Cases in Real Estate
is a weekly update on real estate law, with legal principles illustrated and
explained by lawsuits from around the country. The topics are wide-ranging for
appeal to a broad spectrum of readers including lawyers, homeowners, investors
and the general public. Andrea Lee Negroni, a Washington DC
attorney and legal writer with 25 years of experience in financial services and
mortgage law, contributes the case summaries.
Real Cases in Real Estate will learn and be entertained by lawsuits
involving nuisance, trespass, zoning violations, deed restrictions, title
insurance, public utilities, mechanics liens, construction defects, adverse
possession, foreclosure and eviction, divorce and marital property rights,
tenants' rights, and more. Real Cases in Real Estate uncovers the
unpredictable, amusing, and sometimes outrageous disputes between next-door
neighbors, contractors and homeowners, condo boards and residents, real estate
brokers and homebuyers, and zoning administrators and developers.
cited case summary highlights the essential law of the case and explains the
principal legal theories and concepts relevant to the outcome. Plain language
treatment makes Real Cases in Real Estate accessible to lawyers and
follow real estate law professionally or as a hobby, you'll find something new
and useful every week in Real Cases in Real Estate.
for the Week of July 17th, 2012
A Haunted House
Qualifies as a Recreational Building Where the Zoning Ordinance Does Not Define
Recreation or Recreational Buildings.
objected to a proposed "haunted house" approved by the board of
zoning of East Vincent Township, Pennsylvania. In a land use appeal following
the zoning approval, the Common Pleas Court of Chester County, Pennsylvania
observed that the terms "recreation" and "recreation
building" are not defined in the zoning ordinance. However, the Court
agreed with the zoning board that the proposed "haunted house" was a
recreational use, as it would involve "inviting patrons, for a fee, to
tour the building ... to scare, amuse, thrill and excite them. To further those
purposes, actors, sound effects and other special effects are utilized."
identified useful governing principles for construing zoning ordinances, which
are helpful to property owners in ambiguous situations. First, "whether a
proposed use falls within a category of permitted uses is a question of law...
Zoning ordinances are to be construed expansively, affording the landowner the
broadest possible use and enjoyment of his land." Second, "undefined
terms are given their plain meaning and doubt is resolved in favor of the
landowner and the least restrictive use of the land." The court upheld the
haunted house as a recreational use and affirmed the zoning board's approval of
the haunted house as a recreational building.
SAUL RIVKIN et al. vs EAST VINCENT TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD, 2011
Pa. Dist. & Cnty. Dec. LEXIS 429 (12/29/2011) [enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers]
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