The Zoning Hearing Board ("ZHB") consists of residents of the Township and is a three-member and one alternate member board appointed by the Township's governing body, which is the Board of Supervisors.
The ZHB is represented by and attorney who is called the Solicitor. The purpose and duties of the ZHB are established by Pennsylvania Act 247 (known as the Municipalities Planning Code) and are described in greater detail in the Township Ordinance, Chapter 265, Article 9.
Jurisdiction includes matters such as substantive and procedural challenges to municipal land use ordinances, appeals from determinations by the Zoning Officer, requests for variances, applications for Special Exceptions and appeals from a determination by a municipal engineer or Zoning Officer with reference to administration of any flood plain or flood hazard ordinance or such provision within a land use ordinance pertaining to use or dimensional requirements. Although the Supervisors appoint the ZHB members, the Supervisors do not have the Authority to change any ZHB decision.
After receiving a Zoning Application/ Appeal, the ZHB must hold the hearing within sixty (60) days unless the Applicant waives this time requirement. The hearing must be advertised once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation and no sooner than thirty (30) days prior to the hearing and no later than seven (7) days prior to the hearing in accordance with the MPC. The property that is the subject of the zoning appeal must be posted and neighboring land owners may be notified by mail.
About the Hearing
The hearing is a formal process and is similar to a courtroom proceeding. A court stenographer is present to make a record of the hearing. Members of the ZHB are not permitted to communicate with the applicant, his or her representatives, or any other person interested in the application, except at the time of the hearing. The ZHB, as a quasi-judicial body, may only hear and receive evidence that is given under oath and that is subject to cross examination.
Neither the applicant nor an objector is required to retain an attorney for the preparation of the application or participation in the hearing; however, neither the ZHB nor the Solicitor can provide legal advice to participants in the hearing. It is the burden of the applicant to prove their own case and to submit evidence that supports the application. It is not the responsibility of the ZHB to gather information or evidence for the applicant.
At the hearing, the applicant and other witnesses, if applicable will present the initial testimony in order to present the case. Applicant will first respond to questions posed by counsel and by members of the ZHB, then to questions by the citizens. The purpose is to ask questions about the testimony of the witness just given. Citizens may request to be granted party status during the hearing which preserves their right to appeal a decision made by the ZHB. An objector will have the opportunity to present testimony later at the hearing. The objector will be subject to cross-examination by the applicant and is subject to questioning by members of the ZHB and the Solicitor.
After the Hearing
The function of the ZHB is to receive information and evidence so that it can make a decision on the relief requested by the applicant. The ZHB will endeavor to make a decision at the conclusion of the hearing based on the evidence presented. The law allows the Board forty-five (45) days from the date of the last hearing to render a written decision.
An applicant or an interested party who has entered its appearance as a party at the hearing may appeal the decision of the ZHB to the Court of Common Pleas, Chester County, Pennsylvania within thirty (30) days of the date of the decision.
Please use the following guidelines to help you understand and complete your application.
APPLICANT: The individual or corporation that is requesting the hearing, that will be responsible for payment of any Township charges related to the hearing, and to which Township correspondence will be directed. Also, the petitioner. The Applicant is usually, but not always, the owner of the property.
PROPERTY ADDRESS: The property that is the subject of the hearing.
MAILING ADDRESS: Address of Applicant if different from property address.
ACQUISITION DATE: Date property was acquired by owner. If equitable owner, please indicate.
ZONING DISTRICT: Designation of Zoning District of property. Township Staff can provide this information if not known to Applicant.
DESCRIPTION OF HEARING REQUEST: Briefly explain your application. If applying for a Variance, explain what is being requested that is not permitted by the Zoning Ordinance and what relief is required. Indicate desired use, or Special Exception as required, or decision of administrative error if applicable.
ORDINANCE PROVISION: Indicate the Article, Section and Paragraph pertaining to request. Township Staff can provide this information if not know to Applicant.
SIGNATURE: Applicant signature is required for application to be considered complete. Please include an email for electronic correspondence.
SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS: Along with signed and dated Application, please submit a detailed sketch or blueprint, accompanying photos if applicable and required fees associated with the hearing.