Questions about eCode360? Municipal users Join us Monday through Wednesday between 12pm and 1pm EDT to get answers and other tips!
Township of Swatara, PA
Dauphin County
By using eCode360 you agree to be legally bound by the Terms of Use. If you do not agree to the Terms of Use, please do not use eCode360.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
A. 
Long title: "A New Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance Dividing the Township of Swatara, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, Into Districts With Varying Regulations; Permitting, Prohibiting, Regulating and Determining the Uses of Land, Watercourses and Other Bodies of Water, the Size, Height, Bulk, Location, Erection, Construction, Repair, Expansion, Razing, Removal and Use of Structures, the Areas and Dimensions of Land and Bodies of Water to be Occupied by Uses and Structures, as Well as Yards and Other Open Areas to be Left Unoccupied; Establishing the Maximum Density and Intensity of Uses; Providing for the Administration and Enforcement of this Ordinance in Accordance With the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, Including Provisions for Special Exceptions and Variances to be Administered by a Zoning Hearing Board; and Establishing Provisions for the Protection of Certain Natural Features."
B. 
Short title. This chapter shall be known and be cited as the "Swatara Township Zoning Ordinance of 2010."
For purposes of referring to the section numbers within the Codified Ordinances of Swatara Township, Section No. "295" shall be added to each section number of this chapter.
This chapter shall apply throughout the Township of Swatara. Any activity regulated by this chapter shall only occur in such a way that conforms with the regulations of this chapter. See § 295-5A.
This chapter is hereby adopted:
A. 
In accordance with the requirements and purposes (including Sections 604 and 605 or their successor section(s), which are included by reference) of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10101 et seq.
B. 
In accordance with goals and objectives of the Swatara Township Comprehensive Plan and the Dauphin County Comprehensive Plan, which are hereby included by reference.
C. 
To carry out the following major objectives:
(1) 
To make sure that development carefully relates to natural features, and to avoid overly intense development of environmentally sensitive land;
(2) 
To minimize disturbance of creek valleys and steep woodlands;
(3) 
To avoid overextending groundwater supplies, and to encourage groundwater recharge;
(4) 
To protect the quality of groundwater and surface waters;
(5) 
To promote traditional styles of development;
(6) 
To promote compatibility between land uses;
(7) 
To seek coordinated development and roads across municipal borders;
(8) 
To provide for a variety of residential densities and meet legal obligations to provide opportunities for all housing types;
(9) 
To promote development that retains the natural features of the Township;
(10) 
To encourage rehabilitation and avoid demolition of historic buildings;
(11) 
To direct higher density development to areas that are physically suitable, accessible by major roads and that have the potential of central water and sewage services;
(12) 
To coordinate development with future central water and sewage service areas;
(13) 
To direct industrial development to locations that will minimize conflicts with homes;
(14) 
To direct commercial businesses to existing commercial areas, while avoiding new strip commercial areas that would cause traffic congestion and safety problems and conflicts with homes;
(15) 
To promote new business development in appropriate areas that will provide additional tax revenue and job opportunities; and
(16) 
To promote public health, safety and general welfare.
A. 
Applicability.
(1) 
Any of the following activities or any other activity regulated by this chapter shall only be carried out in conformity with this chapter:
(a) 
Erection, construction, movement, placement or extension of a structure, building or sign;
(b) 
Change of the type of use or expansion of the use of a structure or area of land;
(c) 
Creation of a lot or alteration of lot lines; and/or
(d) 
Creation of a new use.
(2) 
Zoning permit. A zoning permit indicates that a zoning application complies with this chapter to the best knowledge of the applicable Township staff.
(a) 
A zoning permit is required to be issued prior to the start of any of the following activities:
[1] 
Erection, construction, movement, placement, relocation or expansion of a structure, building or sign;
[2] 
Change of the type of use or expansion of the use of a structure or area of land;
[3] 
Creation of a new use;
[4] 
Alterations affecting matters regulated by this chapter;
[5] 
Mineral extraction as defined by § 295-22;
[6] 
Excavation or grading involving land with non-man-made slopes of 15% or greater; and/or
[7] 
Construction or installation of any animal waste impoundment, lake, pond, dam or other water retention basin.
(b) 
The Township may, at its option, issue combined or separate building permits and zoning permits and/or may utilize single or separate applications for the permits.
(3) 
Certificate of occupancy.
(a) 
A Township certificate of occupancy is required in certain situations under the Township Construction Code.[1] If such certificate of occupancy involves a new principal nonresidential building or a new principal use, it shall need a signature of the Zoning Officer.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 128, Code Enforcement.
