Is Evidence of Intent to Abandon Required for Determination of Abandonment of a Nonconforming Use of Property ?

In Grace Building Co., Inc. v. Zoning Hearing Board of City of Allentown, 38 Pa. Commw. 193, 392 A.2d 892 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1978), the Court reversed a determination of abandonment of a nonconforming use of a property as a social club. The zoning ordinance contained a discontinuance provision similar to that involved in the present case, stating that a nonconforming use that remained unoccupied or unused during any continuous period of twenty-four months should not be occupied except by a use that was in conformity. The issue was whether the nonconforming use had been abandoned either when the last tenant ceased operation or when the property remained unoccupied for two years. The Court restated that intent to abandon may be inferred from the expiration of a designated period, but it is still necessary to show concurrent overt acts or failures to act indicating abandonment. The record showed no evidence of intent to abandon; rather, it showed a continuing and ultimately successful effort to maintain the use as a social club.