Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code

Article VI - Zoning

Section 601. General Powers. The governing body of each municipality, in accordance with the conditions and procedures set forth in this act, may enact, amend and repeal zoning ordinances to implement comprehensive plans and to accomplish any of the purposes of this act.

Section 602. County Powers. The powers of the governing bodies of counties to enact, amend and repeal zoning ordinances shall be limited to land in those municipalities, wholly or partly within the county, which have no zoning ordinance in effect at the time a zoning ordinance is introduced before the governing body of the county and until the municipality’s zoning ordinance is in effect. The enactment of a zoning ordinance by any municipality, other than the county, whose land is subject to county zoning shall act as a repeal protanto of the county zoning ordinance within the municipality adopting such ordinance.

Section 602.1. County Review; Dispute Resolution. The county planning commission shall offer a mediation option to any municipality which believes that its citizens will experience harm as the result of the adoption of a zoning ordinance or an amendment to an existing zoning ordinance in contiguous municipalities, if the contiguous municipalities agree. In exercising such an option, the municipalities shall comply with the procedures set forth in Article IX. The cost of the mediation shall be shared equally by the parties, unless otherwise agreed.

Section 603. Ordinance Provisions.

(a) Zoning ordinances should reflect the policy goals of the statement of community development objectives required in section 606, and give consideration to the character of the municipality, the needs of the citizens and the suitabilities and special nature of particular parts of the municipality.

(b) Zoning ordinances, except to the extent that those regulations of mineral extraction by local ordinances and enactments have heretofore been superseded and preempted by the act of May 31, 1945 (P.L.1198, No.418), known as the “Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Act,” the act of December 19, 1984 (P.L.1093, No.219), known as the “Noncoal Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Act,” and the act of December 19, 1984 (P.L.1140, No.223), known as the “Oil and Gas Act,” and to the extent that the subsidence impacts of coal extraction are regulated by the act of April 27, 1966 (1ST Sp.Sess,. P.L.31, No.1), known as “The Bituminous Mine Subsidence and Land Conservation Act,” and that regulation of activities related to commercial agricultural production would exceed the requirements imposed under the act of May 20, 1993 (P.L.12, No.6), known as the “Nutrient Management Act,” regardless of whether any agricultural operation within the area to be affected by the ordinance would be a concentrated animal operation as defined by the “Nutrient Management Act,” the act of June 30, 1981 (P.L.128, No.43), known as the “Agricultural Area Security Law,” or the act of June 10, 1982 (P.L.454, No.133), entitled “An Act Protecting Agricultural Operations from Nuisance Suits and Ordinances Under Certain Circumstances,” or that regulation of other activities are preempted by other federal or state laws may permit, prohibit, regulate, restrict and determine:

(1) Uses of land, watercourses and other bodies of water.

(2) Size, height, bulk, location, erection, construction, repair, maintenance, alteration, razing, removal and use of structures.

(3) Areas and dimensions of land and bodies of water to be occupied by uses and structures, as well as areas, courts, yards, and other open spaces and distances to be left unoccupied by uses and structures.

(4) Density of population and intensity of use.

(5) Protection and preservation of natural and historic resources and prime agricultural land and activities.

(c) Zoning ordinances may contain:

(1) provisions for special exceptions and variances administered by the zoning hearing board, which provisions shall be in accordance with this act;

(2) provisions for conditional uses to be allowed or denied by the governing body pursuant to public notice and hearing and recommendations by the planning agency and pursuant to express standards and criteria set forth in the zoning ordinances. In allowing a conditional use, the governing body may attach such reasonable conditions and safeguards, other than those related to offsite transportation or road improvement, in addition to those expressed in the ordinance, as it may deem necessary to implement the purposes of this act and the zoning ordinance;

(2.1) Repealed August 21, 2000, P.L. 495, No. 68.

