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Township of Schuylkill, PA
Chester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
There shall be a Zoning Hearing Board which shall consist of three members and up to three alternate members who shall be appointed by the Township Supervisors. The Township Supervisors shall designate one such member to serve until the first day of January following the effective date of this chapter, one until the first day of the second January thereafter, and one until the first day of the third January thereafter; shall appoint their successors on the expiration of their respective terms to serve three years, and shall fill any vacancy for the unexpired term of any member whose seat becomes vacant. The members of the Zoning Hearing Board shall be removable for cause by the Township Supervisors upon written charges and after public hearing. The word "Board" when used in this article shall mean the Zoning Hearing Board.
The Board shall elect its officers from its members, and officers shall serve annual terms as such and may succeed themselves. The Board may make, alter and rescind rules and forms for its procedure consistent with the provisions of this chapter and the laws of the commonwealth. The Board shall keep full public record of its business.
A. 
Hearings of the Board shall be held at the call of the Chairman and at such time as the Board may determine consistent with the laws of the commonwealth. The Chairman, or in his or her absence, the acting Chairman, 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 the parties. All hearings of the Board shall be open to the public. The Board shall keep a stenographic record of the proceedings, and a transcript of the proceedings and copies of graphic and written material received in evidence shall be made available to any party at cost. The vote of each member on each proceeding shall be indicated. All records of the hearing and other official actions shall be immediately filed with the Township Secretary and shall be a public record.
B. 
The hearing shall be held within 60 days from the date of the filing of a complete application, as determined by the Zoning Officer, unless the applicant has agreed, in writing, to an extension of time.
[Added 12-7-2011 by Ord. No. 2011-11]
The Board shall give notice as follows:
A. 
By publishing a notice thereof in a newspaper of general circulation within the Township once a week for two successive weeks prior to the date fixed for the hearing.
B. 
By mailing notice thereof to the applicant and to any person who has made timely request for same.
C. 
The notice herein required shall be conspicuously posted on the affected tract of land or building. Said notice shall be posted by the Township Zoning Administration Officer.
D. 
The notice herein required shall state the name of the applicant, the location of the lot or building and the general nature of the question involved. In addition thereto, when a hearing is required under § 370-202, the notice shall state that the validity of the ordinance or map is in question and shall note that a copy of the landowners' request, including plans and proposed amendments, may be examined by the public at the Township Building during regular business hours.
[Amended 1-7-2013 by Ord. No. 2013-01]
The Board shall have the jurisdiction as outlined in Section 909.1[1] of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10909.1.
An appeal to the Board under § 370-202 and proceedings to challenge an ordinance under § 370-202 may be filed with the Board in writing by the landowner affected, any officer of the Township or any person aggrieved. Requests for a special exception under § 370-202 and for a variance under § 370-202 may be filed with the Board by any landowner or any tenant with the permission of such landowner.
No aggrieved person shall be allowed to file any proceedings with the Board later than 30 days after:
A. 
A permit has been issued or refused or any other decision made by the Zoning Administration Officer; and
B. 
Any application for development, preliminary or final, has been approved by the Township Supervisors if such proceeding is designed to secure reversal or to limit approval in any matter.
The parties to the hearing shall be the Township Supervisors, any person affected by the application who has made timely appearance of record before the Board, and any other person, including civic or community organizations permitted to appear by the Board. The Board shall have power to require that all persons who wish to be considered parties enter appearances in writing on forms provided by the Board for that purpose. The aforementioned 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.
The Board shall render a written decision, or, when no decision is called for, make written findings on the application within 45 days after the close of the last hearing before the Board. A copy of the final decision, or where no decision is called for, of the findings shall be delivered to the applicant personally or mailed to him or her not later than the day following its date. A copy shall be filed with the Township Zoning Administration Officer as a matter of public record and for examination by the parties to the hearing. A copy shall be filed with the Township Supervisors, to be read at their public meetings, and to the chairman of the Township Planning Commission.
Applications for special exceptions and variances shall be made on forms provided by the Township Supervisors. An application for a special exception or variance from the terms of this chapter may be filed with the Board, and shall state:
A. 
The name and address of the applicant.
B. 
