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Township of West Goshen, PA
Chester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Amended 5-8-1990 by Ord. No. 3-1990]
A. 
Membership.
(1) 
The membership of the Zoning Hearing Board shall consist of three residents of the Township appointed by resolution of the Board of Supervisors. The terms of office of the individual Board members shall be three years and shall be so fixed that the term of office of one member shall expire each year. The Zoning Hearing Board shall promptly notify the Board of Supervisors of any vacancies which occur on the Zoning Hearing Board, and any such vacancy shall be filled by the Board of Supervisors only for the unexpired portion of the vacated member's term. Members of the Board shall hold no other office in the Township.
(2) 
The Board of Supervisors may appoint by resolution at least one but no more than three residents of the Township to serve as alternative members of the Zoning Hearing Board. The term of office of an alternate member shall be three years. Whenever seated as a Board member pursuant to Subsection B of this section, such alternate shall be entitled to participate in all proceedings and discussions of the Zoning Hearing Board to the same and full extent as provided by law for regular 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 of a Board member provided in this chapter and by law. Any 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 unless designated as a voting alternate member, as aforesaid. Alternates shall hold no other office in the Township, including membership on the Planning Commission and Zoning Officer.
(3) 
Any Board member, including an alternate member, may be removed for malfeasances, misfeasances or nonfeasances 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 vote. A hearing shall be held in connection with the vote if the member shall request it in writing.
B. 
Organization.
(1) 
The Zoning Hearing 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 members of the Board, but the 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 Board as provided in MPC Section 908.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10908.
(2) 
If, by reason of absence or disqualification of a Board member, a quorum is not reached, the Chairman of the Board shall designate as many alternate members of the Board to sit on the Board as may be needed to provide a quorum. Any alternate member of the Board shall continue to serve on the Board in all proceedings involving the matter or case for which the alternate was initially appointed until the 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.
(3) 
Within the limits of funds appropriated by the Board of Supervisors, the Zoning Hearing Board may employ or contract for secretaries, clerks, legal counsel, consultants and other technical and clerical services. Members of the Board may receive compensation for the performance of their duties, as may be fixed by the Board of Supervisors, but in no case shall it exceed the rate of compensation authorized to be paid to the members of the Board of Supervisors. Alternate members of the Zoning Board 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 Subsection B(2), but in no case shall such compensation exceed the rate of compensation authorized to be paid to the members of the Board of Supervisors.
(4) 
The Board may make, alter and rescind rules and forms for its procedure, consistent with the Township's ordinances and the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Board shall keep full public records of its business, which records shall be property of the Township, and shall submit a report of its activities to and as requested by the Board of Supervisors.
A. 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and render final adjudications in the following matters:
[Amended 5-8-1990 by Ord. No. 3-1990]:
(1) 
Substantive challenges to the validity of any land use ordinance, except those brought before the Board of Supervisors pursuant to MPC Sections 609.1 and 916.1(a)(2).[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. §§ 10609.1 and 10916.1(a)(2).
(2) 
(Reserved)[2]
[2]
Editor's Note: Former Subsection A(2), which gave the Zoning Hearing Board exclusive jurisdiction to hear and render final adjudications on challenges to the validity of a land use ordinance raising procedural questions or alleged defects in the process of enactment or adoption, was repealed 12-10-2008 by Ord. No. 10-2008.
(3) 
Appeals from the determination of the Zoning Officer, including but not limited to the granting or denial of any permit or failure to act on the application therefor, the issuance of any cease and desist order or enforcement notice or the registration or refusal to register any nonconforming use, structure or lot.
(4) 
Appeals from a determination by the Township Engineer or the Zoning Officer with reference to the administration of any floodplain or flood hazard ordinance or such provisions within this chapter or any land use ordinance.
(5) 
Applications for variances from the terms of this chapter, including the floodplain regulations of Article XIX, pursuant to § 910.2 of the Municipalities Planning Code.[3]
[Amended 7-19-2017 by Ord. No. 5-2017]
[3]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10910.2.
(6) 
Applications for special exceptions under the terms of this chapter, including the floodplain regulations of Article XIX, pursuant to § 912.1 of the Municipalities Planning Code.[4]
[Amended 7-19-2017 by Ord. No. 5-2017]
[4]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10912.1.
(7) 
Appeals from the Zoning Officer's determination under MPC Section 916.2.[5]
[5]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10916.2.
(8) 
Appeals from the determination of the Zoning Officer or the Township Engineer in the administration of this chapter or any land use ordinance or provision thereof with reference to sedimentation and erosion control and stormwater management, insofar as the same relates to development not involving subdivision and/or land development applications under Chapter 72 of the West Goshen Code.
