Valley View Civic Association v. Zoning Board of Adjustments for Philadelphia
462 A.2d 637 (Pa. 1983).
The PA Supreme Court held that the Commonwealth Court made an error of law when it stated that a property owner must show that the property is rendered “practically valueless” as it is zoned when seeking a variance. The Supreme Court stated that a showing of “unnecessary hardship” has never required the property owner to show that the property is valueless. To prove that the zoning ordinance creates an unnecessary hardship, the landowner must show that the property, as zoned, would be unusable, undesirable, and unmarketable and that the hardship is unique to the property as distinguished from the other properties in the district.
The landowner’s property was located in residential district. She wanted to convert the use to a take-out steak and sandwich shop with a two family dwelling upstairs. Neither of these uses was permitted in a residential zone. However, the testimony showed that she was completely surrounded by retail and industrial uses, including a convenience store, a gas station, a dentist’s office, a beer distributor, a bank, and a retail tire store. The Zoning Board of Adjustments concluded that the landowner showed that the property was “surrounded by dissimilar and disharmonious commercial and industrial uses, which render it virtually impossible to use the site for residential purposes.” The Supreme Court affirmed this decision, noting that the property value, while relevant, is not necessary to prove an “unnecessary hardship.”
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