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Zoning classifications are largely within the judgment of the legislative body and the exercise of that judgment will not be interfered with by the courts except where it is obvious that the classification has no substantial relationship to public health, safety, morals or general welfare. When the constitutionality of a zoning ordinance is attacked, there is a presumption that the ordinance is valid and that the municipal legislative body acted with the purpose of serving the public welfare. The burden is on the challenger to rebut this presumption and prove that the ordinance in question is clearly unconstitutional.
Appellee, Bessie Layne, requested permission to occupy the house she leased as a boarding house in a residential area allowing rooming houses. Appellant, Zoning Board of Adjustment of the City of Pittsburgh, denied appellee’s petition on the basis of 937.02 of the Pittsburgh Code. The lower court reversed appellant’s decision, holding that boarding homes could not be rationally excluded from the R-4 residential districts when rooming houses were allowed in such districts. Therefore, the lower court held that § 937.02 of the Pittsburgh Code was unconstitutional as violative of the equal protection of the law. Appellant sought review.
Was § 937.02 of the Pittsburgh Code unconstitutional for being violative of the equal protection of the law?
The order of the lower court was reversed and the decision of appellant board was reinstated denying appellee lessee permission to occupy the house she leased as a boarding house in a residential area allowing rooming houses because the distinction between the two uses was sufficiently related to a valid legislative purpose of excluding commercial institutions from residential areas. According to the court, the classification distinction between boarding and rooming houses was based on the availability of meal service, which invoked the city's health code, and that it was sufficiently related to the health, safety and general welfare of the community, so as not to offend the equal protection clause of the state's constitution.