Township of East Coventry, PA
Chester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Ord. 147, 8/11/2008, § 1500]
1. 
There shall be a Zoning Hearing Board consisting of five residents of the Township, appointed by the resolution of Board of Supervisors in accordance with Article IX of the Municipalities Planning Code. Their terms of office shall be five 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 vacancy that occurs. Appointments to fill vacancies shall be only for the unexpired portion of the term. Members of the Zoning Hearing Board and alternates shall hold no other office, or have membership on any other committee or commission, in the Township.
2. 
The Board of Supervisors may, by resolution, appoint at least one but no more than three residents of the Township to serve as alternate members of the Zoning Hearing Board. The term of the alternate members shall be three years. The alternate members shall hold no other office, or sit on any other committee or commission, in the Township. An alternate may participate in any proceeding or discussion of the Zoning Hearing Board, but shall not be entitled to vote as a member of the Zoning Hearing Board, or be compensated as a member as provided herein unless designated as a voting member in accordance with the provisions of § 27-1502, Subsection 2, of this Part.
3. 
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.
[Ord. 147, 8/11/2008, § 1501]
1. 
The Zoning 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 not be less than a majority of all the members of the Zoning Hearing Board, but the Zoning Hearing 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 Zoning Hearing Board, as provided in § 908 of the Municipalities Planning Code.
2. 
If, by reason of absence or disqualification of a member, a quorum is not reached, the chairman of the Zoning Hearing Board shall designate as many alternate members to sit on the Zoning Hearing Board as may be needed to provide a quorum. Any alternate member shall continue to serve on the Zoning Hearing Board in all proceedings involving the matter or case for which the alternate was initially appointed, until the Zoning Hearing Board has made a final determination of the matter or case. Designation of an alternate member pursuant to this subsection shall be made on a case-by-case basis in rotation according to declining seniority among all alternates.
3. 
The Zoning Hearing Board may make, alter and rescind the rules, regulations and forms for its procedures, such as are consistent with the ordinances of the Township and the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Copies of rules, regulations and forms adopted by the Zoning Hearing Board shall be prepared and shall be made available for inspection by any interested person in the Township Offices.
4. 
The Zoning Hearing 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 prior year activities to the Board of Supervisors once a year, prior to March 1, of each year, and at such other times as may be requested by the Board of Supervisors.
[Ord. 147, 8/11/2008, § 1502]
1. 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall function in strict accordance with and pursuant to § 909.1(a) of the Municipalities Planning Code, and shall have all powers set forth therein including, but not limited to, the following:
A. 
To hear and decide appeals from a determination of the Zoning Officer including, but not limited to, the granting or denial of any permit or failure to act on the application therefor, the issuance of any cease and desist order or the registration or refusal to register any nonconforming use, structure or lot.
B. 
To hear and decide applications for special exceptions authorized by this chapter in accordance with the standards and criteria set forth in § 27-1509. The Zoning Hearing Board may attach such reasonable conditions and safeguards, as it may deem necessary to implement the purposes of this chapter and the Municipalities Planning Code.
C. 
To hear and decide applications for variances where it is alleged that the provisions of this chapter inflict unnecessary hardship upon the applicant. A variance may be granted only after the Zoning Hearing Board has made the findings as required in § 27-1510 of this Part. In granting a variance, the Zoning Hearing Board may attach such reasonable conditions and safeguards, as it may deem necessary to implement the purposes of this chapter and the Municipalities Planning Code.
D. 
To conduct hearings and make such decisions and findings in connection with substantive challenges to the validity of any provisions of this chapter and any other Township land use ordinance as authorized by § 909.1(a)(1) of the Municipalities Planning Code.
E. 
To exercise jurisdiction over all other proceedings over which the Zoning Hearing Board is given jurisdiction pursuant to the Municipalities Planning Code.
[Ord. 147, 8/11/2008, § 1503]
1. 
The Zoning Hearing Board may make, alter or rescind rules of procedure in accordance with the several provisions of this chapter as to the manner of filing appeals, applications for special exceptions or variances, and as to the conduct of the business of the Zoning Hearing Board. In all cases the rules of procedure shall be consistent with Article IX of the Municipalities Planning Code.
2. 
Within the limits of funds appropriated by the Board of Supervisors, the Zoning Hearing Board may employ or contract for secretaries, clerks, legal counsel, consultants, and other technical and clerical services. Members of the Zoning Hearing Board, including any alternate members when designated in accordance with this article, may receive compensation for the performance of their duties, as may be fixed by the Board of Supervisors. In no case, however, shall the amount of compensation exceed the rate authorized for the members of the Board of Supervisors.
