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Zoning Occupancy Permit

Zoning is a method of regulating land use and structures. It is initiated by the adoption of a zoning ordinance that is designed to protect the public health, safety and welfare and zoning map that defines different zoning districts.

Beaver Falls Zoning Ordinance defines requirements for 6 different zoning districts and contains community development objectives and the necessary technical provisions to regulate the use of land and structures by establishing bulk, height, area, setback and other standards. The Zoning Ordinance can be adopted and amended by the City Council.

The zoning map may also be adopted and amended by City Council. The zoning map delineates the boundaries of the specific districts or zones created in the ordinance. An applicant may request that City Council "rezone" a property by filing a Change of Zoning Application.

The Zoning Hearing Board is established by the Zoning Ordinance.  The Zoning Hearing Board is created to help assure fair and equitable application and administration of the Zoning Ordinance. The Zoning Hearing Board is the "local court" for zoning matters. The purpose of the Zoning Hearing Board is to hear requests for variances, special exceptions and other appeals. An applicant may file an application to be heard by the Zoning Hearing Board by completing and submitting a Zoning Hearing Board Application.

Zoning is recognized as a positive tool for encouraging certain development and for creating an attractive community. In addition, zoning now frequently attempts to control development in areas subject to flooding, to preserve natural and historic features and save farmland.

The day-to-day administrative procedures provided for in the ordinance are the responsibility of the Zoning Officer. His/her duties generally involve receiving, reviewing and issuing applications for building or zoning permits and certificates of occupancy, maintaining records of applications and permits, making inspections to determine compliance with the ordinance, notifying persons violating the ordinance, keeping zoning ordinance and map up-to-date, and accepting applications for and presenting facts at hearings before the Zoning Hearing Board.

Zoning is not a cure-all for all of the City's land use problems. While the zoning ordinance may state where a type of use is permissible, it does not contain design or construction specifications. It cannot correct the mistakes of the past; rather, it attempts to prevent unwise development and development patterns from occurring in the future. It should be noted that the City has no legal right to prevent a property from being developed as zoned unless the City is prepared to purchase that property at fair market value.

Zoning Occupancy Permit

Before a building or home can be used, occupied, transferred or sold, the City must perform an inspection and issue a Zoning Occupancy Permit. Among other things, the inspector will check for smoke detectors, property maintenance issues, sidewalks, curbing and other safety-related items. Either the buyer or the seller may apply for a Zoning Occupancy permit.

Upon receipt of a Zoning Occupancy permit application and the requisite fee the inspector will schedule a day and time to meet the applicant at the property for the inspection.

Importantly, the inspections performed by the City should not be considered a substitute for what is commonly referred to as a "home inspection". The inspections do not represent any warranty on behalf of the City and buyers are advised to arrange for an independent home inspection if they so desire.