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

Tag: Variance

Philadelphia City Councilman Lacked Standing to Individually Challenge Grant of Variance

This appeal required the Commonwealth Court to determine if a Philadelphia City Council member had standing to challenge the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment’s (the Board) grant of a variance to create a private driveway.  More specifically, the court had to decide whether or not the First Class City Home Rule Act (the HRA), the Philadelphia Zoning Code (the Code), or the challenger’s status as a council member granted him standing.  The court held that the plain language of the HRA and the Code grants standing to the city council only as a single government body, and it further held that there was no “legislative standing” because the city council’s authority to regulate public streets was not impaired by the granting of this particular variance.

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Existence of Man-Made Improvements Not Sufficient Hardship to Warrant Variance

In this zoning appeal out of Bucks County. the Commonwealth Court was asked whether the existence of man-made improvements that exceeded the permitted impervious coverage on a property could constitute a sufficient hardship to warrant the issuance of a variance. In concluding that such improvements could not, the court held that generally for a unique condition to warrant a variance it must relate to the physical conditions of the land itself and not to man-made improvements, such as poured asphalt and concrete.

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DOJ Sues Bensalem Township for Alleged Unequal Zoning Treatment of Proposed Mosque

On July 21, 2016, the Department of Justice has filed a complaint against Bensalem Township for allegedly giving a proposed mosque harsher zoning treatment than similar institutions.  The claims arise under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA).  42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc–2000cc-5.  RLUIPA prohibits a government from imposing burdensome zoning restrictions on religious groups.

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Commonwealth Court Holds That a Variance May Not Be Granted When Hardship Asserted Relates Solely to Landowner’s Desire for Increased Profitability

The Commonwealth Court was required to determine whether or not a zoning board can grant density and lot-width variances without proof of hardship.  The court ruled that when the asserted hardship amounts to nothing more than the landowners desire to increase the profitability of his or her land, a variance is improper.

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