(9) 
Any other application authorized by law to be taken to the Zoning Hearing Board.
B. 
Zoning Hearing Board's functions; variances. Upon denial of a permit by the Zoning Officer, the Board shall hear a request for variances where it is alleged that the provisions of this chapter inflict unnecessary hardship upon the applicant. The Board may grant a variance, provided that all of the following findings are made where relevant in a given case:
[Amended 5-8-1990 by Ord. No. 3-1990]
(1) 
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 the necessary hardship 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.
(2) 
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 the authorization of a variance is therefore necessary to enable the reasonable use of the property.
(3) 
Such unnecessary hardship has not been created by the applicant.
(4) 
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.
(5) 
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.
C. 
Zoning Hearing Board's functions.
[Amended 5-8-1990 by Ord. No. 3-1990]
(1) 
Special exceptions. In those instances in which this chapter provides for special exceptions to be granted or denied by the Zoning Hearing Board pursuant to express standards and criteria established in this chapter, the Board shall hear and decide requests for such special exceptions in accordance with such standards and criteria. In granting a special exception, the 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 this chapter and the provisions of the MPC.[6]
[6]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10101 et seq.
(2) 
Substantive challenge.
(a) 
A landowner who, on substantive grounds, desires to challenge the validity of this chapter or the Zoning Map[7] or any provision thereof which prohibits or restricts the use or development of land in which he has an interest may submit the challenge to the Zoning Hearing Board in accordance with § 84-72A(1) hereof.
[7]
Editor's Note: The Zoning Map is on file in the office of the Township Secretary.
(b) 
Persons aggrieved by a use or development permitted on the land of an owner by this chapter or the Zoning Map or any provision hereof who desire to challenge its validity on substantive grounds shall first submit their challenge to the Hearing Board for a decision thereon pursuant to § 84-72A(1) hereof.
(c) 
The submissions referred to in Subsection C(2)(a) and (b) of this section shall be governed by the provisions of and procedures established in MPC Section 916.1[8] and § 84-72L of this chapter; provided, however, that if, following hearing thereon, the Zoning Hearing Board fails to act on the landowner's request within 45 days after the conclusion of the last hearing, a denial of the request is deemed to have occurred on the 46th day after the close of the last hearing.
[8]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10916.1.
D. 
Parties appellant before the Board.
[Amended 5-8-1990 by Ord. No. 3-1990]
(1) 
Appeals to the Zoning Hearing Board under § 84-72A(1), (2), (3), (4), (7), (8) and (9) may be filed with the Board, in writing, by the landowner affected, any officer or agency of the Township or any person aggrieved. Requests for variances under § 84-72B and for special exception under § 84-72C(1) may be filed with the Board by any landowner or any tenant with the permission of such landowner.
(2) 
Upon filing an appeal under this section and during its pendency before the 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 unless the Zoning Officer or any other appropriate agency or body certifies to the Board facts indicating that such stay would cause imminent peril to life or property, in which case the development or official action shall not be stayed otherwise then by a restraining order, which may be granted by the Board or by a court having jurisdiction of zoning appeals, on petition, after notice to the Zoning Officer or other appropriate agency or body. When an application for development, preliminary or final, has been duly approved and proceedings designed to reverse or limit the approval are filed with the 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 Board.
E. 
Appeals, applications or challenges shall be initiated before this Board by filing with the Zoning Officer a petition which 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 relief.
(3) 
A brief description and location of the real estate to be affected by such proposed relief.
(4) 
A statement of the present zoning classification of the real estate in question, the date of acquisition thereof and the present use thereof.
(5) 
A statement of the section of this chapter under which an exception is requested or variance sought or to which challenge as to the validity is made and a statement of the specific relief sought and the provisions applicable thereto.
(6) 
A reasonably accurate description of the present improvements and the additions intended to be made shall accompany the application, indicating the size of such proposed improvements, materials and general construction thereof and sufficient information to display compliance with the area, bulk and setback requirements and design standards of this chapter, together with six copies of the plot plan of the real estate to be affected, prepared by a registered engineer or registered land surveyor, indicating the location and size of the lot and size of the improvements now erected and proposed to be erected showing all dimensions, computations, areas, percentages and measurements necessary to demonstrate compliance with all the applicable zoning regulations and six copies of the application for building permit, showing the Zoning Officer's action with respect thereto.
[Amended 3-10-2004 by Ord. No. 3-2004]
F. 
Time limitation.
