Township of Lower Macungie, PA
Lehigh County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Ord. 1998-11, 12/17/1998, § I; as amended by Ord. 2011-12, 10/6/2011]
1. 
All persons or entities desiring to undertake any new construction, reconstruction, erection, expansion, extension, conversion, addition, structural change or structural alteration, or site alteration, grading, or changes in the use of, a structure, building, sign, or lots shall apply to the Township Zoning Officer for a zoning permit by filling out the appropriate application form and by paying the required fee. No application shall be accepted or deemed complete by the Zoning Officer until such time as all forms, materials, and plans are filed and any and all fees completely paid.
2. 
The Zoning Officer shall either issue the zoning permit, refuse the permit, indicating in writing the reason therefor or defer his decision until such time as the required approvals of the Board of Commissioners, Zoning Hearing Board, or the recommendations of the Planning Commission are received.
3. 
If a request for a permit is denied or deferred, the applicant may appeal that decision to the Zoning Hearing Board in accordance with §§ 27-2604, Subsections 6 and 7.
4. 
Until a permit is issued, no construction, erection, expansion, extension, addition, structural change or structural alteration, or site alteration, grading, or changes in the use of, a structure, building, sign, or lot shall be undertaken, and any such action which has occurred prior to the issuance of the permit shall, if requested by the Zoning Officer, be immediately removed at the applicant's sole cost.
5. 
If a permit has been issued, the action proposed may be immediately undertaken. It is, however, recommended that applicants wait 30 days to begin construction to allow for expiration of the appeal period. Any action taken by an applicant prior to expiration of such appeal period shall be at applicant's sole risk, in the event issuance of the permit is revoked on appeal.
6. 
Upon completion of the proposed activity, the applicant may apply to the Zoning Officer for an occupancy permit (where such a permit is required).
7. 
If the Zoning Officer finds that the action of the applicant is in accordance with the zoning permit and any other required permits, an occupancy permit shall be issued allowing the premises to be occupied.
[Ord. 1998-11, 12/17/1998, § I; as amended by Ord. 2011-12, 10/6/2011]
1. 
Zoning Permit.
A. 
Scope.
(1) 
No person shall construct, reconstruct, erect, expand, extend, convert, add, structurally change or structurally alter, or change the use of any structure, sign, or building, change or alter the use of any land or structure, nor commence the grading of any lot until the Zoning Officer issues a zoning permit to the person for said activity.
(2) 
No zoning permit is required for normal maintenance repairs.
B. 
Types of Uses.
(1) 
A zoning permit for a permitted use may be issued by the Zoning Officer.
(2) 
A zoning permit for a use requiring a special exception or variance shall be issued by the Zoning Officer only upon the written order of the Zoning Hearing Board after a hearing.
(3) 
A zoning permit for a conditional use shall be issued by the Zoning Officer only upon the written order of the Board of Commissioners following a review by the Planning Commission and a hearing by the Board of Commissioners.
C. 
Application.
(1) 
All applications for a zoning permit shall be in writing on a form provided by the Zoning Officer and shall be submitted to the Zoning Officer together with all applicable fees.
(2) 
Any application in which a structure is proposed to be located within twice the required setback of a property line shall be submitted with a plot plan bearing the seal of a registered surveyor.
(3) 
A plot plan drawn to scale showing the location and dimensions of the lot area and of the proposed uses of buildings and/or land shall be required by the Zoning Officer for any use which involves physical changes to the land. The Zoning Officer, the Zoning Hearing Board, or the Planning Commission may require any additional information deemed necessary to properly evaluate the application for the purpose of determining its conformity with this chapter. (See also the site plan review requirements of § 27-2402 of this chapter, if applicable.)
(4) 
Prior to the issuance of any zoning permit, the Zoning Officer shall review the application for such permit to determine if all other governmental permits known by the Zoning Officer to be needed (such as those required by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry for fire safety of rental units, the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act or the Federal Water Pollution Control Act) have been obtained. No permit shall be issued until this determination has been made. The Township is not responsible for notifying the applicants of all permits needed.
(5) 
The Zoning Officer shall submit a copy of any plan and application to any appropriate Township agencies and/or officials (e.g., Planning Commission, Township Engineer, etc.) for review and comment.
D. 
Issuance.
(1) 
The Zoning Officer shall issue or refuse an application for a zoning permit for a use permitted by right within 15 days after the date such application was made except as specifically provided for in this chapter, or if an extension is granted by the applicant.
(2) 
A zoning permit shall be issued in at least triplicate.
(3) 
One copy shall be conspicuously posted by the applicant on the premises. No person shall perform building operations of any kind unless a zoning permit is being displayed as required by this chapter.
(4) 
After the issuance of a zoning permit by the Zoning Officer, no changes of any kind shall be made to the application, permit, plans, specifications, or other documents submitted with the application without the written consent or approval of the Zoning Officer.
