Zoning Hearing Board
Albert Wrigley, Vice Chairman
Adoption of the Zoning Hearing Board by North Coventry Township
The Zoning Hearing Board is appointed by the Board of Supervisors in accordance with Article IX of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code. Membership of the Zoning Hearing Board shall be appointed as prescribed below.
§ 370-140. Establishment and membership.
There shall be a Zoning Hearing Board, appointed by the Board of Supervisors in accordance with Article IX of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended. Membership of the Zoning Hearing Board shall be appointed as prescribed in § 370-141, below.
§ 370-141. Membership, appointment, terms, removal.
- There shall be a Zoning Hearing Board, hereinafter referred to as the “ZHB” which shall consist of five members appointed by resolution of the Board of Supervisors.
- The members of the ZHB shall consist of residents of North Coventry Township.
- The term of office shall be five years and shall be so fixed that the term of office of one member shall expire each year.
- The ZHB shall promptly notify the Board of Supervisors of any vacancies which occur. Appointments to fill vacancies shall be only for the unexpired portion of the term.
- Members of the ZHB shall hold no other office in the Township.
- The Board of Supervisors shall appoint by resolution at least one but no more than three residents of the Township to serve as alternate members of the ZHB. The term of office of an alternate member shall be three years. When seated pursuant to the provisions of §370-142, an alternate shall be entitled to participate in all proceedings and discussions of the ZHB to the same and full extent as provided by law for ZHB 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 act and as otherwise provided by law. Alternates shall hold no other office in the municipality, including membership on the Planning Commission and Zoning Officer. An alternate may participate in any proceedings or discussion of the ZHB but shall not be entitled to vote as a member of the ZHB nor be compensated pursuant to § 370-145, unless designated as a voting alternate member pursuant to § 370-142.
- Any ZHB member shall be removed for malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance in office or for other just cause by a majority vote of the Board of Supervisors taken after the member has received 15 days advance notice of the intent to take such a
§ 370-142. Organization of Zoning Hearing Board.
- The ZHB shall elect, from its members, 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 not be less than a majority of all the members of the ZHB, but the ZHB 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 ZHB as provided in § 370-146.
- If, by reason of absence or disqualification of a member, a quorum is not reached, the Chairman of the ZHB shall designate as many alternate members of the ZHB to sit on the ZHB as may be needed to provide a quorum. Any alternate member of the ZHB shall continue to serve on the ZHB in all proceedings involving the matter or case for which the alternate was initially appointed until the ZHB has made a final determination of the matter or case. Designation of alternate pursuant to this section shall be made on a case-by-case basis in rotation according to declining seniority among all alternates.
- The ZHB may make, alter and rescind rules and forms for its procedure consistent with the provisions of this chapter and the laws of the Commonwealth. The ZHB shall keep full public record of its business and shall submit a report of its activities to the Board of Supervisors.
§ 370-143. Applications for hearings.
- Applications for hearings before the ZHB shall be filed with the ZHB together with the proper fee.
- An application for a special exception or variance from the terms of this chapter shall state:
- (1) The name and address of the applicant;
- (2) The name and address of the owner of the real estate to be affected by the proposed exception or variance;
- (3) A brief description and location of the real estate to be affected by such proposed change;
- (4) A statement of the present zoning classification and use of the real estate in question;
- (5) A statement of the section of this chapter under or from which the exception or variance requested may be authorized, and reasons why it should be granted;
- (6) A reasonably accurate description of the present improvements and the additions intended to be made under the application or appeal, if any, indicating the size of such proposed improvements, material, and general construction thereof. In addition there shall be attached a plot plan to scale of the real estate to be affected, indicating the location and size of the lot and size of improvements now erected and proposed to be erected thereon.
- (7) Applications for a special exception shall be accompanied by the information required in § 370-84 of this chapter.. Applications for other than special exception or variance from terms of this chapter shall contain sufficient written information to fully describe the intended use. Where, in the sole discretion of the Zoning Officer, it is appropriate for the applicant to furnish plans and/or specifications or any other relevant information incident to intended use, such information shall be required to be submitted with the application.
