Upper Darby Seal

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Article XII – Zoning Hearing Board

1200-A. Creation of the Board

A Zoning Hearing Board is hereby created in accordance with the provisions of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code. The members of the Zoning Hearing Board existing at the effective date of this Ordinance shall continue to serve for their appointed terms.

1200-B. Membership of the Board

  • The Board shall consist of three (3) residents of the Township plus one (1) alternate who shall be appointed and shall serve as provided for by law.
  • Members of the Board shall hold no other office in the Township.
  • Removal of Board members shall be governed by the provisions of law.

1200-C. Board Functions and Power

The Board shall have the functions and powers prescribed by law. In accordance with the provisions of Article IX of the Municipalities Planning Code, the 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 this Ordinance or the Zoning Map or any valid rule or regulation governing the action of the Zoning Officer.
  • Shall hear requests for variances where it is alleged that the provisions of this Ordinance inflict unnecessary hardship upon the applicant, subject to the standards prescribed by law and contained in Section 1200-J of this Article.
  • Shall hear and decide requests for Special Exceptions where this Ordinance states that a Special Exception may be granted or denied by the Board in accordance with express standards and criteria contained in this Ordinance.
  • May hear all challenges to the validity of this Ordinance or to the Zoning Map involving issues of fact and of interpretation which properly come before the Board in accordance with law, and shall take evidence and make a record thereof as prescribed by the Municipalities Planning Code. In granting any variance or Special Exception, the Board shall comply with the provisions and standards of Section 1200-J of this Article.

1200-D. Organization of Board

The Board shall elect officers and shall organize and operate in accordance with the procedures prescribed by the Planning Code and by any rules adopted by the Board consistent with any Township ordinance and State law. 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 Board, but as provided for by the Planning Code, the Board may appoint a hearing officer from its own membership to conduct any hearing on its behalf and the parties may waive decision of findings by the Board and accept the decision or findings of the hear¬ing officer as final. The Board shall adopt Rules of Procedure, keep full public records of its business, and shall submit a report of its activities to the Township Council at least once a year as required by the Planning Code. The Board rules may include, but shall not be limited to, the manner of filing appeals, the manner of filing requests for Special Exceptions and variances from the terms of this Ordinance, and other rules and forms for its procedure.

1200-E. Appeals to the Board

  • Appeals from determinations of the Zoning Officer and proceedings to challenge this Ordinance may be filed with the Board by any officer or agency of the Township, or by any person aggrieved. Request for a variance and Special Exception may be filed with the Board by any land¬owner. An appeal to the Board shall be taken as provided by the Municipalities Planning Code and the Board’s Rules of Procedure by filing a notice of appeal specifying the grounds thereof. Such appeal shall be filed both with the Board and the Zoning Officer and the Zoning Officer shall forthwith trans¬mit to the Board all the papers constituting the record upon which the action appealed from was taken. The raising of issues and the filing of certain proceedings before the Board also shall be subject to the time limitations contained in the Municipalities Planning Code.
  • An appeal, or request for a Special Exception or variance from the terms of this Ordinance, shall be filed with the Zoning Officer, and shall state:
    • The name and address of the applicant;
    • The name and address of the owner of the real estate property;
    • A brief description and location of the real estate to be affected by such proposed change;
    • A statement of the present zoning classification of the real estate in question, the improvements thereon, and the present use thereof;
    • The applicant may provide a statement of the section of this Ordinance under which the variance, or exception is requested and the reasons why it should be granted; and
    • A reasonably accurate description of the present improvements and the additions intended to be made under this application, indicating the size of such proposed improvements, material and general construction thereof. Where applicable, there shall be attached a plot plan of the real estate to be affected, indicat¬ing the location and size of the lot and size of the improvements now erected and proposed to be erected thereon.

1200-F. Public Hearings

The Board shall conduct hearings and make decisions in accordance with the requirements of the Municipalities Planning Code and any pertinent pro¬visions of this Ordinance or the Rules of the Board. Upon the filing with the Board of an appeal or a request for a Special Exception or variance from the terms of this Ordinance, the Board shall fix a time and place for a public hearing thereon in accordance with the Municipalities Planning Code. The chairman or acting chairman of the Board, or the hearing officer presiding, shall have the power to administer oaths and issue subpoenas to compel the attendance of wit¬nesses and the production of relevant documents and papers. The 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 the time requirements of the Municipalities Planning Code.

1200-G. Notice of Public Hearings

In any case where the Zoning Hearing Board shall hold a public hearing, the Board shall give notice as follows, which notice shall state the time and the place of the hearing and the particular nature of the matter to be considered at the hearing:

  • By publishing a notice thereof once each week for two (2) successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the Township. Such notice shall state the time and place of the hearing and the particular nature of the matter to be considered at the hearing. The first publication shall be not more than thirty (30) days or less than seven (7) days from the date of the hearing.
  • By mailing due notice thereof to the applicant and other parties in interest.
  • By mailing notice thereof to the Mayor, each Councilman, the Zoning Officer, and the Delaware County Planning Department.

