Zoning Hearing Board
- The Zoning Hearing Board meets on an as-needed basis, scheduling hearings when applications are submitted.
The Zoning Hearing Board is the “safety valve” for the Zoning Ordinance. While Zoning Ordinances are comprehensive and written to be clear, they do not fit all the possible situations that exist in the real world of property. This is where the Zoning Hearing Board comes into play.
Property owners can make applications to the Zoning Hearing Board to hear requests for variances (literally to ask the Zoning Hearing Board to “vary” the Zoning Ordinance standards) and for interpretations of the regulations. The Zoning Hearing Board also hears other applications known as special exceptions and challenges to the validity of the Zoning Ordinance.
The Zoning Hearing Board is an appointed, but autonomous, body of 3 township residents. However, while being appointed by the Board of Supervisors, they function independently and are authorized to make binding decisions. In this way they are unlike other volunteer boards that only make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.
As such, the Zoning Hearing Board is considered to be a “quasi-judicial” body and appeals from their decisions go to the Court of Common Pleas in West Chester.
The following is the process that applicants must follow to schedule a hearing with the Zoning Hearing Board:
- File the application form (PDF), the $500 fee (this covers roughly 1/3 the cost of the hearing, the Township covers the remainder) and plans. You should provide 5 copies of the form and plans.
- Township staff then processes the application and schedules a hearing.
- The Board of Supervisors considers the application at a public meeting; while an applicant need not attend this meeting, it is recommended to do so in the event the Board has questions. The Supervisors review each and every application to the Zoning Hearing Board to determine if they want to take a position on the appeal.
- Prepare for and attend the hearing before the Zoning Hearing Board. You must prepare specific arguments, or reasons, for them to grant the relief you are requesting. The Zoning Ordinance lists the criteria you must meet and you should review it prior to your hearing. The Zoning Hearing Board has 45 days to make a decision but in most cases will decide it the night of the hearing.
- If the appeal is granted, follow through with the appropriate Township staff to receive approval and permits for your project.