§ 370-144. Notice of hearings.
The ZHB shall give notice as follows:
- By publishing a public notice thereof in a newspaper of general circulation within the Township, indicating the time, place, and nature of the public hearing. Such notice shall be published once a week for two successive weeks prior to the date fixed for the hearing.
- By mailing notice thereof to the applicant, to the Township Zoning Officer, to each member of the Township Board of Supervisors, to the Chairman of the Township Planning Commission, to the Township Secretary, and to any person who has made timely request for same.
- By posting notice thereof conspicuously on the affected tract of land at least one week prior to the hearing.
- The ZHB may mail notice thereof to the owner of every lot on the same street within 500 feet of the lot or building in question or every lot not on the same street but within 150 feet of said lot or building. But failure to give notice, either in part or in full, as stated by this subsection shall not invalidate any action taken by the ZHB.
- The notice herein required shall state the name of the applicant, the location of the lot or building and the general nature of the question involved, and the date, time and location of the hearing.
§ 370-145. Expenditures for services.
- Within the limits of funds appropriated by the Board of Supervisors, the ZHB may employ or contract for secretaries, clerks, legal counsel, consultants and other technical and clerical services. Members of the ZHB may receive compensation for the performance of their duties, as may be fixed by the Board of Supervisors. In no case shall the rate of such compensation exceed the rate of compensation authorized to be paid to the members of the Board of Supervisors. Alternate members of the ZHB may receive compensation, as may be fixed by the Board of Supervisors, for the performance of their duties when designated as alternate members pursuant to § 370-142C, but in no case shall such compensation exceed the rate of compensation authorized to be paid to the members of the Board of Supervisors.
- The applicant before the ZHB shall deposit with the Township Manager such a sum of money as set forth in the fee schedule adopted by resolution of the Board of Supervisors to pay the cost of the hearing.
- Continued hearings and collection of fees.
- (1) In the event that more than one hearing is necessary on any application, the Zoning Hearing Board Secretary shall determine the total amount of all costs incurred, and shall deduct same from the application fee. In the event the application fee is, at any time, insufficient to cover the costs incurred or reasonably anticipated to be incurred, the Zoning Hearing Board Secretary shall notify the applicant, provide the applicant with a written copy of each item of cost incurred, and shall require the applicant to pay, within 10 days of such notification, any balance then due. In the event of multiple hearings, all administrative costs shall be reported and collected in accordance with this procedure.
- (2) The failure of the Zoning Hearing Board Secretary to demand additional deposits from time to time shall not relieve the applicant of liability for costs, charges, expenses and fees in excess of deposit; and in the event of default, such shall be recovered by such action as is by law provided.
§ 370-146. Hearings.
The Zoning Hearing Board shall conduct hearings and make decisions in accordance with the provisions of Section 908 of the Municipalities Planning Code, as amended.
§ 370-147. Jurisdiction.
The Zoning Hearing Board shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and render final adjudications in the following matters:
- Substantive challenges to the validity of an ordinance, except those brought before the Board of Supervisors pursuant to Sections 609.1 and 916.1(a)(2) of the Municipalities Planning Code, as amended.2
- Appeals by the applicant where it is alleged that the Zoning Officer has failed to follow prescribed procedures or has misinterpreted or misapplied any provision of a valid ordinance or Zoning Map or any valid rule or regulation governing the action of the Zoning Officer. Such appeals will be taken within 30 days of the action of the Zoning Officer by filing with the Zoning Officer and with the ZHB a notice of appeal specifying the grounds thereof. The Zoning Officer shall forthwith transmit to the ZHB all the papers constituting the record upon which the action appealed from was taken.
- Procedural questions or alleged defects in the process of enactment or adoption of this chapter or Zoning Map shall be raised by an appeal taken within 30 days after the effective date of the chapter or map.
