[Amended 4-2-1990 by Ord. No. HR-145; 1-7-1991 by Ord. No. HR-159; 10-7-1991 by Ord. No. HR-182; 9-14-1998 by Ord. No. HR-277; 10-19-1998 by Ord. No. HR-278; 5-1-2006 by Ord. No. HR-351]
The Zoning Hearing Board is hereby created in accordance with the provisions of Article IX of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC), Act 247, as amended.
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10101 et seq.
The membership of the Zoning Hearing Board shall consist of three residents of the Township who shall be appointed and serve as provided by law, and at least one but not more than three residents of the Township to serve as alternate members of the Zoning Hearing Board. An alternate member shall be entitled to participate in all proceedings and discussions of the Board as provided by law in § 208-144. Members and alternate members of the Zoning Hearing Board shall hold no other office in the Township. Removal of Zoning Hearing Board members shall be governed by the provisions of the laws of the commonwealth.
The Zoning Hearing Board shall have the functions and powers prescribed by law. In accordance with the provisions of Article IX of the MPC, the Zoning Hearing 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 the Zoning Map or any valid rule or regulation governing the action of the Zoning Officer.
Shall hear requests for variances where it is alleged that the provisions of this chapter inflict unnecessary hardship upon the applicant, subject to the standards prescribed by law and contained in § 208-150B.
Shall hear and decide requests for special exceptions where this chapter states that a special exception may be granted or denied by the Zoning Hearing Board in accordance with express standards and criteria contained in this chapter.
May hear all challenges to the validity of this chapter or to the Zoning Map involving issues of fact and of interpretation which properly come before the Zoning Hearing Board in accordance with law and shall take evidence and make a record thereof as prescribed by the MPC.
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 three members of the Zoning Hearing Board, but the Zoning Hearing Board may appoint a Hearing Officer from its own membership to conduct any hearing on its behalf and the parties may waive further action by the Zoning Hearing Board as provided in § 908 of the MPC.
The Zoning Hearing Board may make, alter and rescind rules and forms for its procedure, consistent with this chapter and laws of the commonwealth. The Zoning Hearing Board shall keep full public records of its business, which records shall be the property of the Township and shall submit a report of its activities to the Board of Supervisors.
Appeals from determinations of the Zoning Officer and proceedings to challenge this chapter may be filed with the Zoning Hearing Board by any officer or agency of the Township or by any person aggrieved. Requests for a variance and special exception may be filed with the Zoning Hearing Board by any landowner or any tenant with the permission of such landowner. An appeal to the Zoning Hearing Board shall be taken within a reasonable time as provided by the Zoning Hearing Board's rules of procedure by filing a notice both with the Zoning Hearing Board and the Zoning Officer, and the Zoning Officer shall forthwith transmit to the Zoning Hearing Board all the papers constituting the record upon which the action appealed from was taken. The raising of issues and the filing of certain proceedings before the Zoning Hearing Board also shall be subject to the time limitations contained in § 914.1 of the MPC.
An appeal or request for a special exception or variance from the terms of this chapter shall be filed with the Zoning Officer and shall state:
The name and address of the applicant.
The name and address of the owner of the real estate to be affected by the proposed special exception or variance.
A brief description and location of the real estate to be affected by such proposed change.
A statement of the present zoning classification of the real estate in question, the improvements thereon and the present use thereof.
A statement of the section of this chapter under which the variance or special exception requested may be allowed and the reasons why it should be granted.
A reasonably accurate description of the present improvements and the additions intended to be made under this application, indicating the size of such proposed improvements, material and general construction thereof. In addition, at the discretion of the Zoning Hearing Board, there shall be attached a plot plan of the real estate to be affected, prepared by a registered engineer or land surveyor, indicating the location and size of the lot and size of the improvements now erected and proposed to be erected thereon.
Planning Commission review. Appeals to the Zoning Hearing Board that will involve the subdivision of land or land development pursuant to Chapter 181, Subdivision and Land Development, shall be forwarded to the Planning Commission prior to a public hearing for review. The Planning Commission shall review the application and related documents as a sketch plan and provide comments to the Zoning Hearing Board. Failure by the Planning Commission to review an application or provide comments shall not invalidate action taken by the Zoning Hearing Board.