(b) 
The Zoning Officer may require that the issuance of the certificate of occupancy be delayed, if the Zoning Officer believes that the activity, structure or use is not in compliance with this chapter and associated zoning approvals, until such time as compliance is achieved.
(c) 
Upon the request of an applicant, the Township may, in writing, allow a temporary occupancy or activity to occur before all zoning requirements have been met where the following conditions are met:
[1] 
The applicant shall prove to the Township that the activity or occupancy can occur safely without endangering public health or safety.
[2] 
The temporary approval shall be conditioned upon compliance with certain specific requirements within certain time periods. A six-month maximum time period shall apply if not otherwise specified.
[3] 
Failure to receive a permanent certificate of occupancy within such time period shall be a violation of this chapter.
[4] 
See Subsection G.
B. 
Repairs and maintenance. Ordinary repairs and maintenance to existing structures that do not involve an expansion or change of a use or structure shall not by themselves be regulated by this chapter. Examples of such work include replacement of a roof or porch that does not involve enclosure of space. (However, a construction permit under any Township Building Code[2] may be needed for such work.)
[2]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 128, Code Enforcement.
C. 
Types of uses.
(1) 
Permitted by right uses. The Zoning Officer shall issue a permit under this chapter in response to an application for a use that is permitted by right if it meets all of the requirements of this chapter.
(2) 
Special exception use or application requiring a variance. A permit under this chapter for a use requiring a special exception or variance shall be issued by the Zoning Officer only in response to a written approval by the Zoning Hearing Board following a hearing.
(3) 
Conditional use. A permit under this chapter for a use requiring conditional use approval shall only be issued after the Board of Commissioners grants conditional use approval.
D. 
Applications.
(1) 
Submittal. All applications for a zoning permit or an appeal or decision by the Zoning Hearing Board shall be made in writing on a form provided by the Township. Such completed application, with required fees, shall be submitted to a designated Township staff person.
(2) 
Site plan. The applicant shall submit a minimum of two copies of a site plan with the application if the application involves a new building or expansion of a building. The site plan shall be drawn to scale and show the following:
(a) 
Locations, dimensions and uses of existing and proposed structures, parking and loading areas, and locations of existing and proposed uses of areas of land, with existing features clearly distinguished from proposed features;
(b) 
Notes showing the dimensions of all buildings from lot lines and street rights-of-way;
(c) 
Locations of any watercourses and any one-hundred-year floodplain;
(d) 
Proposed lot areas, lot widths and other applicable dimensional requirements;
(e) 
Locations and widths of existing and proposed sidewalks;
(f) 
A North arrow and scale; and
(g) 
Well and primary and alternate septic system locations, if applicable.
(3) 
Additional information. Any application under this chapter shall include the following information, unless the Zoning Officer determines such information is unnecessary to determine compliance with this chapter:
(a) 
The address of the lot;
(b) 
Name and address of the applicant, and of the owner of the property if different from the applicant;
(c) 
If the applicant is not the landowner of record, information shall be presented with the application, such as an agreement of sale or lease, to demonstrate that the applicant has the legal right to make the application;
(d) 
A current deed for the property;
(e) 
A description of the existing and proposed use(s) of the property, with the proposed use described in sufficient detail for the Zoning Officer to determine compliance with this chapter;
(f) 
All other applicable information listed on the official Township application form;
(g) 
If the applicant is incorporated, the legal names and day telephone numbers of officers of the organization/corporation;
(h) 
Such additional information that the Zoning Officer may determine is reasonably necessary to determine compliance with this chapter; and
(i) 
A listing of all special exception approvals and/or variances which the applicant is requesting and/or a description with a date of any such approvals that were previously granted for this property that relate to this application.
