Township of Rostraver, PA
Westmoreland County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
A. 
The Zoning Officer shall administer and enforce this chapter, including the receiving of applications, the inspection of premises and the issuing of zoning permits. No zoning permit shall be issued by said officer except where the provisions of this chapter have been complied with. The Zoning Officer shall meet the qualifications established by the Township.
(1) 
The duties of the Zoning Officer shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
(a) 
Receive applications required by the Zoning Ordinance.
(b) 
Inspect premises.
(c) 
Issue zoning permits and certificates of occupancy.
(d) 
Maintain records of all official duties.
(2) 
All permits issued by the Zoning Officer shall be in accordance with the literal provisions of this chapter.
B. 
The Zoning Officer shall be appointed by the Board of Commissioners of Rostraver, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, and shall not hold any elective office in the Township.
A. 
No building or structure, including mobile home, shall be erected, added to or structurally altered until a permit therefor has been issued by the Zoning Officer. All applications for zoning permits shall be in accordance with the requirements of this chapter, and unless upon written order of the Zoning Hearing Board, no such zoning permit shall be issued for any building where said construction, addition or alteration for use thereof would be in violation of any of the provisions of this chapter. Remodeling or improvement of an existing building that does not alter the basic structure, create additional lot area coverage or change the use of the parcel or building is exempt from this specific requirement. A zoning permit shall be required prior to any of the following:
(1) 
The erection, construction or structural alteration of any building, structure, dwelling or portion thereof.
(2) 
The moving of a structure into the districts or from one place in the district to another.
(3) 
The change in use of structure or land.
(4) 
The change or extension of a nonconforming use or structure.
B. 
There shall be submitted with all applications for zoning permits two copies of a layout or plot plan drawn to scale showing the actual dimensions of the lot to be built upon, the exact size and location of the building on the lot and accessory buildings to be erected and other such information as may be deemed necessary by the Zoning Officer to determine and provide for the enforcement of this chapter.
C. 
No permit shall be required for the following:
(1) 
An accessory structure having not more than 200 square feet of floor area. However, all such structures shall comply with all yard, area and setback requirements.
(2) 
Minor repairs or maintenance.
(3) 
Nonstructural remodeling as specified in § 195-92A of this chapter.
D. 
Zoning permits issued for the purpose of permitting construction, reconstruction, alterations, repairs, use or the like shall automatically expire 12 months from the date of issue. Prior to the continuance of the activity, use or change for which the original permit was used, a new zoning permit must be obtained. If, however, the construction, alteration, reconstruction, repairing, use or the like has been proceeding in a constant and regular manner and, due to the extent and size of the subject project, it is impossible for the applicant to complete said process prior to the expiration of 12 months or because of an act of nature, no new permit must be obtained. However, the applicant must advise the Zoning Officer of said expiration and advise as to the reason for failure to complete within the specified time period. In the event that said applicant fails to notify the Zoning Officer of said failure to complete, then said permit shall immediately expire and no further activity may take place unless a new permit is obtained.
E. 
If, after the issuance of a zoning permit, no construction or other process is instituted, said permit shall terminate immediately 12 months from the date of issuance as stated above.
F. 
A copy of the permit shall be posted on the premises for public inspection during the prosecution of the work and until completion of the same.
G. 
The Zoning Officer shall have the right to revoke or suspend an issued zoning permit for any unauthorized change or use and/or any incomplete or incorrect information or error in the processing of the application.
[Added 7-7-2004 by Ord. No. 518]
An application for a zoning permit for a conditional use in any zoning district where such a use is allowed shall be filed with the Zoning Officer, and it shall:
A. 
Identify and describe the property, its location and the present use being made of the property.
B. 
Reasonably describe present improvements and any intended additions and changes to be made if the conditional use is granted.
C. 
Disclose the conditional use for which the application is being made and, by plan, map and description, show how the property, as it may be improved, meets or will meet the standards and criteria required in the Zoning Ordinance for such conditional use.
D. 
(Reserved)[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Former Subsection D, which provided for action upon an application by the Planning Commission, was repealed 8-7-2002 by Ord. No. 468.
E. 
The Township Commissioners may authorize conditional uses pursuant to express standards and criteria specified in this chapter for said uses and may attach such additional conditions and safeguards as it may deem necessary.
F. 
The Township Board of Commissioners shall hold a public hearing, pursuant to public notice, on the conditional use within 45 days of filing of the application after it is reviewed by the Township Planning Agency.
