Borough of Mars, PA
Butler County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents

§ 270-83 Powers and duties.

A. 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall hold hearings on appeals from rulings of the Zoning Officer or of the Planning Commission, challenges to the validity of this chapter or to the Zoning Map,[1] and requests for variances, special exceptions or changes to other nonconforming uses. The hearing shall be held within 45 days of receipt of written request for a hearing. Written request must be by registered mail or hand delivered to the Borough Secretary for delivery to the Zoning Hearing Board. All prescribed fees must be paid prior to the hearing.
[1]:
Editor's Note: The Zoning Map is on file in the Borough offices.
B. 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall hear and decide appeals where it is alleged that the Zoning Officer or the Planning Commission has failed to follow prescribed procedures or has misinterpreted or misapplied any provision of a valid code or map.
C. 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall hear challenges to the validity of this chapter or the Zoning Map, except challenges based on an alleged defect in the process of enactment or adoption. The Zoning Hearing Board shall decide all contested questions and shall make findings on all relevant issues of fact, which shall become part of the record on appeal to the Court of Common Pleas.
D. 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall retain legal counsel independent of the Borough Solicitor. Legal counsel or engineering or other professional advisors, as may be necessary, shall be retained by the Zoning Hearing Board as needed. The reasonable cost of professional advisors shall be borne by the applicant.
E. 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall hear and decide requests for variances where it is alleged that the provisions of this chapter inflict unnecessary hardship upon the applicant. The Zoning Hearing Board may grant a variance, provided the following findings are made where relevant in a given case:
(1) 
That there are unique physical circumstances or conditions, including irregularity, narrowness, or shallowness of lot size or shape, or exceptional topographical or other physical peculiarity to the particular property, and that the unnecessary hardship is due to such conditions and not the circumstances or conditions generally created by the provisions of this chapter in the district in which the property is located;
(2) 
That, because of such physical circumstances or conditions, there is no possibility that the property can be developed in strict conformity with this chapter, and that the authorization of a variance is therefore necessary to enable the reasonable use of the property;
(3) 
That the unnecessary hardship has not been created by the applicant;
(4) 
That the variance, if granted, will not alter the essential character of the neighborhood or district in which the property is located, nor substantially or permanently impair the appropriate use or development of the adjacent property, nor be detrimental to the public welfare;
(5) 
That the variance not be based on economies of developing the project; and
(6) 
That the variance, if granted, will represent the minimum variance that will afford relief and will represent the least modification possible of the regulation in issue. In granting any variance, the Zoning Hearing Board may attach such reasonable conditions and safeguards as it may deem necessary to implement the purposes of this chapter.
F. 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall hear and decide requests for special exceptions, if any, provided for in this chapter, as amended. The decision shall be based on the standards and criteria stated in this Code. In granting a special exception, the Zoning Hearing Board may attach such reasonable conditions as it may deem necessary to implement the purpose of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code[2] and this chapter.
[2]:
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10101 et seq.
G. 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall hear and decide requests for a change from an existing nonconforming use to another nonconforming use. The proposed use may not detract from the character of the neighborhood to a greater extent than the existing nonconforming use. The Zoning Hearing Board shall evaluate any change in hours of operation, extent of activity, traffic generated, noise, odors and any other appropriate matters in deciding if the proposed use is or is not more nonconforming than the existing nonconforming use. In permitting such a change, the Board may require appropriate conditions and safeguards as may be reasonable.
H. 
Hearings.
(1) 
The time and place of the hearing and the nature of the matter to be considered at a hearing shall be given to the public, the applicant, the Zoning Officer, the Borough Secretary and any person who has made a timely request for the same. In the event of a dispute with the rulings of the Planning Commission, challenges to the validity of this chapter or to the Zoning Map, and requests for variances, special exceptions or changes to other nonconforming uses, the Chairman of the Planning Commission shall also be notified. The notice shall be published once a week for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper in general circulation in the Borough, with the first advertisement not more than 30 days nor less than 14 days prior to the hearing. Notice shall be posted at the Borough building and shall be conspicuously posted on that part of the property's perimeter which abuts the street.
(2) 
The parties to the hearing shall be the Borough of Mars, any person affected by the application and who has made a timely appearance of record before the Zoning Hearing Board and any other person, including civic or community organizations permitted to appear by the Zoning Hearing Board. The Zoning Hearing Board shall have the power to require that all persons who wish to be considered parties to the hearing file an "Entry of Appearance" form provided at the hearing. The parties shall have the right to be represented by counsel and shall be afforded the opportunity to respond and present evidence and argument and cross-examine adverse witnesses on all relevant issues.
(3) 
The Chairman or the Vice Chairman of the Zoning Hearing Board shall have the power to administer oaths and issue subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of relevant documents and papers, including witnesses and documents requested by any recognized parties. Formal rules of evidence shall not apply, but irrelevant, immaterial or unduly repetitious evidence may be excluded.
(4) 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall not communicate directly or indirectly with any party or their representative in connection with any issue involved except upon notice and opportunity for all parties to participate, shall not take notice of any communication, reports, staff memorandum, or other materials unless all parties are afforded an opportunity to contest the materials, and shall not inspect the site or its surroundings after the commencement of the hearings with any party or their representative unless all parties are given an opportunity to be present.
(5) 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall keep a stenographic or recorded record of the proceedings. A transcript of the proceedings and copies of the graphic or written material received in evidence shall be made available to any party at cost.
(6) 
A copy of the final decision and/or findings shall be mailed to or hand delivered to the applicant not later than the day following the date of the decision. The Zoning Hearing Board shall provide a brief notice of the decision or findings to all other persons who have filed an "Entry of Appearance" form at the hearing and have filed a request for a copy of the decision. Should more than 45 days elapse between the receipt of a written request for a hearing and the start of the hearing or between the end of the last hearing and a decision, a decision shall be deemed to have been in favor of the applicant, unless the applicant has agreed, in writing, to an extension of time. If this happens, the Borough shall give public notice of such a decision within 10 days.
(7) 
Any decision or findings of the Zoning Hearing Board may be appealed to the Court of Common Pleas by any party properly signed into the hearing with an "Entry of Appearance" form available at the hearing within 30 days from the date of the decision or findings.
I. 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall hear and decide appeals from and review any order, requirement, decision or determination made by the Zoning Officer in the administration of this chapter.
J. 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall hear and decide all matters referred to it or upon which it is required to pass under this chapter.
K. 
The Zoning Hearing Board may issue special permits for any of the uses for which this chapter requires the obtaining of such permits. In granting any special permit, the Board shall prescribe any conditions that it deems to be necessary or desirable for the public interest. No special permit shall be granted by the Zoning Hearing Board unless it finds that the use for which such permit is sought will not be injurious to the neighborhood or otherwise detrimental to the public welfare and will be in harmony with the general purpose of this chapter.
L. 
The Zoning Hearing Board may adopt or vary the strict application of any requirements of this chapter in the case of irregular, narrow, shallow or steep lots, or other physical conditions whereby such strict application would result in practical difficulty or unnecessary hardship that would deprive the owner of the reasonable use of the land or building involved, but in no other case.
(1) 
No such variance in the strict application of any provision of this chapter shall be granted by the Zoning Hearing Board unless it finds that there are special circumstances or conditions which are such that the strict application of the provisions of this chapter would deprive the applicant of the reasonable use of land or buildings.
(2) 
The granting of any variance shall be in harmony with the general purpose and intent of this chapter and shall not be injurious to the neighborhood or otherwise detrimental to the public welfare.

