Gratton v. Conte
73 A.2d 381 (Pa. 1950).
The adjacent landowners of a seven-acre tract in Pittsburgh opposed the rezoning of the property to allow multiple-family dwellings. The adjacent landowners claimed that because the City Planning Commission recommended disapproval of the rezoning, the elected Council for the city should not overrule the determination unless the Planning Commission’s recommendation was wholly arbitrary. The Planning Commission recommended disapproval of the zoning because it would create an island of multiple-family dwellings and would cause hazardous traffic conditions in the area. The Court held that, as far as zoning is concerned, the elected legislative body is vested with the authority to make the final decision. Thus, there was no requirement for the Council to give deference to the Planning Commission’s recommendation. The only restriction on the Council’s decision was that it must be made in accordance to the comprehensive plan.
The owner of the property requested that the property be rezoned because its unique topography and shape would require extensive ground moving and road building in order for the property to comply with the then current zoning ordinance, which allowed single or double family homes. The property, however, could be used for a multiple-family home. The City Planning Commission recommended disapproval of rezoning because of problems that it saw with the construction of a multiple-family home.
The Court squarely rejected the argument that the Council had to defer to the Planning Commission’s recommendation because it is only that, a recommendation, not a final ruling. The Court also rejected the argument that the decision would result in an overcrowding of the city contrary to the purpose of the comprehensive plan where there was sufficient evidence on the record to show that reasonable consideration was given to the topography and the characteristics of the district in the Council’s decision.
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