Stoltzfus v. Eden Township Zoning Hearing Board,
937 A.2d 548 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2007).

Log processing does not fit within the MPC’s definition of a “forestry use” where the property does not contain a forest and trees are not cultivated on the property.
Case Details:

The Landowner of a sixty-seven acre parcel previously had received a variance to operate a log processing business from a portion of his property zoned for agriculture. Later, Landowner planned to sell the portion of the property on which the log processing operation was situated, but filed a request to move the business onto the portion of the property that he was retaining.  The zoning officer denied the application on the basis that a log processing operation is not a permitted use in an agricultural zone.  His requests were also denied by the Zoning Hearing Board and the Court of Common Pleas.

Under Section 603(f) of the Municipalities Planning Code (MPC), forestry activities “shall be a permitted use by right in all zoning districts in every municipality.”  Under the MPC, forestry is defined as “the management of forests and timberlands when practiced in accordance with accepted silvicultural principles, through developing, cultivating, harvesting, transporting and selling trees for commercial purposes, which does not involve any land development.”

The nature of Landowner’s business is that his employees cut down trees at different places throughout Pennsylvania, and brought the trees back to Landowner’s property to be cut into logs.

On appeal, the Commonwealth Court found Landowner’s argument meritless, citing the purpose of the MPC provision, “to promote the use of forested land.”  Here, because Landowner’s property did not contain any forests, and he did not develop or cultivate trees on his property, the Court concluded that his business did not satisfy the MPC’s definition of forestry.

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