Marshall v. Archdiocese of Philadelphia (majority)Annotate this Case
In 2010, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia filed an Application for Zoning/Use Registration Permit with the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections ("L&I") for conversion of the Nativity B.V.M. Elementary School into a 63-unit, one-bedroom apartment complex for low income senior citizens. The school was built in 1912 and operated by the Archdiocese in legal non-conformance with subsequently enacted zoning codes until 2008, when it had been closed due to declining enrollment and insufficient revenue. In 2009, the Archdiocese received funding under the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly program of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") to convert the school to senior housing. L&I denied the Archdiocese's Application for Zoning/Use Registration Permit as not in compliance with several provisions of the Philadelphia Zoning Code. The Archdiocese appealed to the City of Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment ("ZBA") for use and dimensional variances. The issue this case presented to the Supreme Court was whether the Commonwealth Court applied an improper standard in reversing the ZBA's grant of a variance. After careful review of the Commonwealth Court's opinion the Court concluded that the court erred by relying on an improper standard for unnecessary hardship and by substituting its judgment for that of the ZBA, thereby applying an incorrect standard of review.