Lench v. ZHB of Adjustments of the City of Pittsburgh
852 A.2d 442 (Pa. Cmwlth 2004).
When a landowner applies to expand an existing non-conforming use, the use must be “substantially similar” to the previous use so as to not constitute a new or different use. Fundamentally, the issue is the use of the structure, not who patronizes the use.
In this case, the court reversed the zoning board’s denial of an application for expansion to a landowner who owned an existing non-conforming use that consisted of a private bar, entertainment area, and the caretaker’s apartment. The landowner wanted to change the use to a public restaurant and bar. The zoning board denied the application because the pre-existing use did not serve food and was not open to the general public. The court reversed the decision stating that if the pre-existing private bar were open to the public, the Pennsylvania Liquor Code would have required it to serve food.
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