3. 
Any applicant before the Zoning Hearing Board shall deposit with the Township the appropriate filing fee established by resolution of the Board of Supervisors in accordance with the terms of § 27-1604.
4. 
The Board of Supervisors may prescribe reasonable fees with respect to hearings before the Zoning Hearing Board. Fees for said hearings may include compensation for the secretary and members of the Zoning Hearing Board, notice and advertising costs and necessary administrative overhead associated with the hearing. The costs, however, shall not include legal expenses of the Zoning Hearing Board, expenses for engineering, architectural or other technical consultants or expert witness costs.
[Ord. 147, 8/11/2008, § 1504]
Meetings of the Zoning Hearing Board shall be held at the call of the Chairman and at such other times as the Zoning Hearing Board may determine. Unless otherwise required or permitted by law, all meetings of the Zoning Hearing Board shall be open to the public. The Zoning Hearing Board shall keep minutes of its proceedings showing the vote of each member upon each question, or if a member is absent or fails to vote, indicating such fact, and shall keep records of its examinations and other official actions, all of which shall be immediately filed with the Township and shall be a public record.
[Ord. 147, 8/11/2008, § 1505; as amended by Ord. 184, 10/10/2011, § VII; and by Ord. 205, 12/14/2015, § XXXIX]
1. 
Appeals to the Zoning Hearing Board may be filed by an affected landowner, any officer or agency of the Township or any person aggrieved. Applications for a variance or special exception may be filed by any landowner, or any tenant with permission of the landowner. All applications, appeals and other matters to and before the Zoning Hearing Board shall be filed in accordance with the applicable procedures provided and established by this chapter, the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, other law, and/or the rules and regulations of the Zoning Hearing Board. All applications, appeals and other matters shall be initiated by an application for hearing which shall be filed with the Township on forms specified by the Township. Applications shall be accompanied by all exhibits and supplemental material required by the application, or by this chapter, the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, or the rules and regulations of the Zoning Hearing Board, and all required filing and other fees. Each application, appeal or other matter shall refer to the specific provisions of this chapter, any other ordinance, and/or the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code which are involved and relied upon as authority for the authorization, permissions, approval or other relief sought.
A. 
Appeal from Determination of the Zoning Officer. In the case of any appeal from a determination of the Zoning Officer, the Zoning Officer, upon the filing of the appeal, shall transmit to the Zoning Hearing Board all papers constituting the record upon which the determination was based and the appeal taken.
B. 
Application for Special Exception or Variance. An application for a special exception or a variance under or from the terms of this chapter shall be filed with the Zoning Hearing Board, and shall include:
(1) 
The name and address of the applicant.
(2) 
The name and address of the owner of the real estate in question.
(3) 
A statement of the present zoning classification of the property in question, the improvements thereon, and the present use thereof.
(4) 
A statement of the section of this chapter under or from which the special exception or variance is requested, and, the reasons, legal and factual, why the application should be granted.
(5) 
An accurate description of the improvements, additions, uses and development proposed to be made under the application, if any, indicating the size of such proposed improvements and additions, and the materials and general construction thereof. In additions there shall be attached a plot plan of the property in question, indicating the location and size of the improvements now erected thereon the location and size of the additions and improvements' proposed to be erected thereon, and the location of the proposed uses and development.
(6) 
A landscape plan that satisfies the criteria set forth in § 27-1310 of this chapter if required by § 22-428 of the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance [Chapter 22].[1]
[1]
Editor’s Note: Former Subsection 1C, Application for Special Exception or Variance in the Floodplain District – Additional Standards of Review and Procedures, which immediately followed this subsection, was repealed 6/12/2017 by Ord. 214. For current provisions, see Part 21, Floodplains.
[Ord. 147, 8/11/2008, § 1506]
1. 
Notice shall be given by the Township, except as otherwise noted herein, of any public hearing stating the location of the building or lot and the general nature of the question involved and shall be given as follows:
A. 
By giving public notice as defined in § 27-202 of this chapter and otherwise consistent with the Municipalities Planning Code of the hearing, and including, but not necessarily limited to, the following information: name of the applicant and type of application being heard; brief description of the request; date, location and time of the hearing; location and times when the application can be reviewed by the public or copies of such application to be obtained at a reasonable cost; and Township contact person.
