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THORNBURY TOWNSHIP BOARD SUPERVISORS v. W.D.D. (08/22/88)

decided: August 22, 1988.

THORNBURY TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, APPELLANT
v.
W.D.D., INC., APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County in the case of W.D.D., Inc. v. Thornbury Township Board of Supervisors, No. 86-07258.

COUNSEL

Henry T. Zale, O'Donnell, Weiss & Mattei P.C., for appellant.

Louis J. Colagreco, Jr., with him, Thomas A. Riley, Jr., for appellee.

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

Author: Craig

[ 119 Pa. Commw. Page 75]

The Thornbury Township Board of Supervisors appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County invalidating a vote of the supervisors on final approval of a subdivision plan of W.D.D., Inc. (WDD), because one of the supervisors, Mr. John Copeland, should have disqualified himself from voting, and remanding the case to the supervisors for a new vote.

The issue raised in this appeal is whether a member of the board of supervisors, who appears as a private individual, represented by counsel, before the township zoning hearing board to object to an application for variances for a proposed subdivision, may subsequently participate in the board's consideration of an application for final approval of that subdivision. Because, we conclude that, under the facts of this case, Supervisor Copeland should not have participated in consideration

[ 119 Pa. Commw. Page 76]

    of WDD's application for final subdivision approval, we affirm.

The facts of the case are undisputed. In 1985, WDD purchased a 164-acre tract of land in Thornbury Township and filed a preliminary subdivision plan with the township. The township planning commission members, then including Mr. John Copeland, reviewed the preliminary plan and recommended that the board not approve the subdivision plan.

In December 1985, the subdivision plan came before the board of supervisors, and the board suggested that WDD revise its plan to conserve approximately sixteen acres of woodland. Even though variances were necessary under the board's suggested plan, to comply with the Thornbury Township Zoning Ordinance, WDD modified its plan as suggested. On December 30, 1985, the supervisors passed a resolution directing WDD to proceed to the zoning hearing board to obtain the required variances, with assurance that the supervisors' body would support WDD in proceedings before the zoning hearing board.

In January 1986, Mr. Copeland became a member of the board of supervisors. In February 1986, the zoning hearing board conducted a hearing on WDD's application for the variances. Pursuant to the supervisors' resolution of December 30, 1985, two of the supervisors appeared at the hearing in their official capacity in support of WDD's application. The third supervisor, Mr. Copeland, appeared before the zoning hearing board as a private individual, represented by counsel, to oppose WDD's application for ...


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