MapLink™ | Procedures | Special Exception

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Special Exception
Permitted as a use by special exception: a use that would not be appropriate generally or without conditions throughout a zoning district but which is permitted, after a hearing before the Zoning Hearing Board, and approval issued therewith, and pursuant to the provisions of the MPC and with the imposition of certain restrictions as to number, area, location or relation to the neighborhood which, if required, would promote the public health, safety, welfare, morals, order, comfort, convenience, appearance, prosperity or general welfare as set forth herein.

Where the governing body has stated that special exceptions are to be granted or denied by the Zoning Hearing Board pursuant to express standards and criteria, the Zoning Hearing Board shall hear and decide requests for such special exceptions in accordance with such standards and criteria. In granting a special exception, the Zoning Hearing Board may attach such reasonable conditions and safeguards, in addition to those expressed in this chapter, as it may deem necessary to implement the purposes of the MPC and this chapter.
A. Jurisdiction. The Zoning Hearing Board shall hear all applications for special exception and render its decision in accordance with the requirements of the MPC.
B. Submission requirements. Submission of an application for a public hearing on a special exception use shall be comprised of the following:
(1) One application for a public hearing, complete and properly prepared. Forms are furnished by the Township.
(2) Ten copies of a tentative site plan of the proposed special exception use. If a fully engineered subdivision and land development plan will be required, it may be submitted separately, such as after a special exception is approved.
(3) Ten copies of a statement of purpose and extent of the special exception. This statement should outline, in detail, the special exception use, any future changes and present and future ownership.
(4) Ten copies of other requests for variance or waivers that may be necessary, including the reasons therefor.
(5) Ten copies of any other information or data the applicant may deem necessary or desirable to be submitted.
(6) Should a special exception use consist of or include any real property lying within a distance of 500 feet from the boundary of any adjoining Township, two additional copies of all documents and information shall be submitted.
C. The submission date of the special exception use application and the transmittal of the submitted material by the Zoning Officer shall be as follows:
(1) The submission date of a special exception use application shall be when the Township Zoning Officer has determined that the application is complete and all required documents and information have been submitted and the required fee has been paid. The submission date shall be entered on the application for a public hearing form.
(2) A public hearing shall be held within 60 days from the date of the submission of the application, unless the applicant has agreed, in writing, to an extension of time.
(3) The Zoning Officer shall determine the date of the public hearing, after consulting with the solicitor to the Zoning Hearing Board, and shall enter that date on said application form, along with dates of the public notice which shall be advertised as follows:
(a) Public notice shall be published once each week for two successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality. Such notice shall state the time and place of the hearing and the particular nature of the matter to be considered at the hearing. The first publication shall not be more than 30 days, and the second publication shall not be less than seven days, from the date of the hearing.
(b) The Zoning Officer shall conspicuously post a copy of the public notice on the affected tract of land at least seven days prior to the date of the hearing.
(c) Such notice shall state the time and place of the hearing and particular nature and location of the matter to be considered at the hearing.
(d) A copy of the application form with the above dates, along with a copy of the public notice and a cover letter requiring attendance at the public hearing and the Planning Commission meeting date, for review and recommendation, shall be forwarded to the applicant by certified mail, with a return receipt requested, within 30 days of the submission date.
(e) The Zoning Officer shall submit the application to the Planning Commission for their review and recommendations. However, the Zoning Hearing Board shall meet the time limits of the state law for a decision, regardless of whether the Township Planning Commission has provided comments.
(4) Within 15 days of the submission date, the Zoning Officer shall transmit one copy of the application form and one copy of all supporting data and information to the following:
(a) Each member of the Zoning Hearing Board.
(b) Solicitor to the Zoning Hearing Board.
(c) The Secretary of the Township; this copy is for public inspection.
(d) Solicitor to the Planning Commission.
(e) The recording secretary of the Planning Commission shall receive the final two copies for distribution as follows:
[1] One copy for the Planning Commission Engineer, including a request for a review and report to be submitted to the Planning Commission. The submittal to the Engineer must be at least 10 days prior to the regularly scheduled or special meeting at which the special exception use is to be considered by the Planning Commission.
