Appeal from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, in the case of Application of Bruce Vanett, M.D. and Doris Leibowitz, et al. v. The Zoning Hearing Board of Marple Township, and Township of Marple, No. 88-1544.
Michael F. X. Gillin, Michael F. X. Gillin & Associates, P.C., for appellants.
Michael R. Bradley, for intervenors.
John T. Mulligan, with him, Andrew J. Donaghy, Lord & Mulligan, for appellees.
Judges Doyle and Colins, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Colins.
[ 123 Pa. Commw. Page 506]
Appellant, the Township of Marple and intervenors, Carl and Mabel Huber and the Marple Summit Civic Association appeal the order of the Delaware County
[ 123 Pa. Commw. Page 507]
Court of Common Pleas which reversed the decision of the Zoning Hearing Board of Marple Township (Board) denying the variance application of Bruce Vanett and Doris Leibowitz (appellees) for their property located at 601 Williamsburg Drive, Marple Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania.
The subject property is an undeveloped parcel of land located on the southwest corner of Sproul Road and Williamsburg Drive. Appellees purchased this 31,400 square foot lot for $100,000.00 in 1984 knowing that the property was, and still is, zoned R-1 Residential. Originally, appellees sought to construct four duplexes on this site; however, their application for a variance was denied. Thereafter, appellees undertook to obtain the current variance to construct a 5,000 square foot medical office building and to erect a freestanding sign. The proposed building will be the offices for two orthopedic surgeons who will conduct office hours at different times.
The subject property is somewhat unique in the sense that while it is zoned R-1 residential, it is largely surrounded by businesses and commercial uses. The property fronts on Williamsburg Drive which is entirely residential. A four-story office building is located to the south of the property in question while to the west, on Williamsburg Drive, there is a single-family residence occupied by a dentist and his family. The dentist conducts his practice from a portion of this house. Across the street from the subject premises, on the north side of Williamsburg Drive, is a single-family residence, a portion of which also serves as a law office. Both the dentist's office and the lawyer's office are permitted by Marple Township's zoning ordinance as an accessory use in conjunction with a home occupation. The Lawrence Park Shopping Center is located on the east side of Sproul Road, across from the subject property.
[ 123 Pa. Commw. Page 508]
The Board denied appellees' variance application on March 19, 1986, and appellees appealed this decision to the court of common pleas. Thereafter, the matter was remanded for additional testimony by the applicants. Following this remand, the Board approved the variance by a 3-2 vote. The intervenors subsequently filed a petition to have the vote of the chairman of the Board, Harry Dash, stricken due to a conflict of interest. The court of common pleas once again remanded the matter to the Board in order to appoint a new Board member and barred Dash from voting on the remanded application. The Board then voted to deny the variance by a 4-1 vote. Appellees subsequently appealed this ...