On December 9, 2013 The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court reversed decisions of the Bedminster Township Building Code of Appeals Board and the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas and found that Rainbow Ridge Equestrian Center’s proposed barn with an area for exercising horses required no building permit. The Court adopted Benner and Wild’s position that an agricultural building may be both agricultural and commercial and remain exempt from permit requirements.
Edward M. Wild, Esquire, a partner at Benner and Wild Attorneys at Law who has represented developers, national and local businesses and property owners involved in zoning appeals and disputes, successfully argued to the Commonwealth Court that a barn building that has commercial attributes can maintain its status as an agricultural building so long as access to some members of the public is regulated through restrictions that included gates and locked key pads and the members of the public had contracts with Rainbow Ridge. Attorney Wild convinced the Court that the partially constructed barn would not be open to the public any more than a private residence is open to the public.
Rainbow Ridge had partially constructed the barn without a permit and was forced to stop work when Bedminster Township issued a Stop Work Order. Rainbow Ridge expects to complete the barn as soon as possible. Wild stated that the Commonwealth Court decision properly applied the Uniform Construction Code. It is unknown whether Bedminster Township will seek to further appeal the zoning matter to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Rainbow Ridge provides private boarding, equestrian riding and care lessons, a therapeutic program for special needs children, and is used by a 4H Club and a Saddle Club. Rainbow Ridge is thankful that it can focus on its equestrian uses and that it does not have to meet the protracted and expensive permit requirements for an A3 Assembly Use or commercial riding arena under the International Building Code, as Bedminster Township demanded.
Wild’s practice concentrates in zoning and land use law, real estate law, and business law matters. Wild can be contacted at Benner and Wild, email@example.com; 215-230-4900. Wild believes that this important decision will create the requisite precedent that farm buildings, including equestrian buildings and other agricultural buildings can be built without over regulation, and cumbersome and expensive application processes, as the Pennsylvania General Assembly intended.