Pennsylvania Zoning Special Exception

A special exception is not an exception to a zoning ordinance, but rather it is a use to which the applicant is entitled if it meets the objective standards in the zoning ordinance for special exception approval. In Re Thompson, 896 A.2d 659 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2006), petition for allowance of appeal denied, 591 Pa. 669, 916 A.2d 636 (2007). The allowance of a special exception use in a particular zoning district indicates legislative acceptance that the use is consistent with the municipality's zoning plan and that the special exception use, if the applicable objective standards are met, does not adversely affect the public interest of health, safety and welfare. Broussard v. Zoning Hearing Board of Adjustment of the City of Pittsburgh, 831 A.2d 764, 772 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2003), affirmed, 589 Pa. 71, 907 A.2d 494 (2006). The applicant has the burden of proving that the proposed use is a type permitted by special exception and that the proposed use complies with the requirements in the ordinance for such a special exception. Agnew, 837 A.2d at 637. Once the applicant shows compliance with the specific requirements of the ordinance, the burden shifts to the protestors to prove that the proposed use will have an adverse effect on the general public. Id. Section 906 of the Ordinance provides the standards and controls applicable to recreational uses. It includes setback requirements, screening and buffering requirements, ground cover standards, parking facility standards and specifications, parking area and driveway lighting requirements. Section 1105.2C of the Ordinance provides that an applicant for special exception shall demonstrate that: such use shall not adversely affect the character of the general neighborhood, nor the conservation of property values, nor the health and safety of residents or workers on adjacent properties and in the general neighborhood. (R.R. at 215a). Section 1105.2F of the Ordinance provides that the applicant shall also demonstrate that "the granting of the Special Exception shall be consistent with the Township Comprehensive Plan." (R.R. at 215a).