Twp. of Exeter v. Zoning Hearing Bd., 962 A.2d 653 (Pa. 2009).
Industry standards indicative, but not necessarily controlling, for determining whether zoning ordinance is exclusionary.
Billboard company challenged the Township’s zoning ordinance, arguing it unconstitutionally prohibited off-premise signs (billboards) because it permitted them to be a maximum of only 25 sq. ft. in area when the industry standard was either 300 or 672 sq. ft. The Zoning Hearing Board agreed with the challenger, but the Commonwealth Court ultimately reversed. The Commonwealth Court held that there was no legal requirement that industry standards be considered and that the existence of conforming signs precluded a finding that the zoning ordinances was exclusionary.
Applicant appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. While not setting a minimum size limit, the Court held that the Township’s 25-sq. ft. restriction on off-premise advertising signs acted as a de facto exclusion of billboards within the Township. The Court utilized a two-part test; first analyzing whether the ordinance excluded billboards, and then whether the ordinance was repaired by evidence that the exclusion was substantially related to the public health, safety or welfare. The Court determined that the ordinance excluded billboards, but that the industry standard size was not necessarily controlling in determining under what size is exclusionary. The Court remanded the case for evidence on the second prong.
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