[Ord. 1972-10, 10/16/1972, Art. XI, § 1100; as amended by Ord. 1980-4, 5/4/1980, § 1]
Two additional members are to be added to the Zoning Hearing Board, thereby establishing a five member Zoning Hearing Board. The existing three members of the Zoning Hearing Board shall continue in office until their terms of office expire. The Council of the Borough of Doylestown shall appoint two additional members to the Zoning Hearing Board; one member shall be appointed for an initial term to expire on December 31, 1981 and the other member shall be appointed for an initial term to expire on December 31, 1982. Upon the expiration of the initial terms of the two new members of the Zoning Hearing Board, all appointments shall be made to the Zoning Hearing Board for three year terms.
[Ord. 1972-10, 10/16/1972, Art. XI, § 1101]
The Board shall elect a chairman from its membership, and, within the limits of funds appropriated by Borough Council, the Board may employ or contract for secretaries, clerks, legal counsel, consultants and other technical and clerical services.
Procedures Before the Board.
[Ord. 1972-10, 10/16/1972, Art. XI, § 1102]
The Board shall meet monthly to hear and consider all such matters which shall properly come before it. All such meetings shall be open to the public.
[Ord. 1972-10, 10/16/1972, Art. XI, § 1103]
Appeals from the Zoning Officer pursuant to § 1117 hereof and proceedings to challenge an ordinance under § 1118 hereof may be filed by any officer or agency of the Borough or by any person aggrieved. Requests for a variance under § 1119 and for a special exception under § 1120 hereof may be filed by any landowner or tenant with the permission of such landowner.
[Ord. 1972-10, 10/16/1972, Art. XI, § 1104]
All action before the Board shall be initiated by a written application for hearing which shall be filed with the Zoning Officer at least three weeks prior to the meeting at which the particular matter is to be heard. All applications shall be made on forms specified by the Board, and no application form shall be accepted unless the same shall be fully and legibly completed and unless all exhibits and supplemental material required by the application shall be attached (and until all fees required under § 1008 of this Chapter shall have been paid).
[Ord. 1972-10, 10/16/1972, Art. XI, § 1105]
All appeals from the Zoning Officer and all requests for variances, as provided in §§ 1117 and 1119 hereof, respectively, shall be filed within 30 days following the refusal of the Zoning Officer to grant a zoning permit.
[Ord. 1972-10, 10/16/1972, Art. XI, § 1106; as amended by Ord. 1991-3, 2/18/1991, § 7]
All hearings shall be held within 60 days from the date of the applicant's request, unless the applicant has agreed in writing to an extension of time. Notification of the time and place of all hearings shall be given by mail to the applicant and to all persons who own real estate within 200 feet of any property which is the subject of an application. Notification shall be made to the Borough Planning Commission and the Historical and Architectural Review Board when applicable. Notice of the hearings of any particular application shall also be given to any person who shall timely request the same in writing, such request to be accompanied by a fee in the sum of $1. Public notice, as defined in this Chapter, shall be given of all hearings. All notices required by this Section shall be given at least five days prior to the date of the hearing for which notice is given. In addition, written notice of the hearing shall be conspicuously posted on the affected tract of land at least one-week prior to the hearing.
[Ord. 1972-10, 10/16/1972, Art. XI, § 1107]
Parties to any hearing shall be the municipality, any person entitled to notice under § 1107 without special request therefor who has given timely appearance of record before the Board, and any other person permitted to appear by the Board.
[Ord. 1972-10, 10/16/1972, Art. XI, § 1108]
The chairman or acting chairman of the 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 the parties.
[Ord. 1972-10, 10/16/1972, Art. XI, § 1109]
The parties shall have the right to be represented by counsel and shall be afforded the opportunity to respond and present evidence and cross-examine adverse witnesses on all relevant issues.
[Ord. 1972-10, 10/16/1972, Art. XI, § 1110]
Formal rules of evidence shall not apply, but irrelevant, immaterial or unduly repetitious evidence may be excluded.
[Ord. 1972-10, 10/16/1972, Art. XI, § 1111; as amended by Ord. 1991-3, 2/18/1991, § 7]
The Board or the Hearing Officer, as the case may be, shall keep a stenographic record of the proceedings. The appearance fee for a stenographer shall be shared equally by the applicant and the Board. The cost of the original transcript shall be paid by the Board if the transcript is ordered by the Board or Hearing Officer or shall be paid by the person appealing from the decision of the Board if such appeal is made, and in either event the cost of additional copies shall be paid by the person requesting such copy or copies. In other cases the party requesting the original transcript shall bear the cost thereof.
[Ord. 1972-10, 10/16/1972, Art. XI, § 1112]
The Board shall not communicate, directly or indirectly, with any party or his 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 memoranda, or other materials 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. "Board" as used herein shall include not only the members but also any secretary, clerk, legal counsel or consultant of the Board.
[Ord. 1972-10, 10/16/1972, Art. XI, § 1113; as amended by Ord. 1979-5, 5/19/1979; by Ord. 1985-9, 5/23/1985; and by Ord. 1991-3, 2/18/1991, § 8]
The Board of 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 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 this act 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 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 Board prior to final decision or entry of findings, and the Board's decision shall be entered no later than 30 days after the report of the Hearing Officer. Where the Board fails to render the decision within the period required by this Section, or fails to hold the required hearing within 60 days from the date of the applicant's request for a hearing, 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 Board to meet or render a decision as hereinabove provided, the 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 this Section. If the Board shall fail to provide such notice, the applicant may do so. Nothing in this Section shall prejudice the right of any party opposing the application to appeal the decision to a court of competent jurisdiction.