[Amended 8-7-2002 by Ord. No. 468]
G. 
The Zoning Officer shall be under a duty of issuance of a permit or order indicating the action of the Township Commissioners as a result of the hearing by said Commissioners on the application and shall notify the applicant.
H. 
Any affected party of any person having a legal interest in the property may, within 30 days following such order having been issued, appeal the same to Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas, in accord with the Judicial Code [42 Pa.C.S.A. § 933(c)(1)] and the Municipal Planning Code (Act 247 of 1968, as amended by Act 170 of 1988).[2]
[2]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10101 et seq.
A. 
Upon completion of the authorized new construction, alteration, remodeling, change of use of building or land under the provisions of a zoning permit, such building shall not be occupied until an occupancy permit has been issued by the Zoning Officer. Written request to the Zoning Officer shall be processed within one week of receipt of the request of the proposed use, provided that the use is in conformity with the provisions of this chapter and other effective and applicable ordinances. The Zoning Officer's refusal to issue an occupancy permit shall include a written statement to the applicant containing reasons for such denial.
B. 
Occupancy permits are required for the following:
(1) 
Occupancy of a new building.
(2) 
Occupancy and use of a building hereafter moved or altered so as to require a zoning permit.
(3) 
Change in the use of an existing building other than to a use of the same type.
(4) 
Occupancy and use of vacant land.
(5) 
Change in the use of land except to another use of the same type.
(6) 
Any change in use of a nonconforming use.
C. 
Occupancy permits shall state that the building or the proposed use of a building or land complies with all provisions of this chapter and all other ordinances of the Township.
D. 
No occupancy permit shall be issued until such time as the applicant has applied for the same, paid the application fee and the premises have been inspected by the Zoning Officer or his delegate and, thereafter, a determination has been made that the premises are in compliance with this chapter.
E. 
No premises, structure or land use activity requiring a zoning permit shall be used or occupied until such time as an occupancy permit has been granted. If the applicant desires to make use of the premises or project prior to its completion, the same is strictly prohibited until such time as an application has been made for an occupancy permit and all rules and regulations pertaining thereto and as contained herein have been determined by the Zoning Officer to have been met.
F. 
If the project has not been completed and a partial use or occupation of the premises is desired by the applicant, the applicant must first make application to the Zoning Officer. Once the Zoning Officer has determined compliance for the limited or partial use intended, said applicant may use and/or occupy the premises; however, nothing contained in this provision shall be interpreted or used as an excuse or viewed as a waiver of any of the other terms contained hereinabove pertaining to the expiration of any and all certificates for purposes of completion of the original project.
A. 
Temporary permits shall be required as indicated herein where it is intended that a temporary or seasonal use shall be located anywhere within the Township for a limited period of time.
B. 
Temporary permits for the following uses are limited to a one-week period renewable for a maximum of four weeks during any one calendar year or as follows:
(1) 
Selling of Christmas trees in commercial districts or at churches, schools, clubs and lodges: a maximum of four weeks.
(2) 
Carnival, circus or street fairs: a maximum of one week.
(3) 
Mobile amusements and lighting equipment for promotion, advertisement and grand openings: a maximum of two weeks.
C. 
Temporary structures used in conjunction with construction work shall be permitted only during the period that construction work is in progress. Temporary permits shall be issued for a three-month period and are renewable only at the discretion of the Zoning Hearing Board.
D. 
Temporary permits for basement or foundation structures shall be issued for six-month periods, renewable for a maximum of three years at the discretion of the Zoning Hearing Board.
E. 
No temporary permit shall be issued for any temporary use where said use would violate any of the provisions of this chapter.
A. 
The Township Commissioners shall determine and adopt a schedule of fees, charges and expenses, as well as the collection procedure for permits, variances, special exceptions, conditional uses, amendments and other matters pertaining to this chapter. Said schedule of fees shall be posted in the office of the Township Secretary.
B. 
The Township Commissioners shall be empowered to reevaluate the fee schedule from time to time and make adjustments as deemed appropriate. Any such alterations shall not be considered an amendment to this chapter and may be adopted by resolution of the Township Commissioners at any legally advertised public meeting.
C. 
Application for permits, approvals and other related matters pertaining to this chapter shall be accompanied by the designated fee and such other documentation specified by this chapter or considered necessary by the appropriate reviewing authorities or agencies.
A. 
