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Walck v. Lower Towamensing Township Zoning Hearing Board

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania
942 A.2d 200 (2008)


Facts

Barbara Walck (plaintiff) owned property (the Property) leased by Edgar Lorah Jr. (plaintiff) within the R-1 residential district of Lower Towamensing Township (the Township). Section 432 of the Township’s zoning ordinance prohibited intensive agriculture, including raw-material storage and processing, within the R-1 district. After numerous complaints regarding more than 100 tons of sewage sludge that had been on the Property for five months, the Township’s zoning officer issued an enforcement notice against Walck, requiring Walck and Lorah to cease using the Property to store, stockpile, and dump solid waste. Lorah appealed, and after hearing testimony, the Lower Towamensing Township Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) (defendant) upheld the enforcement notice. The ZHB held that, contrary to Lorah’s argument, stockpiling sewage sludge was not simply agriculture, but rather was raw-material storage constituting intensive agriculture. The ZHB also rejected Lorah’s argument that the state’s Nutrient Management Act (NMA) preempted § 432, because the NMA only applied to Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, and Lorah had stated that he had no animals on the Property. Walck and Lorah brought suit, arguing that the ZHB had erred in upholding the enforcement notice.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Simpson, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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