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Frustrated contractor sues Philadelphia-area township for $15M

A Greater Philadelphia contractor hoped to turn a former Delaware County furniture store into a youth sports and entertainment complex. The Pancoast Construction owner applied for a certificate of occupancy last fall. The application was rejected because the planned "Under 21 Social Club" apparently violated local zoning laws.

The contractor argued Concord Township cheated him of the legal right to use the commercial real estate site. The former Ethan Allen store was sold after the contractor's application was turned down.

The certificate of occupancy application promised the social club would provide a needed games and sports outlet for local youth, increased township and nearby business revenues and a minimum of 40 jobs. The business owner felt local government officials broke their own rules and "did him wrong" by denying the application.

A common pleas court rejected an appeal to have the township's land use decision overturned. A judge determined the contractor's claim was invalid and agreed the request went against land use rules in the Overlay District where the intended club was located.

The Chester County businessman then filed a $15 million lawsuit against the township for damages and "anticipated" legal fees. The amount represents profits the contractor said he might have earned by launching the youth club venture.

The businessman alleges the township is guilty of a breach of contract and civil rights violations. Township officials said the parties never signed a sales agreement.

Two million dollars of the civil complaint is designated for legal fees the contractor expects to pay to fight the township. The businessman filed the lawsuit without a lawyer's help. Local government officials want the contractor to reimburse for legal fees the township has incurred.

A real estate attorney could guide the businessman's case and provide guidance toward the letter of the law.

Source: delcotimes.com, "Chesco man suing Concord for $14M," Alex Rose, March 1, 2013

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