E. 
The Zoning Officer may revoke a permit or approval issued under the provisions of this chapter in the case of any false statement or misrepresentation of fact in the application or on the plans on which the permit or approval was based or for any other cause set forth in this chapter.
F. 
A temporary permit may be authorized by the Zoning Hearing Board for a nonconforming structure or use which it deems necessary to promote the proper development of the community, provided that such nonconforming structure or use shall be completely removed upon expiration of the permit without cost to the municipality. Such permits shall be issued for a specified period of time not to exceed one year, and may be renewed annually for an aggregate period not exceeding three years.
2. 
Certificate of Use and Occupancy.
A. 
It shall be unlawful to use and/or occupy any structure, building, sign and/or land or portion thereof for which a permit is required herein until a certificate of use and occupancy for such structure, building, sign use and/or land or portion thereof has been issued by the Zoning Officer. The application for issuance of a certificate of use and occupancy shall be made at the same time an application for a permit is filed with the Zoning Officer as required herein.
B. 
The application for a certificate of use and occupancy shall be in such form as the Zoning Officer may prescribe and may be made on the same application as is required for a permit.
C. 
The application shall set forth the intended use and/or occupancy of any structure, building, sign and/or land or portion thereof for which a permit is required herein.
D. 
The Zoning Officer shall inspect any structure, building or sign within 10 days upon notification that the proposed work that was listed under the permit has been completed; and if satisfied that the work is in conformity and compliance with the work listed in the issued permit and all other pertinent laws, he shall issue a certificate of use and occupancy for the intended use listed in the original application.
E. 
The certificate of use and occupancy or a true copy thereof shall be kept available for official inspection at all times.
F. 
Upon request of a holder of a permit, the Zoning Officer may issue a temporary certificate of use and occupancy for a structure, building, sign and/or land, or portion thereof, before the entire work covered by the permit shall have been completed, provided such portion or portions may be used and/or occupied safely prior to full completion of the work without endangering life or public welfare. The Zoning Officer shall also issue a temporary certificate of use and occupancy for such temporary uses as tents, use of land for religious or other public or semi-public purposes and similar temporary uses and/or occupancies. Such temporary certificates shall be for the period of time to be determined by the Zoning Officer, however, in no case for a period exceeding six months.
3. 
Certificate of Nonconforming Use or Structure.
A. 
The owner of the premises occupied by a lawful nonconforming use or structure shall secure a certificate of nonconforming use or structure from the Zoning Officer.
B. 
Such certificate shall be authorized by the Zoning Officer and shall certify to the owner his right to continue such nonconforming use or structure, within the applicable limits of Township ordinances and statutory and Pennsylvania case law.
[Ord. 1998-11, 12/17/1998, § I; as amended by Ord. 2011-12, 10/6/2011]
1. 
Appointment, Qualifications, Compensation and Liability.
A. 
The Zoning Officer shall be appointed by the Board of Commissioners and shall not hold any elective office within the Township.
B. 
The Zoning Officer shall meet qualifications established by the Township and shall be able to demonstrate to the Board of Commissioners, prior to being appointed, a working knowledge of municipal zoning.
C. 
The Board of Commissioners may designate agents or employees of the Township as Deputy Zoning Officers, who may exercise any and all of the powers of the Zoning Officer in the latter's absence or as directed by the Zoning Officer.
D. 
The compensation for the Zoning Officer and the Deputy Zoning Officer shall be determined by the Board of Township Commissioners.
E. 
The Zoning Officer, or any employee, or duly appointed agent charged with the enforcement of this chapter, while acting in such capacity, shall not be personally liable for any actions, effects, consequences or results undertaken furtherance of the provisions of this chapter. Any suit instituted against the Zoning Officer, or agent, or any employee because of an act performed by him in the lawful discharge of his duties pursuant to this chapter in good faith and without malice shall be defended by the legal representative of the Township and all costs associated with such action or actions shall be borne by the Township.
2. 
Duties and Powers.
A. 
The Zoning Officer shall:
(1) 
Administer this chapter in accordance with its literal terms and shall not have the power to permit any construction or any use or change of use which does not conform to this chapter and all other applicable ordinances.
(2) 
Identify and register nonconforming lots, building structures, together with the reasons therefor.
(3) 
Receive, and examine, and refer as appropriate all applications required under the terms of this chapter.
(4) 
Issue or refuse permits within 15 days of the receipt of the complete application and payment of all required fees, except as specifically provided by this chapter.
(5) 
Receive and investigate complaints of violations of this chapter.
(6) 
Issue and enforcement notice to any person violating any provision of this chapter and to institute civil enforcement proceedings as a means of enforcing this chapter, as hereinafter set forth.