Creation, appointment and organization. The membership of the Zoning Hearing Board shall expand from three to five residents of the municipality appointed by resolution of the Board of Commissioners. Members of the Board may receive compensation for the performance of their duties, as may be fixed by the governing body, but in no case shall the rates of compensation exceed that paid to the governing body. Their terms of office shall be three years and shall be so fixed that the term of office of one member shall expire each year. The two additional regular members' terms shall be five years, commencing on January 1, 2021. The Zoning Hearing Board shall promptly notify the governing body of any vacancies that occur. Appointments to fill vacancies shall be only for the unexpired portion of the term. Members of the Zoning Hearing Board shall hold no other office in the municipality.
[Amended 12-30-2020 by Ord. No. 736]
B. 
Alternate members. The governing body may appoint one resident of the municipality to serve as an alternate member of the Zoning Hearing Board and may appoint two additional alternates at its discretion. Their terms shall be three years. 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 by the Chairman of the Board as a voting alternate member pursuant to Section 906 of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (Act 247, 1968, as amended by Act 170, 1988).[1] Alternate members may hold no other office in the municipality.
[Amended 12-30-2020 by Ord. No. 736]
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10906.
C. 
Powers and duties. The powers and duties of the Zoning Hearing Board shall be as set forth in the Municipalities Planning Code, as it may be amended from time to time.
[Amended 7-2-2003 by Ord. No. 495]
(1) 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall hear and decide appeals from any order, requirements, decision or determination made by the Zoning Officer in the administration of this chapter.
(2) 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall hear and decide all matters referred to or upon which it is required to pass under this chapter and other applicable laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
(3) 
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 a valid ordinance or map or any valid rule or regulation governing the action of the Zoning Officer.
(4) 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall hear challenges to the validity of a zoning ordinance or map. In all such challenges, the Board shall decide all contested questions and shall make findings on all relevant issues of fact which shall become part of the record on appeal to the court.
(5) 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall hear requests for variances where it is alleged that the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance inflict unnecessary hardship upon the applicant. The Board may by rule prescribe the form of application and may require preliminary application to the Zoning Officer. The Board may grant a variance, provided that the following findings are made where relevant in a given case:
(a) 
That there are unique physical circumstances or conditions peculiar to the particular property and that the unnecessary hardship is due to such conditions.
(b) 
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 Ordinance and that the authorization of a variance is therefore necessary to enable the reasonable use of the property.
(c) 
That such unnecessary hardship has not been created by the appellant.
(d) 
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 by development of adjacent property, nor be detrimental to the public welfare.
(e) 
That the variance will represent the minimum variance that will afford relief.
(6) 
The Zoning Hearing Board may authorize special exceptions where the governing body in the Zoning Ordinance has made provision for such procedures pursuant to express standards and criteria. The Board may attach such additional conditions and safeguards as it may deem necessary.
D. 
Procedure. The procedure of the Zoning Hearing Board shall be governed by the provisions of applicable laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and such rules, not inconsistent therewith, as the Board may adopt. In general, the procedure for appeal from action of the Zoning Officer shall be as follows:
(1) 
Any appeal from the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance shall be taken by filing with the officer from whom the appeal is taken and with the Zoning Hearing Board a notice of appeal, specifying the grounds thereof. The officer from whom the appeal is taken shall forthwith transmit to the Board all of the documentary material constituting the record upon which the action appealed was taken.
(2) 
The appellant shall, at the time of filing his appeal, pay to the Township a fee as determined by the governing body to defray or help defray the required advertising costs.
(3) 
Each case as provided for under this chapter shall be heard and/or tried on its merits at a public hearing. All hearings shall be conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended,[2] with respect to such proceedings. Notice of such hearing shall be given by publishing in a newspaper of general circulation in the Township in accordance with applicable law. Written notice shall be given to the applicant, the Zoning Officer and such other persons as the Township Commissioners shall designate by ordinance. The Board shall give the notices required by law to all parties in interest and they may adjourn any hearing for the purpose of giving such further notice.
[2]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10101 et seq.
(4) 
In addition, written notice of said hearings shall be conspicuously posted on the affected tract of land at least one week prior to the hearing.
(5) 
Hearings shall be held within 60 days from the date of the applicant's request, unless an extension of time has been agreed to in writing by the applicant.
