MapLink™ | Procedures | Variances

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The Zoning Hearing Board shall hear duly filed requests for variances.
A. Standards. The Board may grant a variance only in accord with the requirements of Section 910.2 of the MPC. The applicant shall have the burden of proof to show compliance with such standards. As of January 2003, the MPC provided that all of the following findings are made where relevant in a given case:
(1) That there are unique physical circumstances or conditions, including irregularity, narrowness, or shallowness of lot size or shape, or exceptional topographical or other physical conditions peculiar to the particular property, and that the unnecessary hardship is due to such conditions and not the circumstances or conditions generally created by the provisions of this chapter in the neighborhood or district in which the property is located.
(2) That because of such physical circumstances or conditions, there is no possibility that the property can be developed in strict conformity with the provisions of this chapter and that the authorization of a variance is therefore necessary to enable the reasonable use of the property.
(3) That such unnecessary hardship has not been created by the appellant.
(4) That the variance, if authorized, will not alter the essential character of the neighborhood or district in which the property is located, nor substantially or permanently impair the appropriate use or development of adjacent property, nor be detrimental to the public welfare.
(5) That the variance, if authorized, will represent the minimum variance that will afford relief and will represent the least modification possible of the regulation in issue.
B. Reapplication. The Zoning Officer shall refuse to accept a proposed application that is not materially or significantly different from an appeal on the same property that was denied by the Board within the previous year.
C. Variance conditions. In granting any variance, the Board may attach such reasonable conditions and safeguards as it may deem necessary to implement the purposes of the MPC and this chapter and to protect the public health, safety, and welfare.

If compliance with any of the requirements of this subsection would result in an exceptional hardship to a prospective builder, developer, or landowner, the Zoning Hearing Board may, upon request, grant relief from the strict application of the requirements. Requests for variances shall be considered by the Zoning Hearing Board in accordance with the procedures contained in § 215-110: Variances and the following:
(a) Alternatives analysis. No variance shall be granted until the applicant has performed an alternatives analysis to find practicable alternatives to development in the floodplain area.
(b) A Areas. No variance shall be granted for any construction, development, use, substantial improvement or activity within 50 feet landward from the top-of-bank of any watercourse within any A Area unless necessary permits are obtained from the Department of Environmental Protection regional office.
(c) Design and construction standards. Any development permitted by variance shall comply with the requirements of § 215-38C(13) and all other applicable requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program.
(d) Developments of special concern. No variance shall be granted for any development of special concern identified in § 215-38C(6)(d).
(e) Newly created lots or parcels. No variance shall be granted for any development in any identified floodplain area contained within any lot or parcel created after the effective date of this subsection.
(f) Written notice. Whenever a variance is granted, the Zoning Hearing Board shall notify the applicant, in writing, that:
[1] The granting of the variance may result in increased premium rates for flood insurance.
[2] Such variances may increase the risks to life and property.
(g) Review factors. In reviewing any request for a variance, the Zoning Hearing Board shall consider that the granting of the variance will not:
[1] Result in an unacceptable or prohibited increase in flood heights, additional threats to public safety, or extraordinary public expense.
[2] Create nuisances, cause fraud on, or victimize the public, or conflict with any other applicable state or local ordinances and regulations.
(h) Record. A complete record of all variance requests and related actions shall be maintained by the Zoning Hearing Board. In addition, a report of all variances granted during the year under this subsection shall be included in the annual report to FEMA.