Palencar was issued an enforcement notice that certain structures on his property required zoning permits.  He submitted an application/appeal form indicating a variance was requested, but not that Palencar wished to appeal the enforcement notice. Prior to the hearing Palencar’s attorney phoned the ZHB Solicitor and indicated Palencar also wanted to appeal the enforcement notice. The ZHB published notice of the hearing stating it would consider an appeal “from the zoning officer’s determination.” A hearing was held and the ZHB found Palencar had violated the ordinance and upheld the enforcement notice.  Palencar appealed.

Before the Court of Common Pleas of Berks County the Township, for the first time, raised the issue of whether the ZHB had jurisdiction to decide the appeal because Palencar had failed to file a written appeal of the enforcement notice. The trial court denied Palencar’s appeal on this basis.

The Commonwealth Court reversed, finding Palencar’s appeal had been perfected. The court reasoned that the ZHB had determined the appeal was perfected when it published notice and held a hearing on the matter.  The Township had raised no objection at the hearing and had presented evidence on the matter. The matter was heard, and all issues were considered by the ZHB. Based on these facts, the court concluded, an individual could have reasonably relied on the fact that his application had been amended.

Click here to read: Palencar v. Hereford Twp., 1635 CD 2014 (Pa. Cmmw. Ct. Oct. 14, 2015) (UNREPORTED).