(2.2) provisions for regulating transferable development rights, on a voluntary basis, including provisions for the protection of persons acquiring the same, in accordance with express standards and criteria set forth in the ordinance and section 619.1;

(3) provisions for the administration and enforcement of such ordinances;

(4) such other provisions as may be necessary to implement the purposes of this act;

(5) provisions to encourage innovation and to promote flexibility, economy and ingenuity in development, including subdivisions and land developments as defined in this act;

(6) provisions authorizing increases in the permissible density of population or intensity of a particular use based upon expressed standards and criteria set forth in the zoning ordinance; and

(7) provisions to promote and preserve prime agricultural land, environmentally sensitive areas and areas of historic significance.

(d) Zoning ordinances may include provisions regulating the siting, density and design of residential, commercial, industrial and other developments in order to assure the availability of reliable, safe and adequate water supplies to support the intended land uses within the capacity of available water resources.

(e) Zoning ordinances may not unduly restrict the display of religious symbols on property being used for religious purposes.

(f) Zoning ordinances may not unreasonably restrict forestry activities. To encourage maintenance and management of forested or wooded open space and promote the conduct of forestry as a sound and economically viable use of forested land throughout this commonwealth, forestry activities, including, but not limited to, timber harvesting, shall be a permitted use by right in all zoning districts in every municipality.

(g) (1) zoning ordinances shall protect prime agricultural land and may promote the establishment of agricultural security areas.

(2) zoning ordinances shall provide for protection of natural and historic features and resources.

(h) Zoning ordinances shall encourage the continuity, development and viability of agricultural operations. Zoning ordinances may not restrict agricultural operations or changes to or expansions of agricultural operations in geographic areas where agriculture has traditionally been present, unless the agricultural operation will have a direct adverse effect on the public health and safety. Nothing in this subsection shall require a municipality to adopt a zoning ordinance that violates or exceeds the provisions of the act of May 20, 1993 (P.L.12, No.6), known as the “Nutrient Management Act,” the act of June 30, 1981 (P.L.128, No.43), known as the “Agricultural Area Security Law,” or the act of June 10, 1982 (P.L.454, No.133), entitled “An Act Protecting Agricultural Operations from Nuisance Suits and Ordinances Under Certain Circumstances.”

(i) Zoning ordinances shall provide for the reasonable development of minerals in each municipality.

(j) Zoning ordinances adopted by municipalities shall be generally consistent with the municipal or multimunicipal comprehensive plan or, where none exists, with the municipal statement of community development objectives and the county comprehensive plan. If a municipality amends its zoning ordinance in a manner not generally consistent with its comprehensive plan, it shall concurrently amend its comprehensive plan in accordance with Article III.

(k) A municipality may amend its comprehensive plan at any time, provided that the comprehensive plan remains generally consistent with the county comprehensive plan and compatible with the comprehensive plans of abutting municipalities.

(l) Zoning ordinances shall permit no-impact home-based businesses in all residential zones of the municipality as a use permitted by right, except that such permission shall not supersede any deed restriction, covenant or agreement restricting the use of land, nor any master deed, bylaw or other document applicable to a common interest ownership community.

Section 603.1. Interpretation of Ordinance Provisions. In interpreting the language of zoning ordinances to determine the extent of the restriction upon the use of the property, the language shall be interpreted, where doubt exists as to the intended meaning of the language written and enacted by the governing body, in favor of the property owner and against any implied extension of the restriction.

Section 604. Zoning Purposes. The provisions of zoning ordinances shall be designed:

(1) To promote, protect and facilitate any or all of the following: the public health, safety, morals, and the general welfare; coordinated and practical community development and proper density of population; emergency management preparedness and operations, airports, and national defense facilities, the provisions of adequate light and air, access to incident solar energy, police protection, vehicle parking and loading space, transportation, water, sewerage, schools, recreational facilities, public grounds, the provision of a safe, reliable and adequate water supply for domestic, commercial, agricultural or industrial use, and other public requirements; as well as preservation of the natural, scenic and historic values in the environment and preservation of forests, wetlands, aquifers and floodplains.

(2) To prevent one or more of the following: overcrowding of land, blight, danger and congestion in travel and transportation, loss of health, life or property from fire, flood, panic or other dangers.

(3) To preserve prime agriculture and farmland considering topography, soil type and classification, and present use.

