Should New Owner Be Denied a Variance Solely Because He Got the Property at a Discount ?
In King v. Zoning Hearing Board of Towamencin Township, 154 Pa. Commw. 109, 622 A.2d 435 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1993), the Court referred to its earlier decision in Appeal of Grace Building Co., Inc., 39 Pa. Commw. 552, 395 A.2d 1049 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1979), in which the Court "held that the new owner should not be denied a variance solely because he got the property at a discount and knew of its non-conformity." King, 622 A.2d at 438.
In King, the Court noted that "the trial court denied the variance not solely because the landowner knew of the property's non-conformity, but because the landowner knew or should have known that Parcel a was not meant to be held in single and separate ownership, but to be part of the conforming lots." Id. at 438.
While the Court recognized, based upon the facts of the case, that the "court will not grant a variance solely because of economic hardship," id. at 439, the basis of the Court's decision was that a subsequent buyer of a sub-sized lot, that the subdivider intended to merge with another conforming lot, bears the risk that he will not be able to obtain variance relief.