This blog features case law related to real estate, land use, zoning, and municipal law in Pennsylvania

Tag: special exception

Reversal of ZBA Special Exception Denial Based on Speculative, Lay Opinion Affirmed

In this case out of Philadelphia, the Commonwealth Court affirmed the reversal of a Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment (“ZBA”) decision to deny special exception approval to a developer to construct a Dunkin Donuts near the intersection of Broad Street and Oregon Avenue in South Philadelphia.  Monroe Land Investments (“Monroe”) filed a special exception application to redevelop a former 7-11 and Napa auto parts store into a Dunkin Donuts coffee shop.

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Court Rejects Special Exception Conditions Not Based in Zoning Ordinance/MPC or Supported By Record Evidence


In this case out of Washington County, the Commonwealth Court was asked to weigh in on what conditions a zoning hearing board may reasonably impose upon a special exception approval.  In ruling that most of the conditions imposed by the Cecil Township Zoning Hearing Board (“ZHB”) were unreasonable, and thus an abuse of discretion, the Commonwealth Court emphasized that conditions placed on a special exception approval must be based upon either the zoning ordinance or the Municipalities Planning Code (“MPC”), and must be supported by evidence in the record.

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Commonwealth Court Holds That the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment Has Authority to Grant Special Exceptions with Conditions

This case required the Commonwealth Court to determine whether or not a zoning hearing board had the authority to place conditions on the grant of a special exception.  In holding that it did, the court relied on the language of the Philadelphia city code, which it determined provided the board with adequate discretion to impose the conditions.

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Court Reverses Denial of Special Exception for Duplexes in Single Family Detached Neighborhood

This appeal out of Columbia County dealt with the denial of a special exception application to permit the development of single family attached dwellings in an area where only single family detached dwellings currently existed.  In reversing, the Commonwealth Court held that objecting neighbors failed to present competent, objective evidence to overcome the presumption that the use was compatible, and that the proposed use would generate adverse effects greater than normal from this type of use.

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City’s Determination That an Application was Complete Rendered the Pending Ordinance Doctrine Inapplicable

In this zoning appeal originating before the Zoning Board of Adjustment in Philadelphia, the Commonwealth Court was asked to determine the applicability of the pending ordinance doctrine when post submission revisions have been made to plans after the proposed zoning amendment is deemed pending by the Zoning Ordinance. In finding that the doctrine did not apply, the court concluded that the determination of the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections (“L&I”) that the application was complete when filed, overcame objecting neighbors’ arguments that the revisions made the doctrine applicable.

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Objecting Neighbors’ Speculative Testimony Insufficient Basis to Deny Special Exception

In this appeal of a special exception denial by the City of Scranton’s Zoning Hearing Board (“ZHB”), the Commonwealth Court was asked to determine what type of testimony is required to support such a denial based on general detrimental effects to health, safety, and welfare. In reversing the ZHB’s decision, the Court concluded that lay testimony based solely on personal opinions, bald assertions, and speculation were insufficient grounds for denial.

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