(7) 
Keep records of applications, permits and certificates issued, of variances granted by the Zoning Hearing Board, of complaints received, of inspections made, of reports rendered, and of notice or orders issued; such records shall be and are the property of the Township.
(8) 
Make all required inspections and perform all other duties as called for in this chapter.
(9) 
Have the authority to enter, at any reasonable hour, any structure, building, premises or land in the Township to enforce the provisions of this chapter.
[Ord. 1998-11, 12/17/1998, § I; as amended by Ord. 2004-3, 2/5/2004, § 5; and by Ord. 2011-12, 10/6/2011]
1. 
Appointment.
A. 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall consist of three residents of the Township appointed by resolution of the Board of Commissioners.
B. 
Zoning Hearing Board members shall serve terms of three years, so fixed that the term of office of only one member shall expire each year.
C. 
Members of the Zoning Hearing Board shall hold no other office in the Township.
D. 
The Board of Commissioners may appoint by resolution at least one, but not more than three, residents of the Township to serve as alternate members of the Zoning Hearing Board. The term of office of an alternate member shall be three years. When seated pursuant to the provisions of Subsection 4C, an alternate shall be entitled to participate in all proceedings and discussions of the Zoning Hearing Board to the same extent as provided by law for Zoning Hearing Board members, including specifically the right to cast a vote as a voting member during the proceedings, and shall have all the powers and duties set forth in this chapter and as otherwise provided by law. Alternates shall hold no other office in the Township, including membership on the Planning Commission and Zoning Officer. Any alternate may participate in any proceeding or discussion of the Zoning Hearing Board but shall not be entitled to vote as a member of the Zoning Hearing Board unless designated as a voting alternate member pursuant to Subsection 4C.
2. 
Vacancies.
A. 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall promptly notify the Board of Commissioners of any vacancies which occur.
B. 
Appointment to fill vacancies shall be only for the unexpired portion of a term.
3. 
Removal.
A. 
Any Zoning Hearing Board member may be removed for malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance in office or for other just cause by a majority vote of the Board of Commissioners, provided that the member received 15 days' notice of the intent to take such a vote.
B. 
A hearing shall be held in connection with the vote, if the member so requests it in writing.
4. 
Organization.
A. 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall elect officers from its own membership. Officers shall serve annual terms and may succeed themselves.
B. 
For the conduct of any hearing and taking of any action, a quorum shall be not less than a majority of all the members of the Zoning Hearing Board.
C. 
If, by reason of absence or disqualification of a member a quorum is not reached, the Chairman of the Zoning Hearing Board shall designate as many alternate members of the Zoning Hearing Board to sit on the Zoning Hearing Board as may be needed to provide a quorum. Any alternate member of the Zoning Hearing Board shall continue to serve on the Zoning Hearing Board in all proceedings involving the matter or case for which the alternate was initially appointed until the Zoning Hearing Board has made a final determination of the matter or case. Designation of an alternate pursuant to this section shall be made on a case-by-case basis in rotation according to declining seniority among all alternates.
D. 
The Zoning Hearing Board may make, alter and rescind rules and forms, for its procedure, consistent with all applicable Township ordinances and laws of the commonwealth, and shall keep full public records of its business, which records shall be the property of the Township, submit a report of its activities to the Board of Commissioners as it may request.
E. 
The fees for all proceedings, hearings and actions by the Zoning Hearing Board shall be paid by the applicant.
5. 
Zoning Hearing Board Function. The Zoning Hearing Board shall be responsible for the following:
A. 
Appeal from the Zoning Officer.
(1) 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall hear and decide appeals where it is alleged by the appellant (the landowner affected, any office or agency of the Township, or any person aggrieved) that the Zoning Officer has:
(a) 
Failed to follow prescribed procedures.
(b) 
Failed to grant or deny a permit.
(c) 
Failed to act on an application for a permit.
(d) 
Failed or refused to register a nonconforming building, lot, structure, use or sign.
(e) 
Improperly issued a cease and desist order.
(f) 
Misinterpreted or misapplied any valid provision of this chapter including all Appendices or any valid rule or regulation governing the action of the Zoning Officer.
(2) 
All appeals which allege that the Zoning Officer has made an error shall be filed directly with the Secretary of the Zoning Hearing Board within 60 days of the Zoning Officer's alleged error.
(3) 
Such appeals shall be in writing and shall explain fully the facts and parties in the case and shall clearly state the reasons or provisions of this chapter on which the appeal is based.
(4) 
Nothing contained herein shall be construed to deny the appellant the right to proceed directly in court, pursuant to Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure 1091-1098 (relating to mandamus).
B. 
Challenges to the Validity of this chapter or Map.
(1) 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall hear substantive challenges to the validity of any land use ordinance, except those brought before the Board of Commissioners pursuant to § 609.1 of the Municipalities Planning Code, 53 P.S. § 10609.1 et seq.
