Provco Partners v. Limerick Twp. Zoning Hearing Board,
866 A.2d 502 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2005)
At the request of a Partnership, the Township amended its Zoning Ordinance by rezoning certain property at the edge of the Township from medium density residential to retail business (Amendment). Proximate landowners from an adjoining municipality (Neighbors) challenged the procedural validity of the Amendment pursuant to Section 909.1(a)(2) of the Municipalities Planning Code (MPC). The zoning hearing board agreed that the Township had not complied with the procedural requirements of the MPC and declared the Amendment void. Partnership appealed and argued that as residents of an adjacent municipality, Neighbors had no interest in the Township’s “ordinance enactment process” and therefore no standing to challenge the validity of the ordinance. The court of common pleas rejected Partnership’s argument, affirming the Board’s decision. Partnership appealed to the Commonwealth Court, which also affirmed the decisions below, voiding the Amendment.
Partnership’s argument raised the issue of whether the language “any person aggrieved” under Section 913.3 of the MPC includes non-resident challenges to the procedural validity of an ordinance. Section 913.3 states that a “person aggrieved” has standing to challenge an ordinance, but the MPC does not further define the term. Citing existing precedent, the courts confirmed that a non-resident can qualify as an “aggrieved person” within the meaning of Section 913.3. The courts also noted that this is true irrespective of whether the person has suffered actual financial harm. In this case, the Ordinance adopted Section 913.3’s “aggrieved person” language. In addition, the Ordinance went beyond Section 913.3 and required challengers to identify for the Board all landowners within 400′ of the contested zoning area. The Commonwealth Court read this provision as creating a polygon of “presumed aggrieved” persons. As the Neighbors resided within this polygon, they were “aggrieved” persons with standing to challenge the Ordinance–both procedurally and substantively.
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