Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lawrence County, in the case of Ralph & Joanne's, Inc. v. Neshannock Township Zoning Hearing Board; Frank P. Alduk, Chairman; Lewis C. Dayton; and R. Joseph Hrach v. The Township of Neshannock, No. 244 of 1986, M.D.
Donald J. Nicolls, Balph, Nicolls, Mitsos, Flannery & Motto, for appellant, Township of Neshannock.
Richard A. Harper, Mansell & Jamison, for Neshannock Township Zoning Hearing Board.
Carmen F. Lamancusa, Lamancusa & Cilli, P.C., for appellee, Ralph & Joanne's, Inc.
Judges Barry and Smith, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Barbieri. Judge Barry concurs in the result only.
[ 121 Pa. Commw. Page 84]
The Township of Neshannock (Township) appeals the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lawrence County that reversed an order of the Neshannock Township Zoning Board (Board) denying the application of Ralph & Joanne's, Inc. (Appellee) for a special exception. We reverse and reinstate the decision of the Board.
[ 121 Pa. Commw. Page 85]
Appellee is the lessee of a storeroom and former retail grocery outlet located in a public strip shopping center zoned C-1, Limited Commercial District, and known as Call's Plaza in the Township of Neshannock near the outskirts of the City of New Castle. On September 22, 1986, Appellee applied to the Township zoning officer for a use permit to operate a banquet facility on these premises. The zoning officer denied the application on the grounds that a banquet facility was not a permitted use in a C-1 district as specified by Article IX, § 901(A)(1) of the Neshannock Township Zoning Ordinance (Ordinance). Appellee subsequently applied for a special exception under Section 901(C)(1)(f) of the Ordinance and the matter came to a hearing before the Board on October 13, 1986.
An application for a special exception use must meet the following requirements under Section 901(C)(1)(f):
1) Pursuant to Section 1301.23 the proposed use must be a use of the same general character as the permitted uses in a C-1 district, which includes, in the present case, full-service and fast-service restaurants along with retail stores.
2) The use must comply with all the area and bulk regulations of the Ordinance. Most relevant to the present case is the parking requirement of Section 1308.2 of the Ordinance which requires that an unspecified use provide one parking space for every two proposed patrons or occupants.
The Board found that Appellee's proposed banquet facility would have a seating capacity of three hundred people and was designed to operate during evening hours between 7:00 and 11:00 p.m. No food would be prepared on the premises, all weddings and receptions would be catered. The Board ...