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Loophole in fee resolution brings zoning board refund

Published December 29. 2011 05:01PM

A loophole in a fee resolution and some mistaken advice equaled a $255 refund to township resident Gary Rosenberg after the township's zoning board ruled that the zoning officer erred in his decision to deny a permit for a permitted use of his property earlier this year.

The board approved the refund unanimously, then asked Solicitor Tom Nanovic to close the loophole in the 2012 resolution before it is adopted at the beginning of the year.

"I recommended that the provision in the fee resolution that requires the township to refund hearing and administrative fees in zoning hearings be removed, but it was not done in 2011 so the township is obligated to refund the fee," said Nanovic.

His advice to remove the refund provision stems from the fact that the funds barely cover the costs for holding a zoning hearing.

"You need to hire a court reporter and advertise the hearing as well as pay for a solicitor so those costs occurred regardless of the outcome," Nanovic pointed out.

He added that these expenses occur whether the hearing is favorable, or not so the refund ends up costing the township real expenses.

Supervisor George Stawnyczyj said he understood the obligation to refund the money and pointed out that he made a mistake as well when Rosenberg first approached the board about operating a business on his property along Route 443 earlier in the year.

"I misread the map so we really led him down a primrose path, and I think that's why we should refund the money," Stawnyczyj said.

At that meeting, the board discussed Rosenberg's question about the zoning of his property and when they referred to the map, Stawnyczyj indicated that was where he improperly located the zone for his property. This resulted in the supervisors reviewing a process in which Rosenberg would need to apply for his zoning permit, have it denied and then schedule a hearing to possibly receive permission to use the property for a business.

When the zoning board heard the case, they ruled Rosenberg was able to obtain a permitted use permit for his property and should not have been rejected. This caused a clause in the fee schedule to become active, requiring the township to refund all fees connected to a hearing in which the board decides the zoning officer acted in error.

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