During the June 20 meeting, Milford Township Board of Supervisors detailed information on basic zoning concepts, including how municipal ordinances interact with state and federal laws.
According to solicitor Anthony Magnotta, zoning regulates use of land, structures, and the extent of character of development. It originated due to a reaction to nuisances that were harming the neighborhoods. Over the years, the scope has expanded and the courts now view it in a positive way where someone can plan and control development and land use within their municipal boundaries. The township is an incorporated municipal corporation of the state of Pennsylvania and the township gets its powers in zoning from the municipality planning code.
“Looking at zoning throughout Pennsylvania history, we have come an awful long way,” Magnotta said. “The first ordinances that I recall back in the early 1980’s were this was permitted and this was prohibited.”
Today, the idea of zoning and the way the courts have interpreted it is that it has to be included as part of a plan and a part of a zoning ordinance if someone has one, allowing as many uses that can be possibly conceived Magnotta said. Not every use that is stated is going to be allowed for in the zoning ordinance, which is why there is a saving clause. When a use is permitted or prohibited, it has to be determined whether it can be permitted, which is done by a combination of the planning commission making recommendations to the board of supervisors Magnotta added. There are some cases where it can be a special exception which would go to the zoning hearing board instead of the board of supervisors.
The questions stem from the application of a warehouse that was presented to the board supervisors – such as: could zoning regulations trump state regulations? According to Magnotta, state regulations and acts take preeminence over any zoning.
The reason why the supervisors can talk about certain hearings, such as one that is involving a warehouse, is because to the supervisors are waiting to hear all of the evidence and remain unbiased in their decision, Magnotta said.
There will be no Board of Supervisors meeting on July 3, 2023 due to the July 4th holiday weekend.