Borough of Tarentum, PA
Allegheny County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
A. 
Membership. Council shall, by resolution, appoint five qualified residents, who do not serve as elected officials and are not employees or appointees thereof, to the Zoning Hearing Board. Initial appointments shall be staggered so that one expires each year for the first five years and all subsequent appointments shall be for five-year terms.
B. 
Removal of members. Any Board member may be removed for malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance in office or for other just cause by a majority vote of the Borough Council appointing said member, taken after the member has received 15 days advance notice of the intent to take such a vote. A hearing shall be held in connection with the vote if the member shall request it in writing within the aforementioned time period.
C. 
The Board shall elect from its own membership its officers, who shall serve annual terms as such and may succeed themselves. For the conduct of any hearing and the taking of any action, a quorum shall be not less than a majority of all the members of the Board. The Board shall also appoint a hearing officer from its own membership to conduct any hearing on its behalf where the parties agree to waive further action by the Board.
A. 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and render final adjudications in the following matters:
(1) 
Substantive challenges to the validity of any land use ordinance, except those brought before Borough Council pursuant to §§ 609.1 and 916.1(a)(2) of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended.
(2) 
Challenges to the validity of a land use ordinance raising procedural questions or alleged defects in the process of enactment or adoption which challenges shall be raised by an appeal taken within 30 days after the effective date of said ordinance. Where the ordinance appealed from is the initial zoning ordinance of the municipality and a Zoning Hearing Board has not been previously established, the appeal raising procedural questions shall be taken directly to court.
(3) 
Appeals from the determination of the Zoning Officer, including, but not limited to, the granting or denial of any permit, or failure to act on the application therefor, the issuance of any cease and desist order or the registration or refusal to register any nonconforming use, structure or lot.
(4) 
Appeals from a determination by a Municipal Engineer or the Zoning Officer with reference to the administration of any floodplain or flood hazard ordinance or such provisions within a land use ordinance.
(5) 
Applications for variances from the terms of the zoning ordinance and flood hazard ordinance or such provisions within a land use ordinance, pursuant to § 910.2 of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended.
(6) 
Applications for special exceptions under the zoning ordinance or flood plain or flood hazard ordinance or such provisions within a land use ordinance, pursuant to § 912.1. of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended.
(7) 
Appeals from the determination of any officer or agency charged with the administration of any transfers of development rights or performance density provisions of the zoning ordinance.
(8) 
Appeals from the Zoning Officer's determination under § 916.2. of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended.
(9) 
Appeals from the determination of the Zoning Officer or Municipal Engineer in the administration of any land use ordinance or provision thereof with reference to sedimentation and erosion control and storm water management insofar as the same relate to development, not involving Article V or VII applications.
B. 
Borough Council or, except as to Subsection B(3), (4) and (5), the Planning Commission, if designated, shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and render final adjudications in the following matters:
(1) 
All applications for approvals of planned residential developments under Article VII pursuant to the provisions of § 702 of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended.
(2) 
All applications pursuant to § 508 for approval of subdivisions or land developments under Article V of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended.
(3) 
Any provision in a subdivision and land development ordinance requiring that final action concerning subdivision and land development applications be taken by a planning agency rather than Borough Council shall vest exclusive jurisdiction in the Planning Commission in lieu of Borough Council for purposes of the provisions of this subsection.
(4) 
Applications for conditional use under the express provisions of the zoning ordinance pursuant to § 603(c)(2) of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended.
(5) 
Applications for curative amendment to a zoning ordinance pursuant to §§ 609.1 and 916.1(a)(2). of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended.
(6) 
All petitions for amendments to land use ordinances, pursuant to the procedures set forth in § 609 of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended. Any action on such petitions shall be deemed legislative acts, provided that nothing contained in this clause shall be deemed to enlarge or diminish existing law with reference to appeals to court.
(7) 
Appeals from the determination of the Zoning Officer or the Municipal Engineer in the administration of any land use ordinance or provisions thereof with reference to sedimentation and erosion control and stormwater management insofar as the same relate to application for land development under Articles V and VII of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended. Where such determination relates only to development not involving an Article V or VII application, the appeal from such determination of the zoning officer or the municipal engineer shall be to the zoning hearing board pursuant to Subsection A(9). Where the applicable land use ordinance vests jurisdiction for final administration of subdivision and land development applications in the planning agency, all appeals from determinations under this paragraph shall be to the planning agency and all appeals from the decision of the planning agency shall be to court.
(8) 
Applications for a special encroachment permit pursuant to § 405 and applications for a permit pursuant to § 406 of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended.
A. 
The Zoning Officer shall accept complete applications and shall provide them to the Zoning Hearing Board within five working days of receipt.
B. 
The Board shall advertise each hearing stating the purpose thereof, the location of the subject property when applicable, the name of the applicant, a brief description of the appeal, and the date, time, and location scheduled. Advertisements shall occur in accordance with public notice. Where the hearing relates to property, said property shall be posted with the aforesaid information no later than one week prior to the scheduled hearing. The Zoning Officer shall notify the applicant and Borough Council of the date, time, and purpose of the respective hearing.