(6) 
The Planning Agency shall furnish all pertinent narrative material, maps, charts, and other data relative to the problem for reference by all concerned. The Board may adjourn any hearing for the purpose of reviewing such data as may be pertinent to the problem and request interpretation of said data by the Township Planner.
[Amended 8-7-2002 by Ord. No. 468]
(7) 
The Board shall decide each case within 45 days after the last hearing or as otherwise specified by appropriate statute. A copy of the final decision or finding shall be delivered to the applicant personally or mailed to him/her not later than the day following its date. Notice thereof shall be given to all parties in interest. The Board's decision shall be immediately filed in its office and be a public record. In the exercise of its functions upon such appeals or upon exceptions, the Board may, in conformity with law, reverse or affirm wholly or partly or modify the order, requirement, decision or determination appealed from or make such order, requirement, decision or determination as it determines.
(8) 
Where the Board fails to render a decision within the period required or fails to hold the required hearing within 60 days from the date of the applicant's request for hearing, the decision shall be deemed to have been rendered in favor of the applicant unless the applicant has agreed, in writing or on the record, to an extension of time.
(9) 
Any person, officer or agency of the municipality that is aggrieved by any decision of the Board may appeal therefrom within 30 days to the Court of Common Pleas as provided by law.
A. 
Whenever the public necessity, convenience or general welfare indicates, the governing body may, by ordinance in accordance with applicable laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, amend, supplement or change the regulations, restrictions, boundaries or classifications of buildings, structures and land, as the same are established by this chapter or may hereafter be made a part thereof.
(1) 
Before voting on the enactment of an amendment, the governing body shall hold a public hearing thereon, pursuant to public notice. In addition, if the proposed amendment involves a Zoning Map change, notice of said public hearing shall be conspicuously posted by the municipality at points deemed sufficient by the municipality along the perimeter of the tract to notify potentially interested citizens. The affected tract or area shall be posted at least one week prior to the date of the hearing.
(2) 
(Reserved)[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Former Subsection A(2), which provided for Planning Commission action on amendments not submitted by the Planning Commission, was repealed 8-7-2002 by Ord. No. 468.
(3) 
If, after any public hearing held upon an amendment, the proposed amendment is changed substantially or is revised to include land previously not affected by it, the governing body shall hold another public hearing, pursuant to public notice, before proceeding to vote on the amendment.
(4) 
At least 30 days prior to the public hearing on the amendment by the governing body, the municipality shall submit the proposed amendment to the Westmoreland County Planning Commission for recommendations.
(5) 
Within 30 days after enactment, a copy of the amendment to the Zoning Ordinance shall be forwarded to the County Planning Commission.
B. 
Applications of petitions for any change or amendments to existing zoning district shall be made to the Planning Agency and shall be accompanied by a fee as determined by the governing body, payable to the Township of Rostraver, and shall be deposited in the General Fund. This fee is for the purpose of defraying the costs of preparing the necessary plats, maps, data, legislation, notices and all official publications required by the Township and shall not be refundable even if the application is disapproved by the governing body.
C. 
The Township Commissioners may from time to time, on their own motion or petition, after public notice and hearing, amend the regulations and districts herein established, but no amendment shall become effective unless the same shall have first been submitted to the Rostraver Township and Westmoreland County Planning Commissions for review and said Commissions shall have been allowed a period of at least 30 days for consideration and report.
D. 
A landowner who desires to challenge on substantive grounds the validity of a zoning ordinance or map, or any provision thereof, which prohibits or restricts the use or development of land in which he has an interest may submit a curative amendment to the governing body with a written request that his challenge and proposed amendment be heard and decided.
(1) 
The governing body shall commence a hearing thereon within 60 days of the request. The curative amendment and challenge shall be referred to the Rostraver Township and Westmoreland County Planning Commissions for review and comment and notice of the hearing thereon shall be given as provided in § 195-98A of this chapter.
(2) 
If the Township Commissioners do not accept a landowner's curative amendment brought in accordance with this subsection and a court subsequently rules that the challenge has merit, the court's decision shall not result in a declaration of invalidity for the entire zoning ordinance and map, but only for those provisions which specifically relate to the landowner's curative amendment and challenge.
