Real Cases in Real Estate By Andrea Lee Negroni, Esq. – July 17th, 2012 Update

Real Cases in Real Estate By Andrea Lee Negroni, Esq. – July 17th, 2012 Update

Real 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.

Followers of 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.

Each fully 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 laymen alike.

Whether you follow real estate law professionally or as a hobby, you'll find something new and useful every week in Real Cases in Real Estate.

Updates 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.

Several parties 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."

The court 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 subscribers]


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