(4) To provide for the use of land within the municipality for residential housing of various dwelling types encompassing all basic forms of housing, including single-family and two-family dwellings, and a reasonable range of multifamily dwellings in various arrangements, mobile homes and mobile home parks, provided, however, that no zoning ordinance shall be deemed invalid for the failure to provide for any other specific dwelling type.

(5) To accommodate reasonable overall community growth, including population and employment growth, and opportunities for development of a variety of residential dwelling types and nonresidential uses.

Section 605. Classifications. In any municipality, other than a county, which enacts a zoning ordinance, no part of such municipality shall be left unzoned. The provisions of all zoning ordinances may be classified so that different provisions may be applied to different classes of situations, uses and structures and to such various districts of the municipality as shall be described by a map made part of the zoning ordinance. Where zoning districts are created, all provisions shall be uniform for each class of uses or structures, within each district, except that additional classifications may be made within any district:

(1) For the purpose of making transitional provisions at and near the boundaries of districts.

(1.1) For the purpose of regulating nonconforming uses and structures.

(2) For the regulation, restriction or prohibition of uses and structures at, along or near:

(i) major thoroughfares, their intersections and interchanges, transportation arteries and rail or transit terminals;

(ii) natural or artificial bodies of water, boat docks and related facilities;

(iii) places of relatively steep slope or grade, or other areas of hazardous geological or topographic features;

(iv) public buildings and public grounds;

(v) aircraft, helicopter, rocket, and spacecraft facilities;

(vi) places having unique historical, architectural or patriotic interest or value; or

(vii) flood plain areas, agricultural areas, sanitary landfills, and other places having a special character or use affecting and affected by their surroundings.

As among several classes of zoning districts, the provisions for permitted uses may be mutually exclusive, in whole or in part.

(3) For the purpose of encouraging innovation and the promotion of flexibility, economy and ingenuity in development, including subdivisions and land developments as defined in this act, and for the purpose of authorizing increases in the permissible density of population or intensity of a particular use based upon expressed standards and criteria set forth in the zoning ordinance.

(4) For the purpose of regulating transferable development rights on a voluntary basis.

Section 606. Statement of Community Development Objectives. Zoning ordinances enacted after the effective date of this act should reflect the policy goals of the municipality as listed in a statement of community development objectives, recognizing that circumstances can necessitate the adoption and timely pursuit of new goals and the enactment of new zoning ordinances which may neither require nor allow for the completion of a new comprehensive plan and approval of new community development objectives. This statement may be supplied by reference to the community comprehensive plan or such portions of the community comprehensive plan as may exist and be applicable or may be the statement of community development objectives provided in a statement of legislative findings of the governing body of the municipality with respect to land use; density of population; the need for housing, commerce and industry; the location and function of streets and other community facilities and utilities; the need for preserving agricultural land and protecting natural resources; and any other factors that the municipality believes relevant in describing the purposes and intent of the zoning ordinance.

Section 607. Preparation of Proposed Zoning Ordinance.

(a) The text and map of the proposed zoning ordinance, as well as all necessary studies and surveys preliminary thereto, shall be prepared by the planning agency of each municipality upon request by the governing body.

(b) In preparing a proposed zoning ordinance, the planning agency shall hold at least one public meeting pursuant to public notice and may hold additional public meetings upon such notice as it shall determine to be advisable.

(c) Upon the completion of its work, the planning agency shall present to the governing body the proposed zoning ordinance, together with recommendations and explanatory materials.

(d) The procedure set forth in this section shall be a condition precedent to the validity of a zoning ordinance adopted pursuant to this act.

(e) If a county planning agency shall have been created for the county in which the municipality adopting the ordinance is located, then at least 45 days prior to the public hearing by the local governing body as provided in section 608, the municipality shall submit the proposed ordinance to said county planning agency for recommendations.

Section 608. Enactment of Zoning Ordinance. Before voting on the enactment of a zoning ordinance, the governing body shall hold a public hearing thereon, pursuant to public notice. The vote on the enactment by the governing body shall be within 90 days after the last public hearing. Within 30 days after enactment, a copy of the zoning ordinance shall be forwarded to the county planning agency or, in counties where no planning agency exists, to the governing body of the county in which the municipality is located.