(2) 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall hear 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.
(3) 
At the conclusion of the hearing, 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 any appeal to the court.
C. 
Other Appeals.
(1) 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall also hear appeals from the determination of any officer or agency charged with the administration of any transfers of development rights or performance density provisions of this chapter.
(2) 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall also hear appeals from the determination of the Zoning Officer or Township engineer in the administration of any land use ordinance or provision thereof with reference to sedimentation and erosion control and stormwater management insofar as the same relate to development not involving the provisions of the Lower Macungie Township Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance [Chapter 22A] or the planned cluster development sections of this chapter.
(3) 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall also hear appeals from the Zoning Officer's determination under § 916.2 of the Municipalities Planning Code, 53 P.S. § 10916.2.
D. 
Variances.
(1) 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall hear requests for variances filed with the Zoning Hearing Board in writing by any landowner (or any tenant with the permission of such landowner) which allege that the provisions of this chapter inflict unnecessary hardship upon the land.
(2) 
The Zoning Hearing Board may grant a variance only if the following findings, where relevant, are made:
(a) 
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 generally created by the provisions of this chapter in the neighborhood or district in which the property is located.
(b) 
Because of such physical circumstances or conditions generally created by the provisions of this chapter in the neighborhood or district in which the property is located.
(c) 
Such unnecessary hardship has not been created by the appellant.
(d) 
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.
(e) 
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.
(3) 
In granting any variance, the Zoning Hearing Board may attach such reasonable conditions and safeguards as may deem necessary to implement the purposes of this chapter.
(4) 
All variances granted to subdivisions or land developments shall be null and void if the construction involved in the variance is not substantially completed upon the expiration of five years from the date of the preliminary plan approval of the subdivision or land development.
(5) 
All variances granted to other landowners shall be null and void if the construction involved in the variance is not commenced within one year of the date the variance is granted.
E. 
Special Exceptions.
(1) 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall hear and decide requests for all special exceptions filed with the Zoning Hearing Board in writing by any landowner (or any tenant with the permission of such landowner), as provided in this chapter and in accordance with such standards and criteria contained in this chapter.
(2) 
In granting a special exception, the Zoning Hearing Board may attach such reasonable conditions and safeguards, in addition to those expressed in this chapter, as it may deem necessary to implement the purposes and intent of this chapter.
F. 
Unified Appeals.
(1) 
Where the Zoning Hearing Board has jurisdiction over any zoning matter pursuant to this section, it shall also hear all appeals which an applicant may elect to bring before it with respect to any Township ordinance or requirements pertaining to the same development plan or development.
(2) 
In such case, the Zoning Hearing Board shall have no power to pass upon the nonzoning issue, but shall take evidence and make a record thereon as provided in § 27-2605. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Zoning Hearing Board shall make findings on all relevant issues of fact which shall become part of the record on appeal to the court.
G. 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall conduct hearings and make decisions in accordance with § 27-2605 and the Municipalities Planning Code, as amended, 53 P.S. § 10101 et seq.
H. 
Court Appeals.
(1) 
In the case of an appeal from the Zoning Hearing Board to the Court of Common Pleas, the Zoning Hearing Board shall make the return required by law, and shall promptly notify the Township Solicitor of such appeal and furnish him with a copy of the return including the transcript of testimony.
(2) 
Any decision of the Zoning Hearing Board not appealed within 30 days after notice thereof shall be final.
6. 
Forms of Appeals and Applications to the Zoning Hearing Board.
A. 
All appeals from a decision of the Zoning Officer and applications to the Zoning Hearing Board shall be in writing on forms prescribed by the Zoning Hearing Board.
B. 
Every application shall include the following:
(1) 
The name and address of the applicant, or appellant.
(2) 
The name and address of the owner of the property to be affected by such proposed change or appeal.
(3) 
A brief description and location of the property to be affected by such proposed change or appeal.
(4) 
A statement of the present zoning classification of the property in question, the improvements thereon and the present use thereof.
(5) 
A reasonably accurate description of the additions or changes intended to be made under this application indicating the size, material and general construction of such proposed improvements. A plot plan of the property to be affected, indicating the locating and size of the lot and the size of existing and intended improvements, shall be attached to the description. Plot plans shall be clear, legible and accurately drawn to scale.
7. 
Time Limitations: Persons Aggrieved. The time limitations for raising certain issues and filing certain proceedings with the Zoning Hearing Board shall be the following:
A. 
No person shall be allowed to file any proceeding with the Zoning Hearing Board later than 30 days after any application for development, preliminary or final, has been approved by an appropriate Township officer, agency or body if such proceeding is designed to secure reversal or to limit the approval in any manner unless such person alleges and proves that he had no notice, knowledge or reason to believe that such approval had been given.
B. 
