Bernotas v. Zoning Hearing Bd., 68 A.3d 1042 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2013).
Lesser standard of hardship required for dimensional variances involving nonconforming use.
Applicant operated a grocery store, which was a legal nonconforming use. The Applicant filed a special exception request to expand the nonconforming use to construct a loading dock, an enclosed ramp, and a warehouse on the lot. The proposed additions would increase the building coverage to just over 24 percent, so the Applicant also requested a variance from the maximum permitted building coverage, which was 15 percent. The Zoning Hearing Board granted the special exception and variance and noted that a lesser standard applies to dimensional variances. The Zoning Hearing Board concluded that the Applicant established unnecessary hardship because his property was on a corner lot and suffered from significant elevation changes due to the excavation of a highway. Objectors appealed, arguing that the proper standard was not that of a dimensional variance, but the standard for expanding a non-conforming use. The Commonwealth Court affirmed the Zoning Hearing Board’s decision and stated that the dimensional variance analysis was proper because the new improvements would not create a new principal use on the property. The improvements only modernized and improved the existing structures.
No liability is assumed with respect to the use of information contained in this website. Laws may be amended or court rulings made that could affect a particular procedure, issue, or interpretation. The Department of Community & Economic Development assumes no responsibility for errors and omissions nor any liability for damages resulting from the use of information contained herin. Please contact your local solicitor for legal advice.