B. 
By mailing a notice thereof to the applicant, the Zoning Officer, the Township and any person who has made timely request for same or who shall have registered their names and addresses for this purpose with the Zoning Hearing Board.
C. 
By mailing notice, satisfactory to the Zoning Hearing Board, thereof to the owner, if his address is known, or to the occupant of any lot on the same street within 500 feet of the lot in question and of every lot not on the same street within a five-hundred-foot radius of said lot; provided that failure to mail the notice required by this subsection shall not invalidate any action taken by the Zoning Hearing Board, and further provided that the notice required by this subsection shall not be interpreted to grant, in any manner or to any extent, legal standing or other right, not otherwise provided by law, to any owner or occupier to participate at the hearing before the Zoning Hearing board and/or in any subsequent appeal proceedings.
[Amended by Ord. 211, 2/13/2017]
D. 
By posting notice thereof conspicuously on the affected tract of land at least one week prior to the hearing.
E. 
The failure of any person or entity to receive notice duly given pursuant to this section shall not constitute grounds for any court to invalidate the actions of the Zoning Hearing Board for which the notice was given.
[Ord. 147, 8/11/2008, § 1507]
1. 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall conduct hearings and make decisions in accordance with the following requirements:
A. 
The first hearing shall be commenced within 60 days from the date of receipt of the applicant's application, unless the applicant has agreed in writing to an extension of time. Each subsequent hearing shall be held within 45 days of the prior hearing, unless otherwise agreed to by the applicant. Any party aggrieved by the schedule or progress of the hearings may apply to the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County for judicial relief. The hearing shall be completed no later than 100 days after the completion of the applicant's case in chief, unless extended for good cause upon application to the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County.
B. 
The hearing shall be conducted by the Zoning Hearing Board or the Zoning Hearing Board may appoint any member, or an independent attorney, as a hearing officer. The decision or, where no decision is called for, the findings shall be made by the Zoning Hearing Board; however, the appellant or the applicant, as the case may be, in addition to the Township, may, prior to the decision of the hearing, waive decision or findings by the Zoning Hearing Board and accept the decision or findings of the hearing officer as final.
C. 
The parties to the hearing shall be the Township, any person affected by the application who has made timely appearance of record before the Zoning Hearing Board, and any other person including civic or community organizations permitted to appear by the Zoning Hearing Board. The Zoning Hearing Board shall have power to require that all persons who wish to be considered parties enter appearances in writing on forms provided by the Zoning Hearing Board for that purpose.
D. 
The chairman or acting chairman of the Zoning 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.
E. 
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.
F. 
Formal rules of evidence shall not apply, but irrelevant, immaterial, or unduly repetitious evidence may be excluded.
G. 
The Zoning Hearing Board or the hearing officer, as the case may be, shall keep a stenographic record of the proceedings. The appearance fee for a stenographer shall be shared equally by the applicant and the Zoning Hearing Board. The cost of the original transcript shall be paid by the Zoning Hearing Board if the transcript is ordered by the Zoning Hearing Board or hearing officer or shall be paid by the person appealing from the decision of the Zoning Hearing Board if such appeal is made, and in either event the cost of additional copies shall be paid by the person requesting such copies or copies. In other cases the party requesting the original transcript shall bear the cost thereof.
H. 
The Zoning 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 and opportunity for all parties to participate, shall not take notice of any communication, reports, staff memoranda, or other materials, except advice from their solicitor, unless the parties are afforded an opportunity to contest the material so noticed and shall not inspect the site or its surroundings after the commencement of hearings with any party or his representative unless all parties are given an opportunity to be present.
[Ord. 147, 8/11/2008, § 1508]
1. 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall hear and decide all requests for a special exception and must determine that the following standards and criteria are met before granting the request:
A. 
The proposed development or change is consistent with the spirit, purpose and intent of this chapter.
B. 
The size, scope, extent and character of the special exception request is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and promotes the harmonious and orderly development of the zoning district involved.
C. 
The proposed special exception is an appropriate use consistent with the character and type of development in the area surrounding the location for which the request is made and will not substantially impair, alter or detract from the use of surrounding property or of the character of the neighborhood in light of the zoning classification of the area affected; the effect on other properties in the area; the number, extent and scope of nonconforming uses in the area; and the presence or the absence in the neighborhood of conditions or uses which are the same or similar in character to the condition or use for which applicant seeks approval.
D. 