Section 608.1. Municipal Authorities and Water Companies.

(a) A municipal authority, water company or any other municipality that plans to expand water, sanitary sewer or storm sewer service via a new main extension to a proposed development that has not received any municipal approvals within the municipality shall notify the municipality by certified mail, return receipt requested, of its intention and shall provide the municipality an opportunity to provide written comment on whether the proposed expansion of service within the municipality is generally consistent with the zoning ordinance.

(b) The purpose of the requirement of this section is to provide the municipal authority, water company or any other municipality with information regarding how its decision to expand service may potentially enhance and support or conflict with or negatively impact on the land use planning of municipalities.

(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed as limiting the right of a municipal authority, water company or any other municipality to expand service as otherwise permitted by law.

(d) Except as provided in section 619.2, nothing in this act shall be construed as limiting the authority of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission over the implementation, location, construction and maintenance of public utility facilities. The requirement of this section shall not apply to an expansion of service by a municipal authority, water company or other municipality which is ordered by a court or a federal or state agency.

(e) As used in this section:

(1) A “decision to expand service within the municipality” shall mean a decision to expand the number of its individual service connections for distribution or collection within a municipality as a result of a main extension; but, if the number of individual service connections are not being increased, locating or acquiring transmission lines or interceptors, or wells, reservoirs, aquifers, pump stations, water storage tanks or other facilities by a municipal authority or water company in a new area of a municipality shall not be deemed an expansion of service.

(2) A “water company” shall include any person or corporation, including a municipal corporation operating beyond its corporate limits, which furnishes water to or for the public for compensation.

(f) Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize a municipality to regulate the allocation or withdrawal of water resources by any person, municipal authority or water company that is otherwise regulated by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission or other Federal or state agencies or statutes.

Section 609. Enactment of Zoning Ordinance Amendments.

(a) For the preparation of amendments to zoning ordinances, the procedure set forth in section 607 for the preparation of a proposed zoning ordinance shall be optional.

(b)(1) Before voting on the enactment of an amendment, the governing body shall hold a public hearing thereon, pursuant to public notice. In addition, if the proposed amendment involves a zoning map change, notice of said public hearing shall be conspicuously posted by the municipality at points deemed sufficient by the municipality along the tract to notify potentially interested citizens. The affected tract or area shall be posted at least one week prior to the date of the hearing.

(2)(i) In addition to the requirement that notice be posted under clause (1), where the proposed amendment involves a zoning map change, notice of the public hearing shall be mailed by the municipality at least thirty days prior to the date of the hearing by first class mail to the addresses to which real estate tax bills are sent for all real property located within the area being rezoned, as evidenced by tax records within the possession of the municipality. The notice shall include the location, date and time of the public hearing. A good faith effort and substantial compliance shall satisfy the requirements of this subsection.

(ii) This clause shall not apply when the rezoning constitutes a comprehensive rezoning.

(c) In the case of an amendment other than that prepared by the planning agency, the governing body shall submit each such amendment to the planning agency at least 30 days prior to the hearing on such proposed amendment to provide the planning agency an opportunity to submit recommendations.

(d) If, after any public hearing held upon an amendment, the proposed amendment is changed substantially, or is revised, to include land previously not affected by it, the governing body shall hold another public hearing, pursuant to public notice, before proceeding to vote on the amendment.

(e) If a county planning agency shall have been created for the county in which the municipality proposing the amendment is located, then at least 30 days prior to the public hearing on the amendment by the local governing body, the municipality shall submit the proposed amendment to the county planning agency for recommendations.

(f) The municipality may offer a mediation option as an aid in completing proceedings authorized by this section. In exercising such an option, the municipality and mediating parties shall meet the stipulations and follow the procedures set forth in Article IX.

(g) Within 30 days after enactment, a copy of the amendment to the zoning ordinance shall be forwarded to the county planning agency or, in counties where no planning agency exists, to the governing body of the county in which the municipality is located.

Section 609.1. Procedure for Landowner Curative Amendments.

