Tidd v. Lower Saucon Twp. Zoning Hearing Bd., 118 A.3d 1 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2015).

Where an applicant requests a dimensional variance, financial aspects and the surrounding neighborhood may be considered, and whether the property is rendered valueless without the variance or whether it could be used for a permitted purpose are not dispositive.
Case Details:

Applicant owned a vacant lot in the Township’s Rural Agricultural Zoning District.  It sought a variance from a provision of the Zoning Ordinance that required all stables and areas to corral or pasture horses to be at least 100 feet from all lot lines.  Applicant’s property was about 25 acres, bounded by tree lines, bisected by another tree line, and encumbered by an extensive utility easement.  Applicant testified the setback would require the removal of many trees, which was cost prohibitive, and that it would also lose the use of about 25% of its total property due to the setback requirement.  Over an Objector’s opposition, the Zoning Hearing Board granted the variance and the trial court affirmed.

On appeal, the Commonwealth Court affirmed the dimensional variance citing Hertzberg.  Hertzberg, the Court stated, permitted the Zoning Hearing Board to consider Applicant’s economic detriment if the variance were to be denied, the financial hardship created by work necessary to comply strictly with the ordinance, and the characteristics of the surrounding neighborhood.  Moreover, under Marshall , Applicant was not required to show the property was valueless without the variance or that it could not be used for any permitted purpose.  Based on those two cases, the Commonwealth Court determined Applicant met its burden.

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