The Commonwealth Court has determined that objectors to the issuance of a non-conforming use certificate cannot appeal such an action because a non-conforming use certificate does not constitute an “application for development” under the MPC.

The Township ZHB issued a non-conforming use certificate to the Sidaris for the operation of their excavation business on their property in a residential district. The property had been used for commercial purposes since the 1950s and the Sidaris had operated their business on the premises since 2002. Six months later Neighboring landowners brought an appeal of the issuance of the certificate to the ZHB. The ZHB dismissed the Neighbors’ appeal as untimely, finding that they had reason to know of the issuance of the certificate more than 30 days prior to the time that they brought the appeal. The Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County subsequently denied their appeal.

On appeal to the Commonwealth Court the ZHB’s denial was affirmed on different grounds. The court determined that the denial was appropriate because a non-conforming use certificate did not constitute an “application for development” as required for an appeal under § 914.1 of the MPC. The purpose of a non-conforming use certificate, the court reasoned, was to document the existence of a non-conforming use, not to authorize either development or construction. Approval of the certificate did not grant the Sidaris any additional property rights or authorize new development or construction.

Click here to read: Slusser v. Black Creek Twp. ZHB, 2358 C.D. 2014 (Pa. Cmmw. Ct. Sep. 23, 2015).