Variances

Fowler v. City of Bethlehem Zoning Hearing Bd.

Where there is a change in theory regarding a zoning application, the doctrine of res judicata and collateral estoppel do not apply. Additionally, seeking to convert a conforming use to a nonconforming use is inconsistent with the burden to show that property cannot be used for a permitted purpose.

Fowler v. City of Bethlehem Zoning Hearing Bd., 2018 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 171 (May 22, 2018)

Date of Decision: 5/22/18


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Pequa Twp. v. Zoning Hearing Bd

A variance may be granted under the de minimis doctrine when (1) only a minor deviation from the zoning ordinance is sought and (2) rigid compliance with the ordinance is not necessary for the preservation of the public interests sought to be protected by the ordinance. Where the de minimis doctrine applies, “there is no need to resort to any other theory of relief.” In addition, a dimensional variance that would create a nonconformity is distinguished from dimensional variances that would bring a property into conformance with a zoning ordinance.

Pequa Twp. v. Zoning Hearing Bd., 2018 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 102

Date of Decision: 1/8/18


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In re Appeal of Chestnut Hill Cmty. Ass’n

Variances may be granted where the applicant proves strict compliance with the ordinance would create a hardship due to the unique physical circumstances or conditions of the lot. The hardship cannot be one that arises from the impact of zoning regulations in the district.

In re Appeal of Chestnut Hill Cmty. Ass’n, 155 A.3d 658 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2017)

Date of Decision: 3/3/17


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Dunn v. Middletown Twp. Zoning Hearing Bd.

If applicant’s subdivision plans would create the non-conformity that the applicant seeks to resolve by variance, the applicant should not be granted a variance. Also, de minimis variances may be granted if applicants show that (a) minor deviation from the dimensional uses of a zoning ordinance is sought and (b) rigid compliance with the zoning ordinance is not necessary to protect the public policy concerns inherent in the ordinance. In addition, there is no precise mathematical percentage that marks the dividing line between de minimis and significant deviation.

Dunn v. Middletown Twp. Zoning Hearing Bd., 143 A.3d 494 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2016)

Date of Decision: 11/29/16


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Coyle v. City of Leb. Zoning Hearing Bd.

Applicants for temporary variances must meet the same standards of proof as are required for permanent variances. In addition, de minimis variances may only be granted for dimensional variances.

Coyle v. City of Leb. Zoning Hearing Bd., 135 A.3d 240 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2016)

Date of Decision: 3/23/16


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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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In re: Appeal of Janice Boyer (2008)

Property owner was not entitled to a variance when she failed to establish that the property was subject to unnecessary hardship and arguably only proved that she was subject to hardship.

In re: Appeal of Janice Boyer, 960 A.2d 179 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2008).

Date of Decision: 10/22/08


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Vaughn v. ZHB of the Township of Shaler (2008)

Property owners were entitled to a variance by estoppel because they relied on representations of the zoning officer and spent substantial amounts of money in the construction of a wall.

Vaughn v. ZHB of the Township of Shaler, (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2008).

Date of Decision: 4/2/08


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