[Amended 5-8-1990 by Ord. No. 3-1990]
(1) 
No person shall be allowed to file any proceeding with the Board later than 30 days after an 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. If such person has succeeded to his interest after such approval, he shall be bound by the knowledge of his predecessor in interest. The failure of anyone other than the landowner to appeal from an adverse decision by the Zoning Officer on a challenge to the validity of this chapter or the Zoning Map[9] pursuant to MPC Section 916.2[10] shall preclude an appeal from a final approval except in the case where the final submission substantially deviates from the approved preliminary approval.
[9]
Editor's Note: The Zoning Map is on file in the office of the Township Secretary.
[10]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10916.2.
(2) 
All appeals from determinations adverse to the landowner shall be filed by the landowner within 30 days after notice of the determination is issued.
G. 
Application deposits and charges against deposits.
[Amended 8-22-1989 by Ord. No. 8-1989]
(1) 
Upon submission of any application to the Zoning Hearing Board, the applicant shall deposit as part of the application with the Township Zoning Officer or other administrative officer receiving the application the filing fee designated by resolution of the Board of Supervisors then in effect.
(2) 
Additional deposits. If at any time the charges then made against the applicant's deposit shall render the balance insufficient to insure the payment of all costs, expenses, charges and fees that may accrue in the disposition of the pending application, the Zoning Hearing Board may require additional deposits to be made from time to time to assure adequate funds to pay such charges, costs, expenses and fees as they may accrue. The failure of the Zoning Hearing Board to demand additional deposits from time to time shall not relieve the applicant of liability for costs, charges, fees and expenses in excess of deposits, hereinafter called deficiencies.
(3) 
Upon failure of the applicant to pay the deposits, additional deposits or deficiencies within 30 days or prior to the next scheduled hearing (whichever be the earlier date), the Board may:
(a) 
Continue the matter generally until such deposits, additional deposits or deficiencies are paid, in which case the record shall remain open and the time within which a decision must be rendered shall not commence to run;
(b) 
Dismiss applicant's appeal in which case no new appeal may be filed if the time for filing an appeal as set forth in § 84-72F above has expired;
(c) 
Determine the appeal upon the record as it then stands; or
(d) 
Take such other action as it deems proper under the circumstances.
H. 
Representation before the Board. Any applicant may appear in propria persona or may be represented by an attorney at law, duly admitted to practice in the Courts of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. No persons not admitted to practice before the Courts of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as an attorney at law shall represent any other person, firm or corporation before the Board; provided, however, that representation of a corporate applicant by its responsible officers shall be deemed for the purpose of this provision representation in propria persona. The Board shall have power in its discretion to waive this rule.
I. 
Notice of public hearing. The Board shall give public notice of its hearing as follows:
[Amended 5-8-1990 by Ord. No. 3-1990]
(1) 
By conspicuously posting written notice of the hearing on the affected lot at least one week prior to the hearing.
(2) 
Mailing of notice.
(a) 
By mailing notice thereof to the following;
[1] 
The applicant.
[2] 
All property owners within 500 feet of the subject property.
[3] 
All persons or organizations who have filed their names with the Township Zoning Officer within the last year indicating their desire to receive such notices.
[4] 
The Township Secretary.
[5] 
The Township Engineer.
[6] 
The Township Solicitor.
[7] 
The Township Zoning Hearing Board Solicitor.
[8] 
Each Township Supervisor.
[9] 
Each member of the Zoning Hearing Board.
[10] 
Each member of the Township Planning Commission.
[11] 
The County Planning Commission.
[12] 
The Township Zoning Officer.
(b) 
The failure to send notice to any of the above-named or designated persons shall not invalidate any action taken by the Board.
J. 
Notices of decisions of the Zoning Hearing Board shall be sent to all persons designated in Subsection I(2)(a)[2], [3], [4], [5], [8], [10] and [11]. The notices shall state the matter under consideration, the nature of the decision rendered and the place within the Township where a true and correct copy of the decision may be examined by any person interested.
K. 
True and correct copies of the decision of the Zoning Hearing Board shall be sent to those persons designated in Subsection I(2)(a)[1], [6], [7], [9] and [12]. True and correct copies of the decision shall also be sent to any person who has formally appeared as a party to such proceedings and to the attorney of any such person who has appeared as a party to such proceedings. The decision shall be rendered and served upon the persons herein described and as required in accordance with the provisions of MPC Section 908(9) and (10).[11]
[Amended 5-8-1990 by Ord. No. 3-1990]
[11]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10908(9) and (10).
L. 
Procedure before the Board. The Board shall conduct hearings and make decisions in accordance with the provisions of MPC Section 908[12] and in accordance with such rules of procedure as may be adopted by the Zoning Hearing Board and in accordance with the requirements of this chapter.
