Township of Lower Gwynedd, PA
Montgomery County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
STATUTORY REFERENCES
Power to adopt and enforce zoning ordinances — See 53 P.S. § 66517.
General provisions and definitions — See 53 P.S. § 10101 et seq.
GENERAL REFERENCES
Variances — See Ch. 1290, Section 1290.07 et seq., and Ch. 1299, Section 1299.06.
Authority concerning nonconforming uses — See Ch. 1296, Section 1296.05.
General provisions and definitions — See Ch. 1298.

§ 1252.01 Appointment; composition; removal; alternates.

[Ord. 223. Passed 12-10-1985; Ord. 314. Passed 2-21-1995]
(a) 
The governing body may appoint by resolution at least one but no more than three residents of the municipality to serve as alternate members of the Board. The term of office of an alternate member shall be three years. When seated pursuant to the provisions of § 906 of the Municipalities Planning Code, an alternate shall be entitled to participate in all proceedings and discussions of the Board to the same and full extent as provided by law for 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 act and as otherwise provided by law. Alternates shall hold no other office in the municipality, including membership on the Planning Commission or Zoning Officer. An alternate may participate in any proceeding or discussion of the Board but shall not be entitled to vote as a member of the Board nor be compensated pursuant to § 907 of the Municipalities Planning Code unless designated as a voting alternate member pursuant to § 906 of the Municipalities Planning Code of the act.
(b) 
The Board of Supervisors shall appoint a Zoning Hearing Board consisting of three members, as provided by law. A member of the Zoning Hearing Board may be removed for cause by the Board of Supervisors upon written charges and after a public hearing scheduled not less than 30 days after the member has received notice of the charges.

§ 1252.02 Powers and duties.

[Ord. 223. Passed 12-10-1985]
The Zoning Hearing Board shall have the following powers and duties:
(a) 
Appeals. To hear and decide appeals where it is alleged that there is an error in any order, requirement, decision or determination made by the Township Code Official in the enforcement of this Zoning Code.
(b) 
Special Exceptions. To hear and decide special exceptions to the terms of this Zoning Code, in such cases as are herein expressly provided for, in harmony with the general purposes and intent of this Zoning Code, with the power to impose appropriate conditions and safeguards.
(c) 
Variances. To authorize, on appeal, in accordance with the law, variances from the terms of this Zoning Code.
(d) 
Challenges to Validity. To hear all challenges wherein the validity of this Zoning Code or the Zoning Map presents any issue of fact or of interpretation not hitherto properly determined at a hearing before another competent agency or body, to take evidence and make a record thereon as hereinafter provided and thereafter to decide all contested questions of interpretation and make findings on all relevant issues of fact which shall become part of the record on appeal to a court.

§ 1252.03 Special exceptions; variances.

[Ord. 223. Passed 12-10-1985]
In any instance where the Zoning Hearing Board is required to consider any of those matters itemized in Section 1252.02, the Board shall act in accordance with the following:
(a) 
Special Exceptions. The Board may grant approval of a special exception, provided that the following standards and criteria are complied with by the applicant for the special exception. The burden of proof rests with the applicant.
(1) 
The applicant shall establish, by credible evidence, that the special exception or other subject of consideration for approval complies with the intent of this Zoning Code.
(2) 
The applicant shall establish, by credible evidence, compliance with all conditions of the special exception enumerated in that section which gives the applicant the right to seek a special exception.
(3) 
The applicant shall establish, by credible evidence, that the proposed special exception or other subject of consideration for approval shall not adversely affect neighboring land uses in any way and shall not impose upon its neighbors in any way, but rather shall blend in with them in a harmonious manner.
(4) 
The applicant shall establish, by credible evidence, that the proposed special exception or other subject of consideration for approval will be properly serviced by all existing public service systems. The peak traffic generated by the subject of the approval must be accommodated for in a safe and efficient manner, or improvements must be made in order to effect the same. Similar responsibility must be assumed with respect to other public service systems, including but not limited to police protection, fire protection, utilities, parks and recreation.
(5) 
The applicant shall establish, by credible evidence, that the proposed special exception or other subject of consideration for approval will be in and of itself properly designed with regard to internal circulation, parking, buffering and all other elements of proper design.
(6) 
The applicant shall provide the Board with sufficient plans, studies or other data to demonstrate that compliance with the permitted uses or other regulations, as may be the subject of consideration for a special exception approval, is unreasonable or inappropriate for the instance at hand.
(7) 
The Board shall impose such conditions as are necessary to ensure compliance with the purpose and intent of this Zoning Code, which conditions may include plantings and buffers, harmonious design of buildings and the elimination of noxious, offensive or hazardous elements.
(b) 
Variances. The Board may grant variances, provided that the following findings are made, where relevant:
(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 this Zoning Code 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 this Zoning Code, and that the authorization of a variance is therefore necessary to enable the reasonable use of the property;
(3) 
That such unnecessary hardship has not been created by the applicant;
(4) 
That the variance, if authorized, will not alter the essential character of the neighborhood or district in which the property is located, substantially or permanently impair the appropriate use or development of adjacent property or be detrimental to the public welfare; and
(5) 
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, the Board shall attach such reasonable conditions and safeguards as it may deem necessary to implement the purposes of the law and this Zoning Code.