§ 270-84 Appeals procedure.

The procedure of the Zoning Hearing Board shall be governed by the provisions of applicable laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and such rules, not inconsistent herewith, as the Board may adopt. In general, the procedure for appeal from action of the Zoning Officer shall be as follows:
A. 
Any appeal from the requirements of this chapter shall be taken by filing with the officer from whom the appeal is taken and with the Zoning Hearing Board a notice of appeal specifying the grounds thereof. The officer from whom the appeal is taken shall forthwith transmit to the Board all of the documentary material constituting the record upon which the action appealed was taken.
B. 
Each appeal shall be tried on its merits at a public hearing. Notice of such appeal shall be given by publishing in a newspaper of general circulation in the Borough of Mars and in accordance with the applicable law. Written notice to all landowners within 150 feet in all directions of the subject property shall be provided by registered mail. applicants shall provide a list of all adjacent landowners to the Borough Secretary. The Board shall give the additional notice required by law to all parties in interest, and they may join any hearing for the purpose of giving such further notice.
C. 
The Planning Commission shall furnish all pertinent narrative material, maps, charts and other data relative to the problem involved for reference by all concerned. The Board may join any hearing for the purpose of reviewing such data as may be pertinent to the problem involved and to request interpretations of said data by a representative of the Planning Commission.
D. 
The Board shall decide each appeal within a reasonable time, and notice thereof shall be given to all parties in interest. The Board's decision shall be immediately filed in its office and be a public record. In the exercise of its functions upon such appeals or upon exceptions, the Board may, in conformity of the law, reverse or affirm, wholly or partly, or modify the order, requirement, decision or determination as, in its opinion, ought to be made.
E. 
Any person aggrieved by any decision of the Board or any municipal officer affected thereby may appeal therefrom within 30 days to the Court of Common Pleas as provided by law.