[Added 12-7-2015 by Ord. No. HR-412]
The Zoning Hearing Board shall conduct hearings and make decisions in accordance with the requirements of the MPC and any pertinent provisions of this chapter or the rules of the Zoning Hearing Board. Upon the filing with the Zoning Hearing Board of an appeal or a request for a special exception or variance from the terms of this chapter, the Zoning Hearing Board shall fix a time and place for a public hearing thereon and shall give notice thereof in accordance with the provisions of § 208-147. The Chairman or Acting Chairman of the Zoning Hearing Board or the Hearing Officer presiding shall have the power to administer oaths and issue subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of relevant documents and papers. 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 subject to the additional requirements of the MPC. Where the Zoning Hearing Board has the power to render a decision and the Zoning Hearing Board or the Hearing Officer, as the case may be, fails to render the same within 45 days, the decision shall be deemed to have been rendered in favor of the applicant. The parties to the hearing shall be any person who is entitled to notice in § 208-147 without special request therefor who has made timely appearance of record before the Zoning Hearing Board and any other person permitted to appear by the Zoning Hearing Board. Records of the proceedings shall be kept and copies and notices of Zoning Hearing Board decisions shall be provided as required by the MPC.
In any case where the Zoning Hearing Board shall hold a public hearing, it shall give notice as follows, which notice shall state the time and place of the hearing and the particular nature of the matter to be considered at the hearing:
By publishing a notice thereof, not more than 30 days and not less than seven days in advance of such hearing, once each week for two successive weeks, in a newspaper of general circulation in the Township.
By mailing due notice thereof to the applicant and other parties in interest.
By mailing notice thereof to the Township Manager and to the Township Supervisor representing the Election District in which the lot or building is located, the Zoning Officer and the Township and County Planning Commission.
By mailing a notice thereof to every resident or association of residents of the Township who shall have registered their names and addresses for this purpose with the Zoning Hearing Board for the current year.
When the Zoning Hearing Board shall so order, by mailing notice thereof to the owner if his residence is known or to the occupier of every lot on the same street within 500 feet of the lot or building in question and of every lot not on the same street within 150 feet of said lot or building. Failure to give the notice required by this subsection shall not invalidate any action taken by the Board.
Unless otherwise specified by the Zoning Hearing Board, a special exception or variance shall expire if the applicant fails to obtain a building or occupancy permit within 12 months from the date of the decision of the Zoning Hearing Board.
Zoning appeals from decisions of the Zoning Hearing Board and appeals upon reports of the Zoning Hearing Board in proceedings to challenge the validity of the Zoning Chapter and Map may be taken by any party before the Zoning Hearing Board or any officer or agency of the Township to the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County in accordance with the provisions of Article IX of the MPC. All such zoning appeals shall be filed not later than 30 days after issuance of the notice of decision or report of the Zoning Hearing Board.
In any instance where the Zoning Hearing Board is required to consider a request for a special exception or variance in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, the Zoning Hearing Board shall, to the full extent permitted by law, consider the following factors where appropriate:
Give full consideration to the size, scope, intent and character of the special exception or variance desired and assure itself that such request is consistent with the spirit, purpose and intent of this chapter.
Consider the suitability of the property for the use desired and the extent to which the new or expanded use is susceptible to regulation by appropriate conditions and safeguards.
Consider the public interest in or the need for the proposed change and determine that the proposal will serve the best interests of the Township, the convenience of the community (where applicable) and the public health, safety, morals and general welfare.
Consider, where pertinent, the effects of the proposed change with respect to the most appropriate use of land; conserving the value of buildings; safety from fire, panic and other dangers; adequacy of light and air; the overcrowding of land; congestion of population; and the adequacy of public and community services.
Take into consideration the character and type of development in the area surrounding the location for which the request is made and determine that the proposed change or modification, as permitted, will constitute an appropriate use in the area and will not substantially injure or detract from the use of surrounding property or from the character of the neighborhood.
Guide the development of highway frontage insofar as possible so as to limit the total number of access points, reduce the need for on-street parking and encourage the frontage of buildings on parallel marginal roads perpendicular to the highway.