(a) A landowner who desires to challenge on substantive grounds the validity of a zoning ordinance or map or any provision thereof, which prohibits or restricts the use or development of land in which he has an interest may submit a curative amendment to the governing body with a written request that his challenge and proposed amendment be heard and decided as provided in section 916.1. The governing body shall commence a hearing thereon within 60 days of the request as provided in section 916.1. The curative amendment and challenge shall be referred to the planning agency or agencies as provided in section 609 and notice of the hearing thereon shall be given as provided in section 610 and in section 916.1.

(b) The hearing shall be conducted in accordance with section 908 and all references therein to the zoning hearing board shall, for purposes of this section be references to the governing body: provided, however, that the provisions of section 908 (1.2) and (9) shall not apply and the provisions of section 916.1 shall control. If a municipality does not accept a landowner’s curative amendment brought in accordance with this subsection and a court subsequently rules that the challenge has merit, the court’s decision shall not result in a declaration of invalidity for the entire zoning ordinance and map, but only for those provisions which specifically relate to the landowner’s curative amendment and challenge.

(c) The governing body of a municipality which has determined that a validity challenge has merit may accept a landowner’s curative amendment, with or without revision, or may adopt an alternative amendment which will cure the challenged defects. The governing body shall consider the curative amendments, plans and explanatory material submitted by the landowner and shall also consider:

(1) the impact of the proposal upon roads, sewer facilities, water supplies, schools and other public service facilities;

(2) if the proposal is for a residential use, the impact of the proposal upon regional housing needs and the effectiveness of the proposal in providing housing units of a type actually available to and affordable by classes of persons otherwise unlawfully excluded by the challenged provisions of the ordinance or map;

(3) the suitability of the site for the intensity of use proposed by the site’s soils, slopes, woodlands, wetlands, flood plains, aquifers, natural resources and other natural features;

(4) the impact of the proposed use on the site’s soils, slopes, woodlands, wetlands, flood plains, natural resources and natural features, the degree to which these are protected or destroyed, the tolerance of the resources to development and any adverse environmental impacts; and

(5) the impact of the proposal on the preservation of agriculture and other land uses which are essential to public health and welfare.

Section 609.2. Procedure for Municipal Curative Amendments. If a municipality determines that its zoning ordinance or any portion thereof is substantially invalid, it shall take the following actions:

(1) A municipality shall declare by formal action, its zoning ordinance or portions thereof substantively invalid and propose to prepare a curative amendment to overcome such invalidity. Within 30 days following such declaration and proposal the governing body of the municipality shall:

(i) By resolution make specific findings setting forth the declared invalidity of the zoning ordinance which may include:

(A) references to specific uses which are either not permitted or not permitted in sufficient quantity;

(B) reference to a class of use or uses which require revision; or

(C) reference to the entire ordinance which requires revisions.

(ii) Begin to prepare and consider a curative amendment to the zoning ordinance to correct the declared invalidity.

(2) Within 180 days from the date of the declaration and proposal, the municipality shall enact a curative amendment to validate, or reaffirm the validity of, its zoning ordinance pursuant to the provisions required by section 609 in order to cure the declared invalidity of the zoning ordinance.

(3) Upon the initiation of the procedures, as set forth in clause (1), the governing body shall not be required to entertain or consider any landowner’s curative amendment filed under section 609.1 nor shall the zoning hearing board be required to give a report requested under section 909.1 or 916.1 subsequent to the declaration and proposal based upon the grounds identical to or substantially similar to those specified in the resolution required by clause (1)(a). Upon completion of the procedures as set forth in clauses (1) and (2), no rights to a cure pursuant to the provisions of sections 609.1 and 916.1 shall, from the date of the declaration and proposal, accrue to any landowner on the basis of the substantive invalidity of the unamended zoning ordinance for which there has been a curative amendment pursuant to this section.

(4) A municipality having utilized the procedures as set forth in clauses (1) and (2) may not again utilize said procedure for a 36-month period following the date of the enactment of a curative amendment, or reaffirmation of the validity of its zoning ordinance, pursuant to clause (2); provided, however, if after the date of declaration and proposal there is a substantially new duty or obligation imposed upon the municipality by virtue of a change in statute or by virtue of a Pennsylvania Appellate Court decision, the municipality may utilize the provisions of this section to prepare a curative amendment to its ordinance to fulfill said duty or obligation.