If such person has succeeded to his interest after such approval, he shall be bound by the knowledge of his predecessor in interest.
C. 
The failure of anyone other than the landowner to appeal from an adverse decision on a preliminary plan or from an adverse decision by the Zoning Officer on a challenge to the validity of this chapter or Zoning Map pursuant to § 916.1(1) of the Municipalities Planning Code, as amended (regarding validity of ordinance), 53 P.S. § 10916.1(1), shall preclude an appeal from a final approval except in the case where the final submission substantially deviates from the approved tentative or preliminary approval.
D. 
All appeals from determinations adverse to the landowners shall be filed by the landowner within 30 days after notice of the determination is issued.
8. 
Stay of Proceedings.
A. 
Upon filing of any proceeding referred to in Subsection 5 and during its pendency before the Zoning Hearing Board, all land development pursuant to any challenged ordinance, order or approval of the Zoning Officer or of any agency or body, and all official action thereunder shall be stayed.
B. 
Such land development or official action shall not be stayed if the Zoning Officer or any other appropriate agency or body certifies to the Zoning Hearing Board facts indicating that such stay would cause imminent peril to life or property.
C. 
Notwithstanding Subsection 8B, a restraining order may be granted by the Zoning Hearing Board or by the court having jurisdiction of zoning appeals on petition after notice to the Zoning Officer or other appropriate agency or body.
D. 
When application for development, preliminary or final, has been duly approved and proceedings designed to reverse or limit the approval are filed with the Zoning Hearing Board by persons other than the applicant, the applicant may petition the court having jurisdiction of zoning appeals to order such persons to post bond as a condition to continuing the proceedings before the Zoning Hearing Board.
E. 
The question whether or not such petition should be granted and the amount of the bond shall be within the sound discretion of the court.
[Ord. 1998-11, 12/17/1998, § I; as amended by Ord. 2004-3, 2/5/2004, § 5; and by Ord. 2011-12, 10/6/2011]
1. 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall conduct hearings and make decisions in accordance with the following:
A. 
Notice of Hearings. Public notice of all hearings of the Zoning Hearing Board shall be given as follows:
(1) 
Notice to the public shall be published once each week for two successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the Township.
(a) 
The first publication shall not be more than 30 days and second publication shall not be less than seven days from the date of the hearing.
(b) 
The notice shall state the time and place of the hearing and the particular nature of the matter to be considered.
(2) 
Written notice of such hearing shall be conspicuously posted on the affected tract of land at least one week prior to the hearing.
(3) 
Written notice shall be given, by personally delivering or mailing a copy of the published notice, to:
(a) 
The applicant.
(b) 
The landowner, if different from the applicant.
(c) 
The members of the Zoning Hearing Board.
(d) 
The Zoning Officer.
(e) 
The Planning Commission.
(f) 
The Board of Commissioners.
(g) 
The Township Solicitor.
(h) 
The Township Engineer.
(i) 
All adjacent or adjoining property owners and all property owners whose land lies within 100 feet of the boundary line of the property at issue, at their current listed addresses (such list to be provided to the Township by the applicant).
(j) 
Another other person or group (including civic or community organization) who has made a timely request for such notice.
(k) 
In any matter which relates to a property which lies within 250 feet of the boundary of another municipality, the Secretary of the Board shall transmit to the municipal clerk of this other municipality a copy of the official notice of the public hearing on such matter, not later than one day after publication thereof.
(4) 
The Board of Commissioners may, by resolution, establish a reasonable fee schedule, based on cost, to be paid by the applicant for any notice required by this chapter and by persons requesting any notice not required by ordinance.
B. 
Hearings by the Zoning Hearing Board. The first hearing before the Zoning Hearing Board shall be commenced within 60 days of receipt of the applicants application, unless the applicant has agreed in writing to an extension of time. Each subsequent hearing before the Zoning Hearing Board 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/her case-in-chief within 100 days of the first hearing. Upon request of the applicant, the Zoning Hearing Board shall assure that the applicant receives at least seven hours of hearings within 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 applicant's case-in-chief. An applicant may, on request, be granted additional hearings to complete his/her 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 written consent or consent on the record by the applicant and the 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. The hearings shall be conducted by the Zoning Hearing Board and the decision and findings shall be made by the Zoning Hearing Board. The provisions of this paragraph shall also be applicable to the Board of Commissioners when conducting hearings upon applications for conditional uses (see § 27-2403, Subsection 1J, of this chapter).
C. 
Parties.
(1) 
The parties to the hearing shall be the Township, any person affected by the application who has made timely appearance of record before the Zoning Hearing Board, and any person including civic or community organizations permitted to appear by the Zoning Hearing Board.
(2) 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall have the power to require that all persons who wish to be considered parties enter appearances in writing on forms provided by the Zoning Hearing Board for that purpose.
D. 