(4) 
Submittals to the Board. In addition to the information listed in Subsection D(3) above, an application requiring a site plan and action by the Zoning Hearing Board shall also include the following information, unless the Zoning Officer determines that such information is unnecessary to determine compliance with this chapter:
(a) 
The present zoning district and major applicable lot requirements;
(b) 
For a nonresidential use:
[1] 
A description of the proposed nonresidential operations and storage in sufficient detail to indicate potential nuisances and hazards regarding noise, large truck traffic, glare, odors, dust, fire or toxic or explosive hazards or other significant public health and safety hazards;
[2] 
A list of the maximum hours of operation;
(c) 
The existing directions of stormwater flow (and any proposed revisions), and any proposed methods of stormwater management;
(d) 
A listing of any sections of this chapter being appealed, with the reasons for any appeal;
(e) 
Approximate locations of principal buildings and locations of streets and alleys and zoning district boundaries within 100 feet of the boundaries of the tract, and a description of uses of adjoining properties (such as drugstores or single-family detached dwellings);
(f) 
Heights, locations, methods of illumination and intensity of exterior lighting and sign lighting;
(g) 
Name and address of the person who prepared the site plan;
(h) 
Signed acknowledgment of the application by the applicant;
(i) 
Proof of compliance with special exception standards, if the application is a special exception; and
(j) 
Such additional information required under applicable sections of this chapter.
(5) 
Ownership. No person other than a landowner or his/her specifically authorized agent or a tenant/lessee with written permission of the landowner shall submit a zoning application. (See definition of "landowner" in Article II.)
E. 
Issuance of permits.
(1) 
At least one copy of each permit application and any other zoning approval shall be retained in Township files.
(2) 
PennDOT permit. Where necessary for access onto a state road, a Township zoning or building permit shall be automatically conditioned upon issuance of a PennDOT highway occupancy permit.
F. 
Revocation of permits; appeal of permit or approval.
(1) 
Revocation. The Zoning Officer shall revoke, withhold or suspend a permit or approval issued under the provisions of this chapter in case of one or more of the following:
(a) 
Any false statement or misrepresentation of fact in the application or on the plans on which the permit or approval was based (NOTE: The Pennsylvania Crimes Code[3] provides for penalties for providing false information to a municipal employee in the carrying out of his/her duties.);
[3]
Editor's Note: See 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 101 et seq.
(b) 
Upon violation of any condition lawfully imposed by the Zoning Hearing Board upon a special exception use or variance;
(c) 
Any work being accomplished or use of land or structures in such a way that does not comply with this chapter or an approved site plan or approved permit application; and/or
(d) 
For any other just cause set forth in this chapter.
(2) 
Appeals. A party with legitimate standing, or as otherwise provided by Pennsylvania law, may appeal decisions under this chapter within the provisions of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.[4] Any such appeal shall occur within the time period established in the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code. (As of the adoption date of this chapter, such provisions were in Sections 914.1 and 1002-A.[5])
[4]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10101 et seq.
[5]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. §§ 10914.1 and 11002-A, respectively.
G. 
Zoning permit for temporary uses and structures.
(1) 
This chapter shall allow a temporary use or structure for customary, routine and accessory short-term special events, provided that only a nonprofit organization or a permitted place of worship, to primarily serve a charitable, public service or religious purpose, shall be eligible to receive approval for commercial-type activities in a district where a commercial use would not otherwise be permitted.
(2) 
A zoning permit is not required for temporary storage and office trailers that are necessary to serve on-site construction while such construction is actively underway under a valid Township construction permit.
(3) 
In addition, Christmas tree sales shall be allowed by right in commercial or industrial districts or as an accessory to a principal nonresidential use during the months of November and December.
(4) 
Temporary retail sales. Except as provided for in Subsection G(1) above, and except for allowed accessory agricultural sales or garage sales, a lot shall only be used for temporary retail sales if all of the following conditions are met:
(a) 
The property shall be located within a zoning district that allows retail sales.
(b) 
The operator shall have received any business permits required by the Township.
(c) 
A maximum of 15% of the off-street parking spaces that are required to serve permanent uses on the lot may be obstructed for temporary seasonal outdoor sales. Where a zoning permit is required, it may establish a maximum number of days for such obstruction.
(d) 
Any signs visible from a public street shall comply with this chapter.
(e) 
If food or beverages are sold that are not prepackaged, the applicant shall prove compliance with Pennsylvania health regulations, including having on-site facilities for workers to wash their hands. Proper bathroom facilities shall also be available for workers.
(f) 
The use shall not obstruct safe sight distances.
(g) 
Any tents or membrane structures shall meet the Fire Code[6] that is in effect in Swatara Township.
[6]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 128, Code Enforcement.
H. 
Compliance with Chapter 253, Subdivision and Land Development. If an application under this chapter would also be regulated by Chapter 253, Subdivision and Land Development (SALDO), then any permit or approval under this chapter shall automatically be conditioned upon compliance with the SALDO. See the definitions of "land development" and "subdivision" in the SALDO.