The name and address of the owner of the real estate to be affected by the proposed exception or variance.
C. 
A brief description and location of the real estate to be affected by the proposed change.
D. 
A statement of the present zoning classification of the real estate in question, the improvements thereon, and the present use thereof.
E. 
A statement of the section of this chapter under or from which the exception or variance requested may be authorized, and reasons why it should be granted.
F. 
A reasonably accurate description of the present improvements and the additions intended to be made under the application or appeal, if any, indicating the size of such proposed improvements, material and general construction thereof. In addition, there shall be attached a plot plan to scale of the real estate to be affected, indicating the location and size of the lot and size of improvements now erected and proposed to be erected thereon.
G. 
An indication whether the parcel contains a historic site or is within the Historic Site Overlay District.
In any instance where the Zoning Hearing Board approves a special exception in accordance with the provision of this chapter, the Board shall, among other things:
A. 
Assure itself that the proposed change is consistent with the spirit, purpose and intent of this chapter.
B. 
Determine that the proposed changes will not substantially injure or detract from the use of the neighborhood property or from the character of the neighborhood, and that the use of the property adjacent to the area included in the proposed change or plan is adequately safeguarded.
C. 
Determine that the proposed changes will serve the best interests of the Township, the convenience of the community (where applicable) and the public welfare.
D. 
Consider the effect of the proposed change upon the logical efficient, and economical extension of public services, and facilities such as public water, sewers, police and fire protection, and public schools.
E. 
Be guided in its study, review and recommendations by sound standards or subdivision practice, where applicable.
F. 
Guide the development of state and county highway frontage insofar as possible so as to limit the total number of access points and encourage the frontage of buildings on parallel marginal roads or on roads perpendicular to the highway.
G. 
Consider the suitability of the proposed location with respect to probable effects upon highway traffic, and assure adequate access arrangements in order to protect highways from undue congestion and hazard.
H. 
Ascertain the adequacy of sanitation and public safety provisions, where applicable, and require a certificate of adequacy of sewage and water facilities from the County Department of Health or the appropriate governmental health agency in any case required herein or deemed advisable.
I. 
Require that all commercial or industrial parking, loading, access or service areas shall be adequately illuminated at night while in use, and that such lighting, including sign lighting, shall be arranged so as to protect the highway and neighboring properties from discomfort or hazardous interference of any kind.
J. 
Impose such conditions, in addition to those required, as are necessary to assure that the general purpose and intent of this chapter is complied with, which conditions may include, but are not limited to, harmonious design of buildings, planting and its maintenance as a sight or sound screen, and the minimizing of noxious, offensive, or hazardous elements.
K. 
Review the recommendations of the Planning Commission on the proposed development plan, where such plan is required. The Board shall not be bound by which recommendations nor shall the Board be bound by the action of the Township Supervisors in relation to the development plan.[1]
[1]
Note: The ZHB is required to take notice of written materials only if the appellant is allowed an ability to review it first, or if the material is read into the record by the author.
A. 
In any instance where the Board is required to hear a request for a variance, a variance may be granted, provided the following findings are made where relevant in a given case:
(1) 
There are unique physical circumstances or conditions, including irregularity, narrowness, or shallowness of lot size, of shape, or exceptional topographical or other physical conditions peculiar 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 neighborhood or 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 the provisions of this chapter and that the authorization of a variance is therefore necessary to enable the reasonable use of the property;
(3) 
That such unnecessary hardship has not been created by the appellant;
(4) 
That the variance, if authorized, 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 adjacent property, nor be detrimental to the public welfare; and
(5) 
That the variance, if authorized, will represent the minimum variance that will afford relief and will represent the least modification possible of the regulation in issue.
B. 
In granting any variance, the Board may attach such reasonable conditions and safeguards as it may deem necessary to implement the purpose of this chapter.
Unless otherwise specified by the Board, a special exception or variance shall expire if the applicant fails to obtain a building permit or a use and occupancy permit, as the case may be, within two years from the date of authorization thereof.
Any person aggrieved by a decision of the Board, or any taxpayer, or any officer of the Township, may within 30 days after any decision of the Board, appeal to the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County by petition, duly verified, setting forth that such decision is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law, specifying the grounds upon which he relies.