Citation:

Ken-Med Associates v. Bd. of Township Supervisors of Kennedy Township, 900 A.2d 460 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2006).

Summary:
Variances will not be granted solely to maximize economic value nor when there is self-inflicted hardship.
Case Details:

Landowner, a partnership, constructed a four-story medical arts building in 1994 in a C-1 Commercial District, where the rear of the property abutted a R-1 Residential District. As the number of physicians in the building grew, the building’s eighty-eight parking spaces proved insufficient.  Landowner had made previous attempts to alleviate the parking shortage through a parking license agreement with a neighboring property owner, which expired in 2010, and an oral agreement with the Township Fire Department, which declined the offer.  The Township Supervisors informed Landowner that they had insufficient parking as required by the Ordinance, so Landowners requested a dimensional (setback) variance to build a four-story parking garage to alleviate the parking shortage.

The Zoning Hearing Board denied the request, concluding that there was a lack of evidence as to off-site parking, that there was no need for a variance because they were in compliance with the Ordinance, that the variance would be a substantial departure from the Ordinance, and that the proposed parking garage would alter the essential character of the neighborhood.  Landowner appealed and the trial court granted the variance.

On appeal, Commonwealth Court reversed, concluding that any hardship suffered was self-inflicted and that a variance may not be issued solely to allow a property owner to maximize the economic value of a property. The Court found that the actions and inactions of one of Landowner’s partners contributed to the loss of parking spaces because the partner was a managing partner of the neighboring property owners which had originally granted the parking license, but which did not permit renewal of the license. In addition, the Court found that the building could still be used as a medical office, but limited to the number of physicians and parking spaces that were originally approved.

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