(1) 
For example, if an applicant applies for a single-family detached dwelling on a proposed new lot, the construction permit for such dwelling shall not be valid until after the lot is granted final subdivision approval and the lot is officially recorded by the County Recorder of Deeds.
A. 
After receiving a proper application, the Zoning Officer shall either issue the applicable permit(s) or deny the application(s) as submitted, indicating one or more reasons.
B. 
After the permit under this chapter has been issued, the applicant may undertake the action specified by the permit, in compliance with other Township ordinances. However, it is recommended that applicants wait 30 days to begin construction if there is a possibility of an appeal by another party to have the permit revoked.
A. 
Minimum requirements. Where more than one provision of this chapter controls a particular matter, the provision that is more restrictive upon uses and structures shall apply. The provisions of this chapter are in addition to any other applicable Township ordinance.
B. 
Uses not specifically regulated. If a use is not clearly permitted by right, conditional or special exception use by this chapter within any zoning district, the Zoning Hearing Board may permit such use if the applicant specifically proves to the clear satisfaction of the Zoning Hearing Board that all of the following conditions would be met:
(1) 
The proposed use would be no more intensive with respect to external impacts and nuisances than uses that are permitted in the district;
(2) 
The proposed use would be closely similar in impacts and character to uses permitted in that district, considering the standards in § 295-125F;
(3) 
The use would meet the standards that would apply under § 295-18 to a special exception use; and
(4) 
The use is not specifically prohibited in that district.
C. 
Interpretation of chapter text and boundaries.
(1) 
The Zoning Officer shall literally apply the wording of this chapter and the location of all district boundaries to particular applications. In any case, the Zoning Officer may also request an advisory opinion from the Township Solicitor to aid in the Zoning Officer's determination.
(2) 
If an applicant disagrees with the Zoning Officer's determination and believes that this chapter should be interpreted in the applicant's favor, the applicant may appeal to the Zoning Hearing Board. See § 295-13.
(3) 
See § 295-26, District boundaries.
D. 
Undefined terms/interpretation of definitions. See § 295-21.
All of the enforcement, violations and penalty provisions of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended, are hereby incorporated into this chapter by reference. (NOTE: As of the adoption date of this chapter, these provisions were primarily in Sections 616.1, 617 and 617.2 of such Act.[1])
A. 
Violations. Any person who shall commit or who shall permit any of the following actions violates this chapter:
(1) 
Failure to secure a zoning permit prior to any of the following:
(a) 
A change in use of land or structure;
(b) 
The erection, construction or alteration of any structure or portion thereof;
(c) 
The placement of a sign;
(d) 
A change in the area of a use or the land coverage or setback of a use; or
(e) 
The excavation or grading of land to prepare for the erection, construction or alteration of any structure or portion thereof;
(2) 
Placement of false statements on or omitting relevant information from an application for a zoning permit;
(3) 
Undertaking any action in a manner which does not comply with this chapter and/or with a zoning permit;
(4) 
Violation of any condition imposed by a decision of the Zoning Hearing Board in granting a variance or special exception or other approval;
(5) 
Violation of any condition imposed by a decision of the Board of Commissioners in granting any approval under this chapter; or
(6) 
Violation of any condition imposed by a decision of a court of competent jurisdiction, where such court has granted zoning approval with conditions.
B. 
Enforcement notice. If the Township has reason to believe that a violation of a provision of this chapter has occurred, the Township shall initiate enforcement proceedings by sending an enforcement notice as provided in Section 616.1 of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.[2] Prior to sending an official enforcement notice, the Zoning Officer may, at his/her option, informally request compliance.
[2]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10616.1.
C. 
Time limits. An official enforcement notice shall state the deadline to complete bringing the property into compliance with this chapter and shall state that the applicant has 30 days from the receipt of the notice to appeal to the Zoning Hearing Board.
D. 
Enforcement, penalties and remedies. The causes of action and enforcement remedies provisions of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended, are hereby incorporated by reference. (NOTE: As of the adoption date of this chapter, such provisions were primarily in Sections 617 and 617.2 of such law.[3])
(1) 
Violations and penalties. Any person, partnership, corporation or other entity who 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 the Township, pay a judgment of not more than $500, plus all court costs, including the reasonable attorneys' fees incurred by the Township as a result thereof. No judgment shall commence or be imposed, levied or be payable until the date of the determination of a violation by the Magisterial District Judge. If the defendant neither pays nor timely appeals the judgment, the 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 a Magisterial District Judge determining that there has been a violation further determines that there was a good faith basis for the person 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 Magisterial District Judge, 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 the Township for the general use of the Township. Imprisonment is not authorized under this chapter.