[2] One copy for the Planning Commission members, along with a request for comments and recommendations.
D. Planning Commission review. In reviewing the application for a special exception hearing, the Commission shall take into consideration the design, location and adequacy of traffic access, parking, landscaping, screening, illumination and necessary public services and facilities and any other similar factors relating to the health, safety, welfare, comfort and convenience of the public in general and of the residents of the immediate neighborhood in particular.
E. Planning Commission action. Within 30 days of the filing of the application with the Zoning Officer, the Commission shall act to recommend to the Zoning Hearing Board, in writing, that the tentative site plan be approved, approved with modifications or disapproved. Failure on the part of the Commission to act within 30 days shall be construed as a favorable recommendation of the Planning Commission.
F. Hearings/decision. The procedures for a public hearing shall follow the requirements listed under § 083-090 of this chapter.
(1) Burden of proof. At the hearing on an application for special exception, the applicant has the burden of proof and shall provide the Board with sufficient plans, studies and/or other data necessary to demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the Zoning Hearing Board, that the application complies as follows, to wit:
(a) Compliance with this chapter. The applicant shall establish, by credible evidence, that the application complies with all applicable requirements and objective criteria set forth in this chapter, such as:
[1] The kind of use (i.e., the threshold definition of what is authorized as a special exception);
[2] Specific requirements or standards applicable to a particular special exception (e.g., special setbacks); and shall be suitable for the property in question and designed, constructed, operated and maintained so as to be in harmony with and appropriate in appearance to the existing and intended character of the general vicinity.
(b) Compliance with other laws. The applicant shall establish, by credible evidence, that if approval is conditioned upon compliance with other specific applicable Township, state and federal laws, regulations and permits, the applicant shall provide the required permits or other proof of compliance to the Township prior to the issuance of any zoning permit, building permit, certificate of compliance and/or recording of an approved land development plan.
(2) Decision. The Zoning Hearing Board shall render a written decision and make written findings on the special exception use application within 45 days after the last hearing before the Board.
(a) In granting a special exception use, the Board may attach such reasonable conditions and safeguards, in addition to those expressed in this chapter, as it may deem necessary to implement the purposes of this chapter, other than those related to off-site transportation or road improvements.
(b) If the applicant has provided sufficient information to the Zoning Hearing Board to allow the Zoning Hearing Board to determine that the proposed use will comply with the objective criteria as set forth in this chapter, the applicant is entitled to approval because the use is presumed to be consistent with the public health, safety and welfare.
(c) Where the application is contested or denied, each decision shall be accompanied by findings of fact or conclusions based thereon, together with any reasons therefor. Conclusions based on any provisions of the MPC or of any ordinance, rule or regulation shall contain a reference to the provision relied on and the reasons why the conclusion is deemed appropriate in light of the facts found.
(d) Failure of the Zoning Hearing Board to render a decision within the time period set forth in the MPC, as amended from time to time, or failure to conduct the required hearing in the manner provided by the MPC will result in a decision deemed to have been rendered in favor of the application. Notice of such deemed approval must be provided in accordance with the provisions of the MPC, as amended.
(e) Nothing in this subsection shall prejudice the right of any party opposing the application to appeal the decision to a court of competent jurisdiction.
G. A land development plan shall be submitted for review and approval.
H. Zoning Officer's action. All zoning permits for a special exception as granted by the Zoning Hearing Board shall be issued, rejected or denied by the Zoning Officer in accordance with the following procedures:
(1) An application for a zoning permit for a granted special exception use shall be issued to the applicant within 30 days after the submission date of a complete application.
(2) If the Zoning Officer finds the permit application complete and correct in all aspects of the granted special exception use, the Zoning Officer shall approve and endorse said application and when a land development plan or site plan has been submitted, endorse one copy of said plan.
(a) One copy of the endorsed permit application, the endorsed land development plan and/or site plan, when applicable, and a completed and signed job placard shall be returned to the applicant.
(b) The signed job placard must be conspicuously displayed on the job site during all phases of construction of the permitted special exception.
(3) If the zoning permit application is incomplete and/or incorrect, the application shall be rejected with the reasons for the rejection stated thereon or attached thereto.