Section 610. Publication, Advertisement and Availability of Ordinances.

(a) Proposed zoning ordinances and amendments shall not be enacted unless notice of proposed enactment is given in the manner set forth in this section, and shall include the time and place of the meeting at which passage will be considered, a reference to a place within the municipality where copies of the proposed ordinance or amendment may be examined without charge or obtained for a charge not greater than the cost thereof. The governing body shall publish the proposed ordinance or amendment once in one newspaper of general circulation in the municipality not more than 60 days nor less than 7 days prior to passage. Publication of the proposed ordinance or amendment shall include either the full text thereof or the title and a brief summary, prepared by the municipal solicitor and setting forth all the provisions in reasonable detail. If the full text is not included:

(1) A copy thereof shall be supplied to a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality at the time the public notice is published.

(2) An attested copy of the proposed ordinance shall be filed in the county law library or other county office designated by the county commissioners, who may impose a fee no greater than that necessary to cover the actual costs of storing said ordinances.

(b) In the event substantial amendments are made in the proposed ordinance or amendment, before voting upon enactment, the governing body shall, at least ten days prior to enactment, readvertise, in one newspaper of general circulation in the municipality, a brief summary setting forth all the provisions in reasonable detail together with a summary of the amendments.

(c) Zoning ordinances and amendments may be incorporated into official ordinance books by reference with the same force and effect as if duly recorded therein.

Section 611. Publication After Enactment. (611 repealed Dec. 21, 1988, P.L.1329, No.170)

Section 613. Registration of Nonconforming Uses, Structures and Lots. Zoning ordinances may contain provisions requiring the zoning officer to identify and register nonconforming uses, structures and lots, together with the reasons why the zoning officer identified them as nonconformities.

Section 614. Appointment and Powers of Zoning Officer. For the administration of a zoning ordinance, a zoning officer, who shall not hold any elective office in the municipality, shall be appointed. The zoning officer shall meet qualifications established by the municipality and shall be able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the municipality a working knowledge of municipal zoning. The zoning officer shall administer the zoning ordinance in accordance with its literal terms, and shall not have the power to permit any construction or any use or change of use which does not conform to the zoning ordinance. Zoning officers may be authorized to institute civil enforcement proceedings as a means of enforcement when acting within the scope of their employment.

Section 615. Zoning Appeals. All appeals from decisions of the zoning officer shall be taken in the manner set forth in this act.

Section 616. Enforcement Penalties. (616 repealed Dec. 21, 1988, P.L.1329, No.170)

Section 616.1. Enforcement Notice.

(a) If it appears to the municipality that a violation of any zoning ordinance enacted under this act or prior enabling laws has occurred, the municipality shall initiate enforcement proceedings by sending an enforcement notice as provided in this section.

(b) The enforcement notice shall be sent to the owner of record of the parcel on which the violation has occurred, to any person who has filed a written request to receive enforcement notices regarding that parcel, and to any other person requested in writing by the owner of record.

(c) An enforcement notice shall state at least the following:

(1) The name of the owner of record and any other person against whom the municipality intends to take action.

(2) The location of the property in violation.

(3) The specific violation with a description of the requirements which have not been met, citing in each instance the applicable provisions of the ordinance.

(4) The date before which the steps for compliance must be commenced and the date before which the steps must be completed.

(5) That the recipient of the notice has the right to appeal to the zoning hearing board within a prescribed period of time in accordance with procedures set forth in the ordinance.

(6) That failure to comply with the notice within the time specified, unless extended by appeal to the zoning hearing board, constitutes a violation, with possible sanctions clearly described.

(d) In any appeal of an enforcement notice to the zoning hearing board the municipality shall have the responsibility of presenting its evidence first.

(e) Any filing fees paid by a party to appeal an enforcement notice to the zoning hearing board shall be returned to the appealing party by the municipality if the zoning hearing board, or any court in a subsequent appeal, rules in the appealing party’s favor.

