Does Code Enforcement conduct Use & Occupancy inspections for residential property resales?
Yes. We periodically encounter residents who
"replace" items on their property and think that a permit
is not required. Please be advised that zoning and building requirements
change over time. In addition, it is possible that original items (i.e.
sheds, fences, etc.) did not receive approval when they were initially
constructed and do not meet requirements. As a result, permits are required
The Township Zoning ordinance provides criteria for
individuals wishing to operate a home occupation. A zoning permit is
required for all home occupations and a business license maybe required.
The Code Enforcement Department maintains a file on each tax parcel (lot) within Horsham Township. Records within the tax
parcel file may contain detail such as building permits, plot plans,
and correspondence. These files are public record and may be reviewed
during regular business hours. Property deed records can be obtained
at the Montgomery County Assessment office. Specific property tax records
and tax maps can be obtained at the Montgomery County website for property
records at www.montcopa.org
Zoning appeals are made by submitting an application with corresponding fee which you can obtain by clicking on Zoning Appeal Application. They must be submitted about a month prior to the date of the scheduled hearing in order to legally advertise it.
There is no guarantee that your appeal will be heard on the date of the next scheduled meeting of the Zoning Hearing Board because there is always the possibility of case overload; the unexpected absences of members, or bad weather. We do our best, however.
Submit all pertinent information along with your appeal application, and be advised you will not get back any exhibits you may present as supporting evidence for your case. Fees for an appeal are listed on the application form.
Please be assured that your identity is protected by the Government Code and is never released to anyone outside of staff. Our files are not readily available to the general public. Code Enforcement must have your name and phone number to provide the best follow-up action possible for every complaint. Many times we need to contact you to confirm either continuing problems or that the violation has been eliminated to your satisfaction. It is also important to be able to contact you in the event we find that the “problem” is not a violation enforceable by our Division or, maybe, not even a violation at all. If you are anonymous and we’re unable to let you know these circumstances, you will be left with the negative impression that we have ignored your complaint.
Yes. You can file an appeal with our Zoning Hearing Board if you feel the Township made an incorrect interpretation of the Zoning Ordinance, or if you feel the zoning regulation that caused the denial of your permit is unfair in your particular circumstances.
This is a commonly asked question because the problem occurs in nearly every residential neighborhood where aging landscape conditions exist. Code Enforcement does not have the authority to require a property owner to trim or remove any of their vegetation unless it overhangs into a public right-of-way - impeding either pedestrian or vehicular traffic, or unless the vegetation is dead and presents a potential fire hazard.
Instead, this particular question is a good example of a civil matter between property owners. Code Enforcement does recommend callers attempt to work this out amicably with their neighbor; however, if both parties are unable to resolve the problem satisfactorily then they have the option of working through the court system, with or without an attorney. Code Enforcement also suggests that any offending branches/vegetation may be trimmed back to the caller’s property line, as long as the trimming does not impact the future life of the plant.
If you have a property with a building that does not conform to our zoning regulations (perhaps in terms of its setback from the property line, or its height), or you have a business that is not expressly permitted for a given zone district – and that building or business existed prior to the zoning regulation that otherwise prohibits it – you may have a “non-conforming” building or business. It may therefore be “grandfathered” and allowed to continue – and to some extent potentially expanded. In such a case you shall or must provide good, compelling evidence of when the non-conforming entity came into existence. This might include: business records, pictures, affidavits, etc.
Code Enforcement works with both property owners and their tenants when enforcing responsible property maintenance standards. The property owner is usually contacted by mail regarding sub-standard conditions that occur at the property and tenants are contacted on site about violations that require their attention. The property owner is ultimately held jointly responsible for any continuing problems that result from the tenant’s lack of compliance.
Of the specific problems at the property, the repair of any damaged or deteriorated house paint would be the responsibility of the property owner. Any structural or safety issue that would require a substantial financial investment to correct is usually the property owner’s responsibility, such as a leaking roof, dilapidated fencing, a cracked and broken driveway, etc. Tenants have legal custody and control of the property so they are required to correct the violations that are of their making. They would be held accountable for either repairing the inoperable vehicles or removing them from public view and will be the ones cited if any parking upon unpaved surfaces reoccurs. They would also be held accountable for providing a continuing program of landscape maintenance to ensure attractive and thriving vegetation and the removal of any trash, discards, or litter accumulations about the property, keeping trash containers screened from public view, etc.
The Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance:
Plan Drawing and Submission Requirements Required Public Improvements to be Constructed Required Agreements Construction Standards for Improvements.
The Zoning Ordinance: Setbacks, use, driveway separation distance, clear sight triangle, setbacks for parking lots and buildings, property size, screening and buffer, parking lot design and size, signs.
Engineering: Stormwater Management, wetlands preservation, impervious surface, traffic impact, property survey, right-of-way dedication, erosion and sedimentation controls, availability of water and sewer and recreation.
Legal Deeds, Improvements Agreements, financial security
Offsite Impact Comments from the neighboring public.
The ultimate goal is to have an approved plan recorded at the Montgomery County Courthouse so the new deeds can be prepared. The applicant is to file the appropriate Subdivision Review Application together with fees and plans drawn in accordance with the Township Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance.
The plans are then distributed to the various reviewing personnel and agencies for their review and comment in time for the Planning Commission’s consideration. All zoning issues must be resolved before the plan can advance beyond the Planning Commission. Therefore, it is recommended that the applicant meet with the Community Development staff to identify possible zoning and planning issues prior to submitting the plans. Should the Planning Commission find the plan to be substantially compliant, a favorable recommendation is forwarded to Township Council.
The plans are usually revised to address any remaining comments prior to Township Council reviewing them. Once the plans are “clean” for final approval by Township Council, staff will prepare a resolution for Council to consider.
Once the plan is approved, the applicant has 90 days to address any conditions of approval and record the plan. The timeframe to go through process depends on the complexity of the plan. However, minor residential subdivision (5 lots or less) and generally take 3 to 6 months on average. Major subdivisions generally take longer. No building permits can be issued until the plan is recorded.
Code Enforcement attempts to solicit voluntary compliance with the property maintenance, health & safety, and other quality of life violations that come to their attention. Failure to gain compliance within a reasonable period of time may result in criminal prosecution or civil abatement.