Scenic Philadelphia and FDR Park v. Zoning Board of Philadelphia — 772 A.2d 1040

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania affirmed a Court of Common Pleas determination reversing the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment’s order granting Conrail variances to erect  outdoor advertising signs on its property adjacent to Interstate Route I-95 in South Philadelphia.

The primary issue here was whether substantial evidence supported the Board’s findings that Conrail would suffer unnecessary hardship if the variances were denied.

Noting that the burden of proof falls squarely on the party seeking a variance, the Court held that Conrail was unable to show unnecessary hardship because it could not show any unique physical circumstances or conditions justifying the variance.

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Scenic Phila v. Zoning Bd. of Phil: 417 N. 7th St Wall Wrap

Scenic Philadelphia, Mary Crawley Tracy, Old City Civic Association, and Kensington South Neighborhood Advisory Council V. The Zoning Board of Adjustment, the City of Philadelphia, Callowhill Center Associates and Metro Lights, LLC

The Commonwealth Court affirmed a trial court decision reversing the Board’s decision to grant a variance because the applicants did not suffer an undue hardship. Noting that the property would maintain 70 – 80% occupancy without the variance, the Court determined that the fact that the variance would allow the property owner to raise additional funds to pay for needed renovations does not meet the level of undue hardship.

In making this determination, the Court noted relied on the rule that financial hardship alone is not a sufficient basis for granting a variance; a variance will only be granted if they are able to show that property will be rendered valueless. Thus, property owners do not have a right to utilize land for their highest and best financial gain. The loss of rental income from disallowed outdoor advertising signs was not an unnecessary hardship, so the Trial Court was correct in overturning the Board’s decision to grant a variance.

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1200 Byberry — 713 A.2d 135 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1998)

Scenic Philadelphia v. Zoning Board of Adjustment of the City of Philadelphia, The City of Philadelphia and Revere National Corporation

In this case, the Court rejected Applicant’s argument that it suffered undue hardship because its property was not well-suited for industrial use by noting alternative industrial uses for the property.

To reach this goal it examined the elements that a party seeking a variance must prove: (1) that unnecessary hardship will result if the variance is denied, and that the hardship must be unique or peculiar to the property as distinguished from a hardship arising from the impact of zoning regulations on an entire district, and (2) that the proposed use will not be contrary to the public interest. Relying on these rules, it held that a property that was zone for industrial use did not suffer undue hardship when there were economically viable uses for the property.

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200′ West of Schuylkill Expressway — 787 A.2d 1123 (Pa. Commw. 2001)

Scenic Philadelphia, Mary Cawley Tracy, David Cohen, Powelton Village Civic Association, Center City Civic Association and Jack Minnis v. Zoning Board of Adjustment, City of Philadelphia, Amtrak National Railroad Passenger Corp., and Interstate Outdoor Advertising; Appeal of: Amtrak National Railroad Passenger Corp. and Interstate Outdoor Advertising

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