Nonconformities

Dunbar v. Zoning Hearing Bd.

Once an applicant proves the proposed use satisfies the zoning ordinance’s objective requirements for special exceptions, the burden shifts to objectors to prove the specific use will have greater detrimental effects than those normally expected from the particular use, and that these impacts will pose a substantial threat to the health and safety of the community. Objectors must present more than unsubstantiated concerns or concerns that are merely vague generalities. In addition, doctrine of natural expansion permits a nonconforming use to be expanded in scope as the business increases in magnitude over the ground occupied by the business owner at the time the zoning ordinance was enacted.

Dunbar v. Zoning Hearing Bd., 144 A.3d 219 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2016)

Date of Decision: 7/18/16


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Hunterstown Ruritan Club v. Straban Twp. Zoning Hearing Bd.

A preexisting legal nonconforming use establishes in the property owner a vested property right which cannot be abrogated or destroyed, unless it is a nuisance, it is abandoned, or it is extinguished by eminent domain. In addition, a certificate that a preexisting legal nonconforming use exists represents a procedural advantage, not an independent property right; therefore, the lack of a certificate results in a procedural disadvantage and not in the loss of a property right.

Hunterstown Ruritan Club v. Straban Twp. Zoning Hearing Bd., 143 A.3d 538 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2016)

Date of Decision: 7/14/16


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Hafner v. Zoning Hearing Board of Allen Township (2009)

In order to establish a valid, nonconforming use, the landowner has the burden of demonstrating legal use of the property for the activity in question prior to enactment of the zoning in question; to demonstrate right to variance by estoppel, landowner must produce evidence that without such variance, the property would be rendered valueless.

Hafner v. Zoning Hearing Board of Allen Township, 974 A.2d 1204 (Pa. Commw. 2009).

Date of Decision: 5/21/09


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