Section 617. Causes of Action. In case any building, structure, landscaping or land is, or is proposed to be, erected, constructed, reconstructed, altered, converted, maintained or used in violation of any ordinance enacted under this act or prior enabling laws, the governing body or, with the approval of the governing body, an officer of the municipality, or any aggrieved owner or tenant of real property who shows that his property or person will be substantially affected by the alleged violation, in addition to other remedies, may institute any appropriate action or proceeding to prevent, restrain, correct or abate such building, structure, landscaping or land, or to prevent, in or about such premises, any act, conduct, business or use constituting a violation. When any such action is instituted by a landowner or tenant, notice of that action shall be served upon the municipality at least 30 days prior to the time the action is begun by serving a copy of the complaint on the governing body of the municipality. No such action may be maintained until such notice has been given.

Section 617.1. Jurisdiction. District justices shall have initial jurisdiction over proceedings brought under section 617.2.

Section 617.2. Enforcement Remedies.

(a) Any person, partnership or corporation who or which has violated or permitted the violation of the provisions of any zoning ordinance enacted under this act or prior enabling laws shall, upon being found liable therefor in a civil enforcement proceeding commenced by a municipality, pay a judgment of not more than $500 plus all court costs, including reasonable attorney fees incurred by a municipality as a result thereof. No judgment shall commence or be imposed, levied or payable until the date of the determination of a violation by the district justice. If the defendant neither pays nor timely appeals the judgment, the municipality may enforce the judgment pursuant to the applicable rules of civil procedure. Each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate violation, unless the district justice determining that there has been a violation further determines that there was a good faith basis for the person, partnership or corporation violating the ordinance to have believed that there was no such violation, in which event there shall be deemed to have been only one such violation until the fifth day following the date of the determination of a violation by the district justice and thereafter each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate violation. All judgments, costs and reasonable attorney fees collected for the violation of zoning ordinances shall be paid over to the municipality whose ordinance has been violated.

(b) The court of common pleas, upon petition, may grant an order of stay, upon cause shown, tolling the per diem fine pending a final adjudication of the violation and judgment.

(c) Nothing contained in this section shall be construed or interpreted to grant to any person or entity other than the municipality the right to commence any action for enforcement pursuant to this section.

Section 617.3. Finances and Expenditures.

(a) The governing body may appropriate funds to finance the preparation of zoning ordinances and shall appropriate funds for administration, for enforcement and for actions to support or oppose, upon appeal to the courts, decisions of the zoning hearing board.

(b) The governing body shall make provision in its budget and appropriate funds for the operation of the zoning hearing board.

(c) The zoning hearing board may employ or contract for and fix the compensation of legal counsel, as the need arises. The legal counsel shall be an attorney other than the municipal solicitor. The board may also employ or contract for and fix the compensation of experts and other staff and may contract for services as it shall deem necessary. The compensation of legal counsel, experts and staff and the sums expended for services shall not exceed the amount appropriated by the governing body for this use.

(d) For the same purposes, the governing body may accept gifts and grants of money and services from private sources and from the county, State and Federal Governments.

(e) The governing body may prescribe reasonable fees with respect to the administration of a zoning ordinance and with respect to hearings before the zoning hearing board. Fees for these hearings may include compensation for the secretary and members of the zoning hearing board, notice and advertising costs and necessary administrative overhead connected with the hearing. The costs, however, shall not include legal expenses of the zoning hearing board, expenses for engineering, architectural or other technical consultants or expert witness costs.

Section 618. Finances. (618 repealed Dec. 21, 1988, P.L.1329, No.170)

Section 619. Exemptions. This article shall not apply to any existing or proposed building, or extension thereof, used or to be used by a public utility corporation, if, upon petition of the corporation, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission shall, after a public hearing, decide that the present or proposed situation of the building in question is reasonably necessary for the convenience or welfare of the public. It shall be the responsibility of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to ensure that both the corporation and the municipality in which the building or proposed building is located have notice of the hearing and are granted an opportunity to appear, present witnesses, cross-examine witnesses presented by other parties and otherwise exercise the rights of a party to the proceedings.

Section 619.1. Transferable Development Rights.

