There shall be a Zoning Hearing Board which shall consist of three members who shall be appointed by the Board of Supervisors. The membership of the Zoning Hearing Board shall consist of residents of the Township. 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 Zoning Hearing Board 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. Members of the Zoning Hearing Board shall hold no other office in the Township. Any member of the Zoning Hearing Board may 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. When used hereafter in this article, the words "Hearing Board" shall mean the Zoning Hearing Board.
The Hearing Board shall elect from its own membership its officers, who shall serve annual terms as such and may succeed themselves. For the conduct of any hearing and the taking of any action, a quorum shall be not less than a majority of all the members of the Hearing 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 Hearing Board as provided in § 325-113. The Hearing Board may make, alter and rescind rules and forms for its procedure, consistent with ordinances of the Township and laws of the commonwealth. The Hearing Board shall keep full public records of its business and shall submit a report of its activities to the Board of Supervisors once a year.
Within the limits of funds appropriated by the Board of Supervisors, the Hearing Board may employ or contract for secretaries, clerks, legal counsel, consultants and other technical and clerical services. Members of the Hearing Board may receive compensation for the performance of their duties, as may be fixed by the Board of Supervisors.
The applicant before the Hearing Board shall deposit with the Treasurer of the Township such a sum of money as set forth in the fee schedule adopted by the Board to pay the cost of the hearing; provided that funds deposited in excess of the actual cost of the requested hearing shall be returned to the applicant upon completion of the proceedings and in the event that the costs of the hearing exceed the funds deposited, the applicant shall pay to the Treasurer of the Township funds equal to such excess cost. Failure to pay such fees when billed shall be cause for automatic denial of the applicant. Costs are defined as administrative, operation and maintenance of facilities, advertisement, stenographic and Hearing Board compensation.
Applications for hearings before the Hearing Board shall be filed with the Township Secretary together with the proper fee.
All applications shall be submitted in appropriate forms provided by the Township and shall contain sufficient written information to fully describe the nature of 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 the intended use, such information shall be required to be submitted with the application. In the event that required information is not furnished, the application shall be refused and the fee returned to the applicant.
The Hearing Board shall conduct hearings and make decisions in accordance with the following requirements:
The Hearing Board shall fix a reasonable time and place for public hearings and shall give notice thereof as follows:
By mailing a notice thereof to the applicant at least 21 days before the date fixed for the hearing.
By notifying at least 14 days before the date fixed for the hearing, the Zoning Officer, the Township Secretary, the Township Solicitor, each member of the Board of Supervisors, the Chairman of the Planning Commission, the Secretary of the Chester County Planning Commission and every person or organization who shall have registered with the Hearing Board. The Board of Supervisors may fix an annual fee for provision of notices to nongovernmental parties.
When the Hearing Board shall so order, by mailing or delivering a notice thereof to the owner, if his residence is known, or the occupier of every lot surrounding the lot or building in question, provided that failure to give notice as required by this subsection shall not invalidate any action taken by the Hearing Board.
The notice herein required shall state the location of the lot or building, the general nature of the question involved, and the date, time and location of the hearing.
The applicant shall send written notification of the filing of an application with the Hearing Board to all property owners within 300 feet of the subject property and to all property owners who have registered their names with the Township pursuant to Subsection C of this section as follows:
The 300 feet shall be measured at a right angle from all points on every property line.
The names and addresses of the adjacent property owners shall be obtained from records of the Chester County Tax Assessment Office. The names and addresses of the owners registered under Subsection C of this section shall be obtained from the Township Zoning Officer.
The notification shall be sent by regular mail and certified mail return receipt requested and mailed a minimum of two weeks before the first scheduled public hearing of the Hearing Board. At the hearing, the applicant shall provide a copy of each notification sent and certified mail green cards if available. The hearing shall not proceed unless the copies are provided.
At a minimum the written notice shall contain the street address of the parcel, a general description of what is proposed by the applicant, the time, date and location of the hearing and inform the property owner that only one notice will be provided and that they are not required to attend but may attend if interested.
Owners and occupiers of properties in the Township may register their names with the Township Zoning Officer for purposes of receiving notice of the filing of an application with the Hearing Board pursuant to Subsection B of this section.
The hearings shall be conducted by the Hearing Board or the Hearing Board may appoint any member as a hearing officer. The decision or, where no decision is called for, the findings shall be made by the Hearing Board, but the parties may waive decision or findings by the Hearing Board and accept the decision or findings of the hearing officer as final.
