Act of Sep. 28, 1965, P.L. 543, No. 282              Cl. 08
                                  AN ACT

     Authorizing incorporated towns to adopt and enforce zoning
        ordinances regulating the location, construction, and use of
        buildings, the size of courts and open spaces, the density of
        population, and the use of land.

        The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
     hereby enacts as follows:

        Section 1.  Grant of Power.--For the purpose of promoting
     health, safety, morals or the general welfare, councils of
     incorporated towns are hereby empowered to regulate and restrict
     the height, number of stories, and size of buildings and other
     structures, their construction, alteration, extension, repair,
     maintenance, and all facilities and services in or about such
     buildings and structures and percentage of lot that may be
     occupied, the size of yards, courts and other open spaces, the
     density of population, and the location and use of buildings,
     structures, and land for trade, industry, residence or other
     purposes, and may also establish and maintain building lines and
     set back building lines upon any or all public streets.
        Section 2.  Districts; Procedure.--(a) For any or all said
     purposes, the council may divide the town into districts, of
     such number, shape, and area as may be deemed best suited to
     carry out the purpose of this act. Within such districts it may
     regulate and restrict the erection, construction,
     reconstruction, alteration, repair or use of buildings,
     structures or land. All such regulations shall be uniform for
     each class or kind of buildings throughout each district, but
     the regulations in one district may differ from those in another
        (b)  The council shall provide by ordinance the manner in
     which the boundaries of such districts shall be determined and
     established and from time to time amended or changed. However,
     no such boundary shall become effective until after public
     hearing in relation thereto at which parties in interest and
     citizens shall have an opportunity to be heard. At least fifteen
     days' notice of the time and place of such hearing shall be
     published in a newspaper of general circulation in such
     incorporated town.
        Section 3.  Purpose in View.--Such regulations shall be made
     in accordance with a comprehensive plan, and designed to lessen
     congestion in the streets, to secure safety from fire, panic and
     other dangers, to promote health and the general welfare, to
     provide adequate light and air, to prevent the overcrowding of
     land, to avoid undue concentration of population, to facilitate
     the adequate provision of transportation, water, sewerage,
     schools, parks and other public requirements. Such regulations
     shall be made with reasonable consideration, among other things,
     to the character of the district and its peculiar suitability
     for particular uses, and with a view to conserving the value of
     buildings and encouraging the most appropriate use of land
     throughout the incorporated town.
        Section 4.  Exercise by Council of Zoning Power; Notice.--The
     council shall exercise the powers granted in this act by
     ordinance which shall provide for effecting of its purposes and
     for the enforcement of the regulations and restrictions
     established therein by reasonable fines and by instituting
     appropriate actions or proceedings at law or in equity. At least
     one week, and not more than three weeks, prior to the
     presentation of the proposed ordinance, informative notice of
     intention to consider such proposed ordinance and a brief
     summary setting forth the principal provisions of the proposed
     ordinance in such reasonable detail as will give notice of its
     contents, and a reference to the place or places within the
     incorporated town where copies of the proposed ordinance and
     zone maps may be examined shall be published in the manner
     provided by law for the publication of ordinances.
        The provisions of the ordinance need not be advertised or
     recorded as in other cases, but may be supplied by reference to
     a code or to parts thereof determined by the council or such
     provisions of the ordinance may be supplied by reference to a
     typed or printed code prepared under the direction of, or
     accepted by, the council or such provisions may consist of a
     standard code approved as aforesaid or parts thereof and also
     further provisions typed or printed as aforesaid. Copies of the
     provisions of the ordinance thus adopted by reference shall be
     made available to any interested party at the cost thereof, or
     may be furnished or loaned without charge and a copy of such
     provisions of the ordinance whether by reference to a standard
     code or a combination of them shall be attached to the ordinance
     book with the same force and effect as if duly recorded therein.
        The procedure set forth relating to the adoption of the
     ordinance may likewise be adopted in amending, supplementing or
     repealing any of the provisions of the ordinance.
