Most municipalities include within their Zoning Ordinances a procedure permitting landowners within their prospective municipalities to request a rezoning for a parcel within the municipality. The rezoning request is a request to amend the municipalities zoning map. A municipality upon such request should review its Ordinance provisions to ensure that proper procedure is being followed, all information required in the application is provided, and that any necessary fee is paid.
Generally, a rezoning request is a good opportunity for the municipality to seek advice and counsel from its own Planning Commission as well as from the York County Planning Commission. The York County Planning Commission has professional planners who will review the request and provide guidance. Both the local Planning Commission as well as the York County Planning Commission comments should be received and reviewed before any hearing being held on the rezoning request, and should be considered by the municipality before making its final determination.
The rezoning request should require a separate hearing to be held outside of the regular municipal meeting. There will need to be notices provided to adjoining property owners as well as advertising to the general public as to the date and time for the hearing. Most municipalities require the applicant to submit a proposed Zoning Ordinance Amendment along with their application for review by the municipal solicitor. Again, the Ordinance should reference the revision to the municipal zoning map.
The municipality should take all of these requests seriously and review each on its own merit.
Generally, there are no criteria that an applicant has to meet. Ultimately the rezoning decision is the municipality’s alone to make at its own discretion. The Municipality Planning Code and case law have long held and provided that local zoning is done at the sole purview of the local municipality.
The local municipality should review its zoning map to make sure that the request will not create spot zoning. Spot zoning is considered where a particular parcel of property does not border or touch any similarly zoned parcels. Spot zoning has been held to be illegal and practically is not good municipal planning. Consideration should also be given to the types of uses that are permitted in the zone for which the property is being requested to be placed, noting that any or all uses that are permitted principal uses in the requested zone would be able to be utilized by the property owner if the municipality does grant the request. Any comments from the adjoining property owners should be received and considered. Other considerations include the availability of public water or sewer as well as the current traffic conditions and the potential increase in traffic. The municipality will need to know that even if they grant the approval, any further development would generally require a land development plan and therefore, there would be subsequent requirements for a potential use to meet municipal Ordinances and Regulations.
Ultimately, the municipality has discretion on rezoning requests. If the municipality decides to grant the approval, it should do so procedurally in its regular meeting outside of the hearing. Then the Ordinance should be advertised and later adopted amending the zoning map. The adoption of the Ordinance completes the process.
Craig S. Sharnetzka
President | Shareholder | Attorney
Craig Sharnetzka focuses his practice in the areas of municipal law, real estate, bankruptcy and estate planning and administration. He is a shareholder with CGA Law Firm and currently chairs the firm’s municipal law department.
Through his municipal law practice, Craig represents a number of municipalities in the capacity of a solicitor. He routinely drafts ordinances, resolutions, contracts and advises council members and elected and appointed officials and employees in matters such as open meeting laws, planning, zoning, and other land use issues, economic development, personnel, capacity, and other matters.
Read Craig’s Bio Page in full HERE.