Takacs v. Indian Lake Borough Zoning Hearing Bd., 11 A.3d 587 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2010).
Legislative intent irrelevant when determining whether amendment constitutes spot zoning.
A Borough appointed an ad hoc committee to study its Zoning Ordinance. After purchasing a lake front property that could be affected by proposed revisions to the Zoning Ordinance, the Borough Council President stepped down from the committee. Revisions were made to the Zoning Ordinance, including adding uses to the Commercial-Recreational District that would benefit the President’s lot and other lots in the zoning district, but that could not benefit other waterfront lots in the district due to various constraints.
Objectors argued the ordinance was invalid for various reasons, including that it was illegal spot zoning. The Commonwealth Court rejected that argument. The Court defined spot zoning as “a singling out of one lot or a small area for different treatment from that accorded to similar surrounding land indistinguishable from it in character for the economic benefit or detriment of the owner of that lot.” To establish spot zoning, the Court continued, “the challenger must prove that the provision at issue are arbitrary and unreasonable and have no relation to the public health, safety, morals and general welfare.” The Court determined the ordinance was not illegal spot zoning and that the state of mind of the legislative body in amending the ordinance was irrelevant because the revisions applied to all properties in the District and evidence that the revisions could not benefit other owners in the District was lacking.
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