C. 
The first hearing before the Zoning Hearing Board or hearing officer shall be commenced within 60 days from the date of receipt of the applicant's application, unless the applicant has agreed in writing to an extension of time. Each subsequent hearing before the Zoning Hearing Board or hearing officer shall be held within 45 days of the prior hearing, unless otherwise agreed to by the applicant in writing or on the record. An applicant shall complete the presentation of his case-in-chief within 100 days of the first hearing. Upon the request of the applicant, the Zoning Hearing Board or hearing officer shall assure that the applicant receives at least seven hours of hearings within the 100 days, including the first hearing. Persons opposed to the application shall complete the presentation of their opposition to the application within 100 days of the first hearing held after the completion of the applicant's case-in-chief. An applicant may, upon request, be granted additional hearings to complete his case-in-chief provided the persons opposed to the application are granted an equal number of additional hearings. Persons opposed to the application may, upon the written consent or consent on the record by the applicant and municipality, be granted additional hearings to complete their opposition to the application provided the applicant is granted an equal number of additional hearings for rebuttal.
D. 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall conduct the hearings or the Zoning Hearing Board may appoint any member or an independent attorney as a hearing officer. The decision, or, where no decision is called for, the findings shall be made by the Zoning Hearing Board; however, the appellant or the applicant, as the case may be, in addition to the Borough Council, may, prior to the decision of the hearing, waive decision or findings by the Zoning Hearing Board and accept the decision or findings of the hearing officer as final.
E. 
The chairman or acting chairman of the Zoning Hearing Board or the hearing officer presiding shall have 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.
F. 
Parties to every hearing shall be the Borough, the applicant(s), and any affected party that enters a verbal or written appearance or statement at the hearing. The Zoning Hearing Board may require attendees to enter a written appearance as a condition of being a party.
G. 
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.
H. 
Formal rules of evidence shall not apply, but irrelevant, immaterial, or unduly repetitious evidence may be excluded.
I. 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall keep a stenographic record of each hearing.
J. 
The Zoning Hearing Board or the hearing officer shall not communicate, directly or indirectly, with any party or his representatives 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 memoranda, or other materials, except advice from their solicitor, unless the parties are afforded an opportunity to contest the material so noticed and shall not inspect the site or its surroundings after the commencement of hearings with any party or his representative unless all parties are given an opportunity to be present.
K. 
The Zoning Hearing Board or the hearing officer, as the case may be, shall render a written decision or, when no decision is called for, make written findings on the application within 45 days after the last hearing before the Zoning Hearing Board or hearing officer. Where the application is contested or denied, each decision shall be accompanied by findings of fact and conclusions based thereon together with the reasons therefor. Conclusions based on any provisions of the MPC or of any ordinance, rule or regulation shall contain a reference to the provision relied on and the reasons why the conclusion is deemed appropriate in the light of the facts found. If the hearing is conducted by a hearing officer and there has been no stipulation that his decision or findings are final, the Zoning Hearing Board shall make his report and recommendations available to the parties within 45 days and the parties shall be entitled to make written representations thereon to the Zoning Hearing Board prior to final decision or entry of findings, and the Zoning Hearing Board's decision shall be entered no later than 30 days after the report of the hearing officer. Excepting validity challenges, where the Zoning Hearing Board fails to render the decision within the period required by this subsection or fails to commence or complete the required hearing as provided herein, the decision shall be deemed to have been rendered in favor of the applicant unless the applicant has agreed in writing or on the record to an extension of time. When a decision has been rendered in favor of the applicant because of the failure of the Zoning Hearing Board to meet or render a decision as hereinabove provided, the Zoning Hearing Board shall give public notice of said decision within 10 days from the last day it could have met to render a decision in the same manner as provided in Subsection (1) of this section. If the Zoning Hearing Board shall fail to provide such notice, the applicant may do so. Nothing in this subsection shall prejudice the right of any party opposing the application to appeal the decision to a court of competent jurisdiction.
L. 
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 not later than the day following its date. To all other persons who have filed their name and address with the Zoning Hearing Board not later than the last day of the hearing, the Zoning Hearing Board shall provide by mail or otherwise, brief notice of the decision or findings and a statement of the place at which the full decision or findings may be examined, or may choose to mail a complete copy of the decision.
M. 
The Zoning Officer shall keep written files or meeting transcripts, evidence presented, correspondence, applications, names and addresses of parties, evidence of delivery by certified mail of notice and decisions to all applicable parties, and other files which shall remain the property of the Borough Council.
The Zoning Hearing Board shall have exclusive power to hear appeals for dimensional and use variances from the provisions of this chapter.
A. 
The landowner shall submit an application to the Zoning Officer including a survey showing existing structures and the location and detail of the proposed activity or structure for which the applicant requires a variance; the required fee for a variance as outlined in the fee schedule or schedules of the Borough Council and a completed application with all required contact information as well as additional information, if any, required by the Board.
B. 
