In this exclusionary zoning case out of Beaver County, the Commonwealth Court determined that requiring group living facilities to have 24-hour onsite supervision was de jure exclusionary of “partial” Community Residential Rehabilitation Services (CRRS) and therefore unconstitutional.

Domenic and Catherine Leone owned a mixed-use property in the Borough’s C-1 Zoning District. The building had a commercial business on its first two floors and residential apartments on the third and fourth floors. The Leones were approached by Cornerstone Recovery and Supports in the spring of 2013 about using the third floor as a partial CRRS where residents with behavioral health issues would live and be supervised 20-hours a day. After contacting the Borough, the Leones proceeded to renovate the property for this use. In July 2013 they received a cease and desist letter from the Borough Zoning Officer stating a partial CRRS was prohibited in a C-1 District and that all “group” living uses in the Zoning Ordinance required 24-hour onsite supervision.

The Leones filed a Curative Amendment Application with the Borough asserting the Zoning Ordinance was unconstitutionally exclusionary in requiring all group living uses have 24-hour onsite supervision. The application presented a curative amendment to add a licensed partial CRRS as a permitted or conditional use in a C-1 District. After a hearing, the Borough Council rejected the application, finding the Leones failed to demonstrate the exclusionary characteristics of the Zoning Ordinance. The Leones appealed.

The Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County ruled in the Leones favor, finding the Zoning Ordinance constituted a de jure exclusion of partial CRRS facilities. It then ordered the Leone’s be permitted to operate a licensed partial CRRS on their property, and that the Borough amend the Zoning Ordinance to permit partial CRRS in the C-1 District. The Borough appealed.

On appeal, the Commonwealth Court affirmed the trial court’s determination that the Zoning Ordinance was de jure exclusionary and that the Leones were entitled to operate a partial CRRS on their property. It found there was a major difference between a full-care CRRS, which must have 24-hour onsite supervision, and partial care CRRS, which only required supervision on a regularly scheduled basis. Therefore, the 24-hour supervision requirement completely excluded this separate use from the municipality.  However, the court reversed the order to amend the Zoning Ordinance, finding that the court could not order the municipality to take a specific legislative action.

Click here to read: Leone v. Borough of Rochester, 2065 CD 2014 (Pa. Cmmw. Ct. Dec. 10, 2015) (UNREPORTED).

Edited by:

Sivertsen_BLOG Zachary A. Sivertsen