        Section 5.  Changes.--Such regulations, restrictions and
     boundaries may from time to time be amended, supplemented,
     changed, modified or repealed. In case, however, of a protest
     against such change, signed by the owners of thirty-three and
     one-third percent or more, either of the area of the lots
     included in such proposed change or of those immediately
     adjacent to the rear thereof extending one hundred feet
     therefrom, or of those directly opposite thereto, extending one
     hundred feet from the street frontage of such opposite lots,
     such amendment shall not become effective except by the
     favorable vote of two-thirds of all the members of council.
        Section 6.  Zoning Commission.--In order to avail itself of
     the powers conferred by this act, the council shall appoint a
     commission of five citizens, to be known as the Zoning
     Commission, to recommend the boundaries of the various original
     districts and appropriate regulations to be enforced therein.
     Such commission shall make a preliminary report and hold public
     hearings thereon before submitting its final report, and such
     council shall not hold its public hearings or take action until
     it has received the final report of such commission. When an
     incorporated town planning commission already exists it may be
     appointed as the zoning commission.
        Section 7.  Board of Adjustment.--(a) The council may appoint
     a board of adjustment and, in the regulations and restrictions
     adopted pursuant to the authority of this act, may provide that
     said board of adjustment may, in appropriate cases and subject
     to appropriate conditions and safeguards, make special
     exceptions to the terms of the ordinance in harmony with its
     general purpose and intent and in accordance with general or
     specific rules therein contained.
        (b)  The board of adjustment shall consist of three members,
     one of whom shall be designated to serve until the first day of
     January following the adoption of the zoning ordinance, one
     until the first day of the second January thereafter, and one
     until the first day of the third January thereafter. Their
     successors shall be appointed on the expiration of their
     respective terms, to serve three years. The members of the board
     shall be removable for cause by the appointing authority upon
     written charges and after public hearing. Vacancies shall be
     filled for the unexpired term of any member whose term becomes
        (c)  The board of adjustment shall adopt rules in accordance
     with the provisions of any ordinance adopted pursuant to this
     act. Meetings of the board shall be held at the call of the
     chairman, and at such other times as the board may determine.
     Such chairman, or in his absence the acting chairman, may
     administer oaths and compel the attendance of witnesses. All
     meetings of the board shall be open to the public. The board
     shall keep minutes of its proceedings, showing the vote of each
     member upon each question, or, if absent or failing to vote,
     indicating such fact, and shall keep records of its examinations
     and other official action, all of which shall be immediately
     filed in the office of the board and shall be a public record.
        (d)  Appeals to the board of adjustment may be taken by any
     person aggrieved or by any officer of the incorporated town
     affected by any decision of the administrative officer. Such
     appeal shall be taken within a reasonable time as provided by
     the rules of the board, by filing with the officer from whom the
     appeal is taken and with the board of adjustment a notice of
     appeal specifying the grounds thereof. The officer from whom the
     appeal is taken shall forthwith transmit to the board all the
     papers constituting the record upon which the action appealed
     from was taken.
        (e)  An appeal shall stay all proceedings in furtherance of
     the action appealed from, unless the officer from whom the
     appeal is taken certifies to the board of adjustment, after the
     notice of appeal shall have been filed with him, that by reason
     of facts stated in the certificate a stay would in his opinion
     cause imminent peril to life and property. In such case,
     proceedings shall not be stayed otherwise than by a restraining
     order, which may be granted by the board of adjustment or by a
     court of record on application on notice to the officer from
     whom the appeal is taken and due cause shown.
        (f)  The board of adjustment shall fix a reasonable time for
     the hearing of the appeal, give public notice thereof, as well
     as due notice to the parties in interest, and decide the same
     within forty-five days after the hearing or, if said hearing is
     continued, within forty-five days after said continued hearing.
     If the board of adjustment does not make a decision within
     forty-five days after the hearing or continued hearing, it shall
     be deemed that such board has decided in favor of the person or
     the officer of the incorporated town aggrieved or affected who
     is seeking relief. Upon the hearing, any party may appear in
     person or by agent or by attorney.
