Provided that the owner does not own or control other adjoining properties sufficient to enable him to comply with the area and bulk requirements for the district.

2. A special exception is granted by the Zoning Hearing Board. . . .

3. In any residential district, a single family dwelling may be constructed on a lot of this character without special exception by the Zoning Hearing Board if the conditions of subparagraph 1 above are met, and if all the setback, yard, and coverage requirements for the district ...


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