(2) 
Remedies. In case any building, structure, sign or landscaping is erected, constructed, reconstructed, altered, repaired, converted, maintained or used or any land is used or activity conducted in violation of this chapter or any of the permits issued under this chapter or any conditions imposed upon the grant of a special exception or variance by the Zoning Hearing Board, then, in addition to any other remedies provided by law, the Board of Commissioners may institute any appropriate action or proceeding to prevent, restrain, correct or abate such building, structure, landscaping, use or activity or to prevent, in and about such premises, any act, conduct, business or use constituting a violation.
[3]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. §§ 10617 and 10617.2, respectively.
E. 
Enforcement evidence. In any appeal of an enforcement notice to the Zoning Hearing Board, the Township shall have the responsibility of presenting its evidence first.
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. §§ 10616.1, 10617 and 10617.2, respectively.
A Township fee schedule for permits and applications may be established and amended by written resolution of the Board of Commissioners. No application or appeal shall be considered filed until all fees are paid.
Within the requirements of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code,[1] the Board of Commissioners may amend or repeal any or all portions of this chapter on its own motion or after agreeing to hear a written request of any person, entity, landowner or the Planning Commission.
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10101 et seq.
The applicable provisions of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code shall apply. (NOTE: As of the adoption date of this chapter, these provisions were primarily in Sections 609.1, 609.2 and 916.1 of such Act.[1])
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. §§ 10609.1, 10609.2 and 10916.1, respectively.
A. 
Appointment. The Zoning Officer(s) shall be appointed by the Board of Commissioners pursuant to qualifications that may be established by such Board. The Zoning Officer shall not hold any elective office within the Township.
B. 
Duties and powers. The Zoning Officer's duties and powers shall include the following:
(1) 
Administer this chapter in accordance with its literal terms, including to receive and examine all applications required under the terms of this chapter, and issue or refuse permits within the provisions of this chapter;
(2) 
Conduct inspections to determine compliance, and receive complaints of violation of this chapter;
(3) 
Keep records of applications, permits, certificates, written decisions, and variances granted by the Zoning Hearing Board and of enforcement orders, with all such records being the property of the Township and being available for public inspection;
(4) 
Review proposed subdivisions and land developments for compliance with this chapter;
(5) 
Take enforcement actions as provided by the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code,[1] as amended;
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10101 et seq.
(6) 
Maintain available records concerning nonconformities, provided that the Township is not required to document every nonconformity; and
(7) 
Serve such other functions as are provided in this chapter.
A. 
Membership of Board. The Zoning Hearing Board shall consist of three residents of the Township appointed by the Board of Commissioners. The existing terms of office shall continue, with terms of office being three years, and with the terms being so fixed that the term of office of one member shall expire each year. Members of the Board shall hold no other elected or appointed office in the Township, nor shall any member be an employee of the municipality.
(1) 
Alternate members. The Board of Commissioners may appoint up to three alternate members of the Zoning Hearing Board who shall serve as provided in the applicable provisions of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code. Alternate members shall serve three-year terms. [NOTE: As of the adoption date of this chapter, such provisions were in Section 903(b) of such Act.[1]]
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10903(b).
(2) 
Expenditures. Within the maximum amount of funds appropriated by the Board of Commissioners, the Zoning Hearing Board may employ or contract for secretaries, legal counsel, and other technical and clerical services. Members and alternate members may receive compensation, within limits established by the Board of Commissioners, for the performance of their duties.
(3) 
Removal of members. Any Board member may be removed for malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance in office or for other just cause by majority vote of the governing body which appointed the member, 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.
(4) 
Organization of Board. The 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 the 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 Section 908.[2] The Chairman of the Board may designate alternate members of the Board to replace any absent or disqualified member, and if, by reason of absence or disqualification of a 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 reach 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 decision on 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.
[2]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10908.
(5) 
Rules. The Board may make, alter and rescind rules and forms for its procedure, consistent with ordinances of the municipality and laws of the commonwealth. The Board shall keep full public records of its business, which records shall be the property of the Township, and shall submit a report of its activities to the governing body as requested by the governing body.
B. 
Vacancies. Appointments to fill vacancies shall be only for the unexpired portion of a term.
C. 
Organization. The applicable provisions of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended, shall apply. [NOTE: As of the adoption date of this chapter, these provisions were in Section 906(a), (b) and (c) of such Act.[3]]
[3]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10906(a), (b) and (c).
