Argued March 10, 2014.
Appealed fro No. 2012-C-5027. Common Pleas Court of the County of Lehigh. Reichley, J.
Mark R. Malkames, Allentown, for appellant.
Jeffrey B. Matzkin, Whitehall, for appellee Zoning Hearing Board of the Township of Whitehall.
Christopher W. Gittinger, Allentown, for appellee Township of Whitehall.
BEFORE: HONORABLE BONNIE BRIGANCE LEADBETTER, Judge, HONORABLE MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, Judge, HONORABLE PATRICIA A. McCULLOUGH, Judge. OPINION BY JUDGE McCULLOUGH.
PATRICIA A. McCULLOUGH, Judge
4154 Roosevelt Street, LLC (Roosevelt) appeals from the July 11, 2013 order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County (trial court), which affirmed the decision of the Zoning Hearing Board of the Township of Whitehall (Board) denying Roosevelt's application for: a special exception to change from the pre-existing nonconforming use as an industrial building to a nonconforming use as an apartment building; a special exception for off-site parking; recognition that the property is nonconforming with respect to certain distance and dimension requirements of the Township of Whitehall (Township) Zoning Ordinance (Ordinance); and numerous variances. We now reverse and remand.
The underlying facts of this case are not in dispute. Roosevelt is the owner of improved property located at 4154 and 4159 Roosevelt Street and two adjacent, vacant lots on Truman Street, Whitehall, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania (Property). The Property is located within two zoning districts, the R4 Medium Density Residential Zoning District and the R5A High Density Residential without Apartments Zoning District, and is surrounded by single-family residences. The Property includes a two-story structure comprised of 46,016 square feet that had been used by Majestic Sportswear (Majestic) as a clothing manufacturing facility, a nonconforming use, until 2007. In 2007, VF Corporation purchased Majestic and closed the facility. Since that time, the Property has remained vacant.
Roosevelt purchased the Property in September 2009. Roosevelt initially proposed to convert the Property into an apartment building containing fifty-four studio apartments, ranging from 445 to 1,000 square feet, as well as a laundry room, gym, and courtyard. Roosevelt sought special exceptions relating to the conversion from a nonconforming industrial use to a nonconforming use as an apartment building and for the use of off-site parking. Roosevelt also sought numerous
variances relating to apartment density, parking, screening, driveway location, rear and side yard setbacks, density, and impervious coverage. The Board denied Roosevelt's application, concluding that it failed to meet the requirements for a special exception or for the requested variances, and the trial court affirmed the Board's decision. Roosevelt appealed to this Court, and in an unpublished opinion authored by now-President Judge Dan Pellegrini, this Court affirmed.
On November 9, 2011, Roosevelt filed the present application seeking the same special exceptions and variances it previously sought as well as recognition that the Property is nonconforming with respect to certain distance and dimension requirements of the Ordinance. However, in this application, instead of proposing fifty-four apartments, Roosevelt proposed forty-nine apartments with an average size of approximately 1,000 square feet. More specifically, Roosevelt proposed a mix of studio and one-bedroom apartments for lease to single professionals, young couples, and the elderly, with a restriction on the number of people per unit. Roosevelt proposed the
use of both on-site and off-site lots (Truman Street lots), for a total of ninety-nine parking spaces. The Board conducted several ...