Liberties Lofts LLC v. Zoning Bd. of Adjustment, 2018 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 106 (April 2, 2018)
An objector waives the issue of an applicant’s standing to apply for zoning relief if the objector does not raise the issue at a zoning board hearing. A zoning board can conclude that an applicant is the equitable owner of the property based on the applicant’s testimony that he or she is the equitable owner of the property.
Objector appealed a decision of the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) that granted a use variance to Applicant to permit construction of a 26-unit multi-family residence with one commercial space in an Industrial Commercial Mixed-Use Zoning District. Objector argued Applicant lacked standing to seek the requested zoning relief and that the ZBA erred in granting the variance where Applicant did not satisfy the requisite variance criteria.
Objector claimed Applicant lacked standing to apply for a variance because Applicant was neither the legal nor equitable owner of the property. However, the Commonwealth Court found that Objector waived the issue of Applicant’s standing by failing to raise the issue before the ZBA. The Court further reasoned that Objector waived the issue of Applicant’s standing because Objector failed to raise the issue in its initial brief to the trial court. The Court determined that Objector’s argument also failed on the merits. During the evidentiary hearing before the ZBA, Applicant testified that he was the equitable owner of the property, which led the ZBA to conclude Applicant was the equitable owner of the property. The Court deferred to the ZBA’s finding, determining the ZBA’s finding that Applicant was the equitable owner of the property was directly supported by Applicant’s testimony.
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