D. 
Zoning Hearing Board jurisdiction and functions. The Zoning Hearing Board shall be responsible for the following:
(1) 
Appeal of a decision by the Zoning Officer.
(a) 
The Board shall hear and decide appeals where it is alleged by an affected person, entity or the Board of Commissioners that the Zoning Officer has improperly acted under the requirements and procedures of this chapter.
(b) 
See time limitations for appeals in Subsection E.
(2) 
Challenge to the validity of this chapter or map. The applicable provisions of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended, shall apply. (NOTE: As of the adoption date of this chapter, these provisions were primarily in Sections 909.1 and 916.1 of such Act.[4])
[4]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. §§ 10909.1 and 10916.1.
(3) 
Variance.
(a) 
The Board shall hear requests for variances filed with the Township staff in writing.
(b) 
Standards. The Board may grant a variance only within the limitations of Pennsylvania law. As of the adoption date of this chapter, the Municipalities Planning Code[5] provided that all of the following findings must be made, where relevant:
[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 that the unnecessary 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 a variance is therefore necessary to enable the reasonable use of the property;
[3] 
Such unnecessary hardship has not been created by the appellant;
[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; and
[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.
[5]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10101 et seq.
(c) 
In granting any variance, the Board may attach such reasonable conditions and safeguards as it may deem necessary to implement the purposes of this chapter.
(4) 
Special exception.
(a) 
The Board shall hear and decide requests for all special exceptions filed with the Township staff in writing. The Board shall only permit a special exception that is authorized by this chapter. See § 295-18.
(b) 
Conditions. In granting a special exception, the Zoning Hearing 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 and intent of this chapter and the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.[6]
[6]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10101 et seq.
(5) 
Persons with disabilities. After the Zoning Officer receives a complete written application, the Zoning Hearing Board shall grant a special exception allowing modifications to specific requirements of this chapter that the applicant proves, to the satisfaction of the Zoning Hearing Board, are required under applicable federal law to provide a reasonable accommodation to serve persons who the applicant proves have disabilities, as defined in and protected by such laws.
(a) 
Such reasonable accommodations shall be requested in accordance with the United States Fair Housing Amendments Act and/or the Americans With Disabilities Act, as amended.[7]
[7]
Editor's Note: See 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq. and 12101 et seq., respectively.
(b) 
If the applicant is requesting a reasonable accommodation under the United States Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 or the Americans With Disabilities Act, the applicant shall identify the disability which is protected by such statutes, the extent of the modification of the provisions of this chapter necessary for a reasonable accommodation, and the manner by which the reasonable accommodation requested may be removed when such person(s) with a protected disability no longer will be present on the property.
(c) 
Any modification approved under this section may be limited to the time period during which the persons with disabilities occupy or utilize the premises.
(6) 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall also hear any other matters as set forth in the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended. (NOTE: As of the adoption date of this chapter, such provisions were primarily within Section 909.1 of such law.[8]) The Zoning Hearing Board also may hear appeals of other matters if authorized under a separate Township ordinance.
[8]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10909.1.
E. 
Time limits for appeals. The applicable provisions of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended, shall apply. (NOTE: As of the adoption date of this chapter, these provisions were in Section 914.1 of such Act.[9])
[9]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10914.1.
F. 
Stay of proceedings. The stay of proceedings provisions of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended, shall apply. (NOTE: As of the adoption date of this chapter, such provisions were in Section 915.1 of such Act.[10])
[10]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10915.1.
G. 
Time limits on permits and approvals.
(1) 
After a variance is approved or other zoning approval (such as special exception approval) is officially authorized, then any applicable zoning permit shall be secured by the applicant within 12 months after the date of such approval or authorization. The work authorized by zoning permits shall then be completed within 12 months after the issuance of the permits. The Zoning Hearing Board may approve a differing period, such as a longer period for a phased project or a shorter time period if the matter involves a violation of this chapter.
(2) 
Extension. In response to an applicant stating good cause in writing, the Zoning Officer may extend, in writing, the time limit for completion of work to a maximum total of 24 months after permits are issued.
(3) 
If an applicant fails to obtain the necessary permits or begin construction within the above time periods, or allows interruptions in substantial construction of longer than 12 months, the Zoning Officer shall conclusively presume that the applicant has waived, withdrawn or abandoned approvals, variances and permits under this chapter, and all such approvals, variances and permits shall be deemed automatically rescinded by the Township.
H. 