The parties to the hearing shall be any person who is entitled to notice under Subsection A above of this section without special request therefor who has made timely appearance of record before the Hearing Board and any other person permitted to appear by the Hearing Board.
The Chairman or Acting Chairman of the Hearing Board or the hearing officer presiding shall have power to administer oaths and issue subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of relevant documents and papers, including witnesses and documents requested by the parties.
The 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.
Formal rules of evidence shall not apply, but irrelevant, immaterial, unduly repetitious and hearsay evidence shall be excluded and other inadmissible evidence may be excluded in the discretion of the Hearing Board.
The Hearing Board or the hearing officer, as the case may be, shall keep a stenographic record of the proceedings and a transcript of the proceedings and copies of graphic or written material received in evidence shall be made available to any party at cost.
The Hearing Board or the hearing officer shall not communicate, directly or indirectly, with any party or his representatives in connection with any issue involved except upon notice of any communication, reports, staff memoranda or other materials unless the parties are afforded an opportunity to contest the material so noticed and shall not inspect the site or its surroundings with any party or his representative after the commencement of the hearing unless all parties are given an opportunity to be present.
At any time prior to rendering its written decision, the Hearing Board may consult with the Planning Commission, Township Engineer or any other body for the purpose of resolving technical consideration relative to an application before it, and may at its discretion include the recommendation of said consultants in its final decision.
The Hearing 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 Hearing Board or hearing officer. Each decision shall be accompanied by findings and conclusions based thereon, together with the reasons there for. Conclusions based on any provisions of this chapter or of any act, rule or regulation shall contain a reference to the provision relied on and the reasons why the conclusion is deemed appropriate in the light of the facts found. If the hearing is conducted by a hearing officer and there has been no stipulation that this decision or findings are final, the Hearing Board shall make its report and recommendations available to the parties, and the parties shall be entitled to make written representations thereon to the Hearing Board prior to final decision or entry of findings. Where the Hearing Board has power to render a decision and the Hearing Board or the hearing officer, as the case may be, fails to render the same within the forty-five-day period required by this subsection, and unless the applicant has agreed or shall agree in writing to an extension of time, the decision shall be deemed to have been rendered in favor of the applicant
A copy of the final decision or, where no decision is called for, of the findings shall be delivered to the applicant personally or mailed to him not later than the day following its date. To all other persons who have filed their name and address with the Hearing Board not later than the last day of the hearing, the Hearing Board shall provide, by mail or otherwise, brief notice of the decision or findings and a statement of the place at which the full decision or findings may be examined.
The 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.
[Amended 3-10-2004 by Ord. No. 310]
The Zoning Hearing Board shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and render final adjudications in the substantive challenges to the validity of the Zoning Ordinance, except those brought before the governing body as a petition for curative amendment pursuant to MPC Sections 609.1 and 916.1(a)(2).
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. §§ 10609.1 and 10916.1(a)(2).
[Amended 3-10-2004 by Ord. No. 310]
The Zoning Hearing Board shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and render final adjudications in the substantive challenges to the validity of the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance, except those brought before the governing body as a petition for curative amendment pursuant to MPC Sections 609.1 and 916.1(a)(2).
The Hearing Board shall hear request for variances where it is alleged that the provisions of this chapter inflict unnecessary hardship upon the applicant. The Hearing Board may by rule prescribe the form of application and may require preliminary application to the Zoning Officer. The Hearing Board may grant a variance provided the following findings are made where relevant in a given case:
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 this chapter in the neighborhood or district in which the property is located.
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 this chapter and that the authorization of a variance is therefore necessary to enable the reasonable use of the property.
That such unnecessary hardship has not been created by the applicant.
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.
That in the case where the property in part or totally is located within the regulatory floodway the granting of a variance will not increase the base flood elevation.
Where the issuing of a variance will permit the construction of a structure or portion thereof below the base flood elevation in the Floodplain District, the applicant shall be notified in writing over the signature of the Township Zoning Officer that the construction or location of a structure below the base flood elevation will increase the risk to life and property and that flood insurance premium rates for the affected structure will increase. A record of all variance actions including the reasons and justification for the issuance of the variance shall be maintained.
That the variance, if authorized, will represent the minimum variance that will afford relief and will represent the least modification possible of the regulation in issue. In granting any variance, the Hearing Board may attach such reasonable conditions and safeguards as it may deem necessary to implement the purposes of this chapter.