Planning

The City according to the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) maintains an appointed nine member Planning Commission that includes one current Councilman. The Commission sets the framework for the City’s development through policy and review of major projects. The most relevant of the Commissions duties are as follows:

  • Maintain and amend the Comprehensive Plan
  • Maintain and amend the official Zoning District Map
  • Maintain and amend the Zoning Code
  • Hold necessary public hearings as defined in MPC
  • Site Plan Review

As a safeguard for the general welfare of the City, all new construction projects will be reviewed in one of the following three manners.

  • Administrative Staff Review used for proposals involving:
  • Construction of one and two family dwellings in multiples not exceeding ten structures
  • Construction of accessory structures
  • Additions and improvements to conforming principal and accessory structures in all residential districts, and additions and improvements to all other structures in all districts not involving a land use change
  • Projects involving the construction of fences, walls, private swimming pools and signs in conformance with the comprehensive plan and/or the zoning ordinance
  • Conceptual/Sketch Plan Review- used for proposed projects not meeting the requirements for the Administrative Staff Review to identify and resolve issues before final Site Plans are prepared
  • Site Plan Review is required for the following types of projects:
    • Construction of all conforming principal use structures in commercial, industrial, and public zoning districts
    • Construction, expansion, and/or renovation of structures in all districts involving a change in land use from that identified in the most recent Zoning District Map
    • Construction and renovation proposals involving additional utility and/or infrastructure requirements

The Planning Commission meets as needed in City Council Chambers.

Zoning

The City is divided into 14 zoning classifications that regulate land use and provide relevant guidelines such as minimum setback for structures according to the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code. The complete zoning ordinance sets a framework for property owners to follow in utilizing/developing their property without creating a hindrance or nuisance to adjacent properties. Therefore, Property owners should consult the Zoning Officer to determine what their property is zoned if they are planning any development, alteration, addition, etc.

The fourteen zoning classifications are as follows:

Classifications that share the same first letter of their short name belong to the same zoning district category. The uses in such zones are the same in nature but differ in degree/level of use. The numeral used in the short name indicates that degree/level on an ascending scale. For example consider the M1 and M3 Zones, both allow manufacturing activities while the M3 zone permits heavier, possibly offensive/obstructive, activities. Therefore, the M1 zone is more protective.

The City’s Zoning Officer has a complete listing of each classifications allowable uses and relevant development guidelines. It is important to note that any use allowed in a more protective/restrictive zone is allowed in one that is less protective/restrictive

Zoning Hearing Board

Residents can request a variance, special exception, or appeal should they encounter a difference between their proposed project and the zoning classification’s allowable uses or guidelines. A zoning hearing board consisting of three residents appointed by City Council reviews each of these requests as needed. Instances for each request follow.

A variance is a request for permission to deviate from any guidelines set forth in the zoning classification. In these cases, the parcel’s use complies with the district’s allowable uses but cannot comply with one or more of the district’s guidelines, such as minimum set back or maximum sign size. A variance provides relief from conforming to some requirement that may provide an unnecessary hardship to the property owner.

A special exception is a land use or structure which is specifically permitted in a zoning district but is subject to review by the Zoning Hearing Board. In the zoning ordinance, a list of special exceptions for each zoning classification is listed. For example, a home based occupation is listed as a special exception for the R1 zoning classification and would require review by the zoning hearing board.

An appeal can be made to the zoning hearing board to question a determination made by the Zoning Officer.

For all zoning concerns contact the economic development coordinator at (814) 533-2045.