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THOMAS W. MORELLI v. FIRE CODE BOARD APPEALS EAST WHITELAND TOWNSHIP AND EAST WHITELAND TOWNSHIP AND GARY R. LONG (05/18/89)

decided: May 18, 1989.

THOMAS W. MORELLI, APPELLANT,
v.
FIRE CODE BOARD OF APPEALS OF EAST WHITELAND TOWNSHIP AND EAST WHITELAND TOWNSHIP AND GARY R. LONG, FIRE MARSHAL OF EAST WHITELAND TOWNSHIP, APPELLEES



Appeal from Common Pleas Court, Chester County; Honorable Thomas G. Gavin, Judge.

COUNSEL

Steven M. Romano, Malvern, for appellant.

David E. Bortner, West Chester, for Fire Code Bd.

Ronald C. Nagle, West Chester, for East Whiteland Tp., et al.

Doyle, Smith, (p.), JJ. and Kalish, Senior Judge.

Author: Kalish

[ 126 Pa. Commw. Page 203]

Thomas Morelli (appellant) appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, which affirmed the decision of the Fire Code Board of Appeals (Board), requiring appellant to install a sprinkler system. We affirm.

Appellant is the owner of a shopping center which consists of two buildings. The basement of the building in question contains storage rooms, a watch shop, offices, a recording studio, and an area which is available as rental for offices and retail shops.

On May 21, 1986, appellant was notified by the fire marshal that pursuant to the Fire Safety Code of East Whiteland Township (Code), adopted in 1984, he would have to install a sprinkler system in the building. On appeal to the Board, he was ordered to install a sprinkler system in the basement only. Without taking further testimony, the trial court affirmed. Appellant now appeals to this court.

Appellant contends that since the building was built sixteen years before the enactment of the Code regulations, they cannot be applied retroactively to his property. In the alternative, if it is determined that the regulations may be applied retroactively, it was not done properly, in that the Board's findings are not based on substantial evidence. Appellant argues that the basement does not qualify as "mercantile occupancy," subjecting it to the fire sprinkler provision of the Code.

The trial court's scope of review is governed by section 754(b) of the Local Agency Law, 2 Pa.C.S. § 754(b), which

[ 126 Pa. Commw. Page 204]

    provides that the trial court shall affirm the adjudication of the agency, unless it shall find that the adjudication violates the constitutional rights of the appellant, or is not in accordance with the law, violates the procedure of the agency, or any finding of fact ...


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