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04/16/2017

Hill Wallack LLP partner Barbara M. Kirk wins appeal on significant zoning case

Barbara M. Kirk represented Lower Makefield Township Zoning Hearing Board with regard to a zoning application filed by a large animal veterinarian who wanted to purchase approximately 5 acres of land being sold by the Township within a residential zoning district. The applicant proposed to convert the property into an “equine medical boarding facility” for the treatment of ill horses. The application included conversion of the existing historical farmhouse into offices and administrative building, retention of a couple of existing barns for use for treatment of the horses, and the construction of a new residence in the rear with additional barn structures to house the various medical procedures that would be used for the treatment of horses.

Many local residents objected to the application due to the residential nature of the property and the overly broad construction proposed for the property. Eventually the Zoning Hearing Board denied the application, and the applicant appealed to the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas. After briefs were submitted, the Bucks County judge affirmed the Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) decision, and then applicant appealed to the appellate courts (Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania). 

Again briefs were prepared and submitted with the assistance of Hill Wallack associate Cassi G. Martin to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, and argument was scheduled before Commonwealth Court in mid-December 2016.

The Court’s decision again affirmed the ZHB’s decision and upheld the denial of the zoning variance requests for use and dimensions. Although the Commonwealth Court decision is not a published decision, it has persuasive value if referenced. Click here to view the Court’s decision.