The Board shall grant a variance only when findings of fact are supported by all of the following where relevant in a given case and therefore constitute an unnecessary hardship inflicted by this chapter.
(1) 
That there are unique physical circumstances or conditions, including irregularity, narrowness, or shallowness of lot size or shape, or exceptional topographical 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 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 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.
(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.
C. 
In granting any variance, the Board may attach such reasonable conditions and safeguards, as it may deem necessary to implement the purposes of this chapter.
The Board is authorized to consider special exceptions.
A. 
Expansions and changes of nonconforming uses shall be evaluated as per the following standards cited in Article X and the general standards cited in this section.
B. 
The landowner shall submit an application to the Zoning Officer including a survey showing existing structures and the location and detail of the proposed activity or structure for which the applicant requires the special exception, including representations of parking and circulation; the required fee for the special exception fee as outlined in the schedule or schedules of the Borough Council, and a completed application with all required contact information as well as additional information, if any, required by the Board.
C. 
Special exceptions for nonconforming uses shall be evaluated by the following criteria at a minimum.
(1) 
The impact of any proposed use on the neighborhood of which it is a part compared with the impact of the existing nonconforming use. A proposed use shall not present a greater adverse impact as compared with the existing use.
(2) 
The impact of an expansion of the nonconforming use and the manner in which the expansion changes or redefines the impact of the current nonconforming use.
(3) 
The extent to which a proposed expansion changes the scale of use such that the use itself may be changed such that it does not present an adverse impact on the neighborhood and district in which it is located. The expansion shall be considered a natural outgrowth necessary to the economic vitality and sustainability of the current nonconforming use.
(4) 
The consistency of any proposed expansion with the current character of a neighborhood or district.
(5) 
The change in parking required and traffic circulation associated with any proposed expansion or change in use.
D. 
In granting any special exception, the Board may attach such reasonable conditions and safeguards as it may deem necessary to implement the purposes of this chapter.
E. 
Proposed additions shall conform dimensionally and otherwise to the standards of the present ordinance, or shall otherwise require a dimensional variance.
F. 
Appeals from the Determination of the Zoning Officer. The Board shall hear appeals from the determination of the Zoning Officer in matters concerning the denial of a permit, a cease and desist order, and all other matters outlined in § 909.1 of the Municipalities Planning Code as amended. The aggrieved party shall make application to the Zoning Officer for the appeal of the disputed decision. The application shall include the fee as defined in the Borough's adopted fee schedule, name and contract information, copies of the permit application, and any additional details relating to the denial or order issued.
G. 
The Zoning Hearing Board recognizes its jurisdiction as defined above and as additionally defined within § 909.1 of the MPC, as amended, including the challenge of this chapter's validity within 30 days after its initial adoption based on procedural defects associated with the adoption process.
A. 
Where a landowner desires to challenge the validity of the chapter in regards to the application of the ordinance to a property within the Borough either under his ownership or other than his own, the landowner shall submit an application for a validity challenge to the Zoning Officer. The application shall include the section of chapter, of which validity is challenged, the property to which the challenge relates, the landowner's basis for challenge, and proposals by the landowner concerning amendments that would cure the alleged defect. Additionally, the required fee shall be submitted in accordance with the Borough's fee schedule.
B. 
Upon acceptance, the Zoning Officer shall forward the application to the Zoning Hearing Board for consideration within five business days of receipt.
C. 
The Board shall conduct a hearing pursuant to public notice within 60 days of the application submission. The Board shall issue a decision within 45 days of the close of the last hearing on the application.
D. 
The Zoning Hearing Board's decision shall be based on the following:
(1) 
The impact of the proposal upon roads, sewer facilities, water supplies, schools and other public service facilities.
(2) 
If the proposal is for a residential use, the impact of the proposal upon regional housing needs and the effectiveness of the proposal in providing housing units of a type actually available to and affordable by classes of persons otherwise unlawfully excluded by the challenged provisions of the ordinance or map.
(3) 
The suitability of the site for the intensity of use proposed by the site's soils, slopes, woodlands, wetlands, floodplains, aquifers, natural resources and other natural features.
(4) 
The impact of the proposed use on the site's soils, slopes, woodlands, wetlands, floodplains, natural resources and natural features, the degree to which these are protected or destroyed, the tolerance of the resources to development and any adverse environmental impacts.
(5) 
The impact of the proposal on land uses which are essential to public health and welfare.
E. 
If the Board fails to act on the landowner's request within the time limits referred to herein, a denial of the request is deemed to have occurred on the 46th day after the close of the last hearing. The request shall also be deemed denied when the Board fails to act on the request 45 days after the close of the last hearing on the request, unless the time is extended by mutual consent by the landowner and Board.
F. 
Where the Zoning Hearing Board rules in favor of the landowner, the Board shall draft proposed amendments to the ordinance which the Board, in its decision, believes will cure the validity challenge and associated defects. Said amendments shall be forwarded to the Borough.
The Zoning Hearing Board shall hear any variance or special exception with regard to § 265-1407, Floodplain regulations.