Do I Need A Zoning Permit?

In Pennsylvania, the requirement for a zoning permit is decided by local government.  Each municipality, whether it be a township, a borough, or a city, has the right to adopt a zoning ordinance in accordance with Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.  There are as many versions of zoning ordinances as there are municipalities, so the requirements are different in every municipality.  Pennsylvania also has the unique possibility that there may possibly be County-wide zoning.  While it is described as being County-wide, it is the option of the County government to decide to pass a zoning ordinance, and unless a local municipality (Townships, Boroughs, or Cities) within the County decide to have their own zoning ordinance, all zoning is then covered by the County.  In Schuylkill County, approximately half of the County is regulated by the County Zoning Ordinance, and the balance of the municipalities regulate their own zoning within their respective jurisdictions.

Generally, a zoning permit is required whenever the use of land changes, or whenever there is a building or construction which occurs on the land.  Most municipalities have part time zoning officers, and for that reason, it is always appropriate to call the local municipal office to find out when the zoning officer is available.  You can waste a lot of time by not calling in advance.

To complete a zoning application in most instances is a very simple task.  The zoning application almost always requires a simple drawing.  You should spend a few minutes preparing as to scale drawing of the property locating the improvements you want to build.

If after presenting the application and the drawing to the zoning officer you are told that you need a special exception or a variance, it is time to rethink the project.  A special exception or a variance will require a hearing before the Zoning Hearing Board.  The cost associated with the hearing will often be several thousand dollars, and this is something you should not do yourself.   (Yes, that means it is time to hire a lawyer).  The standard for obtaining a variance is very difficult, and unless the case is presented carefully, there is a real possibility your request will be denied and you will have wasted a lot of time and money on a project which does not come to fruition.

In Schuylkill County, the following townships are governed by the Schuylkill County Zoning Ordinance:  Barry, East Norwegian, Eldred, Frailey, North Union, Porter, Reilly, Union, Upper Mahantongo, and Washington.  In addition, the following boroughs are also subject to the Schuylkill County Zoning Ordinance: Ashland, Auburn, Deer Lake, Frackville, Gilberton, Girardville, Gordon, Landingville, Mahanoy City, McAdoo, Mechanicsville, Middleport, Minersville, Mount Carbon, New Philadelphia, New Ringgold, Palo Alto, Pine Grove, Port Carbon, Port Clinton, Tower City, and Tremont

Attorney Jim Diehl is a Partner in the law firm of Williamson, Friedberg & Jones, LLC and has extensive experience in the area of zoning, commercial real estate, subdivision and Municipal law.  Mr. Diehl is also the President of Penn-National Abstract Company, the oldest and largest title insurance company in Schuylkill County.

Contact Williamson Friedberg & Jones

For urgent questions, please call us at (570) 622-5933. Lorem ipsum is placeholder text commonly used in the graphic, print, and publishing industries for previewing layouts and visual mockups.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.