Applications before the Zoning Hearing Board are appropriate only if they fall into one of the specific areas of review for the Zoning Hearing Board as outlined in the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code. These areas include the following:
- Appeal to a municipal decision – a means to appeal a decision rendered by the zoning officer related to the granting or denial of a permit; the failure to act on an application for any permit; the issuance of a cease and desist order; or the determination of a zoning offer or municipal engineer in the administration of any land use ordinance.
- Special Exception – a use permitted in a zoning district subject to certain provisions of the ordinance. They are usually reserved for land uses that will have a significant impact on the zoning district or community that may necessitate additional safeguards.
- Variance – a means to obtain relief from the strict application of the requirements of the zoning ordinance to fit the land it regulates. It enables a property owner to use his or her land which, due to specific location, topography, size, or shape, otherwise would not be suitable for development under the strict interpretation of the zoning ordinance. The zoning hearing board has exclusive authority to grant a variance, based on 5 specific criteria.
- Substantive Validity Challenge – A means of challenging the substantive validity of the zoning ordinance that land use controls must advance legitimate governmental interests that serve the public health, safety, morals, and general welfare. Challenges to the validity of a land use ordinance that raise procedural questions or allege defects in the process of enactment. Determining whether a regulation serves the general welfare of the community is the primary issue to consider in regard to substantive due process.