Appeal from Common Pleas Court, Allegheny County; Honorable S. Louis Farino, Judge.
T.J. Kratzenberg, Kratzenberg, Shields & Lesko, P.C., White Oak, for appellants.
Charles L. Holsworth, Hess, Reich, Georgiades, Wile & Homyak, P.C., Timothy P. O'Reilly, Pittsburgh, for appellee, Zoning Hearing Board of the Township of Elizabeth.
Craig and Doyle, JJ., and Kalish, Senior Judge.
[ 127 Pa. Commw. Page 54]
More than 120 owners of single-family homes in Elizabeth Township (the neighbors) appeal the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County which dismissed the neighbors' appeal from a decision of the Elizabeth Township zoning Hearing Board which affirmed a zoning officer's grant of a permit authorizing the Elizabeth Township Sportsmen's Association to construct a rifle range for the use of the club's members on land adjacent to, or in proximity to, the neighbors' homes. We reverse.
A township zoning officer granted a grading permit to the Association on April 8, 1987; the grading permit evidenced zoning approval of the proposed use. As provided in section 909 of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC), Act of July 31, 1968, P.L. 805, as amended, 53
[ 127 Pa. Commw. Page 55]
P.S. § 10909, the neighbors appealed that approval to the Zoning Hearing Board, claiming that the officer had failed to follow ordinance procedures or had misinterpreted or misapplied the township's ordinance.
The neighbors argued to the board that the proposed range is not "open land recreation," a permitted use under the ordinance, but rather, that the Association constitutes a "private club," a use that the ordinance does not permit in the R-1 rural residential district in which the Association's land is located. The neighbors also argued that, even if the range is a permitted use, the zoning officer nevertheless failed to consider properly the performance standards set forth in Section 405 of the ordinance, as the ordinance requires.
The board sent a letter to the neighbors on June 23, 1987, stating that the zoning officer's decision was proper. The board issued its affirming decision, including findings of fact, after that date.*fn1 However, that decision only addressed the issue of whether the proposed use is permitted in a rural residential district. The board did not discuss whether the zoning officer properly considered section 405's performance standards.
Here, in attacking the trial court's dismissal of their appeal to it, the neighbors raise three issues: (1) that the board erred in concluding that the proposed use constituted open area recreation, a permitted use under the ordinance, rather than a private club, which is not a permitted use in the R-1 residential district in which the Association's and the neighbors' land is located;*fn2 (2) that the board erred in ...