[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Harrisburg 7-8-2014 by Ord. No. 5-2014. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Notice — see Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code § 908, 53 P.S. § 10908.
Special exceptions — see Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code § 912.1.
Variances — see Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code § 910.2.
Land use appeals — see Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code § 1001-A.
Zoning Hearing Board — see Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code § 901 et seq., 53 P.S. § 10901 et seq.
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Part Three, 7-300, composed of Ord. Nos. 112-1964, 17-1965, 79-1965, 13-1974, 29-1974, 30-1974, 13-1977, 26-1977, 19-1985, 6-1988, 25-1993, 26-1995, 10-1996, 61-1996 and 3-2012, as amended.
The purpose of this chapter is to establish procedures for special exceptions and variances, and to explain the duties of the Zoning Hearing Board. In addition to making decisions on special exception and variances, the Zoning Hearing Board also functions to hear any appeals of decisions made by the Zoning Officer in the administration of this Zoning Code.
All applications for special exceptions and variances require review and final action by the Zoning Hearing Board. Special exceptions are required for specific land uses in specific zoning districts, further described in Chapter 7-305. Special exceptions also include floodplain special exceptions, as described in Chapter 7-315. Variances are required for any request for relief of the development standards described in Chapter 7-307.
The existing Zoning Hearing Board of the City of Harrisburg is hereby continued and shall perform all of the functions authorized by the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended.
The Zoning Hearing Board shall consist of three regular members appointed by the City Council. The membership of the Zoning Hearing Board shall consist of residents of the City of Harrisburg. The terms of office shall be three years and shall be fixed so that the term of office of one member shall expire each year. The City Council may also appoint alternate members to serve as authorized by the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended.
The Zoning Hearing Board shall conduct hearings and make decisions in accordance with the following:
Public notice shall be published as required by the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code and shall state the time and place of the hearing and the particular nature of the matter to be considered;
Notice of such hearing shall be conspicuously posted on the affected tract of land at least one week prior to the hearing. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that such notice is posted and remains posted until the hearing;
Public notice will be mailed by the applicant by first class letter to all property owners within a one-hundred-foot radius of the boundary of the subject property, and the applicant will provide proof of mailing;
[Amended 6-15-2016 by Ord. No. 11-2016]
The City shall provide written notice to the applicant of the time and place of the hearing. Such notice also shall be given to any other person or group, including civic or community organizations, who has made a written timely request for such notice;
Any such notices should be mailed or delivered to the last known address, or sent through electronic mail services;
The Board shall hear and decide any application under the procedures of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended. The Board shall schedule the first hearing within 60 days of submittal of a proper application and issue a decision within 45 days after the conclusion of the final hearing on the matter. The Board shall render a written decision, or make written findings when no decision is called for, within the time limits of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, unless a written time extension is provided by the applicant. In other circumstances:
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; and
Any conclusion based on any provision of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code or of this Zoning Code shall contain a reference to the provision relied upon.
A copy of the final decision or a copy of the findings (when no decision is called for), shall be communicated to the applicant or his/her representative or mailed to their last known address not later than the time limit established by the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended;
The approval of a special exception or variance shall be automatically revoked within one year of the notice of decision if a complete building/zoning permit or land development application is not submitted to the City. For good cause, the Zoning Hearing Board may extend this time upon receiving a new application. The one-year period may be extended only with approval of the Zoning Hearing Board. Approval shall also be automatically revoked if no work has been done on site within one year of the notice of decision, unless an alternative schedule is submitted to and approved as part of the permit process. The permit may also be revoked if the Codes Administrator revokes the building permit and a new permit application addressing the revocation's concerns is not resubmitted within one month of the revocation.
The Zoning Hearing Board shall hear and render decisions on requests for a special exception for a use that is permitted by this Code. Special exception requests shall be submitted to the Zoning Officer.
The Zoning Hearing Board may grant a special exception if the applicant provides evidence to the satisfaction of the Board that the proposed use will comply with all of the following standards:
Such use will not clearly be in conflict with other City ordinances or state or federal laws or regulations known to the City;
Such use will include proper traffic ingress and egress to the property, with particular attention paid to vehicle and pedestrian safety, and will involve proper access for emergency vehicles;
The applicant shall show that the use will not create a significant public safety hazard, including fire, toxic, or explosive hazards;
Such use will not significantly negatively affect the character of an existing residential neighborhood, such as causing substantial amounts of heavy truck traffic to travel through a residential neighborhood, or a significant odor or noise nuisance or very late night/early morning hours of operation;
Such use will involve adequate site design methods, including plant screening, walls, fences, berms, site layout, proper direction and shielding of outdoor lighting to avoid glare, setbacks of refuse areas and loading facilities, and other setbacks as needed to avoid significant negative impacts on adjacent uses;
The applicant shall show that the use will comply with the environmental performance standards of this Zoning Code, as stated in Chapter 7-331; and
The applicant shall prove that any demolition or other negative impacts upon any buildings with historically significant architecture on the site have been reasonably minimized. The Zoning Hearing Board may request an advisory review by the Harrisburg Architectural Review Board or its Executive Secretary on this matter.
In granting a special exception, the Board may require such reasonable conditions and safeguards (in addition to those expressed in this Zoning Code) as it determines is necessary to implement the purposes of this Zoning Code. Conditions imposed by the Zoning Hearing Board shall automatically become conditions of the zoning and building permits issued pursuant thereto, and any failure to comply with said conditions shall be a violation of this Zoning Code. Such additional conditions may include, but are not limited to, the following:
In establishing the existence of facts or conditions relative to the possible granting of any special exception, the burden of proof shall be on the applicant.
The Zoning Hearing Board shall hear and render a decision on requests for a variance where an applicant states that the provisions of this Code inflict unnecessary hardship. Applications for variances shall be submitted to the Zoning Officer.
The Zoning Hearing Board may grant a variance provided that all of the following findings are made where relevant in a given case:
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;
Because of such physical circumstances or conditions, there is no possibility that the property can be developed in strict conformity with the provisions of the Zoning Code, and a variance is therefore necessary to enable the reasonable use of the property;
Such unnecessary hardship has not been created by the appellant;
The variance, if authorized, will not alter the essential character of the neighborhood or zoning 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
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.
Any person aggrieved by any decision of the Zoning Hearing Board may within 30 days after such decision of the Zoning Hearing Board seek review by the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas of such decision in the manner provided by the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended.
The Zoning Hearing Board shall provide an opportunity for the Planning Commission to provide advisory comments on any special exception or variance application prior to the scheduled hearing of the Board.
If the Planning Commission provides comments, the Zoning Officer shall enter such comments as an exhibit on behalf of the City at a hearing of the Zoning Hearing Board on the application for a special exception permit or variance permit.
The primary role of the Planning Commission is to provide advisory comments relating to the appropriateness of the special exception or variance request in relation to the relevant zoning district, adopted neighborhood plans, and the City of Harrisburg Comprehensive Plan.
Chapters 7-701 and 1-305 shall apply.