§ 1252.04 Authority re appeals.

[Ord. 223. Passed 12-10-1985]
In exercising the powers set forth in this chapter, the Zoning Hearing Board may reverse or affirm, wholly or in part, or may modify, the order, requirement, decision or determination appealed from and may make such additional order, requirement, decision or determination as ought to be made as may be pertinent or germane, and, to that end, shall have all the powers of the officer from whom the appeal is taken.

§ 1252.05 Rules of procedure; applications.

[Ord. 223. Passed 12-10-1985]
The Zoning Hearing Board shall adopt rules of procedure consistent with the requirements of this Zoning Code as to the manner of filing appeals or applications for special exceptions or for variances from the terms of this Zoning Code. All appeals and applications made to the Board shall be in writing on forms prescribed by the Board. Every appeal or application shall refer to the specific provision of this Zoning Code involved and shall specifically set forth the interpretation that is claimed, the use for which the special exception is sought, the details of the variance that is applied for and the grounds on which it is claimed that the variance should be granted, as the case may be.

§ 1252.06 Meetings; minutes.

[Ord. 223. Passed 12-10-1985]
Meetings of the Zoning Hearing Board shall be held monthly as scheduled by the Chairperson of the Board and at such other times as the Board may determine. The Chairperson or, in his or her absence, the Acting Chairperson, may administer oaths and compel the attendance of witnesses. All meetings of the Board shall be open to the public. The Board shall keep minutes of its proceedings, showing the vote of each member upon each question, or, if absent or failing to vote, indicating such fact, and shall keep records of its examinations and other official actions, all of which shall be promptly filed in the Township administrative office and shall be a public record.

§ 1252.07 Decisions on applications.

[Ord. 223. Passed 12-10-1985]
The Zoning Hearing Board shall render a written decision or, when no decision is called for, make written findings on an application within 45 days after the last hearing on the application before the Board. Such decision shall be noted in the minutes of the next meeting of the Board. Notice of such decision shall be given to all parties in interest immediately after its announcement. For purposes of this section, parties in interest shall be limited to the applicant and any Township resident who indicates by completing an appropriate form provided by the Board, his or her desire to receive notice of the Board's decision.

§ 1252.08 Technical assistance.

[Ord. 223. Passed 12-10-1985]
In considering any matter within its jurisdiction, the Zoning Hearing Board may consult with the Township Planning Commission, the County Planning Commission or any other specialist or group of specialists having expert knowledge of the matter under consideration, but need not be bound thereby. Where the Board is considering an application for a special exception, the Secretary of the Board shall, at least 10 days before the date of the hearing, transmit to the Township Planning Commission a copy of the notice of hearing and other information as may have been furnished by the applicant or the Township Code Official.

§ 1252.09 Notice of hearings.

[Ord. 223. Passed 12-10-1985; Ord. 314. Passed 2-21-1995]
Upon the filing with the Zoning Hearing Board of an application for a special exception, variance, appeal from a decision of the Township Code Official or challenge to the validity of any of the provisions of this Zoning Code or the Zoning Map, the Board shall fix a reasonable time and place for a public hearing thereon and shall give seven days notice as follows:
(a) 
By publishing a notice in a newspaper of general circulation published or circulated in the Township;
(b) 
By mail or personal service to the parties in interest;
(c) 
By mail or personal service to the Board of Supervisors;
(d) 
By mail or personal service to the owner, if his or her 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 such lot or building;
(e) 
By posting a notice on the building or lot;
(f) 
By mailing a notice to every resident or residents' association registered for the purpose, provided that such registration shall be valid only during the calendar year in which it is filed; and
(g) 
By mailing a notice to the Planning Commission.
The notices herein required shall state the location of the building or lot and the general nature of the question involved. The advertising requirements set forth in this section shall not apply to continued or additional hearings on a single application, provided that a date certain for the continued or additional hearing is announced to those persons present at the hearing which is immediately prior to the additional or continued hearing.

§ 1252.10 Expiration of special exceptions or variances.

[Ord. 233A. Passed 6-18-1987; Ord. 314. Passed 2-21-1995]
Unless otherwise specified by the Zoning Hearing Board, a special exception or variance shall expire if the applicant fails to obtain a permit in connection therewith within one year of the date of the order of the Board or court granting such special exception or variance. In those instances where land development/subdivision approval is a necessary prerequisite prior to obtaining a building permit, the special exception or variance shall expire if the applicant fails to make a diligent effort to obtain such approval within six months following the date of approval. Upon receipt of land development approval, the special exception or variance shall expire if a building permit is not obtained within six months of the date of land development approval.

§ 1252.11 Appeals from Board decisions.

[Ord. 223. Passed 12-10-1985]
Any person aggrieved by any decision of the Zoning Hearing Board, any taxpayer or any officer of the Township may, within 30 days after any decision of the Board, appeal to the Court of Common Pleas of the County by petition in such form as may be prescribed or authorized by law.

§ 1252.12 Adoption of fee schedule.

[Res. 85-20. Passed 5-22-1985]
The fee schedule provided for in Section 208.03(b) of the Administration Code is hereby adopted.