1200-H. Expiration of Special Exceptions and Variances

Unless otherwise specifically extended by the Zoning Hearing Board, a Special Exception or variance shall expire at the end of one (1) year from date of authorization if the applicant fails to obtain a building permit, or put the property to the use for which said Special Exception or variance has been granted.

1200-I. Zoning Appeals to Court

Zoning appeals from decisions of the Board and appeals upon report of the Board in proceedings to challenge the validity of the Zoning Ordinance and Map may be taken by any party before the Board, or any officer or agency of the Township to the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in accord¬ance with the provisions of Article X-A of the Municipalities Planning Code. All such zoning appeals shall be filed as required by law.

1200-J. Standards for Review of Special Exceptions or Variances

  • In any instance where the Board is required to consider a request for a Special Exception or variance in accordance with the provisions of this Ordinance, the Board shall to the full extent permitted by law consider the following factors where appropriate:
    • Give full consideration to the size, scope, extent and character of the Special Exception or variance desired and assure itself that such request is consistent with the criteria and objectives of the Township’s Comprehensive Plan, and with the spirit, purpose and intent of the Zoning Ordinance.
    • Consider the suitability of the property for the use desired, and the extent to which the new or expanded use is susceptible of regulation by appropriate conditions and safeguards.
    • Consider the public interest in, or the need, for the proposed use or change, and determine that the proposal will serve the best interests of the Township, the convenience of the community (where applicable), and the public health, safety, morals and general welfare.
    • Consider, where pertinent, the effects of the proposed change with respect to: the most appropriate use of land; conserving the value of buildings; safety from fire, panic and other dangers: adequacy of light and air; the overcrowding of land; congestion of population: and the adequacy of public and community services.
    • Take into consideration the character and type of development in the area surrounding the location for which the request is made and determine that the proposed change or modification, as permitted, will constitute an appropriate use in the area and will not substantially injure or detract from the use of surrounding property or from the character of the neighborhood.
    • Guide the development of highway frontage insofar as possible so as to limit the total number of access points, reduce the need for on street parking and encourage the frontage of buildings on parallel marginal roads perpendicular to the highway.
    • Consider the probable effects of proposed development on highway congestion and insure that adequate access arrangements are provided in order to protect major highways from undue congestion and hazard.
  • In the case of a variance, in addition to any applicable standards of this Section above, the more specific requirements or criteria contained in Section 910.2 of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code; 53 P.S. §10910.2, shall apply. The Zoning Hearing Board may grant a variance provided the following find¬ings 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, required by law is due to such conditions, and not the circumstances or conditions generally created by the provisions of this Ordinance 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 Zoning Ordinance 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 appellant.
    • That the variance, if authorized, will not alter the essential charac¬ter of the neighborhood or district in which the property is located, nor substantially or permanently impair the appropriate use or develop¬ment of adjacent property, nor be detrimental to the public welfare.
    • That the variance, if authorized, will represent the minimum variance that will afford relief and will represent the least modification possible of the regulation at issue.
  • In granting any variance or Special Exception, the Board may attach such reasonable conditions and safeguards, in addition to those expressed in this Ordinance, as it may deem necessary to implement the purposes of the Municipalities Planning Code and Zoning Ordinance, which conditions and safeguards, may relate to, but are not limited to, aesthetics, screening, lighting, noise, safety and the minimizing of noxious, offensive or hazardous elements. Each Special Exception shall be clearly authorized by a provision of this Ordinance and shall comply with any more specific standards relating to such exception contained in this Ordinance.
  • In all cases of requests for a Special Exception or variance, it shall be the responsibility of the applicant to present such evidence as is necessary to demonstrate that the proposed use or modification complies with the per¬tinent criteria or standards set forth in this Section, will not cause a detrimental effect on surrounding property or the neighborhood, and is in accord with the spirit and intent of this Ordinance.
  • Any person desiring to erect any structure or increase the height of any structure or permit the growth of any object of natural growth or otherwise use his property in violation of airport zoning regulations may apply to the Zoning Hearing Board for a variance from the zoning regulations in question. A variance shall only be granted after the requirements of this subsection are satisfied. A variance may be allowed where a literal application or enforcement of the regulations would result in practical difficulty or unnecessary hardship and the relief granted would not be contrary to the public interest but would do substantial justice and would be in accordance with the spirit of the regulations and this Ordinance. Any variance may be granted subject to any reasonable conditions that the Zoning Hearing Board may deem necessary to effectuate the purposes of this Ordinance. The application for variance shall be accompanied by a determination from the Federal Aviation Administration as to the effect of the proposal on the operation of air navigation facilities and the safe, efficient use of navigable airspace. Additionally, no application for variance to the requirements of this Ordinance may be considered by the Zoning Hearing Board unless a copy of the application has been furnished to the Airport Manager (or person of equivalent description) for advice as to the aeronautical effects of the variance. If the Airport Manager (or person of equivalent description) does not respond to the application within fifteen (15) days after receipt, the Zoning Hearing Board may act without such input to grant or deny said application.