Pennsylvania Record

Friday, April 10, 2020

Northampton County property cannot receive tax break as a 'picnic grove,' state court affirms

By Karen Kidd | Feb 17, 2020

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HARRISBURG — A property owner in a Northampton County township won't be able to receive a tax break by classifying that property as a "picnic grove," a state court affirmed.

In its 16-page opinion issued Jan. 22, a Commonwealth Court three-judge panel affirmed an earlier Northampton County Common Pleas Court order that found that the property in Bath has not been used as a picnic grove in years and is not entitled to a variance.

"Because the township met its burden of proving the abandonment of the property's prior nonconforming use as a picnic grove, the trial court's order is affirmed," the opinion said.

Judge Patricia McCullough wrote the opinion in which judges Michael Wojcik and Bonni Brigance Leadbeater concurred.

PAJ Ventures appealed a Northampton County Common Pleas Court order that denied its appeal from an earlier Moore Township Zoning Hearing Board decision that PAJ Ventures' prior lawful nonconforming use of its property as a picnic grove had been abandoned.

The property is located on Liberty Street in Bath.

The dispute stems from PAJ Venture's zoning permit application in June 2017 to continue to use the property in an area zoned for rural agricultural use as a "picnic grove," according to the background portion of the opinion. The application was denied because the property's use as a picnic grove had been abandoned and that a picnic grove was not a permitted use in the in the rural agricultural zoned area.

PAJ Venture's appealed, but the zoning board found evidence that the property's use as a picnic grove had been abandoned as early as 2011 and denied the variance request.

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