Multiple applications. No more than one application for the same property shall be pending before the Zoning Hearing Board for special exception approval at any time.
The following requirements shall apply to procedures, hearings and decisions of the Zoning Hearing Board:
A. 
Notice of hearings. Notice of all hearings of the Board shall be given as follows:
(1) 
Ad. Public notice shall be published, as defined by Section 107 of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.[1] The notice shall state the time and place of the hearing and the particular nature of the matter to be considered.
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10107.
(2) 
Posting. Notice of such hearing shall be conspicuously posted on the affected tract of land at least one week prior to the hearing. The Township staff shall post the property. It is the responsibility of the applicant to make sure that such notice remains posted until the hearing.
(3) 
Persons given notice. The Township shall provide written notice to the applicant of the time and place of the hearing. The Township should also provide notice to the Chairperson of the Board of Commissioners. Also, such notice shall be given to any other person or group (including civic or community organizations) who has made a written timely request for such notice. In addition, the Township should give notice to the last known address of the primary owner of record of land within 300 feet of the affected lot in each direction along the street frontage and 100 feet to the side or rear of the affected lot or that is contiguous to or directly across the street from the subject lot. All such notices should be mailed or delivered to the last known address. If a matter involves a location within 300 feet of the boundary of another municipality, notice of the hearing should also be provided to the offices of such other municipality.
B. 
Initiation of hearings. A hearing required under this chapter shall be commenced within 60 days of the date of the receipt of an applicant's request for a hearing, unless the applicant has agreed, in writing, to an extension of time. Hearings shall comply with Section 908 of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.[2]
[2]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10908.
C. 
Decision/findings.
(1) 
The Board or the Hearing Officer, as the case may be, shall render a written decision or, when no decision is called for, make written findings on the application within 45 days after the last hearing before the Board or Hearing Officer.
(2) 
Where the application is contested or denied, the decision shall be accompanied by findings of fact and conclusions based thereon, together with the reasons for such conclusions.
(3) 
References shall be provided to the most pertinent section(s) of this chapter and/or the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code for conclusions based upon such law, as well as why the conclusion is appropriate in light of the facts.
(4) 
If the hearing is conducted by a Hearing Officer [See § 295-13A(4).] and there has been no stipulation that his/her decision or findings are final, the Board shall make his/her report and recommendations available to the parties within 45 days, and the parties shall be entitled to make written representations thereon to the Board prior to final decision or entry of findings, and the Board's decision shall be entered no later than 30 days after the report of the Hearing Officer.
D. 
Notice of decision. A copy of the final decision shall be delivered or mailed to the applicant or his/her representative at their last known address not later than the time limit established by the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended. [NOTE: As of the adoption date of this chapter, such provisions were within Section 908(9) and 908(10) of such Act,[3] including provisions regarding notice to other parties.]
[3]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10908(9) and (10).
E. 
See also Section 908 of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.[4]
[4]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10908.
The provisions for appeals to court that are stated in the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended, shall apply. (NOTE: As of the adoption date of this chapter, these provisions were in Sections 1001-A, 1002-A, 1003-A, 1004-A, 1005-A and 1006-A of such Act.[1])
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. §§ 11001-A, 11002-A, 11003-A, 11004-A, 11005-A and 11006-A.
See the provisions of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended. (NOTE: As of the adoption date of this chapter, such provisions were within Section 619 of such Act.[1])
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10619.
This chapter shall not apply to uses or structures owned by Swatara Township or by a municipal authority created solely by Swatara Township for uses and structures that are intended for a public utility, stormwater, public works, recycling, municipal administrative, public recreation or public health and safety purpose.
A. 
Purpose. The special exception process is designed to allow careful review of uses that have some potential of conflicts with adjacent uses or areas.
B. 
Special exception procedure.
(1) 
A site plan shall be submitted, which shall contain the information required in § 295-5D. If a fully engineered subdivision or land development plan will be required, it may be submitted separately, such as after a special exception is approved.
(2) 
The Zoning Officer should provide a review to the Zoning Hearing Board regarding the compliance of the application with this chapter.
(3) 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall follow the procedures provided in § 295-14.
(4) 
The Township staff should offer a special exception application to the Township Planning Commission for any advisory review that the Commission may wish to provide. However, the Zoning Hearing Board shall meet the time limits of Pennsylvania law for a decision, regardless of whether the Township Planning Commission has provided comments.
(5) 
Time limits. See Section 908 of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10908.
C. 