The proposed special exception is suitable with respect to traffic and highways in the area and provides for adequate access and off-street parking arrangements in order to protect major streets and highways from undue congestion and hazard.
E. 
All arterial or collector roadway frontage will be developed so as to limit the total number of access points and encourage the frontage of building on parallel marginal roads or on roads perpendicular to the arterial or collector roadway.
F. 
The proposed special exception is reasonable in terms of the logical, efficient and economical extension of public services and facilities, such as public water, sewers, police, fire protection, and public schools, and ensures adequate arrangements for the extension of such services and facilities in specific instances.
G. 
Conditions are being imposed on the grant of the request necessary to ensure that the general purpose and intent of the property adjacent to the area included in the proposed special exception is adequately safeguarded with respect to harmonious design of buildings, aesthetics, planting and its maintenance as a sight or sound screen, landscaping, hours of operation, lighting, numbers of persons involved, allied activities, ventilation, noise, sanitation, safety, smoke and fume control and the minimizing of noxious, offensive or hazardous elements.
H. 
The proposed special exception protects and promotes the health, safety and general welfare of Township residents.
[Ord. 147, 8/11/2008, § 1509]
1. 
The Zoning Hearing Board may grant a variance provided that all of the following findings are made where relevant in a given case as required by § 910.2 of the Municipalities Planning Code:
A. 
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.
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 this chapter 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 applicant.
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 or development of adjacent property, nor be detrimental to the public welfare.
E. 
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.
2. 
In granting any variance the Zoning Hearing Board may attach such reasonable conditions and safeguards, as it may deem necessary to implement the purposes of this chapter and the Municipalities Planning Code.
[Ord. 147, 8/11/2008, § 1510]
To the maximum extent permitted by law, all burdens of proof and persuasion shall be upon the applicant in connection with any variance, special exception, or other application or appeal before the Zoning Hearing Board. In allowing a variance or 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 of this chapter and the Municipalities Planning Code.
[Ord. 147, 8/11/2008, § 1511]
1. 
The Zoning Hearing Board or 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. Where the application is contested or denied, each decision shall be accompanied by findings of fact and conclusions based thereon together with the reasons therefor. Conclusions based on any provisions of this chapter or of any ordinance, 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 his decision or findings are final, the Zoning Hearing Board shall make the hearing officer's report and recommendations available to the parties within 45 days and the parties shall be entitled to make written representations thereon to the Zoning Hearing Board prior to a final decision or entry of findings, and the Zoning Hearing Board's decision shall be entered no later than 30 days after the report of the hearing officer. Where the Zoning Hearing Board fails to render a decision as required by this subsection, or fails to commence and/or complete the required hearing as provided in § 27-1508 of this chapter, 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. When a decision has been rendered in favor of the applicant because of the failure of the Zoning Hearing Board to meet or render a decision as hereinabove provided, the Zoning Hearing Board shall give public notice of said decision within 10 days from the last day it could have met to render a decision in the same manner as provided in this section. If the Zoning Hearing Board shall fail to provide such notice, the applicant may do so. Nothing in this subsection shall prejudice the right of any party opposing the application to appeal the decision to a court of competent jurisdiction.
2. 
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 Zoning Hearing Board not later than the last day of the hearing, the Zoning 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.
[Ord. 147, 8/11/2008, § 1512]
Appeals from decisions of the Zoning Hearing Board shall be to the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, to the extent permitted by and in accordance with the provisions of the Municipalities Planning Code and/or other applicable law.
[Ord. 147, 8/11/2008, § 1513; as amended by Ord. 172, 2/14/2011, § VII]
1. 
Any approval of a special exception or variance request shall be deemed null and void 24 months from the date of such approval if, within that period, no application is made for a building permit, sedimentation and erosion control permit, subdivision or land development approval, or any other approval or permit required by the Township to proceed with construction, occupancy, or use pursuant to the special exception or variance, unless so extended by the Zoning Hearing Board pursuant to Subsection 2, below.
2. 
The twenty-four-month expiration period may be extended by the Zoning Hearing Board provided, that such request for an extension shall be properly filed with the Zoning Officer at least 30 calendar days in advance of the expiration date. The request shall include the reason why the extension is required, a reasonable estimate of the time needed to obtain the necessary approvals, and a qualified statement that there has been no change in either the circumstances giving rise to the grant of relief or the neighborhood in which the property is located. Any request for an extension shall require a resubmission of the application, public notice and payment of fees as required for the initial application. Failure to diligently pursue necessary approvals shall not be grounds for an extension. The Zoning Hearing Board may grant up to one additional twenty-four-month extension provided a reasonable argument is presented. No more than one such extension shall be granted per special exception or variance approval.