Oaths and Subpoenas. The chairman or acting chairman of the Zoning Hearing Board presiding shall have power to administer oaths and issue subpoenas to complete the attendance of the production of relevant documents and papers, including witnesses and documents requested by the parties.
E. 
Representation by Counsel. 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.
F. 
Evidence. Formal rules of evidence shall not apply, but irrelevant, immaterial or unduly repetitious evidence may be excluded.
G. 
Record.
(1) 
The Zoning Hearing 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 Zoning Hearing Board.
(2) 
The cost of the original transcript shall be paid by the Zoning Hearing Board if the transcript is ordered by the Zoning Hearing Board or shall be paid by the person appealing from the decision of the Zoning Hearing 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.
H. 
Ex Parte Communications.
(1) 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall not communicate, directly or indirectly, with any party or his representative in connection with any issues involved, except upon notice and opportunity for all parties to participate.
(2) 
The Zoning Hearing Board 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.
(3) 
After the commencement of hearings, the Zoning Hearing Board shall not inspect the site or its surroundings with any party or his representative, unless all parties are given an opportunity to be present.
I. 
Conflicts of Interest. No member of the Zoning Hearing Board shall vote upon or participate in deliberations concerning any application for which the member has a conflict of interest or for which such note or participation would give the appearance of a conflict of interest.
J. 
Referral to Planning Commission.
(1) 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall refer to the Planning Commission for comment on:
(a) 
All applications for special exceptions.
(b) 
All applications for variances involving conditional uses.
(c) 
Any other application or appeal which in the opinion of the Zoning Hearing Board requires review by the Planning Commission.
(2) 
In its review of a referral, the Planning Commission shall determine compliance with the standards and criteria set forth in this chapter.
(3) 
In all cases the Planning Commission shall report in writing its findings and recommendations to the Zoning Hearing Board within 30 days of their receiving the request for review.
(4) 
The Zoning Hearing Board and the Planning Commission shall establish mutually acceptable procedures to assure that the review is accomplished in time to permit the Zoning Hearing Board to make its required decision.
K. 
Decision/Findings.
(1) 
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 last hearing before the Board.
(2) 
Where the application is contested or denied, each decision shall be accompanied by findings of fact and conclusions based thereon with the reasons therefor.
(3) 
Conclusions based on any provisions of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended, 53 P.S. § 10101 et seq., or this chapter, or any other ordinance, rule, or regulation shall contain a reference to the provision relied on and the reasons why the conclusion is deemed appropriate in light of the facts found.
(4) 
Except for challenges under § 916.1 of the Municipalities Planning Code (validity of ordinances, substantive questions), 53 P.S. § 10916.1, where the Board fails to render the decision within the period required by Subsection 1K(1) of this section, or fails to commence, conduct or complete the required hearing as provided in Subsection 1B of this section, the decision shall be deemed to have been rendered in favor of the applicant unless the applicant has agreed in writing or upon the record to an extension of time. When a decision has been rendered in favor of the applicant because of failure of the Zoning Hearing 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 Subsection 1A ("Notice of Hearings") of this section. If the Board shall fail to provide such notice, 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.
L. 
Notice of Decision.
(1) 
A copy of the final decision or a copy of the findings (when no decision is called for), shall be delivered to the applicant personally or mailed to him not later than the date following its date.
(2) 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall provide (by mail or otherwise) a brief notice of the decision or findings and a statement of the place where the full decision or findings may be examined to all other persons who have filed their name and addresses with the Zoning Hearing Board not later than the last day of the hearing.
(3) 
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 described in Subsections 1A(1) and 1J(4), the Township 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 1A. If the Zoning Hearing Board shall fail to provide such notice, the applicant may do so.
[Ord. 1998-11, 12/17/1998, § I]
1. 
Parties to proceedings authorized in this chapter may utilize mediation as an aid in completing such proceedings. The Zoning Hearing Board shall neither initiate mediation or participate as a mediating party in any proceedings pending before the Zoning Hearing Board. Mediation shall supplement, not replace, those procedures in this chapter once said procedures have been formally initiated. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as expanding or limiting Township police powers or as modifying any principles or substantive law.
2. 
Participation in mediation shall be wholly voluntary. The appropriateness of mediation shall be determined by the particulars of each case and the willingness of the parties to negotiate. The Township shall assure that in each case, the mediating parties, assisted by the mediator as appropriate, develop terms and conditions for:
A. 
Funding mediation.
B. 
Selecting a mediator who, at a minimum, shall have a working knowledge of municipal zoning and subdivision procedures and demonstrated skills in mediation.
C. 
Completing mediation, including time limits for such completion.
D. 
Suspending time limits otherwise authorized in this chapter, provided there is written consent by the mediating parties and by an applicant or Township decision-making body if either is not a party to the mediation.
E. 
Identifying all parties and affording them the opportunity to participate.
