Armstead v. Zoning Bd. of Adjustment of Phila. & Phila., 115 A.3d 390 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2015).
To have standing, one must be "aggrieved," meaning the party must show that it (or one of its members, if an association) has an interest that is substantial, direct, and immediate, and not merely an interest common to all citizens.
Applicant applied for a variance to change the two sign faces on its “accessory, freestanding sign” from vinyl to digital. The sign was on Applicant’s property which was located in an area of the City surrounded by parks and institutional uses. The Zoning Board of Adjustment granted the variance and multiple Objectors appealed. On appeal, Applicant questioned the Objectors’ standing.
On appeal, the trial court and Commonwealth Court denied Objectors standing based on Spahn. The Courts determined that the individual objectors lacked standing because their homes did not abut Applicant’s property and were not located within the “immediate vicinity” of the proposed sign. In fact, the nearest objector lived 1.5 blocks away. Moreover, the individual objectors did not have a direct interest any different than the general public – theirs were neither unique nor particular. Finally, the association did not have standing because none of its members, individually, had standing, and the association could not have standing by mere virtue of its intended purpose. It, too, must show that it has an “interest beyond the common interest of all citizens in procuring obedience to the law.”
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