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Township of Bear Creek, PA
Luzerne County
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A. 
Appointment. A Zoning Officer, who shall not hold any elected office within Bear Creek Township, shall be appointed by the Township Board of Supervisors. The Zoning Officer shall meet qualifications established by Bear Creek Township, which shall, at minimum, include a working knowledge of municipal zoning.
B. 
Duties and powers of the Zoning Officer. It shall be the duty of the Zoning Officer to enforce the provisions of this chapter in accordance with its literal terms, and said officer shall not have the power to permit any construction, alteration or any use or change of use to land or structure which does not conform to the applicable provisions within this chapter. The Zoning Officer's duties shall include but are not limited to the following:
(1) 
Receive and review all applications for zoning permits and to approve and issue zoning permits when warranted.
(2) 
Keep an official record of all business and activities, including all complaints of zoning violations of any of the provisions of this chapter and the resulting action of said complaints.
(3) 
Conduct inspections of properties as required to fulfill his/her duties. In conducting such activities, the Zoning Officer may have access to any land, building or structure, subject to the consent and/or right of entry by the owner or tenant or by securing a search warrant issued by a court of proper jurisdiction.
(4) 
Issue permits as authorized by the Zoning Hearing Board or the Planning Commission, pursuant to the requirements and applicable procedures of this chapter or by written order of a Court of proper jurisdiction.
(5) 
Issue certificates of zoning compliance in accordance with the terms and provisions of this chapter.
(6) 
Issue certificates of nonconformity to nonconforming uses and/or structures and to maintain a listing of such as required.
(7) 
Maintain the Zoning Map, showing the current zoning districts of all land and the zoning text, including amendments thereto.
(8) 
Notify the Zoning Hearing Board, Planning Commission or Board of Supervisors of required and/or requested hearings based upon the completion of his review and processing of applications for a zoning permit. The submission of an application for a zoning permit to the Zoning Officer and his determination that a hearing before the Board is either required or requested shall be a prerequisite for any application being forwarded to the Zoning Hearing Board for consideration.
(9) 
Participate in proceedings before the Zoning Hearing Board, Planning Commission or Board of Supervisors and at their request, furnish such facts, records and similar information which may assist them in rendering decisions.
(10) 
In the event of a violation of this chapter, provide written notice to the person responsible for such violation, indicating the nature of the violation and ordering the action necessary to correct the violation. Such written notice may be served personally or by certified mail. Corrective action may include an order to cease and desist the illegal use and/or activity of land, buildings, signs, or structures; or to remove illegal buildings, structures, additions, signs, and/or structural alterations.
A. 
Issuance of permit. No building, structure or sign shall be erected, constructed, moved, added to or structurally altered, nor shall any land, structure or building be put to any use without first obtaining a zoning permit from the Zoning Officer. No application shall be submitted to or considered by the Zoning Hearing Board until the Zoning Officer has received an application for a zoning permit and has determined that an approval and/or review by the Zoning Hearing Board, Planning Commission or Board of Supervisors is required or requested by the applicant. No such permit shall be issued except in conformity with the provisions of this chapter or upon written approval from the Zoning Hearing Board in the form of a special exception, variance or an administrative appeal, upon written approval from the Board of Supervisors in the form of a conditional use permit or as otherwise provided for by this chapter or any court of proper jurisdiction. Normal and routine maintenance and repairs to a structure shall be exempt from obtaining a zoning permit. Interior remodeling of a structure shall also be exempt from obtaining a zoning permit, provided that such remodeling does not include structural alterations or result in a change in the use of the structure.
B. 
Form of application. All applications for permits shall be made in writing by the owner, his authorized agent or equitable owner and shall be filed with the Zoning Officer on forms prescribed by the same. All applications which seek approval, involving new construction, additions, structural alterations, a change of use and/or any other form of improvements to a property shall be accompanied by two sets of plans and information which includes but is not limited to the following:
(1) 
A plan drawn to scale, indicating the actual dimensions and shape of the lot to be built upon and a written statement that the applicant is the owner or authorized agent of the owner or equitable owner.
(2) 
The exact size and location on the lot of existing and/or proposed structures, buildings or signs, including proposed additions thereto.
(3) 
The number and type of dwelling units, if applicable.
(4) 
The amount and location of parking and/or loading facilities.
(5) 
The existing use and/or proposed use of the property.
(6) 
The height of the building, structure and/or sign.
(7) 
A detailed scale drawing of all signs, existing and proposed, indicating their location and how they are and/or will be affixed to the property.
(8) 
Existing and/or proposed access to the site, including the name of the public street and/or road.
(9) 
Any other information deemed necessary by the Zoning Officer to determine conformance with the provisions and regulations of this chapter.
C. 
