Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in the case of David Drucker v. The Zoning Hearing Board for the Borough of Wilkinsburg, No. S.A. 631 of 1987.
W. Timothy Barry, Dattilo, Barry, Fasulo & Cambest, P.C., for appellant.
George B. Handelsman, for appellee.
Judges Craig and Doyle, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig. Judge Barry did not participate in the decision in this case.
[ 124 Pa. Commw. Page 617]
The Borough of Wilkinsburg appeals from a decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County that reversed a decision of the Wilkinsburg Zoning Hearing Board denying the application of David Drucker (applicant) for a special use permit.
[ 124 Pa. Commw. Page 618]
The general issue is whether the application met the ordinance standards for changing a nonconforming use to another equally or more appropriate nonconforming use.
The applicant owns a building consisting of five garages, internally separated by wire mesh, and a small storeroom. The building is located in an R-2 residential district and is designated as a pre-existing nonconforming use in that district. The applicant presently rents the garages to various individuals who use the spaces for storing personal automobiles, furniture, other personal belongings or trucks.
The property is under an agreement of sale to Larry Vixman (purchaser), the owner of an automobile sales business located on a main thoroughfare in the borough. The agreement is contingent on the applicant's receiving approval of the proposed special permit to allow a change from the existing nonconforming use to use of the storeroom as an office and use of the garage space for the storing, cleaning and repair of automobiles (exclusive of bodywork) in conjunction with the purchaser's business. Under the Wilkinsburg ordinance, an application for a special permit is the equivalent of an application for a special exception elsewhere.
At a hearing before the zoning hearing board, the applicant testified concerning his inability to rent the storeroom part of the structure because of zoning restrictions and concerning the proposal of the purchaser to use the garage portions for minor detail work such as buffing, cleaning and waxing cars, not heavy bodywork. Several owners of nearby properties testified as to their concerns relating to problems of chemical fumes and noise, increased traffic, possible reduction in nearby property values, and safety (in view of existing structural problems with the building). The purchaser testified concerning his plans to rehabilitate the structure before using it and his
[ 124 Pa. Commw. Page 619]
intention not to use toxic chemicals or to make significant noise in the proposed reconditioning process or to ...