Detwiler v. Zoning Hearing Board

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

596 A.2d 1156 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 1991)

Applicants for a zoning variance are required to show that the variance will not be adverse to the public interest and is necessary to relieve an unnecessary hardship that is not self-inflicted and that uniquely affects the property in question.

Relevant Facts

Donald and Mary Miller (the Millers) owned an odd-shaped lot in an area zoned for residential use. The Millers grew hay and kept some animals on the lot. The lot was across the street from a historic house owned by Philip and Babette Detwiler (the plaintiffs). The Millers wanted to build a house on their own lot, but Lower Salford Township's rear setback line requirement uniquely reduced the odd-shaped lot's buildable footprint. The Millers applied to the Zoning Hearing Board of Lower Salford Township, Pennsylvania (the defendant), for a variance to reduce the rear setback line from 75 feet to 40 feet. The plaintiffs opposed the application on the grounds that a variance would reduce the value of their historic house as an asset to the community. The defendants found that (a) without a variance, it would be impossible for the Millers to build their house and (b) that the variance would have no discernible negative impact on neighboring properties. When the board granted the variance, the plaintiffs sued. The Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County affirmed the board's decision. Subsequently, the plaintiffs appealed to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.

Issue

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Holding & Reasoning

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Concurrence

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Dissent

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Last updated:

December 3, 2020

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Procedural History

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Citations

596 A.2d 1156 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 1991)