PPM Atl. Renewable v. Fayette County Zoning Hearing Bd., 623 Pa. 134 (Pa. 2013).
Trial court may not order objector to post bond where the appeal to the trial court was filed by the applicant rather than the objector.
Applicant appealed the decision of the Zoning Hearing Board that denied numerous special exception and variance requests to construct twenty-four windmill turbines on leased land. An Objector who was an adjacent owner and who had standing before the Zoning Hearing Board intervened in Applicant’s appeal. The trial court ruled that the Zoning Hearing Board erred and remanded with instructions. The Zoning Haring Board subsequently granted several, but not all, of the requested variances and special exceptions. Applicant again appealed and the trial court modified the decision in a manner favorable to Applicant. Aware that the Objector was considering an appeal to the Commonwealth Court, the Applicant motioned the trial court to order the Objector to post a bond if he was to appeal to the Commonwealth Court, and the trial court granted the motion. Objector appealed the trial court’s decision on the merits of the application but did not appeal the bond order nor post the bond. As a result, the Commonwealth Court upheld the trial court’s order to quash the appeal on the merits appeal. Takacs was decided by the Commonwealth Court in the interim.
The Supreme Court determined the bond order was unauthorized and void ab initio because Section 1001-A of the MPC only permits a court to order such a bond when the objector appeals a decision favorable to the applicant from a board to the trial court. In this case, Applicant, rather than Objector, had appealed the Zoning Hearing Board decision and it was not until the trial court ruled in favor of the Applicant that Objector appealed to the Commonwealth Court. The bond, therefore, was unauthorized.
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