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The Zoning Hearing Board shall conduct hearings and make decisions in accordance with the following requirements:
A. Public notice shall be given and written notice shall be given to the applicant, the Zoning Officer and to any person who has made timely request for the same. Written notices shall be given at such time and in such manner as shall be prescribed by rules of the Board. In addition to the written notice provided herein, written notice of said hearing shall be conspicuously posted on the affected tract of land at least one week prior to the hearing.
B. The hearing shall be held within 60 days from the date of the applicant's request, unless the applicant has agreed in writing to an extension of time.
C. The hearings shall be conducted by the Board, or the Board may appoint any member as a hearing officer. The decision or, where no decision is called for, the findings shall be made by the Board; however, the appellant or the applicant, as the case may be, in addition to the Township, may, prior to the decision of the hearing, waive decision or findings by the Board and accept the decision or findings of the hearing officer as final.
D. The parties to the hearing shall be the Township, any person affected by the application who has made timely appearance of record before the Board, and any other person including civic or community organizations permitted to appear by the Board. The Board shall have power to require that all persons who wish to be considered parties enter appearances in writing on forms provided by the Board for that purpose.
E. The Chairman or Acting Chairman of the Board or the hearing officer presiding shall have power to administer oaths and issue subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of relevant documents and papers, including witnesses and documents requested by the parties.
F. The parties shall have the right to be represented by counsel and shall be afforded the opportunity to respond and present evidence and argument and to cross-examine adverse witnesses on all relevant issues.
G. Formal rules of evidence shall not apply, but irrelevant, immaterial, or unduly repetitious evidence may be excluded.
H. The Board or the hearing officer, as the case may be, shall keep a stenographic record of the proceedings. The appearance fee for a stenographer shall be shared equally by the applicant and the Board. The cost of the original transcript shall be paid by the Board if the transcript is ordered by the Board or hearing officer 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 thereof.
I. The Board or the hearing officer shall not communicate, directly or indirectly, with any party or his representatives in connection with any issue involved except upon notice and opportunity for all parties to participate; shall not take notice of any communication, reports, staff memoranda, or other materials, except advice from its solicitor, unless the parties are afforded an opportunity to contest the material so noticed; and shall not inspect the lot or its surroundings after the commencement of hearings with any party or his representative unless all parties are given an opportunity to be present.
J. 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 45 days after the last hearing before the Board or hearing officer. 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. Conclusions based on any provisions of this chapter or of any law, ordinance, rule or regulation shall contain a reference to the provision relied on and the reasons why the conclusion is deemed appropriate in the light of the facts found. If the hearing is conducted by a hearing officer, and there has been no stipulation that his decision or findings are final, the Board shall make his report and recommendations available to the parties within 45 days, and the parties shall be entitled to make written representations thereon to the Board prior to final decision or entry of findings, and the Board's decision shall be entered no later than 30 days after the report of the hearing officer. Where the Board fails to render the decision within the period required by this subsection, or fails to hold the required hearing within 60 days from the date of the applicant's request for a hearing, the decision shall be deemed to have been rendered in favor of the applicant unless the applicant has agreed in writing or on the record to an extension of time. When a decision has been rendered in favor of the applicant because of the failure of the Board to meet or render a decision as hereinabove provided, the Board shall give public notice of the said decision within 10 days from the last day it could have met to render a decision in the same manner as provided in Subsection A of this section. If the Board shall fail to provide such notice, the applicant may do so. Nothing in this subsection shall prejudice the right of any party opposing the application to appeal the decision to a court of competent jurisdiction.
K. A copy of the final decision or, where no decision is called for, of the findings shall be delivered to the applicant personally or mailed to him not later than the day following its date. To all other persons who have filed their name and address with the Board not later than the last day of the hearing, the Board shall provide, by mail or otherwise, brief notice of the decision or findings and a statement of the place at which the full decision or findings may be examined.
L. The Board of Supervisors shall establish, by resolution, fees with respect to hearings before the Zoning Hearing Board.
See § 27-2303: Jurisdiction for Zoning Hearing Board jurisdiction.
See § 27-2304: Powers and duties; interpretation. for powers and duties in regard to interpretation.
See § 27-2305: Powers and duties; variances. for powers and duties in regard to variances.
See § 27-2306: Powers and duties; special exceptions. for powers and duties in regard to special exceptions.
Expiration of special exception and variances, refiling.
1. A special exception or variance shall expire if the applicant fails to obtain a zoning permit within six months of the date of the granting of the special exception or variance.
2. No person shall refile an application for a special exception or variance for one year after an application for substantially the same relief has been denied by the Zoning Hearing Board.
Time limitations.
1. No person shall be allowed to file any proceeding with the Zoning Hearing Board later than 30 days after an application for development, preliminary or final, has been approved by the Township if such proceeding is designed to secure reversal or to limit the approval in any manner, unless such person alleges and proves that he had no notice, knowledge or reason to believe that such approval had been given. If such person has succeeded to his interest after such approval, he shall be bound by the knowledge of his predecessor in interest. The failure of anyone other than the landowner to appeal from an adverse decision on a tentative plan or from an adverse decision by the Zoning Officer on a challenge to the validity of this chapter or an amendment hereto or map or an amendment thereto shall preclude an appeal from a final approval except in the case where the final submission substantially deviates from the approved tentative approval.
2. All appeals from determinations adverse to the landowner shall be filed by the landowner within 30 days after notice of the determination is issued.
Stay of proceedings.
1. Upon filing of any appeal proceeding before the Zoning Hearing Board and during its pendency before the Board, all land development pursuant to any challenged ordinance, order or approval of the Zoning Officer or of any agency or body, and all official action thereunder, shall be stayed unless the Zoning Officer or any other appropriate agency or body certifies to the Board facts indicating that such stay would cause imminent peril to life or property, in which case the development or official action shall not be stayed otherwise than by a restraining order, which may be granted by the Board or by the court having jurisdiction of zoning appeals, on petition, after notice to the Zoning Officer or other appropriate agency or body. When an application for development, preliminary or final, has been duly approved and proceedings designed to reverse or limit the approval are filed with the Board by persons other than the applicant, the applicant may petition the court having jurisdiction of zoning appeals to order such persons to post bond as a condition to continuing the proceedings before the Board.
2. After the petition is presented, the court shall hold a hearing to determine if the filing of the appeal is frivolous. At the hearing, evidence may be presented on the merits of the case. It shall be the burden of the applicant for a bond to prove the appeal is frivolous. After consideration of all evidence presented, if the court determines that the appeal is frivolous, it shall grant the petition for a bond. The right to petition the court to order the appellants to post bond may be waived by the appellee, but such waiver may be revoked by him if an appeal is taken from a final decision of the court.
3. The question whether or not such petition should be granted and the amount of the bond shall be within the sound discretion of the court. An order denying a petition for bond shall be interlocutory. An order directing the responding party to post a bond shall be interlocutory.
4. If an appeal is taken by a respondent to the petition for a bond from an order of the court dismissing a zoning appeal for refusal to post a bond, and the appellate court sustains the order of the court below to post a bond, the respondent to the petition for a bond, upon motion of the petitioner and after hearing in the court having jurisdiction of zoning appeals, shall be liable for all reasonable costs, expenses and attorney's fees incurred by the petitioner.
The applicant for any hearing before the Zoning Hearing Board shall, at the time of making application, pay to the Zoning Officer, for the use of the Township, a fee in accordance with a fee schedule adopted by resolution of the Township Supervisors upon enactment of this chapter or as such schedule may be amended from time to time.