The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania recently confirmed the standards by which an applicant can obtain a special exception to expand a nonconforming use on its property.

In Mercy v. Zoning Hearing Board of Cross Roads, an applicant filed an application with the Zoning Hearing Board seeking a special exception to expand an existing nonconforming use to include the storage and temporary parking of RVs on its property.  The Commonwealth Court affirmed the grant of the special exception with the following findings:

  • The property was used prior to the effective date of the Ordinance for storage of farm equipment and RVs.
  • The Applicant’s proposed use of the property is similar to the prior nonconforming use because both uses involve equipment storage on the Property, including RVs.
  • Though the board may have erred in finding the Applicant’s proposed expansion of a nonconforming use was required out of a business necessity, such potential error was harmless and does not require a reversal of the trial court’s decision.
  • The Applicant met its burden of satisfying all general and specific standards required to obtain a special exception under sections 504(f) and 624 of the Ordinance.

This case is helpful for applicants who desire to expand a nonconfoming use on their property.

If you should have any questions, please feel free to call Rob Gundlach to discuss at (215) 918-3636, or email him at