Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, in the case of Step-By-Step, Inc. v. Zoning Hearing Board of the Borough of McKees Rocks, No. S.A. 1496 of 1985.
James C. Larrimer, Dougherty, Larrimer & Lee, for appellant.
Eugene P. Girman, Girman & Bacharach, for appellee.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr., Judge Smith, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr.
[ 117 Pa. Commw. Page 548]
Step-by-Step, Inc., appeals an Allegheny County Common Pleas Court order upholding a Borough of McKees Rocks Zoning Hearing Board (Board) decision. That decision sustained citations issued against Step-by-Step for establishing three community living arrangements (CLA's)*fn1 in a Residential, R-2 district permitting only one and two-family occupancies.
Step-by-Step, a non-profit, charitable corporation operating CLA's for mentally handicapped Allegheny County residents, leased three separate dwelling units*fn2
[ 117 Pa. Commw. Page 549]
in the Borough of McKees Rocks (Borough) for the purpose of providing specialized health, social and rehabilitative services.*fn3 The residents are required to pay approximately seventy-two percent (72%) of their income to Step-by-Step to cover room and board as well as other expenses. Although staff members do not reside at the CLA's, one to three members are always present to assist the residents and to provide training and transportation.
Subsequent to the establishment of these CLA's, the Borough cited Step-by-Step for violating Ordinance No. 1330, which requires special use permits for the occupancy of dwellings as rooming houses in an R-2 district.
Pursuant to Sections 909 and 910 of the Municipalities Planning Code (MPC),*fn4 Step-by-Step requested a hearing before the Board to challenge the necessity of use applications. The Board concluded that Step-by-Step was operating facilities in the nature of commercial boarding homes or rooming houses and thus violated the ordinance.*fn5
[ 117 Pa. Commw. Page 550]
The common pleas court agreed, and held that CLA households are comprised of unrelated adults paying room and board. The trial court reasoned that whatever characteristics the CLA's incidentally have in common with single-family residences, ...