F. 
Subject to legal restraints, determining whether some or all of the mediation sessions shall be open or closed to the public.
G. 
Assuring that mediation solutions are in writing and signed by the parties, and become subject to review and approval by the appropriate decision-making body pursuant to the authorized procedures set forth in the other sections of this chapter.
3. 
No offers or statements made in the mediation sessions, excluding the final written mediated agreement, shall be admissible as evidence in any subsequent judicial or administrative proceedings.
[Ord. 1998-11, 12/17/1998, § I; as amended by Ord. 2011-12, 10/6/2011]
1. 
All appeals for securing review of this chapter or any decision, determination or order of the Board of Commissioners, its agencies or officers issued pursuant to this chapter, shall be in conformance with the Municipalities Planning Code, as amended.
2. 
Questions of alleged defect in the process of enactment or adoption of this chapter shall be raised by an appeal taken directly from the action of the Board of Commissioners to the Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas filed no later than 30 days from the effective date of this chapter or map.
[Ord. 1998-11, 12/17/1998, § I; as amended by Ord. 2010-08, 9/2/2010, Art. XXXV]
1. 
The Township shall follow the requirements of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, 53 P.S. § 10101 et seq., in enacting any amendment to this chapter.
2. 
Zoning Amendment Petitions.
A. 
Private parties may file a zoning amendment petition to amend, supplement, change, or repeal provisions of this chapter.
B. 
A zoning amendment petition shall consist of: (1) the completed Township application form signed by at least one record owner of property that will be affected by the petition whose signature shall be notarized, attesting to the truth of all of the facts and information presented in the petition; (2) the filing fee and escrow monies (the amount of this fee and escrow shall established by separate resolution of the Board of Commissioners; and two properly executed copies of the Township's Contract for Professional Services.
C. 
The Board of Commissioners shall have the complete discretion to decline to review or consider any Petition and shall retain complete discretion to either accept, reject, or amend any petition.
D. 
All petitions shall be forwarded to the Township Planning Commission for review and recommendation prior to any consideration by the Board of Commissioners.
[Ord. 1998-11, 12/17/1998, § I; as amended by Ord. 2011-12, 10/6/2011]
1. 
A landowner who desires to challenge on substantive grounds the validity of this chapter which prohibits or restricts the use or development of land in which he has an interest, may submit a curative amendment to the Board of Commissioners with a written request that his challenge and proposed amendment be heard and decided as provided in the Municipalities Planning Code, as amended, 53 P.S. § 10101 et seq.
2. 
The Board of Commissioners shall commence a hearing thereon within 60 days of the request unless the landowner grants an extension of time.
3. 
The curative amendment and challenge shall be referred to the Planning Commission and the Joint Planning Commission for review and recommendation to the Board of Commissioners.
4. 
The Board of Commissioners shall consider the curative amendment and challenge after public notice and a hearing pursuant to § 27-2605, and all references therein to the Zoning Hearing Board shall, for the purposes of the curative amendment procedures, be deemed instead to be the Board of Commissioners.
5. 
If the Township does not accept the landowner's curative amendment under this section and a court subsequently rules that the challenge has merit, the court's decision shall not result in a declaration of invalidity for the chapter and map, but only for those provisions which specifically relate to the landowner's curative amendment and challenge.
6. 
If the Board of Commissioners determines that a curative amendment and challenge has merit, it may accept the landowner's curative amendment, with or without revision, or may adopt an alternative amendment which will cure the challenged defects.
7. 
The Board of Commissioners shall consider the curative amendments, plans and explanatory material submitted by the landowner and also consider:
A. 
The impact of the proposal upon roads, sewer facilities, water supplies, schools and other public service facilities.
B. 
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 this chapter or map.
C. 
The suitability of the site for the intensity of use proposed by the site's soils, slopes, woodland, wetlands, floodplains, aquifers, natural resources and other natural features.
D. 
The impact of the proposed use on the site's soils, slopes, woodland, wetlands, floodplains, aquifers, natural resources and other natural features, the degree to which these are protected or destroyed, the tolerance of the resources to development, and any adverse environmental impacts.
E. 
The impact of the proposal on the preservation of agriculture and other land uses which are essential to the public health and welfare.
8. 
In the case of the Township itself as distinct from a landowner challenge, determining that this chapter or any portion thereof is substantially invalid pursuant to § 609.2 of the Municipalities Planning Code, as amended, 53 P.S. § 10609.2, the Township shall:
A. 
Declare by formal action this chapter or portions thereof substantially invalid and propose to prepare a curative amendment to overcome such invalidity.
B. 
Within 30 days thereof, by resolution make specific findings setting forth the declared invalidity, which may include:
(1) 
References to specific uses which are either not permitted or not permitted in sufficient quantity.
(2) 
References to a class of use or uses which require revisions.
