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Gorsline v. Board of Supervisors of Fairfield Township

ELR Citation: 45 ELR 20170
Nos. 1735 C.D. 2014, (Pa. Commw. Ct., 09/14/2015)

A Pennsylvania appellate court reversed a lower court order denying an energy company's application to construct and operate a natural gas well on land it has leased from a private landowner. The local board had granted the company a conditional use permit for the well, but the lower court set it aside, ruling that the record evidence did not support the board's conclusion. The lower court's ruling, however, was based upon a narrow view of what uses are appropriate under the zoning district. Here, the lower court erred in holding that the proposed use was not similar to a public service facility, which is expressly permitted in the zoning district and compatible with other uses permitted in the zoning district. The lower court also erred in holding that the proposed use conflicted with the general purpose of the zoning ordinance, which specifically authorizes extraction of minerals. Nor did the evidence show that the company's proposed well would present a detriment to the health and safety of the neighborhood. The company therefore satisfied the zoning ordinance's requirements for a conditional use permit.