Citation:

Taliaferro v. Darby Township Zoning Hearing Board,
873 A.2d 807 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2005)

Case Details:

On a ten-acre parcel zoned for residential use, Landowner sought a variance to build sixteen self-storage facilities. The zoning hearing board found the Landowner’s expert testimony credible and granted the variance. The trial court affirmed the zoning hearing board. Objectors appealed arguing, among other things, that the zoning hearing board capriciously disregarded their expert’s testimony. In response, Landowner argued that the capricious disregard standard of review did not apply to zoning hearing board decisions under the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision in Wintermyer.

The Commonwealth Court held that the capricious disregard standard of review is applicable in the appellate review of zoning hearing board decisions. In reaching this conclusion, the Commonwealth Court reasoned that the statutory language that the Wintermyer Court recognized as allowing a capricious disregard standard of review for administrative agency decisions (2 Pa.C.S. Section 704) “is identical to the language” in Section 754(b), which sets forth the standard of review for zoning hearing board decisions. In addition, the Commonwealth Court noted, there is “no practical reason to countenance different standards of review for Commonwealth agencies and local agencies,” citing the definitional section of the Administrative Agency Law, 2 Pa.C.S. Section 101.

In this case, the Commonwealth Court found that the zoning hearing board had not capriciously disregarded evidence because the zoning hearing board’s “express consideration and rejection of . . . evidence, by its definition, is not capricious disregard.”

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