Processing applications. The Zoning Officer shall return one copy of the plans and accompanying information to the applicant upon marking such copies approved or denied and attested to the same by his signature. One copy of the plans and accompanying information shall be retained by the Zoning Officer and kept on file.
D. 
Time period for processing application. A properly completed zoning permit shall be approved or denied within 30 days from the date of receipt of a completed application and plans along with any additional information as required by the Zoning Officer. A zoning permit shall not be deemed complete until all applicable and associated fees are paid in full. In cases of denial, the applicant shall be informed of his/her rights of appeal as prescribed within this chapter. Such notice shall be in writing under the signature of the Zoning Officer.
E. 
Expiration of zoning permit. A zoning permit shall expire one year from the date of issuance, if the work described in said permit has not commenced, including permits authorized to be issued by the Zoning Hearing Board. If the work described within the zoning permit has commenced within the prescribed one-year period, the permit shall expire two years from the date of issuance. In such cases, should the applicant wish to pursue the work described within the expired permit, a new application shall be required with the payment of new fees.
F. 
Revocation of permits. The Zoning Officer may revoke a permit or approval issued in error under the provisions of this chapter or in the case of any false statements or misrepresentation of fact in the application or on the plans on which the permit or approval was based or for any other just cause as set forth in this chapter.
A. 
Notice of violation. If in the judgment of the Zoning Officer, it appears that a violation of this chapter has occurred, the Zoning Officer shall initiate enforcement proceedings by sending a violation notice to the owner of record of the parcel of land on which the violation has occurred, to any person who has filed a written request to receive violation notices regarding the parcel of land and to any other person requested in writing by the owner of record. The violation notice shall include, but may not be limited to the following:
(1) 
The name of the owner of record and any other person against whom Bear Creek Township intends to take action.
(2) 
The location and/or address of the property in violation.
(3) 
The specific violations with a description of the requirements which have not been met, citing in each instance the applicable sections and provisions of this chapter.
(4) 
The date by which the steps for compliance must be commenced and the date by which the steps for compliance must be completed.
(5) 
That the recipient of the violation notice has the right to appeal the violation notice and request a hearing on the same before the Zoning Hearing Board within 30 days from the issuance of the violation notice. Section 127-157M shall govern the procedural process of any appeal of a violation notice.
(6) 
Failure to comply with the notice within the specified time period, unless extended by an appeal to the Zoning Hearing Board, constitutes a violation, with a description of sanctions which shall result to correct or abate the violation.
B. 
Causes of action. In case any building, structure, landscaping or land is, or is proposed to be, erected, constructed, reconstructed, altered, converted, maintained or used in violation of this chapter, Township Board of Supervisors or, with the approval of the Township Board of Supervisors, an officer or agent of Bear Creek Township, or any aggrieved owner or tenant of real property who shows that his property or person will be substantially affected by the alleged violation, in addition to other remedies, may institute any appropriate action or proceedings to prevent, restrain, correct or abate such building, structure, landscaping or land, or to prevent, in or about such premises, any act, conduct, business or use constituting a violation of this chapter. When such action is instituted by a landowner or tenant, notice of that action shall be served upon Bear Creek Township not less than 30 days prior to the time the action is begun by serving a copy of the complaint to the Township Board of Supervisors. No action may be taken until such notice has been given.
C. 
Jurisdiction. District Justices shall have initial jurisdiction over proceedings brought under Subsection D of this section.
D. 
Enforcement remedies.
(1) 
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 proceedings commenced by Bear Creek Township or the Zoning Officer, shall pay a judgment of not more than $500, plus all court costs, including reasonable attorney fees incurred by Bear Creek Township as a result of said proceedings. 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, Bear Creek 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 has been a good-faith basis for the person, partnership or corporation violating this chapter to have believed that there was no such violation. In such cases, 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 attorney fees collected for the violation of this chapter shall be paid over to Bear Creek Township.
(2) 
The Court of Common Pleas, upon petition, may grant an order of stay, upon cause shown, tolling the per diem fine pending a final adjudication of the violation and judgment.
(3) 
Nothing contained in this section shall be construed or interpreted to grant any person or entity other than Bear Creek Township the right to commence any action for enforcement pursuant to this section.
The Township Board of Supervisors shall establish by resolution a schedule of fees, charges and expenses and collection procedures for zoning permits, certificates of zoning compliance, certificates of nonconformance, appeals to the Zoning Hearing Board, applications for conditional uses, amendments to the Zoning Ordinance or Zoning Map and any other matters pertaining to the administration of this chapter. The schedule of fees, charges and expenses shall be available for public inspection and may be altered or amended by resolution of the Township Board of Supervisors. No action shall be taken on any application, appeal or certificate until all related fees, charges and expenses have been paid in full. An application shall not be deemed as filed until completed and submitted with payment in full of appropriate fees and applicable supporting documentation.