A Zoning Hearing Board consisting of three members shall be appointed by Borough Council in the manner prescribed by law.
The Zoning Hearing Board shall have the following powers:
To hear and decide special exceptions to the terms of this chapter upon which the Board is required to pass under this chapter, in harmony with the general purpose and intent of this chapter and the 1972 Comprehensive Plan, in accordance with the general or specific rules contained herein, and subject to appropriate conditions and safeguards.
To authorize, upon appeal in accordance with the Municipalities Planning Code, in specific cases, a variance from the terms of this chapter. In exercising the above mentioned powers, the Zoning Hearing Board may reverse or affirm, wholly or partially, or may modify the order, requirement or decision, or determination appealed from, and may make such order, requirement, decision, or determination as ought to be made, and, to that end, shall have all the powers of the officer from whom the appeal is taken. Notice of the Board's decision shall be mailed to the applicant, the property owner, Borough Council and other interested parties.
The Zoning Hearing Board shall adopt rules or procedure in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. Such rules shall be in writing (a copy of which is to be filed with Borough Council) and shall include, but shall not be limited to, the manner of filing appeals or applications for special exceptions and variances from the terms of this chapter.
Meetings of the Zoning Hearing Board shall be held at the call of the Chairman and at such other times as the Board may determine. Such Chairman, or, in his absence, the acting Chairman may administer oaths, and compel the attendance of witnesses. All meetings of the Board shall be open to the public. The Board shall keep minutes of its proceedings, showing the vote of each member upon each question or if absent or failing to vote, indicating such fact, and shall keep records of its examinations and other official actions, all of which shall be immediately filed in the office of the Board and shall be a public record.
Appeals to the Zoning Hearing Board may be taken by any person aggrieved, or by any officer of the Borough affected by any decision of the officer administering the Zoning Chapter. Such appeal shall be taken, within 30 days of the action complained of, 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 the papers constituting the record upon which the action appealed from was taken. The appropriate fee, established by the Borough, shall be paid in advance for each appeal or application to the Zoning Hearing Board for a special exception or variance, plus expenses and costs involved in conducting said hearings. Expenses and costs may include, but are not limited to, such items as advertising, court reporter attendance, transcripts of proceedings, clerical costs, attorney fees, etc., but are not to include compensation of the Board members for their attendance at the initial hearing.
Upon the filing with the Zoning Hearing Board of an appeal or of an application for a special exception or for a variance from the terms of this chapter, the Zoning Hearing Board shall fix a reasonable time and place for a public hearing thereon and shall give public notice thereof, as well as due notice to the parties in interest, and shall decide the same within 45 days after the hearing or if said hearing is continued within 45 days after said continued hearing. If the Zoning Hearing Board does not make a decision within 45 days after the hearing or continued hearing, it shall be deemed that the Board has decided in favor of the person aggrieved or affected who is seeking relief. Any party may appear at a public hearing in person or by agent or attorney. The notice of public hearing shall state the location of the building or lot and the general nature of the question involved and shall be given as follows:
By mailing a notice thereof to the Borough Council.
By mailing a notice thereof to every resident or association of residents of the Borough who shall have registered his name and address for this purpose with the Zoning Hearing Board or Borough Secretary.
By mailing a notice thereof to the owner, if his residence is known, or to the occupant of every lot on the same street within 500 feet of the lot in question and of every lot not on the same street within 150 feet of said lot, provided that failure to mail the notice required by this section shall not invalidate any action taken by the Zoning Hearing Board.
At any public hearing on a proposed amendment, full opportunity to be heard shall be given to any property owner or resident of the Borough who chooses to be identified and sworn, and offers nonrepetitive pertinent testimony for the record.
Unless otherwise specified by the Board, a special exception or variance shall expire if the applicant fails to obtain a zoning or building permit within six months from the date of authorization thereof or fails to commence active work within six months from the date of issuance of the permit for such work.
In any instance where the Zoning Hearing Board is required to consider a request for a special exception or variance in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, the Board shall:
Give full consideration to the size, scope, extent and character of the exception or variance desired and assure itself that such request is consistent with the plan for future land use in Chester Heights Borough and will promote the harmonious and orderly development of the district in which it is located.
Consider the suitability of the property for the use desired.
Take into consideration the character and type of development in the area surrounding the location for which the request is made and determine that the proposed change or modification, if permitted, will constitute an appropriate use in the area and will not substantially injure or detract from the use of surrounding property or from the character of the neighborhood; consider, among other things, the zoning classification of the area affected; the effect, if any, on other properties in the area; the number, extent and scope of nonconforming uses in the area; and the presence or the absence in the neighborhood of conditions or uses which are the same or similar in character to the condition or use for which applicant seeks approval.
Consider the suitability of the proposed location of a use with respect to traffic and highways in the area, and insure that adequate access and off-street parking arrangements are provided in order to protect major streets and highways from undue congestion and hazard; guide the development of major street or highway frontage insofar as possible so as to limit the total number of access points, and encourage the frontage of building on parallel marginal roads or on roads perpendicular to the major street or highway.
Make certain that the proposed change is reasonable in terms of the logical, efficient, and economical extension of public services and facilities, such as public water, sewers, police, fire protection, and public schools, and assure adequate arrangements for sanitation in specific instances.
With respect to a variance, determine that:
There are special circumstances or conditions applying to the land or building for which the variance is sought which are such that the application of the provisions of this chapter would deprive the applicant of the reasonable use of his property.
The unique circumstances for which the variance is sought were not created by the actions or inactions of the present or former owners of the property or are not due to or the result of general conditions in the district in which the property is located.
Impose such conditions as to insure that the general purpose and intent of the Zoning Chapter is complied with and that the use of the property adjacent to the area included in the proposed change or modification is adequately safeguarded, which conditions may relate to, but are not limited to, harmonious design of buildings, aesthetics, planting and its maintenance as a sight or sound screen, landscaping, hours of operation, lighting, numbers of persons involved, allied activities, ventilation, noise, sanitation, safety, smoke and fume control and the minimizing of noxious, offensive or hazardous elements.
In respect to variances, determine that the proposed change will serve the best interest of the Borough, the convenience of the community (where applicable), and the public health, safety and general welfare.