Leoni v. Whitepain Township Zoning Hearing Board, 709 A. 2d 999, Pa. Cmwlth (1998).
Note: Distinguished by Orie v. ZHB of the Borough of Beaver, 767 A.2d 623
Cross Reference: MPC Section 1002-A.
In 1988 the Municipalities Planning Code was significantly amended. One of the changes was to repeal the prior provisions related to “persons aggrieved” and Party aggrieved”. The new Section 1002 provides no specific limitation on who may appeal a zoning hearing board’s decision.
In this case, a neighbor of the party, which had been granted a side-yard variance by the zoning hearing board, appealed the variance. The neighbor had not appeared at or participated in any way in the zoning board hearing. The applicant moved to quash or dismiss the appeal citing the neighbor’s “lack of standing”. After first rejecting the motion, the trial court eventually ruled in favor of the applicant and quashed the appeal. The neighbor/objector appealed.
The Commonwealth Court affirmed the decision of the trial court. In doing so, the Court rejected the neighbors’ argument that the 1988 amendments had eliminated the need for them to participate in the zoning hearing as a precondition to having standing to appeal.
The Court first concluded that the objectors were not a “party” to the Board’s proceedings under MPC Section 908(3), which states that the “parties to the hearing shall be the municipality, any person affected by the application who has made timely appearance of record before the board, and any other person…permitted to appear before the board. Section 908(9) of the MPC in turn provides for the right of a “party” to appeal the decision of a zoning hearing board.
The Court then concluded that the change to the MPC including the lack of qualifying language under MPC 1002-A as to who has standing to appeal did not change the law as previously stated by the Court that “any appellant, other than a municipality, must first appear before the zoning board and raise an objection in order to pursue a meaningful appeal.” Leoni, at 1001.
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