Zoning & Conditional Use
Applications for relief from decisions of the Zoning Officer, variances from requirements in the Zoning Ordinance, or special exception approval as required by the Zoning Ordinance are handled by the Zoning Hearing Board. Applications must be submitted no later than three weeks before the hearing at which the applicant wants to appear. Those meetings, which are open to the public, are usually held on the second Tuesday of the month.
Applications for conditional use approval as required by the Zoning Ordinance are handled by the Board of Commissioners. Conditional Use hearings are set on as-needed basis.
The Zoning Ordinance divides the Township into Zoning Districts to accommodate various types of development. Each zoning district has a list of permitted uses such as single family dwellings, apartments, or offices. If a use is not on the list, then it is not allowed in that district. Some uses not deemed acceptable for an entire district but appropriate under the right circumstances are allowed by special exception or conditional use.
Uses not included in a district's list but in place before the adoption of the applicable provision of the Zoning Ordinance may be grandfathered as a "nonconforming use" and therefore permitted. However, an extension of that nonconforming use may require approval from the Zoning Hearing Board.
All commercial uses of property and new construction of dwellings require occupancy permits which certify that the use complies with the Zoning Ordinance and fire prevention regulations. Also, all changes in the category of uses (e.g. from residential to commercial; or from a type of commercial use such as retail to another commercial use such as services) require submission of a site plan application for review and approval by the Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners.
Bulk & Height Regulations
Each zoning district also has "bulk and height" regulations that determine the buildable area of each lot. These regulations include minimum lot sizes, minimum size of required yards in which buildings cannot be located, maximum amount of property that can have buildings or impervious surfaces, and maximum height for buildings. The dimensions and locations of new buildings or additions must comply with the district's bulk and height regulations. Existing lots or buildings that do not comply with regulations adopted after the lots or buildings were created or constructed may be grandfathered as nonconforming and therefore permitted. However, new construction or additions to such lots or buildings may require approval from the Zoning Hearing Board.
Other Zoning Regulations
Zoning regulations also govern topics including but not limited to:
- Accessory structures such as sheds and pools
- Building in a floodplain
- Rules about communication towers