Dipal Corp. v. Chartiers Twp. Zoning Hearing Bd.

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court applied the doctrine of natural expansion to this zoning dispute. Dipal Corp. leased a single one-story building, within which Dipal operated two separate businesses–Quick Stop Food Mart and Gabby’s Black and Gold bar/restaurant. Dipal wished to expand Quick Stop’s business to include the sale of alcohol and accordingly sought and received approval from the Pa. Liquor Control Board to sell beer and wine at Quick Stop under the same liquor license that it uses for Gabby’s. However, a condition of that approval was that Dipal added seating within the convenience store. After the seating was added, a zoning officer sent a letter stating Dipal had improperly expanded the nonconforming use of the property. Dipal filed an appeal from the Zoning Officer’s interpretation and applied for an expansion of Quick Stop’s nonconforming use. The local Zoning Hearing Board denied Dipal’s appeal and request for expansion of Quick Stop’s nonconforming use. The trial court affirmed. The Commonwealth Court reversed, finding that Dipal presented evidence to support its position that the addition of the seating area was a natural and reasonable expansion of its existing nonconforming use. The Court concluded that critical portions of the Board’s decision were unsupported by substantial evidence. The Board abused its discretion and erred as a matter of law in denying Dipal’s application to expand its existing nonconforming use.

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