The opinion of the court was delivered by: President Judge Leadbetter
BEFORE: HONORABLE BONNIE BRIGANCE LEADBETTER, President Judge, HONORABLE DAN PELLEGRINI, Judge, HONORABLE JAMES R. KELLEY, Senior Judge.
Gerard and Cynthia Hess (Appellants) appeal from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County (common pleas) that affirmed the decision of the Zoning Hearing Board of Warwick Township (ZHB). The ZHB sustained the Hess's appeal from an enforcement notice citing them for violation of the kennel regulations, denied their request for a use variance and denied the Hess's request for a ruling that they may keep twenty-one Siberian Husky dogs on their property as an accessory use. In the present appeal, the Appellants challenge the last of these rulings.
Appellants reside at 2841 St. Peters Road, a 3-acre parcel near the edge of the R-1 Residential District where that district abuts the RA -- Residential-Agriculture District. As the zoning map depicts, the Hess parcel is located in the R-1 District near parcels ranging from less than one acre to approximately five acres and, along one property line it abuts the RA-District, with notably larger lots. The Hess property is improved with a single family detached dwelling and a two-car garage with an attached workshop. A portion of the attached workshop has been converted into a heated and air-conditioned 18 feet by 18 feet shelter, where Appellants house seventeen Siberian Husky dogs in individual dog crates. The dogs have access from the indoor shelter to an outside yard measuring 40 feet by 50 feet, which is enclosed by a six foot high fence. Additionally, Appellants keep four dogs in their principal residence, making a total of twenty-one dogs that reside on the property.*fn1 Appellants do not board, groom, train, raise or breed dogs belonging to other people. The Huskies are maintained as pets, occasionally entered at dog shows and used as sled dogs.
On June 6, 2006, the Township's zoning officer issued a notice of violation for failure to comply with the kennel regulations in Section 1925 of the zoning ordinance. Section 1925 authorizes kennels in the B-I (Business) District by special exception and applies when five or more dogs are "kept, boarded, groomed, trained, raised or bred."*fn2 Appellants filed a timely appeal of the violation notice and alternatively requested a use variance. Subsequently, Appellants amended their application to assert that their dog shelter and its use are permitted as an accessory structure and use.*fn3
In the R-1 District, the relevant regulations state, as follows:
Section 501-Use Regulations
A. A building may be erected, altered or used and land may be used or occupied, subject to the provisions of Article 15 and Article 16, for any of the following uses and no other:
1. Single-family detached dwellings.
B. Permitted Accessory Uses
1. Accessory uses on the same lot and customarily incidental to the principal uses permitted in Section 501.A, subject to ...