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Township of North Coventry, PA
Chester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
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.
A. 
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.
B. 
The members of the ZHB shall consist of residents of North Coventry Township.
C. 
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.
D. 
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.
E. 
Members of the ZHB shall hold no other office in the Township.
F. 
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.
G. 
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 vote. A hearing shall be held in connection with the vote if the member shall request it in writing.
A. 
The ZHB shall elect, from its members, its officers, who shall serve annual terms as such and may succeed themselves.
B. 
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.
C. 
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.
D. 
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.
A. 
Applications for hearings before the ZHB shall be filed with the ZHB together with the proper fee.
B. 
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.
C. 
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.
D. 
In the event that any required information is not furnished the application shall be refused and the fee returned to the applicant.
The ZHB shall give notice as follows:
A. 
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.
B. 
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.
C. 
By posting notice thereof conspicuously on the affected tract of land at least one week prior to the hearing.
D. 
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.
E. 
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.
A. 
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.
B. 
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.
C. 
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.
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.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10908.
The Zoning Hearing Board shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and render final adjudications in the following matters:
A. 
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.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. §§ 10609.1 and 10916.1(a)(2).
B. 
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.
C. 
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.
D. 
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.
E. 
Appeals from the determination of the Zoning Officer pursuant to the requirements of § 370-28 (Flood Plain Conservation District) of this chapter.
F. 
Applications for variances from the terms of this chapter, pursuant to the requirements of § 370-148.
G. 
Applications for special exceptions under this chapter pursuant to the requirements of § 370-149.
H. 
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.
A. 
The ZHB shall hear requests for variances where it is alleged that the provisions of this chapter inflict unnecessary hardship on the applicant.
B. 
The ZHB may by rule prescribe the form of application as provided by § 370-134.
C. 
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.
D. 
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.
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:
A. 
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.
B. 
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.
C. 
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.
D. 
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.
E. 
Be guided in its study, review and recommendations by sound standards or subdivision practice where applicable.
F. 
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.
G. 
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.
H. 
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.
I. 
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.
J. 
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.
A. 
A special exception or variance shall expire within six months from the special exception/variance authorization date (as defined in Subsection D) unless the applicant:
(1) 
Obtains all permits as may be required for the construction and/or use permitted by the special exception or variance and commences and diligently pursues substantial construction and/or use permitted by and in accordance with the special exception or variance; or
(2) 
Obtains an extension for the special exception or variance pursuant to Subsection B, below.
B. 
The Zoning Hearing Board, upon application, for good cause shown and after notice and hearing, may extend the six-month period of time set forth in Subsection A for such time as the ZHB may deem appropriate.
(1) 
In no event shall such extension, or the total of such extensions if there are more than one, exceed 18 months.
(2) 
The ZHB may grant an extension at any time prior to the expiration of the special exception or variance, as provided in this section, but not thereafter.
(3) 
An application for an extension may be considered and granted by the ZHB as part of the proceedings and decision in which it considers and grants the special exception or variance, or in subsequent separate proceedings and decision.
C. 
Upon the expiration of a special exception or variance, the special exception or variance shall become null and void and of no effect without any action of the Township or the ZHB first being required. In such event, the applicant or other person having standing shall be required to reapply to the ZHB in the same manner as a new applicant for such special exception or variance.
D. 
For the purposes of Subsection A, the "special exception/variance authorization date" shall have the following meanings:
(1) 
Where the special exception or variance is granted by affirmative decision of the ZHB with or without conditions attached, the "special exception/variance authorization date," subject to Subsection D(3)(b), shall be the date on which the written decision of the ZHB is either personally delivered or mailed to the applicant.
(2) 
Where the special exception or variance is allowed by deemed decision of the ZHB because of its failure to hold a hearing or render a decision as provided by the Municipalities Planning Code and this chapter, the "special exception/variance authorization date," subject to Subsection D(3)(b), shall be the date on which the decision of the ZHB is deemed to have been rendered in favor of the applicant.
(3) 
In the cases of the following appeals to court, the "special exception/variance authorization date" shall be the date of the final court order which finally determines and concludes the appeal litigation without remand to the ZHB for further hearings and decision, unless such court order, or prior court order affirmed thereby, provides otherwise:
(a) 
An appeal from the decision of the ZHB denying the special exception or variance, in which the court ultimately reverses the decision of the ZHB and grants the special exception or variance with or without conditions attached.
(b) 
An appeal from the affirmative or deemed decision of the Board granting or allowing the special exception or variance, including an appeal challenging a condition attached by the ZHB to such grant, in which the court ultimately affirms or does not entirely set aside the special exception or variance, regardless of whether or not the court attached conditions to or otherwise modifies the special exception or variance, and/or affirms, sets aside or modifies a condition attached thereto by the ZHB.
Appeals under § 370-147A through D may be filed with the ZHB in writing by the landowner affected, any officer of the Township or any person aggrieved. Requests for a variance under § 370-147D and for a special exception under § 370-147E may be filed with the ZHB by any landowner or any tenant with the permission of such landowner or equitable owner of property.
A. 
No aggrieved person shall be allowed to file any proceedings with the ZHB later than 30 days after (a) any permit has been issued or refused or any other decision made by the Zoning Officer, and (b) any application for development, preliminary or final, has been approved by the Board of Supervisors if such proceeding is designed to secure reversal or to limit approval in any manner.
B. 
The failure of anyone other than the applicant to appeal from an adverse decision by the Zoning Officer on a challenge to the validity of an ordinance or map pursuant to Section 709 of the Municipalities Planning Code[1] or from an adverse decision by the Zoning Officer on a challenge to the validity of an ordinance or map pursuant to Section 916.2 of the Municipalities Planning Code[2] shall preclude an appeal from a final approval except in the case where the final submission substantially deviates from the approved tentative approval.
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10709.
[2]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10916.2.
C. 
All appeals from determinations adverse to the applicant shall be filed by the landowner within 30 days after notice of the determination is issued.
The parties to the hearing shall be the Township, any person affected by the application who has made timely appearance of record before the ZHB, and any other person, including civic or community organizations, permitted to appear by the ZHB. The ZHB shall enter appearances in writing on forms provided by the ZHB for that purpose. The aforementioned parties shall have the right to be represented by counsel and shall be afforded the opportunity to respond and present evidence and argument and cross-examine adverse witnesses on all relevant issues.
A. 
Upon filing of any proceeding referred to in § 370-151 and during its pendency before the Zoning Hearing 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 ZHB facts indicating that such stay would cause imminent peril to life or property. In such case, the development or official action shall not be stayed otherwise than by a restraining order, which may be granted by the ZHB or by the 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 ZHB 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 ZHB.
B. 
After the petition is presented, the Court shall hold a hearing to determine if the filing of the appeal is frivolous. It shall be the burden of the applicant for a bond to prove the appeal is frivolous. After consideration of all evidence presented, if the Court determines that the appeal is frivolous, it shall grant the petition for a bond.
C. 
The question whether or not such petition should be granted and the amount of the bond shall be within the sound discretion of the Court.
D. 
If an appeal is taken by a respondent to the petition for a bond from an order of the Court dismissing a zoning appeal for refusal to post a bond and the Appellate Court sustains the order of the lower court to post a bond, the respondent to the petition for a bond shall be liable for all reasonable costs, expenses and attorney fees incurred by the petitioner.