[Ord. 1972-10, 10/16/1972, Art. XI, § 1114]
A copy of the final decision or, when 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 Board not later than the last day of the hearing, the 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.
[Ord. 1972-10, 10/16/1972, Art. XI, § 1115; Ord. 1991-3, 2/18/1991, § 9]
Zoning appeals may be taken to the court by any party before the Board or any officer or agency of the Borough, as provided by law.
Functions of the Board. The Board, shall perform any function required of it by, and in accordance with the provisions of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, including those hereinafter set forth.
[Ord. 1972-10, 10/16/1972, Art. XI, § 1116]
The Board shall hear and decide appeals where it is alleged by the appellant that the Zoning Officer has failed to follow prescribed procedures or has misinterpreted or misapplied any provision of this Chapter or map.
Appeals to the Zoning Hearing Board may be taken by the landowner affected, and officer or agency of the Borough, or any person aggrieved by any decision of the Zoning Officer. These appeals must be filed within 30 days of the date the decision is rendered by the Zoning Officer.
Any appeal from the ruling of the Zoning Officer concerning the enforcement and interpretation of the provisions of this Chapter, including any order to stop, cease and desist, shall be filed with the Zoning Officer within 30 days after the date of the Zoning Officer's adverse decision.
All appeals and applications made to the Board shall be in writing on standard forms prescribed by the Zoning Hearing Board and accompanied by fees required under § 1008.
All appeals and applications shall refer to the specific provisions of this Chapter involved.
[Ord. 1972-10, 10/16/1972, Art. XI, § 1117]
The Board shall hear challenges to the validity of the Zoning Ordinance and Map. In all such challenges, the Board shall take evidence and make a record thereon as provided in § 1112. At the conclusion of the hearing, the 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 court.
Where the Board has jurisdiction over a zoning matter pursuant to §§ 1117, 1118, or 1119, the Board shall also hear all appeals which an applicant may elect to bring before it with respect to any municipal ordinance or requirement pertaining to the same development plan or development. However, the Board shall have no power to pass upon the non-zoning issues, but shall take evidence and make findings on all relevant issues of fact which shall become part of the record on appeal to the court.
[Ord. 1972-10, 10/16/1972, Art. XI, § 1118]
The Board shall hear requests for variances where it is alleged that the provisions of the Zoning Chapter inflict unnecessary hardship upon the appellant. The Board may grant a variance provided the following findings are made where relevant in a given case:
That there are unique physical circumstances or conditions, including irregularity, narrowness, or shallowness of lot size or 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 the Zoning Chapter in the neighborhood or district in which the property is located;
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 the Zoning Chapter and that the authorization of a variance is therefor necessary to enable the reasonable use of the property;
That such unnecessary hardship has not been created by the appellant;
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,
That the variance, if authorized, will represent the minimum variance that will afford relief and will represent the least modification possible of the regulation at issue.
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 applicant shall have six months after the time the variance was granted to obtain a building permit for any structure for which the variance was required.
[Ord. 1972-10, 10/16/1972, Art. XI, § 1119; as amended by Ord. 1973-2, 1/15/1972, § 10]
Where this Chapter has provided for stated special exceptions to be granted or denied by the Zoning Hearing Board, pursuant to expressed standards and criteria, the Zoning Hearing Board shall hear and decide requests for such special exceptions in accordance with such standards and criteria.
Upon review of any application for a special exception, the Zoning Hearing Board shall consider and determine, among other things:
That the proposed change is consistent with the spirit, purpose and intent of the Zoning Chapter.
That the proposed special exception will not substantially injure or detract from the use of the neighboring property, or from the character of the neighborhood.
That all commercial and 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 direct glare or hazardous interference of any kind.
In granting special exceptions, the Board may attach such reasonable conditions and safeguards, in addition to those expressed in the ordinance, as it deems necessary to implement the purposes of this Chapter.
In all applications for special exceptions, the applicant shall have the burden of proving that his application falls within the provisions of the Zoning Chapter and that granting his application will not be contrary to the public interest.
The applicant shall have six months after the time that the special exception is granted in which to obtain a building permit for any structure for which the special exception was required.
[Ord. 1972-10, 10/16/1972, Art. XI, § 1120]
Upon appeal from a decision by the Zoning Officer, the Zoning Hearing Board shall decide any question:
Involving the interpretation of any provision of this Chapter, including determination of the exact location of any district boundary if there is uncertainty with respect thereto;
Where it is alleged there is an error in any order, requirement, decision, or determination including any order requiring an alleged violation to stop, cease, and desist, made by the Zoning Officer in the enforcement of this Chapter.
[Ord. 1972-10, 10/16/1972, Art. XI, § 1121]
Any person aggrieved by any decision of the Zoning Hearing Board of the municipality may, within 30 days after such decision of the Board, appeal to the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, by petition duly verified, setting forth that such decision is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or not in accordance with law, and specify the grounds upon which he relies. Such appeals shall be made in accordance with Article X of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.