Many municipalities and local governments in Pennsylvania enact laws concerning how a property owner can use their land. These laws or ordinances are referred to as zoning planning or zoning ordinances. There are also laws enacted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that regulate land use.
Zoning is a system of land use regulation. It is the process by which a local government make laws determining how individual pieces of land within its jurisdiction can be used. Towns, boroughs, municipalities, or cities are often divided into zones or districts. Each one of the zones or districts are designated for a specific type of use. Each one of the zones or districts have their own regulations.
The purpose of zoning is to preserve property values, and make towns and cities more livable. For example, without zoning laws, a company might be able to buy a vacant lot next to your house and build a noisy, smelly, dirty factory on it.
Zoning regulations regulate what an owner is allowed to build on the lots, the height of buildings, the type of activity that is permitted on the property, and/or the amount of parking to be provided if a business is located on a particular parcel of land. If you want to use your land in a particular way, but that use is not permitted by a zoning ordinance, there are procedures in place for granting variances. The procedure ofter involves making an application for the variance, paying a filing fee, an appearing before a zoning board or a zoning board of adjustment. At the hearing before the zoning board, you will be required to submit evidence and argument as to why you are entitled to a variance. If you are granted a variance, any interested party that objected to the variance can appeal to the Court of Common Pleas of the county where the property is located. Sometimes the local governments appeal if they disagree with the grant of the variance. If you are denied a variance, you are entitled to an appeal to the Court of Common Pleas.
As the solicitor for the Plum Borough Zoning Hearing Board, I am very familiar with the processes that need to be followed to get a variance for a property. We can help you correctly complete an application for a variance. We can also appear with you before the local zoning hearing board to present evidence as to why your variance request should be granted. We can also appeal to court if your variance application has been denied. If some other party has appealed the grant of a variance, we can also help you with that court action.