The primary means of managing land use activities is municipal zoning. The public involvement in private land use and business activities begins with an application to the municipal zoning office for a permit. In Watsontown there are generally two types of permits: (1) a permit approving start of construction and (2) a use permit, which acknowledges that under the municipal zoning ordinance that the use or activity is a permitted activity on the property.
The Borough uses use zoning permits as a method of policing and enforcing the borough land use regulations. Since not all land use applications involve construction, use permits can take two forms: (1) authorize or legalize use of the property, and (2) use occupancy permit after construction is completed as a means of insuring that the construction and the occupying use conforms to the application as filed and that all municipal requirements are met. The Borough Zoning Ordinance is enforced by the Borough Zoning Officer. If the applicant’s (a developer or builder) project specifications meet the requirements of the zoning ordinance, as the zoning officer understands them, the application is normally approved. If the zoning provisions are not met, the application is denied.
Zoning Hearing Board
The Zoning Hearing Board is a five-member Board whose function is to hear appeals of the decisions of the Zoning Officer. The Board has the authority to approve exemptions from certain requirements contained in the Zoning Ordinance by granting a variance. Although Council appoints this Board, the Board’s decisions can be appealed only through the State Courts.