Zoning Hearing Board
The Zoning Hearing Board members are as follows:
- Elizabeth Curtis Swain, Chair
- Peter S. Murphy
- John Haedrich
- Robert Whipps
- Hunter Tower
William J. Gallagher, Esq., Solicitor to the Zoning Hearing Board
About the Board
The Zoning Hearing Board is appointed by the Supervisors to hear cases where someone claims to be aggrieved by the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance. The Hearing Board may grant a Variance or a Special Exception under the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance to provide relief. The decision of the Hearing Board can be appealed to the Chester County court system.
If you would like to contact the Zoning Hearing Board, call the Zoning officer, Diane Hicks at 610-388-1300, ext. 12
What is a Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) and what does it have the authority to decide?
The Zoning Hearing Board is a quasi-judicial body that renders decisions on specific types of land use appeals and applications under the Township Zoning Ordinances. Its primary purpose is to help assure fair and equitable application and administration of the Township Zoning Ordinances. Authorization of the ZHB is established by the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) which also provides a specific set of rules of procedure. Appeals from decisions of the ZHB are to the Court of Common Pleas.
Membership of the ZHB is composed of residents of the Township, appointed by the Board of Supervisors. The Board of Supervisors may appoint alternate members each of whom must be a resident of the Township. Members of the ZHB cannot hold any elected or appointed office in the Township nor can a member be an employee of the Township.
The Zoning Hearing Board has the exclusive jurisdiction to hear and render final decisions in the following matters:
- Substantive challenges to the validity of a Zoning Ordinance or the Zoning Map within certain conditions as expressed in the Zoning Ordinance.
- Validity or procedural challenges to a Zoning Ordinance of the Zoning Map which challenges shall be raised by an appeal taken within 30 days after the effective date of the ordinance.
- Appeals from Zoning Officer decisions, 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 of or refusal to register any nonconforming use, structure or lot.
- Appeals from a determination by the Township Engineer or the Zoning Officer with reference to the administration of any floodplain
- Applications for variances from the terms of the Zoning Ordinance.
- Applications for special exceptions under the Zoning Ordinance.
- Appeal from preliminary opinion of Zoning Officer.
- Appeals from the determination of the Zoning Officer or Township Engineer in the administration of this chapter or provision thereof with reference to sedimentation and erosion control and stormwater management insofar as the same relate to development.
What is the procedure for hearings of the ZHB?
Hearing Procedure. Requests for hearings before the ZHB are filed with the Township using the Application Form specified by the Township. An application fee as specified by the Township must accompany the filing of the completed application.
Documents to be submitted. The Application Form requires Plans and other documents to be submitted. Plans need to be drawn to scale and include a zoning table with sufficient information to display necessary data. Plans should be prepared by a registered engineer or registered land surveyor, indicating the location and size of the lot as well as existing and proposed improvements. An Application submitted with plans prepared by a landowner and not by registered engineer or registered land surveyor is subject to being denied.
Notice. Upon filing a request for a hearing, a reasonable time and place is fixed for public hearings. Notice, stating the location of the lot or building and the general nature of the question involved, is given to all interested parties as required by Township Zoning Ordinance and the MPC.
Hearings. Hearings of the ZHB for a matter submitted by an Applicant must be held within 60 days from the date of receipt of an Applicant's application, unless the Applicant has agreed in writing to an extension of time. If subsequent hearings are required they must be scheduled within 45 days of the prior hearing unless an extension is agreed upon in writing. Keep in mind the Applicant needs to complete presentation of their case within 100 days of the first hearing.
Any persons opposed to the application are given the opportunity to present their case in opposition within 100 days after completion of the Applicant’s case. Both Applicant and any person in opposition can be granted extensions to enable completion of their respective cases or to present rebuttals.
Parties to the hearing. The parties to the hearing include the Applicant, the Township, any person affected by the application who has made timely appearance of record before the ZHB, and any other person entitled to notice, including civic or community organizations permitted to appear by the ZHB. Persons who believe they are affected by the application and seek to become parties to a hearing must complete the Application Form specified by the Township. The Township Zoning Ordinance and the MPC determine when a person is affected by an application.
Rights of the parties. The parties have the right to be represented by counsel and will be afforded the opportunity to respond, to present evidence, and to argue and cross-examine adverse witnesses on all relevant issues. All parties presenting testimony must be sworn under oath prior to giving testimony.
Record of the proceedings. The ZHB keeps a stenographic record of the proceedings. The appearance fee of a stenographer is to be shared equally by the Applicant and the ZHB. The Township uses the application fee to cover costs of the hearing including the Applicant’s share of the appearance fee of a stenographer. The cost of the original transcript shall be paid by the ZHB if the transcript is ordered by the ZHB or shall be paid by the person appealing from the decision of the Board if such appeal is made, and in either event the cost of additional copies shall be paid by the person requesting such copy or copies. In other cases, the party requesting the original transcript shall bear the cost.
Exhibits. At the hearing the Township places into the record the application, record of notice, and other documents or maps relevant to the application. These become exhibits used during the hearing. If the Applicant wishes to use documentary materials, such as maps, pictures, reports and the like they must be placed into the record of the proceedings. The Township has guidance on format and type of documentary exhibits.
Communications by or with the ZHB:
Members of the ZHB cannot communicate, directly or indirectly, with any party or their representatives in connection with any issue involved in an application except upon notice and opportunity for all parties to participate and shall not take notice of any communication, reports, staff, memoranda, or other materials, except advice from the ZHB Solicitor, unless the parties are afforded an opportunity to contest the material. Additionally, the members of the ZHB shall not inspect the site that is the subject of the hearing or its surroundings after the commencement of the hearings with any party or their representative unless all parties are given an opportunity to be present.
How are decisions of the ZHB communicated?
The ZHB needs to 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 ZHB. 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. Nothing in this section shall prejudice the right of any party opposing the application to appeal the decision to the appropriate court. A copy of the final decision or, where no decision is called for, of the findings shall be delivered to the applicant personally or sent by certified mail not later than the day following the date of the decision of the ZHB. The ZHB shall provide by mail or otherwise a brief notice of the decision or findings and a statement of the place where the full decision may be examined to all other persons who have filed their names and addresses with the ZHB no later than the last day of the hearing.
Records of the ZHB are maintained at the Township and are available for inspection.