(3) 
The governing body may determine that a validity challenge has merit and may accept a landowner's curative amendment, with or without revision, or may adopt an alternative amendment that will cure the challenged defects. The governing body shall consider the curative amendments, plans and explanatory material submitted by the landowner and shall also consider:
(a) 
The impact of the proposal upon roads, sewer facilities, water supplies, schools and other public service facilities;
(b) 
If the proposal is for a residential use, the impact of the proposal upon regional housing needs and the effectiveness of the proposal in providing housing units of a type actually available to and affordable by classes of persons otherwise unlawfully excluded by the challenged provisions of the ordinance or map;
(c) 
The suitability of the site for the intensity of use proposed by the site's soils, slopes, woodlands, wetlands, flood plains, aquifers, natural resources and other natural features;
(d) 
The impact of the proposed use on the site's soils, slopes, woodlands, wetlands, floodplains, natural resources and natural features, the degree to which these are protected or destroyed, the tolerance of the resources to development and any adverse environmental impacts; and
(e) 
The impact of the proposal on the preservation of agriculture and other land uses which are essential to public health and welfare.
E. 
If the Township Commissioners determine that the Zoning Ordinance or any portion thereof is substantially invalid, it shall take the following actions.
(1) 
Declare by formal action the Zoning Ordinance or portions thereof substantively invalid and propose to prepare a curative amendment to overcome such invalidity. Within 30 days following such declaration and proposal, the governing body shall:
(a) 
By resolution make specific findings setting forth the declared invalidity of the Zoning Ordinance.
(b) 
Begin to prepare and consider a curative amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to correct the declared invalidity.
(2) 
Within 180 days from the date of the declaration and proposal, enact a curative amendment to validate or reaffirm the validity of the Zoning Ordinance.
F. 
Zoning amendments shall not be enacted unless notice of proposed enactment is given. The notices shall include the time and place of the meeting at which passage will be considered and a reference to a place within the Township where copies of the proposed ordinance or amendment may be examined either without charge or for a charge not greater than the cost thereof. The governing body shall publish the proposed ordinance or amendment in one newspaper of general circulation in the municipality not more than 60 days nor less than seven days prior to passage. Publication of the proposed ordinance or amendment shall include either the full text thereof or the title and a brief summary, prepared by the Municipal Solicitor and setting forth all the provisions in reasonable detail. If the full text is not included:
(1) 
A copy thereof shall be supplied to a newspaper of general circulation in the Township at the time the public notice is published.
(2) 
An attested copy of the proposed ordinance shall be filed in the Westmoreland County Law Library.
(3) 
In the event that substantial changes are made in the proposed amendment, before voting upon enactment, the governing body shall, at least 10 days prior to enactment, readvertise, in one newspaper of general circulation in the Township, a brief summary setting forth all the provisions in reasonable detail, together with a summary of the amendments.
The interpretation and application of the provisions of this chapter shall be held to be the minimum requirements for the promotion of the health, safety, morals and general welfare. This chapter is not intended to interfere with or abrogate or annul other rules, regulations or ordinances of the Township of Rostraver, provided that where this chapter imposes a greater restriction upon the use of building or premises or upon the height of a building or requires larger open spaces than are imposed by other such rules, regulations or ordinances, the provision of this chapter shall prevail.
In case any structure or land is or is proposed to be erected, constructed, reconstructed, altered, converted, maintained and/or used in violation of this chapter or any regulations made pursuant thereto, the Township Commissioners, in addition to specifically authorizing the Zoning Officer to obtain enforcement and in addition to other remedies, may institute in the name of the municipality, by itself or through the Zoning Officer, any appropriate action or proceeding to prevent, restrain, correct or abate such building structure, land or use or to prevent in or about such premises any act, conduct, business or use constituting a violation.
Any person, partnership or corporation who or which has violated or permitted the violation of the provisions of this chapter shall, upon being found liable therefor in a civil enforcement proceeding commenced by Rostraver Township, pay a judgment of not more than $500, plus all court costs, including reasonable attorneys' fees incurred by Rostraver Township as a result thereof. No judgment shall commence or be imposed, levied or payable until the date of the determination of a violation by the District Justice. If the defendant neither pays nor timely appeals the judgment, Rostraver Township may enforce the judgment pursuant to the applicable rules of civil procedure. Each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate violation, unless the District Justice determining that there has been a violation further determines that there was a good faith basis for the person, partnership or appropriation violating this chapter to have believed that there was no such violation, in which event there shall be deemed to have been only one such violation until the fifth day following the date of the determination of a violation by the District Justice, and thereafter, each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate violation. All judgments, costs and reasonable attorneys' fees collected for the violation of this chapter shall be paid over to Rostraver Township.