Appeal to the Zoning Hearing Board
Application to Request Zoning Relief from the Zoning Hearing Board
The South Heidelberg Township Zoning Hearing Board is enabled to hear and act on challenges, appeals, variances, and special exceptions, as noted below:
The most common request before the Zoning Hearing Board is a variance request. When an applicant believes the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance inflict unnecessary hardship, the applicant may request the Zoning Hearing Board grant a variance. The strict standards of the zoning ordinance must be met before a variance is granted.
Another request before the Zoning Hearing Board is a special exception request. A special exception is a use permitted in a certain zoning district but that needs to be reviewed by the Zoning Hearing Board which may grant or deny the request and impose conditions on any grant.
The Zoning Hearing Board schedules meetings based on applications received with a Zoning Hearing occurring within 60 days of receipt of the application.
What Happens at a Zoning Hearing Board Meeting?
- The meeting is called to order
- A stenographer is present to transcribe the hearing.
- The cases to be heard are announced and the Zoning Hearing Board solicitor handles preliminary matters.
- The applicant and any witnesses are sworn in, and the applicant presents the facts of the case.
- Other parties wishing to participate are sworn in and sign in to confirm their status.
- Upon completion of the presentation by the applicant, other parties are given the opportunity to comment or offer additional evidence depending on party status.
- At the conclusion of the case, the testimony and any exhibits are submitted into evidence and the case is closed
- Normally, the Zoning Hearing Board votes on the case the same evening as the hearing, but in some instances the case is continued for further testimony and with a decision being rendered later.
How Should the Applicant Prepare for the Meeting?
The applicant should be prepared to present the case in a clear and concise manner referencing the section(s) of the Zoning Ordinance from which relief is being requested. Further, the criteria outlined in the Zoning Ordinance related to a variance or special exception shall be addressed. Applicants have a right to but are not required to secure legal counsel when presenting to the Zoning Hearing Board. Some applicants chose to seek legal counsel due to the nature of the request. At the Zoning Hearing Board meeting, the formal rules of evidence do not apply, but irrelevant, immaterial or unduly repetitious evidence may be excluded. The procedure and process of the Zoning Hearing Board is ‘semi-formal’ with orderly presentation of witnesses and exhibits with direct examination and cross-examination.
What Are the Next Steps?
Following approval by the Zoning Hearing Board, the applicant has one (1) year from the date of approval to pull a permit and two (2) years from the date of approval to commence construction. If the above time frames are not met, the approval of the Zoning Hearing Board becomes null and void. Any party who is aggrieved by the decision of the Zoning Hearing Board has 30 days to appeal the decision