[Amended 5-8-1990 by Ord. No. 3-1990]
[12]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10908.
M. 
Expiration of special exceptions and variances. Unless otherwise specified by the Zoning Hearing Board, a special exception or variance shall expire if the applicant fails to file a subdivision application, a land development application, a building permit or, if no building permit is required, a use and occupancy permit, as applicable, within six months from the date of authorization of the Board.
[Amended 11-13-1979 by Ord. No. 5-79; 3-10-2004 by Ord. No. 3-2004]
(1) 
Where such application is made within six months, the same shall be prosecuted with due diligence by the applicant, and the six-month time limitation shall be deemed extended only during the pendency of such application.
(2) 
The applicant may apply to the Zoning Officer for a single extension not to exceed six months from the date said special exception or variance would have otherwise expired, provided that the application is made within the six-month period after the grant by the Zoning Hearing Board of the original variance or special exception and not thereafter.
(3) 
If, upon such application to the Zoning Officer, the Zoning Officer determines that there has been no change in the applicable ordinances or the conditions existing at the time of the grant of the original special exception and/or variance, he may grant such extension to a date certain.
(4) 
Upon taking any action on such application, the Zoning Officer shall send written notice to the applicant, the Township Engineer, the Township Planning Commission, the Board of Supervisors, the Township Solicitor, the Zoning Hearing Board and any person who appeared in the original proceeding as a party of record.
(5) 
Any person to whom such notice is required to be sent may appeal to the Zoning Hearing Board from the action of the Zoning Officer in granting or denying such extension, provided that such appeal is duly filed with the Zoning Hearing Board within 30 days of such action by the Zoning Officer.
N. 
Appeals to court. Land use appeals from decisions of the Board or from any determination within the Board's jurisdiction shall be governed by the provisions of Article X-A of the MPC.[13]
[Amended 5-8-1990 by Ord. No. 3-1990]
[13]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 11001-A et seq.
O. 
Standards for review of proposed exception or variance.
(1) 
In any instance where the Board is required to consider a request for a special exception or variance in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, the Board shall, to the full extent permitted by law, consider the following factors where appropriate:
(a) 
The statement of community objectives of the Zoning Ordinance.
(b) 
The size, scope, extent and character of the exception or variance desired and assure itself that such requests are consistent with the spirit, purpose and intent of the Zoning Ordinance.
(c) 
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.
(d) 
The effect of the proposed use upon the public health, safety, morals and general welfare of the community.
(e) 
Where pertinent, the effects of the proposed change with respect to conserving the value of buildings; safety from fire, panic and other dangers; adequacy of light and air; the overcrowding of land; and the congestion of population.
(f) 
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.
(g) 
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.
(h) 
Consider the probable effects of proposed development on highway congestion and ensure that adequate access arrangements are provided in order to protect major highways from undue congestion and hazard.
(2) 
In the case of a variance in addition to any applicable standards of the subsections above, the more specific requirements or criteria contained in the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code shall apply.
(3) 
In granting any variance or special exception, the 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 Planning Code and Zoning Ordinance, which conditions and safeguards may relate to but not be limited to aesthetics, screening, lighting, noise, safety and the minimization 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.
(4) 
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 or adoption by reference to the Municipalities Planning Code. The applicant for a special exception shall have the burden of proof that his application falls within the provisions of this chapter and that granting his application will not be contrary to the public interest.
[Added 5-8-1990 by Ord. No. 3-1990]
In order not to unreasonably delay the time when a landowner may secure assurance that this chapter or the Zoning Map[1] under which he proposes to build is free from challenge, such landowner may advance the date from which time any challenge to this chapter or the Zoning Map will run under § 84-72F(1) (MPC Section 914.1[2]) by the following procedure:
A. 
The landowner may submit plans and other materials describing his proposed use or development to the Zoning Officer for a preliminary opinion as to their compliance with this chapter. Such plans and other materials shall not be required to meet the standards prescribed for preliminary or final approval or for the issuance of a building permit so long as the Zoning Officer is satisfied that they provide reasonable notice of the proposed use or development and a sufficient basis for a preliminary opinion as to its compliance.
B. 
If the Zoning Officer determines that the use or development complies with this chapter, notice thereof shall be published once each week for two successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the Township. The notice shall include a general description of the proposed use or development and its location and the place and times where the plans and other materials may be examined by the public. The favorable preliminary approval under § 84-72F(1) and the time therein specified for commencing a proceeding with the Zoning Hearing Board shall run from the time when the second notice thereof has been published.
[1]
Editor's Note: The Zoning map is on file in the office of the Township Secretary.
[2]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10914.1.