Posted by: Patricia Salkin | December 29, 2010

PA Appeals Court Upholds Rezoning and Dismisses Spot Zoning Claim

Following an in-depth study of Zoning Ordinance No. 99 by a zoning study committee, the committee concluded that there were confusing provisions that needed to be revised.  The proposed changes were published in local newspapers as well as on the Borough’s website.  The Borough Commission later recommended that Ordinance No. 144 be approved to include the amendments to Ordinance No. 99. Plaintiff appealed asserting that the new ordinance was invalid because the Council did not provide a notice of map change, the changes in the C-R district constituted spot zoning, and because the amendments were required to be initiated by Ordinance No. 99.  The Zoning Hearing Board denied plaintiff relief and plaintiff appealed to the trial court.  The trial court also denied plaintiff relief and determined that plaintiff had failed to show that the addition of newly permitted uses pursuant to Ordinance No. 144 was arbitrary or unreasonable. Plaintiff appealed.

The appeals court disagreed with plaintiff concerning the amendments not initiated by Ordinance No. 99.  The Court also disagreed with Plaintiff concerning the zoning map change.  Plaintiff specifically argued that the addition of multi-family structures in the C-R District constituted a zoning map change, which the Borough failed to provide notice of.  But the Court determined that the addition of permitted uses does not mean there has been a zoning map change.

Lastly, the Court disagreed with plaintiff as to the spot zoning claim.  The Court noted that in assessing spot zoning issues, it is imperative to look at whether the parcel in question is treated unjustifiably different than surrounding parcels. For plaintiff to have been successful on the spot zoning issue, he would have had to prove that the provisions in Ordinance No. 144 were arbitrary and had no relationship to public health or safety.  But the Court determined that it was reasonable for the Borough Council to conclude that adding new permitted uses to the C-R District would not be harmful to the community and as such, plaintiff’s assertions are not valid.

Takacs v. Indian Lake Borough Zoning Hearing Board, 2010 WL 5116376 (Pa.Cmwlth., 12/16/2010)

The opinion can be accessed at: http://www.aopc.org/OpPosting/Cwealth/out/46CD10_12-16-10.pdf


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