(a) To and only to the extent a local ordinance enacted in accordance with this article and Article VII so provides, there is hereby created, as a separate estate in land, the development rights therein, and the same are declared to be severable and separately conveyable from the estate in fee simple to which they are applicable.

(b) The development rights shall be conveyed by a deed duly recorded in the office of the recorder of deeds in and for the county in which the municipality whose ordinance authorizes such conveyance is located.

(c) The recorder of deeds shall not accept for recording any such instrument of conveyance unless there is endorsed thereon the approval of the municipal governing body having zoning or planned residential development jurisdiction over the land within which the development rights are to be conveyed, dated not more than 60 days prior to the recording.

(d) No development rights shall be transferable beyond the boundaries of the municipality wherein the lands from which the development rights arise are situated except that, in the case of a joint municipal zoning ordinance, or a written agreement among two or more municipalities, development rights shall be transferable within the boundaries of the municipalities comprising the joint municipal zoning ordinance or where there is a written agreement, the boundaries of the municipalities who are parties to the agreement.

Section 619.2. Effect of Comprehensive Plans and Zoning Ordinances.

(a) When a county adopts a comprehensive plan in accordance with sections 301 and 302 and any municipalities therein have adopted comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances accordance with sections 301, 303(d) and 603(j), Commonwealth agencies shall consider and may rely upon comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances when reviewing applications for the funding or permitting of infrastructure or facilities.

(b) The Center for Local Government Services shall work with municipalities to coordinate Commonwealth agency program resources with municipal planning and zoning activities. Upon request, the center for local government services shall assist municipalities in identifying and assessing the impact of Commonwealth agency decisions and their effect on municipal and multimunicipal planning and zoning. Upon the authorization of the governor, the center for local government services shall have access to information, services, functions and other resources in the possession of executive agencies under the governor’s jurisdiction to fulfill its obligations under this section.

(c) When municipalities adopt a joint municipal zoning ordinance:

(1) Commonwealth agencies shall consider, and may rely upon the joint municipal zoning ordinance for the funding or permitting of infrastructure or facilities.

(2) The municipalities may, by agreement, share tax revenues and fees remitted to municipalities located within the joint municipal zone.

Section 621. Prohibiting the Location of Methadone Treatment Facilities in Certain Locations.

(a) (1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary and except as provided in subsection (b), a methadone treatment facility shall not be established or operated within 500 feet of an existing school, public playground, public park, residential housing area, child-care facility, church, meetinghouse or other actual place of regularly stated religious worship established prior to the proposed methadone treatment facility.

(2) The provisions of this subsection shall apply whether or not an occupancy permit or certificate of use has been issued to the owner or operator of a methadone treatment facility for a location that is within 500 feet of an existing school, public playground, public park, residential housing area, child-care facility, church, meetinghouse or other actual place of regularly stated religious worship established prior to the proposed methadone treatment facility.

(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a), a methadone treatment facility may be established and operated closer than 500 feet of an existing school, public playground, public park, residential housing area, child-care facility, church, meetinghouse or other actual place of regularly stated religious worship established prior to the proposed methadone treatment facility if, by majority vote, the governing body for the municipality in which the proposed methadone treatment facility is to be located votes in favor of the issuance of an occupancy permit or certificate of use for said facility at such a location. At least 14 days prior to the governing body of a municipality voting on whether to approve the issuance of an occupancy permit or certificate of use for a methadone treatment facility at a location that is closer than 500 feet of an existing school, public playground, public park, residential housing area, child-care facility, church, meetinghouse or other actual place of regularly stated religious worship established prior to the proposed methadone treatment facility, one or more public hearings regarding the proposed methadone treatment facility location shall be held within the municipality following public notice. All owners of real property located within 500 feet of the proposed location shall be provided written notice of said public hearings at least 30 days prior to said public hearings occurring.

(c) This section shall not apply to a methadone treatment facility that is licensed by the Department of Health prior to May 15, 1999.

(d) As used in this section, the term “methadone treatment facility” shall mean a facility licensed by the Department of Health to use the drug methadone in the treatment, maintenance or detoxification of persons.


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