Pham v. Upper Merion Twp. Zoning Hearing Bd., 113 A.3d 879 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2015).

Creating a situation in which a property is difficult to sell due to substantial improvements does not create a hardship.
Case Details:

Applicant was denied a use variance for their R-1 zoned property to be used as a bed-and-breakfast.  Applicant had argued that their home was obsolete as a single-family dwelling because of its size (6,000 sq. ft.), construction, number of rooms (20), and location surrounded by roadways, a railway, and Township-owned property.  Applicant testified that they had made substantial improvements and that the home would be difficult to sell as a single family home given its features compared against its location near so many roads.  The Zoning Hearing Board vote resulted in a tie, which is treated as a denial.  The trial court affirmed on appeal.

The Commonwealth Court held that the minimal findings and conclusions submitted by the Zoning Hearing Board were sufficient for appellate review.  On the merits, the Commonwealth Court determined Applicant failed to prove the variance was warranted because Applicant had been the one to spend money on improving the house, and the mere fact that it might be difficult to sell because it was over-improved did not constitute a hardship or warrant a variance.

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