Posted by: Patricia Salkin | August 9, 2017

PA Appeals Court Upholds Issuance of Violation Against the Repair and Storage of Race Cars on Residential Property

Property owners Alexander DiMattia and Nancy E. DiMattia appealed from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, which affirmed a decision of the Zoning Hearing Board of East Whiteland Township (ZHB). The ZHB sustained a notice of zoning ordinance violation in part and prohibited the DiMattia’s from using the garage and driveway on the residential property that they owned for the preparation, repair and transport of race cars.


On appeal, the court found that the property owners’ race car activities did not satisfy the requirements for an accessory use. Here, the principal permitted use of the Property was as a residence. Thus, the property owners’ building and maintenance of race cars could not be subordinate to or serve that principal use, because property owners did not reside on the property. Additionally, since they did not live on the property, and engaged in the race car work for their own benefit and enjoyment and not for their tenants, they could not satisfy the requirement that the use “contributes to the comfort, convenience, or necessity of occupants” of the residence. Moreover, the court found that even had they resided on the property, their race car activities would not constitute a lawful accessory use under the Zoning Ordinance because those activities were not “clearly incidental to and customarily found in connection with” residential properties. Instead, the record showed that the property owners’ race car work was a regular, daily activity more analogous to a vehicle repair shop in its intensity than to a homeowner working on his own vehicle in his garage. Accordingly, the court affirmed the order of the trial court.

DiMattia v Zoning Hearing Board of East Whiteland Township, 2017 WL 3399931 (PA Cmwlth 8/9/2017)

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