Borough of Jenkintown v. Board of Commissioners of Abington Twp.
858 A.2d 136 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2004)
This case addressed the standard that an appellate court will use when reviewing the decision of the fact finder, whether it be the zoning hearing board or a trial court. If the trial court hears no supplemental evidence and only reviews the record of the zoning hearing board, the court may reverse only if the zoning hearing board made an error of law or abused their discretion when deciding the issue. However, if the trial court hears supplemental evidence on the merits of the case, the trial court must make findings of fact and may give no deference to the zoning hearing board.
In this case, the trial court applied the incorrect standard. The trial court heard new evidence. The trial court then reviewed the case with the higher deferential standard. When a trial court makes an error of law such as this, the appellate court generally sends the case back to the trial court to be determined by the correct standard. However, in some instances when the evidence taken by the trial court is “uncontradicted” evidence, the appellate court may review without remanding the case back to the trial court. Because neither party disputed any of the facts presented to the trial court, the appellate court held that it was able to exercise judicial review with out remand.
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