[Ord. 147, 8/11/2008, § 1513; as added by Ord. 186, 11/14/2011, § III]
1. 
In accordance with §§ 27-502, 27-602, 27-702, 27-802, 27-902, 27-1002 and 27-1102, the Zoning Hearing Board is authorized to grant a special exception for an in-law suite (second housekeeping unit), as defined herein, subject to the following additional standards:
A. 
The owner(s) of the residence in which the in-law suite is created shall occupy at least one of the dwelling units.
B. 
As a special exception, the Zoning Hearing Board may interpret the term "family" to mean any number of individuals living together, when all members are related by blood, marriage or legal adoption, as two housekeeping units with separate cooking facilities, subject to the following restrictions:
(1) 
The second housekeeping unit shall be a maximum of 40% of the size of the primary housekeeping unit and no larger than 1,000 square feet.
(2) 
The occupants of the second housekeeping unit shall be limited to two in number.
(3) 
The second housekeeping unit shall be an integral part of the structure, with an interior connection such that, upon the termination of its use as a second housekeeping unit, the rooms may be incorporated back into the original single-family residence. It shall be attached and shall not have a separate front entrance. The Zoning Officer shall have the sole discretion in determining compliance of the design with this condition.
(4) 
The owner of the property shall execute an agreement with the Township, which shall be recorded with the County Recorder of Deeds, which shall require the removal of all food preparation facilities from the second housekeeping unit within 90 days after the date the unit is no longer being utilized by either of the persons or person for whom the original permission was granted.
(5) 
This use shall be limited to single-family detached dwellings in any zoning district. Only one second housekeeping unit shall be permitted within the building.
C. 
Additions. Additions to an existing dwelling designed to allow the creation of an in-law suite in that dwelling shall be permitted; provided that yard and building coverage requirements of this chapter are maintained and the addition will facilitate the creation of an otherwise allowed in-law suite in a logical manner considering design, layout and safety factors.
D. 
Exterior Alterations.
(1) 
Alterations to the exterior of the existing dwelling, other than those to improve the maintenance and attractiveness of the dwelling, shall be minimized; after creation of the in-law suite, the building shall maintain the usual appearance of a single-family detached dwelling and shall remain compatible with the character of the surrounding neighborhood.
(2) 
The converted dwelling shall have no more than the existing number of entrances along the front of the building. All other entrances to either the principal or secondary dwelling units shall be located on the side or rear of the building.
(3) 
No new unenclosed exterior stairways shall be allowed on the front of the converted dwelling.
E. 
Parking. A minimum of one all-weather off-street parking space, with unrestricted ingress and egress to the street, shall be provided for the in-law suite, in addition to that required for the original dwelling unit.
F. 
Heath and Safety Code Requirements.
(1) 
Both units in the converted dwelling shall conform to all requirements of the applicable building, health, fire and sanitary codes which regulate structural soundness, overcrowding, fire protection, sewage disposal and water supply.
(2) 
If an on-site sewer or water system are to be used, the applicant shall submit evidence to the Zoning Hearing Board showing that the total number of occupants in the two units will not exceed the maximum capacities for which the original one unit system were designed, unless those systems are to be expanded, in which case the expansion approvals are to be submitted. Any connection to or addition to an existing on-site sewer system shall be subject to the review and approval of the Township Engineer.
G. 
Submission of Plans.
(1) 
The applicant shall submit to the Zoning Hearing Board:
(a) 
Sketch floor plan(s) showing the location, size and relationship of both the secondary dwelling and the primary dwelling within the building.
(b) 
Rough elevations showing the modification of any exterior building facade to which changes are proposed.
(c) 
A site development sketch plan properly showing and locating the dwelling and other existing buildings; all property lines; any proposed addition (along with minimum building setback lines; the location, size and extent of all underground utilities; and the length, width and function of all rights-of-way and easements potentially affecting that addition); the required parking spaces for both dwelling units; and any one-hundred-year floodplain, 15% or greater slopes or other natural or man-made conditions which might affect these items.
(2) 
All plans and elevations shall be clear and concise and drawn to a scale of not less than one inch equals four feet for the floor plan(s) and elevation(s) and one inch equals 20 feet for the site development plan.