(3) 
Reference to the entire ordinance which requires revisions.
C. 
Begin to prepare and consider a curative amendment to this chapter to correct the declared invalidity.
D. 
Within 180 days from the date of such declaration of invalidity, the Township shall enact a curative amendment to validate, or reaffirm the validity of, this chapter pursuant to the Municipalities Planning Code, as amended, 53 P.S. § 10101 et seq.
9. 
Upon the initiation of the procedures set forth in Subsection 8, the Board of Commissioners shall not be required to entertain or consider any landowner's curative amendment or challenge to this chapter, nor shall the Zoning Hearing Board be required to give a report requested under § 609.1 or 916.1 of the Municipalities Planning Code, as amended, 53 P.S. §§ 10609.1, 10916.1, subsequent to the declaration and proposal based upon grounds identical to or substantially similar to those specified by the Township pursuant to Subsection 8, and, upon completion of the procedures by the Township under Subsection 8, no rights to a cure pursuant to §§ 609.1 and 916.1 of the Municipalities Planning Code, as amended, 53 P.S. §§ 10609.1, 10916.1, shall, from the date of the Township's declaration and proposal under Subsection 8 of this section, accrue to any landowner on the basis of the substantive invalidity of the unamended ordinance for which there has been a curative amendment under Subsection 8.
[Ord. 1998-11, 12/17/1998, § I; as amended by Ord. 2011-12, 10/6/2011]
1. 
The Board of Commissioners has established by resolution a schedule of fees and a collection procedure relating to all applications filed pertaining to this chapter.
2. 
No application shall be considered filed until all fees are paid.
[Ord. 1998-11, 12/17/1998, § I]
1. 
If it appears to the Township that a violation of any provision of this chapter has occurred, the Township shall initiate enforcement proceedings by sending an enforcement notice as provided in this section.
2. 
The enforcement notice shall be sent to the owner of record of the parcel on which the violation has occurred, to any person who has filed a written request to receive enforcement notices regarding that parcel, and to any other person requested in writing by the owner of record.
3. 
An enforcement notice shall state at least the following:
A. 
The name of the owner of record and other person against whom the Township intends to take action.
B. 
The location of the property in violation.
C. 
The specific violation with a description of the requirements which have not been met, citing in each instance the applicable provisions of this chapter.
D. 
The date before which the steps for compliance must be commenced and the date before which the steps must be completed.
E. 
The recipient of the notice has the right to appeal to the Zoning Hearing Board within 15 days of receipt of this notice.
[Ord. 1998-11, 12/17/1998, § I; as amended by Ord. 2011-12, 10/6/2011]
In the event any building, structure, sign, landscaping or land is, or is proposed to be erected, constructed, reconstructed, altered, converted, maintained, extended, enlarged or used in violation of any provision of this chapter, the Board of Commissioners or, with the approval of the Board of Commissioners, an officer of the Township, or any aggrieved owner or tenant of real property who shows that his property or person will be substantially affected by the alleged violation, in addition to other remedies, may institute any appropriate action or proceeding to prevent, restrain, correct or abate such building, structure, landscaping or land, or to prevent, in or about such premises, any act, conduct, business or use constituting a violation. When any such action is instituted by a landowner or tenant, notice of that action shall be served upon the Township at least 30 days prior to the time that action is begun by serving a copy of the complaint on the Board of Commissioners. No such action may be maintained until such notice has been given.
[Ord. 1998-11, 12/17/1998, § I; as amended by Ord. 2011-12, 10/6/2011]
Any person, partnership or corporation who or which has violated or permitted the violation of any of the provisions of this chapter (including all Appendices) shall, upon being found liable therefor in a civil enforcement proceeding, pay a judgment of not more than $500, plus all court costs, including reasonable attorney fees incurred by the Township as a result thereof. No judgment shall commence or be imposed, levied or be payable until the date of the determination of a violation by the magisterial district judge. If the defendant neither pays nor timely appeals the judgment, the Township may enforce the judgment pursuant to the applicable rules of civil procedure. Each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate violation, unless the magisterial district judge, determining that there has been basis for the person, partnership or corporation violating this chapter to have believed that there was no such violation, in which event there shall be deemed to have been only one such violation until the fifth day following the date of the determination of a violation by the magisterial district judge and thereafter each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate violation. All judgments, costs and reasonable attorney fees collected for the violation of this chapter shall be paid over to the Township. The validity of a determination or decision by the Zoning Officer, Zoning Hearing Board or Board of Commissioners may be challenged by an appeal of said determination or decision pursuant to § 27-2604 or 27-2606 and the Municipalities Planning Code as the exclusive remedy for a person aggrieved by such determination or decision; in no event may the validity of any such determination or decision be challenged or reviewed in any proceeding for enforcement under § 27-2612 before a magisterial district judge or court.