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FROM THE PLANNING SERIES #6 BY THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Any municipality enacting a zoning ordinance must also create a zoning hearing board (ZHB). The primary purpose of such a board is to help assure fair and equitable application and administration of the zoning ordinance by hearing appeals on the zoning officer’s determinations and by granting relief from the literal enforcement of the ordinance in certain hardship situations. The right to appeal for relief is an important step in insuring that due process is followed when restricting use of private property for a predetermined public good.
Since the board has no legislative power, it can neither make nor modify zoning policy. Neither does the zoning
hearing board have enforcement powers. It is a quasi-judicial body; that is, its powers are to some extent judicial in nature. The board schedules hearings on applications and appeals that come before it, takes evidence, and issues written decisions with findings of fact and conclusions of law. A ZHB must limit its scope of activities to those permitted by the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) and by the local zoning ordinance.
Berks County, Pennsylvania
FROM THE PLANNING SERIES #2 BY THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
One of the most important powers and responsibilities of local government is its authority to plan and guide
growth of municipal services and public improvements so that development occurs in an orderly, rational and
reasonable manner. A planning commission assists local elected officials in carrying out these important
responsibilities. Commissions can gather data, analyze information, coordinate efforts and educate its citizens
regarding the best choices for the community. All of these activities aid local elected officials in their decision
making process for future development. Working together locally, Pennsylvanians can begin growing and
A planning commission can be a resourceful forum by holding public meetings and/or hearings to filter
concerns and ideas from citizens. It can also serve as a useful board for new or innovative concepts. A
commission can then report its findings and recommendations to the governing body for legislative action.
Planning commission members give the governing body an opportunity to expand its contact and understanding
of community concerns by doubling or easily tripling the number of eyes and ears turned to community
interests. Everyone benefits and is better served.