[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Commissioners of the Township of Haverford as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 11-9-2020 by Ord. No. 2912]
Title and intent. The provisions of this article shall be known as the "Reasonable Accommodations Policy and Procedure Regulations." The intent of the Reasonable Accommodations Policy and Procedure Regulations is to provide flexibility in the application of the Zoning, Building/Construction and Planning Codes for individuals with a disability, when flexibility is necessary to eliminate barriers to housing opportunities. This article will facilitate compliance with federal and state fair housing laws and promote housing opportunities for residents of Haverford Township.
Purpose. The purpose of this article is to establish a procedure for persons with disabilities seeking fair access to housing to make requests for reasonable accommodation in the application of Haverford Township's zoning laws, rules, policies, practices and procedures pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(b) (the Fair Housing Act) and other laws which prohibit local government from refusing to make reasonable accommodations in policies and practices when these accommodations are necessary to afford persons with disabilities equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.
Applicability. A request for reasonable accommodation may include a modification or exception to the rules, standards and practices for the siting, development and use of housing or housing-related facilities that would eliminate regulatory barriers and provide a person with a disability equal opportunity to housing of their choice. It is the policy of Haverford Township, pursuant to the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, to provide people with disabilities reasonable accommodation in rules, policies, practices and procedures that may be necessary to ensure equal access to housing. The purpose of these provisions is to provide a process for making requests for reasonable accommodation to land use and zoning decisions and procedures regulating the siting, funding, development and use of housing for people with disabilities. In these regulations, "use of housing" includes, but is not limited to, housing-related services and the use and enjoyment of the property.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The Fair Housing Act (42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq.) and any amendments thereto.
- The Haverford Township Municipal Zoning, Building/Construction or Planning Code or ordinance which sets forth the Township's land use, building/construction and zoning regulations.
- DESIGNEE or APPEALS DESIGNEE
- The person(s), board, commission or other group of persons designated to make determinations on fair housing accommodation requests pursuant to this article.
- A mental or physical impairment(s) that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
- DISABLED PERSON
- Any person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; anyone who is regarded as having such impairment; or anyone who has a record of such impairment. This article does not protect an individual's current unlawful use of or addiction to controlled substances or other drugs, unless that individual has a separate disability.
Notice of Haverford Township's Reasonable Accommodations Policy and Procedure (Exhibit A) shall be displayed at public information counters in the Building and Codes Office and the Community Development Office of the Township.
Any person (or his or her representative) who requires reasonable accommodation because of a disability shall make such a request to the Township on a form provided by the Township Manager or his or her designee. A fee will be charged to review the application, as shown in the Master Fee Schedule.
Review with other land use or design review applications. If the project for which the request is being made also requires other discretionary approval (including, but not limited to, design review, conditional use permit, variance or subdivision), then the applicant shall file the request for reasonable accommodation, together with the application for discretionary approval. All related applications for discretionary approval shall be considered concurrently with the request for reasonable accommodation.
In order to make specific housing available to an individual with a disability, any person may request a reasonable accommodation in the rules, policies, practices and procedures regulating the siting, funding, development or use of housing by completing the Fair Housing Accommodation Request form (Exhibit B) and filing it with the Township Manager or his or her designee.
If an individual needs assistance in making the request for reasonable accommodation, the Township Manager, or his or her designee, shall provide the assistance necessary to ensure that the process is accessible to the applicant.
A request for reasonable accommodation in rules, policies, practices and/or procedures may be filed at any time that the accommodation may be necessary to ensure equal access to housing, at the outset or during the approval process.
The applicant shall provide the following information on the reasonable accommodation application form:
Applicant's name, address and telephone number and property owner's name and address, if not the same.
Address and folio number of the property for which the request is being made.
Current use or activity on the property.
Photographs and/or drawings of the property and structure (i.e., floor plan and site plan) and proposed alterations to the property.
Description of the requested accommodation and the Zoning Code provision, regulation, policy or procedure for which accommodation is being requested.
Basis for the claim that the individual has a disability under the Act.
Reason that the requested accommodation is necessary for the individual with the disability to use and enjoy the dwelling. The accommodation is for the tenant/resident of the property.
Potential impact of accommodation to surrounding land uses and neighbors.
When a request for reasonable accommodation is filed, it shall be referred to the designee for review and consideration. The designee shall issue a written decision within 30 days of the date of the application and may grant the reasonable accommodation request or deny the request. See the Notice of Decision on Fair Housing Accommodation Request form (Exhibit C) for the designee's use.
If necessary to reach a decision on the request for reasonable accommodation, the designee may request further information from the applicant consistent with the Act, specifying, in detail, what information is required. In the event that the designee requests further information pursuant to the above subsection, the running of any appeal period shall be tolled (stopped) until the applicant responds to the request.
Not more than 30 days after receiving a written request for reasonable accommodation, the designee shall issue a written decision on the request, provided that, in the event that the designee requests further information pursuant to the above subsection, the running of this period shall be tolled (stopped) until the applicant responds to the request.
The designee shall consider the following criteria when deciding whether a requested accommodation is reasonable:
Is the housing which is the subject of the request for reasonable accommodation to be used by an individual protected under the Act?
Is the request for accommodation necessary to make specific housing available to an individual protected under the Act?
Whether the requested accommodation would impose an undue financial or administrative burden on the jurisdiction.
Whether the requested accommodation would require a fundamental alteration in the nature of a program.
The notice of determination may grant the accommodation request; grant the accommodation request subject to specified nondiscriminatory conditions of approval; or deny the request.
All written determinations shall give notice of the right to appeal, if any, as specified in this article. The designee's written decision on the request for reasonable accommodation shall explain, in detail, the basis of the decision, including the designee's findings on the criteria set forth above.
All written decisions shall give notice of the right to appeal and to request reasonable accommodation in the appeals process as set forth below. The designee's notice of decision shall be sent to the applicant by certified mail and first-class mail.
If the designee fails to render a written decision on the request for reasonable accommodation within the time period allotted in this article, the request shall be deemed granted.
Within 30 days of the date of the designee's written decision, the applicant may appeal an adverse decision by filing the Appeal of Denial of Fair Housing Accommodation Request form (Exhibit D). The appeal shall be a de novo appeal and shall be referred to the Haverford Township Human Relations Commission for hearing and decision. For purposes of rendering a decision, the Township Manager, the Township Zoning Hearing Board and the Township Planning Commission shall each designate a representative to assist the Human Relations Commission in ruling upon the appeal.
An applicant may request reasonable accommodation in the procedure by which an appeal will be conducted. If an applicant needs assistance in filing an appeal, the Township Manager and/or his or her designee shall provide the assistance that is necessary to ensure that the appeal process is accessible to the applicant.
All appeals shall contain a statement of the grounds for the appeal.
Nothing in this article shall preclude an aggrieved individual from seeking any other state or federal remedy available.
Any party aggrieved by any order of the Human Relations Commission may file an appeal to the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County within 30 days after the mailing of notice of such order by the Commission to the aggrieved party or the party's attorney.
If no appeal is taken within 30 days, the order of the Commission shall be final and conclusive and shall not be subject to review by any court in any action, including any proceedings to obtain enforcement.