Jeffrey T. Vanvoorhis and Susan L. Fox
Shrewsbury Township, Appellant
Argued: June 5, 2017
BEFORE: HONORABLE P. KEVIN BROBSON, Judge HONORABLE MICHAEL
H. WOJCIK, Judge HONORABLE JOSEPH M. COSGROVE, Judge
M. COSGROVE, JUDGE
Township (Township) appeals from a December 9, 2016 Order of
the Court of Common Pleas of York County (trial court) that
granted the appeal of Jeffrey Vanvoorhis and Susan Fox
(Appellees) and remanded the matter to the Board of
Supervisors (Board) for further proceedings. Upon review, we
vacate and remand.
IV of the Township Zoning Ordinance (Ordinance) governs the
use of lands within the Township's agricultural district.
Single-family detached dwellings, including mobile homes,
tenant dwellings, and two-family dwellings are permitted as
uses within the agricultural district, subject to certain
conditions and limitations. (Reproduced Record (R.R.) at
296a.) These conditions and limitations are set forth in
Article IV, Section 404 of the Ordinance. Most pertinent to
the matter sub judice is the allocation of dwelling
units upon each parcel within the agricultural
district. The number of dwelling units permitted upon each
parcel within that district is determined by the parcel as it
existed on November 10, 1976, the date the Township's
original ordinance was enacted. Id. Section 404(4)
of the Ordinance provides that a current owner may subdivide
only that number of dwelling units remaining from the
original number permitted by Section 404. Id. at
property at issue here is a 45.5 acre horse farm (Property)
owned by Appellees and located in an agricultural district
within the Township. As it existed on November 10, 1976, the
Property was afforded four development rights.Located on the
Property at that time was a farmhouse and a summer
house. On October 22, 1990, the Township issued
to then-owner Tom Queitzch (Queitzch) a building permit for
purposes of renovating the summer house. Queitzch's
stated intention regarding the summer house was to turn it
into a study and office space for his personal use. A
bathroom was added to the existing structure, as well as an
upstairs bedroom and closet.
1999, Queitzch subdivided 1.5 acres of the property. One
development right was associated with the newly-created lot
and three remained with the Property. Of the remaining three
development rights, one was assigned to the farmhouse. No
development right was assigned to the summer house. Appellees
purchased the property in 2003.
5, 2008, Appellees filed an application with the Township for
subdivision and land development. For the next several years
as the plan was revised, questions arose regarding the number
of development rights remaining with the Property. Charles
Rausch (Rausch), the Township solicitor, opined in a December
2, 2011 email and a January 11, 2012 memorandum that the
Property had three development rights remaining, one
allocated to the house with two rights remaining on the
Property. The summer house was deemed a permitted accessory
use to which no development right attached.
submitted their final subdivision plan to the Board on
November 19, 2014. The plan was conditionally approved by the
Board on January 8, 2015. One condition required amendment of
the plan to designate the summer house as a tenant dwelling
to which a development right would attach. Appellees declined
to accept the condition and, consequently, the plan was
rejected by the Township on January 22, 2015. This decision
was appealed to the trial court, which, after granting
Appellees' motion to supplement the record, took
additional evidence on October 31, 2016. On December 9, 2016,
the trial court entered an order which granted the appeal and
remanded the matter to the Township for further proceedings.
In its supporting opinion, the trial court concluded the
summer house was a permitted use for which a development
right was not required and Appellees had a vested right in
not having a development right attached to the summer house.
This appeal followed.
forth in the Township's brief, the following five issues
are raised on appeal:
I. Is the Common Pleas Court Order appealable?
II. If a subdivision plan is rejected on multiple grounds and
at least one represents a clear ordinance violation is the
plan properly rejected?
III. Did the lower court err in taking additional evidence to
decide a zoning issue when the issue could not be resolved by
the Board of Supervisors?
IV. Does the ordinance in existence on the date the plan was
filed require that the summer house  which was being rented
as a separate dwelling unit utilize one of the tract's
allocation of [development] rights?
V. Do the Appellees have a vested right to not having their
summer house considered a dwelling unit utilizing a
[development] right even if it is being used as a dwelling?
(Township's Brief, at 2-3.)
the Township addresses the appealability of the December 9,
2016 order. It argues the order is appealable by right per
Pa.R.A.P. 311(f) because, following remand to the Board, the
issue of whether a development right must attach to the
summer house would be forever settled by the trial
court's decision. We agree.
appeal may be taken as of right from an order of a common
pleas court or government unit remanding a matter to an
administrative agency or hearing officer that decides an
issue that would ultimately evade appellate review if an
immediate appeal is not allowed. Pa.R.A.P. 311(f)(2). Before
Appellees' subdivision plan could be approved and
recorded, the Township required its compliance with four
conditions, as set forth in the Township's January 8,
2015 letter. (R.R. at 252a.) Of those conditions, Appellees
only objected to those which related to the assignment of a
dwelling unit to the summer house. Id. at 49a.
facts presented here are similar to those set forth in
Schultheis v. Board of Supervisors of Upper Bern
Township, 727 A.2d 145 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1999). In
Schultheis, a developer's appeal of the denial
of its preliminary subdivision plan was granted and the
matter remanded with a directive that the developer be given
the opportunity to correct any deficiencies in the plan. Once
the developer revised the plan and presented it to the
township, any issues appealable would be those relating to
the revised plan and not the defective preliminary ...