Planning & Zoning
Building Permit vs. Zoning Permit
- What type of Permit is needed and do I need one for my project? Check out our information on Building and Zoning Permits to see what you might need. If you still have questions, fill out the form to the right and we will help you determine if and what permit you need.
Subdivision and Land Development
What is the Zoning Ordinance?
Zoning provides a standard for the use of property, development, and redevelopment to best protect the nature of Spring Garden Township and to afford opportunities for businesses to thrive. Zoning regulations are intended to permit reasonable use of land while not causing a detriment to nearby neighbors, based on the suitability of various parts of the Township for particular uses and structures.
The Zoning Ordinance apportions the Township into Zoning Districts to accommodate an assorted array of development types. Each zoning district provides for uses permitted by right; if a use is not on the list, then it is not allowed in that zoning district. Some uses may be allowed by special exception in a particular zoning district and subject to approval by the Zoning Hearing Board. Uses not encompassed by the list of permitted uses but were in place prior to the adoption of the Zoning Ordinance are deemed “nonconforming” uses and are allowed to remain in operation. However, any alteration or extension of the nonconforming use requires approval from the Zoning Hearing Board.
New construction of dwellings and all commercial uses (including home occupations) require use and occupancy certificates to certify compliance with the Zoning Ordinance and Building Codes.
Each zoning district has dimensional regulations that establish the buildable area of each lot. Dimensional regulations comprise minimum lot size, maximum building lot area/maximum permitted impervious coverage, minimum yard size/setbacks, and maximum building and/or structure height. Existing lots or buildings that do not comply with the adopted zoning regulations are deemed nonconforming; any new construction or additions require Zoning Hearing Board approval.
Zoning regulations also govern topics such as parking, signs, accessory structures (sheds, pools, and fences), storm drainage, steep slopes, demolition, driveways, outdoor storage, and group homes.
The Zoning Officer
The zoning officer is not a law enforcement officer, nor is able to quelch neighbor disputes such as those regarding property lines. The Zoning Officer is the person charged with administering and enforcing the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance according 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.
It is the duty of the zoning officer to:
- Administer the zoning ordinance and issue permits only where there is compliance with the provisions of the zoning ordinance.
- Conduct inspections and surveys as prescribed by the governing body or ordinance to determine compliance or non-compliance with the terms of the zoning ordinance.
- Enforce the zoning ordinance, including the issuance of enforcement notices and, where authorized by the governing body, the filing of summary citations with the magisterial district judge, and keep records of all enforcement activities.
- Perform a review of applications for special exceptions and variances for compliance with the zoning ordinance and provide testimony at hearings on such applications. The zoning officer is tasked with receiving appeals and applications for special exceptions and variances, forwarding them to the zoning hearing board, as appropriate, scheduling hearings, advertising, posting notices, and issuing written notices of the hearings.
- Perform a review of applications for subdivision and land development for compliance with the zoning ordinance and provide review comments to the planning commission and governing body.
- Upon the request of the planning commission, governing body, or zoning hearing board present facts, records or information to assist in making decisions.
- Identify and register nonconforming uses and structures and record the reasons for the nonconforming status.
- To take action on behalf of the municipality in any appropriate action or proceedings to prevent the unlawful erection, construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, conversion, demolition, maintenance, or use of any building or structure, to restrain, correct, or abate such violation so as to prevent the occupancy or use of any building, structure, or land, or to prevent any illegal act, conduct, business, or use in or about such premises.
- Revoke by order a permit issued under a mistake of fact or contrary to the law or the provisions of the zoning ordinance.
- Keep records of all applications and plans for permits and the action taken thereon.
- Maintain a map or maps showing the current zoning districts and overlay districts for all the land within the municipality. Upon request – via permit applications, or verbal and/or written requests – the zoning officer shall make determinations of any zoning map district boundary question.
- Upon request, issue preliminary opinions under Section 916.2 of the MPC.
The Spring Garden Township Zoning Officer also processes building and zoning permits, issues certificate of use and occupancy, serves as floodplain and MS4 coordinator, and issues portable storage unit and jiffy john permits.