- Substantive challenge to the validity of an ordinance or map or any provision thereof which prohibits or restricts the use of development of land in which he has an interest shall submit the challenge to either the Zoning Hearing Board, except when filed as a curative amendment before the Board of Supervisors.
- Appeals from the determination of the Zoning Officer pursuant to the requirements of § 370-28 (Flood Plain Conservation District) of this chapter.
- Applications for variances from the terms of this chapter, pursuant to the requirements of § 370-148.
- Applications for special exceptions under this chapter pursuant to the requirements of § 370-149.
- In all such challenges the ZHB shall decide all contested questions and shall make findings on all relevant issues of fact and of interpretation, and submit such findings as part of the record on appeal to the Court.
§ 370-148. Granting of variances.
- The ZHB shall hear requests for variances where it is alleged that the provisions of this chapter inflict unnecessary hardship on the applicant.
- The ZHB may by rule prescribe the form of application as provided by § 370-134.
- In granting any variance, the Zoning Hearing Board may attach such reasonable conditions and safeguards as it may deem necessary to implement the purposes of this chapter.
- The ZHB may grant a variance, provided the following findings
are made where relevant in a given case:
- (1) 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.
- (2) That because of such physical circumstances or conditions, there is no possibility that the property can be developed in strict conformity with the provisions of the Zoning Chapter and that the authorization of a variance is therefore necessary to enable the reasonable use of property.
- (3) That such unnecessary hardship has not been created by the applicant.
- (4) That the variance, if authorized, will neither 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.
- (5) That in the case where the property is located in part or totally within the regulatory floodway, the granting of a variance will not increase the base flood elevation.
- (6) 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.
§ 370-149. Granting of special exceptions.
The Zoning Hearing Board shall hear and decide requests for special exceptions where the chapter has stated special exceptions to be granted or denied by the ZHB pursuant to the following express standards and criteria, in addition to such other considerations and determinations as may be required by law and other provisions of this chapter. The ZHB shall:
- Give full consideration to the size, scope, extent, and character of the exception desired and assure itself that such request is consistent with the plan for future land use in North Coventry and with the spirit, purpose and intent of the Zoning Chapter.
- 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, if 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.
- Consider the public interest in, or the need for, the proposed use or change, to determine that the proposal will serve the best interest of the Township, and protect the public health, safety, morals and general welfare.
- Make certain that the proposed change is reasonable in terms of the logical, efficient, and economical extension of public services and facilities, including, but not limited to, public water, sewers, police and fire protection, transportation and public schools.
- Be guided in its study, review and recommendations by sound standards or subdivision practice where applicable.
- Review the recommendations of the Planning Commission on the proposed development plan, where such plan is required. The ZHB shall not be bound by such recommendations nor shall the ZHB be bound by the action of the Board of Supervisors in relation to the development plan.
- Guide the development of highway frontage insofar as possible 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 or on roads perpendicular to the highway.
- Consider the effects of the proposal with respect to congestion on the roads or highways, the most appropriate use of land, conserving the value of buildings, safety from fire, panic, and other dangers, adequacy of light and air, the prevention of overcrowding of land, congestion of population and adequacy of public and community services and determine that approval of the application will not have a substantially adverse effect thereon.
- Be assured that the natural features and processes characterizing the proposed site and its surroundings shall not suffer unmitigated degradation, that the management of storm waste, the provision of water or sewer service, and any other alterations to the site’s predevelopment condition shall be consistent with the Township goals, practices, and plans in these regards, and that demand for water and energy by the proposed use shall be minimized to the optimal extent
- Impose such conditions, in addition to those required as are necessary to assure that the intent of the Zoning Chapter is complied with, and which are reasonably necessary to safeguard the health, safety, morals and general welfare of the residents of the Township at large and the residents and owners of the property adjacent to the area in which the proposed use is to be conducted. Conditions may include, but are not limited to, harmonious design of buildings, aesthetics, hours of operation, lighting, numbers of persons involved, noise, sanitation, safety, smoke and fume control and the minimizing of noxious, offensive or hazardous elements.