Consideration of special exception applications. When special exceptions are allowed by this chapter, the Zoning Hearing Board shall hear and decide requests for such special exceptions in accordance with standards established by this chapter, including the following:
(1) 
Compliance with this chapter. The applicant shall establish by credible evidence that the application complies with all applicable requirements of this chapter. The applicant shall provide the Board with sufficient plans, studies or other data to demonstrate this compliance.
(2) 
Compliance with other laws. The approval may be conditioned upon the applicant later showing proof of compliance with other specific applicable Township, Pennsylvania and federal laws, regulations and permits. Required permits or other proof of compliance may be required to be presented to the Township prior to the issuance of any zoning permit, building permit, certification of occupancy and/or recording of an approved plan.
(3) 
Traffic. The applicant shall establish that the traffic from the proposed use will be accommodated in a safe and efficient manner that will minimize hazards and congestion after considering any improvements proposed to be made by the applicant as a condition on approval.
(4) 
Site planning. The application shall include proper site layout, internal circulation, parking, buffering, and all other elements of proper design as specified in this chapter.
(5) 
Neighborhood. The proposed use shall not substantially change the character of any surrounding residential neighborhood after considering any proposed conditions upon approval, such as limits upon hours of operation.
(6) 
Safety. The proposed use shall not create a significant hazard to the public health and safety, such as fire, toxic or explosive hazards.
(7) 
Natural features. The proposed use shall be suitable for the site, considering the disturbance of steep slopes, mature woodland, wetlands, floodplains, springs and other important natural features.
D. 
Conditions. In granting a special exception, the Board may require such reasonable conditions and safeguards (in addition to those expressed in this chapter) as it determines are necessary to implement the purposes of this chapter. Conditions imposed by the Zoning Hearing Board shall automatically become conditions of the building permit issued pursuant thereto, and any failure to comply with said conditions shall be a violation of this chapter.
A. 
Purpose. The conditional use approval process is designed to allow the Board of Commissioners to review and approve certain uses that could have significant impacts upon the community and the environment.
B. 
Procedure. The Board of Commissioners shall consider the conditional use application and render its decision in accordance with the requirements of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.[1]
(1) 
Submittal. A site plan shall be submitted, which shall contain the information listed in § 295-5D. Detailed site engineering (such as stormwater calculations and profiles) is not required at the conditional use stage. If a fully engineered subdivision or land development plan will be required, it may be submitted separately, once a conditional use is approved. An applicant may voluntarily choose to submit a subdivision or land development plan for review at the same time as a conditional use application.
(2) 
Reviews.
(a) 
The Zoning Officer shall provide a review to the Board of Commissioners regarding the compliance of the application with this chapter.
(b) 
The Township shall submit a conditional use application to the Township Planning Commission for review. However, the Board of Commissioners shall meet the time limits for a decision, regardless of whether the Planning Commission has provided comments.
(3) 
The only uses that shall be approved as conditional uses shall be those listed as conditional uses in Article III.
(4) 
Time limit. The Board of Commissioners shall render a written decision on each conditional use application within 45 days after the last hearing on the application or as may be provided otherwise in Section 913.2 of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code,[2] as amended, or such successor provisions. For a conditional use application, the same provisions shall apply for notice of persons that apply in § 295-14A(3).
[2]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10913.2.
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10101 et seq.
C. 
Consideration of conditional use application. The Board of Commissioners shall determine whether the proposed conditional use would meet the applicable requirements of this chapter. The same standards shall apply to a conditional use as are listed in § 295-18C for a special exception use.
D. 
Conditions. In approving conditional use applications, the Board of Commissioners may attach conditions it considers necessary to protect the public welfare and meet the standards of this chapter. These conditions shall be enforceable by the Zoning Officer, and failure to comply with such conditions shall constitute a violation of this chapter and shall be subject to the penalties described in this chapter.
A. 
Any review of activity within the floodplain, site plan review, subdivision or land development approval, erosion control review, wetland delineation review, stormwater runoff review, review of activity on steep slopes, or any other review, approval or permit under this chapter by an officer, employee, board, commission, solicitor, consultant or agency of the Township shall not constitute a representation, guarantee or warranty of any kind by the Township, or its employees, officials, boards, solicitor(s), consultants or agencies, of the practicality or safety of any structure, use or subdivision and shall create no liability upon nor a cause of action against such entity or person for any damage that may result pursuant thereto.
B. 
If the Zoning Officer mistakenly issues a permit under this chapter, the Township shall not be liable for any later lawful withdrawal of such permit.