Consider the probable effects of proposed development on highway congestion and ensure the adequate highway access arrangements are provided in order to protect major highways from undue congestion and hazard. Each applicant for special exception or variance shall establish the effect of the proposed development on the reserve capacity of the public roads and road intersections providing access to and in the area of the subject property. No special exception nor variance shall be granted if an effect thereof will be to materially increase traffic congestion on said roads or at said road intersections.
If the special exception or variance is sought in an area which has been designated as a unified development area in the Comprehensive Plan of the Township, consider whether the proposed development is substantially consistent with the criteria and objectives of said Comprehensive Plan and with the specific plan of development presented to the Board of Supervisors when any zoning change affecting the area in question was granted.
If a variance is sought in a Flood Hazard District Area, the Zoning Hearing Board shall follow the standards of review in § 208-15C.
If a special exception or variance is sought to permit the installation of a communications tower and/or antenna, the Zoning Hearing Board shall follow the standards of review in § 208-115; provided, that if the special exception or variance is sought to permit the installation of an amateur radio antenna and/or an amateur radio antenna support structure, the Zoning Hearing Board shall follow the standards of review in § 208-115.1.
[Amended 2-21-2017 by Ord. No. HR-414]
In the Trout Creek Stormwater Overlay District (TCS), and as part of a conditional use application, the applicant shall identify the specific public stormwater improvements being proposed. Plans and/or documentation shall be submitted in sufficient detail to:
[Added 10-1-2012 by Ord. No. HR-396]
Present the proposed general layout for the tract, including the project-specific and public stormwater improvements, buildings, streets, landscaping or screening, vehicular and pedestrian circulation, and parking and explain the proposed land use(s), with a table listing the amount of total nonresidential square footage and/or the total number of dwelling units, and a separate table listing the incentives utilized from this article and the respective improvements required for the incentives;
Demonstrate how the public stormwater improvements are consistent with the recommendations contained in the 2010 Trout Creek Watershed Study and Stormwater Best Management Practice Analysis, as amended, referenced in § 208-160;
Demonstrate how the public stormwater improvements are consistent with the purpose and meet the standards of this article, and Chapter 174, Stormwater Management;
Demonstrate the applicant's ability to achieve the proposed public stormwater improvements;
Present a long-term operations and maintenance plan that includes ownership, maintenance and funding responsibilities of all applicable parties for the public stormwater improvements and that is consistent with the requirements of Chapter 174, Stormwater Management;
Confirm that all necessary repairs and maintenance to the public stormwater improvements are conducted within a ninety-day time frame measured from the date of written notice from the Township, or as deemed appropriate by the Township Engineer;
Commit to conduct annual inspection and maintenance of the public stormwater improvements and submit an annual certification by a professional engineer whose area of expertise is stormwater management, water resources, or hydraulics and hydrology, that they continue to perform as per the approved plans to the Township;
Demonstrate, where applicable, how continuous flow measurement data (rainfall, stream depth and flow) will be collected for a period sufficient to demonstrate compliance with the stormwater management provisions of this chapter; and
Provide other information and supporting documentation necessary to reasonably inform the Board of Supervisors and public as to how the improvements serve the best interests of the Township and provide any other information requested by the Board of Supervisors.
In the case of a variance, in addition to any applicable standards of this section above, the more specific requirements or criteria contained in Article IX of the MPC shall apply. The Zoning Hearing Board may grant a variance, provided that 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 required by law is due to such conditions and not the circumstances or conditions generally created by the provisions of this chapter in the neighborhood or district in which the property is located.
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.
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.
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.
In granting any variance or 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 of the Township Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance and this chapter, which conditions and safeguards may relate to, but not be limited to: aesthetics, screening, lighting, noise, safety and the minimizing of noxious, offensive or hazardous elements. Each special exception shall be clearly authorized by a provision of this chapter and shall comply with any more specific standards relating to such exception contained in this chapter.
In the case of a request for a special exception or variance, it shall be the responsibility of the applicant to present such evidence as is necessary to demonstrate that the proposed use or modification complies with the pertinent criteria or standards set forth in this section.