        (g)  The board of adjustment shall have the following powers:
        (1)  To hear and decide appeals where it is alleged there is
     error in any order, requirement, decision or determination made
     by an administrative official in the enforcement of this act or
     of any ordinance adopted pursuant thereto.
        (2)  To hear and decide special exceptions to the terms of
     the ordinance upon which such board is required to pass under
     such ordinance.
        (3)  To authorize upon appeal in specific cases such variance
     from the terms of the ordinance as will not be contrary to the
     public interest where, owing to special conditions, a literal
     enforcement of the provisions of the ordinance will result in
     unnecessary hardship, and so that the spirit of the ordinance
     shall be observed and substantial justice done.
        (h)  In exercising the above-mentioned powers, such board
     may, in conformity with the provisions of this act, reverse or
     affirm, wholly or partly, or may modify the order, requirement,
     decision or determination appealed from, and may make such
     order, requirement, decision or determination as, in its
     opinion, ought to be made. Notice of such decision shall
     forthwith be given to all parties in interest.
        (i)  Any person aggrieved by any decision of the board of
     adjustment, or any taxpayer or any officer of the incorporated
     town may, within thirty days after such decision of the board,
     appeal to the court of common pleas of the county by petition,
     duly verified, setting forth that such decision is arbitrary,
     capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in
     accordance with law and specifying the grounds upon which he
        (j)  Upon presentation of the petition in proper form, the
     court shall forthwith issue a writ of certiorari directed to the
     board of adjustment commanding it within twenty days after the
     service thereof to certify to the court under the certificate of
     its chairman, its entire record in the matter in which the
     appeal has been taken. The prothonotary shall serve the board of
     adjustment by registered mail with a copy of the writ and a copy
     of the appeal petition. On or before the return day of the writ,
     the board of adjustment shall file the entire record with the
     writ in the office of the prothonotary.
        (k)  Any time during the pendency of an appeal, upon
     application of the appellant, and upon due notice of the board
     of adjustment, the court or a judge thereof may, after hearing,
     grant an order of supersedeas upon such terms and conditions,
     including the filing of security, as the court or the judge
     thereof may prescribe.
        (l)  If, upon the hearing of the appeal, it shall appear to
     the court that testimony is necessary for the proper disposition
     of the appeal, it may take evidence or appoint a referee to take
     such evidence as it may direct and report the same to the court,
     with his findings of facts and conclusions of law. The court may
     reverse, or affirm, in whole or in part, or may modify the
     decision appealed from as to it may appear just and proper.
        (m)  Costs shall not be allowed against the board unless it
     shall appear to the court that it acted with gross negligence or
     in bad faith or with malice in making the decision appealed
        Section 8.  Remedies.--In case any building or structure is
     erected, constructed, altered, repaired, converted or
     maintained, or any building, structure or land is used in
     violation of this act or of any ordinance or other regulation
     made under authority conferred hereby, the proper local
     authorities of the incorporated town, in addition to other
     remedies, may institute any appropriate action or proceedings to
     prevent such unlawful erection, construction, reconstruction,
     alteration, repair, conversion, maintenance or use, to restrain,
     correct or abate such violation, to prevent the occupancy of
     said building, structure or land or to prevent any illegal act,
     conduct, business or use in or about such premises.
        Section 9.  Certain Buildings of Public Utility Corporations
     Exempted.--This act shall not apply to any existing or proposed
     building or extension thereof used or to be used by public
     utility corporations, if, upon petition of the corporation, the
     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.
        Section 10.  Finances.--The council is empowered to
     appropriate out of the general incorporated town fund, such
     moneys, otherwise unappropriated, as it may deem fit to finance
     the work of the incorporated town zoning commission and the
     board of adjustment, and to enforce the zoning regulations and
     restrictions which are adopted, and to accept grants of money
     and service for these purposes from either private or public
     sources, State or Federal.
        Section 11.  Effective Date.--This act shall take effect