Zoning Ordinance Update

Township Committee Reviewing Current Township Zoning Regulations

The Committee working to identify potential changes to the Township zoning regulations has completed a final draft document that incorporates the suggested changes into an Ordinance format.  This draft Ordinance will be reviewed by the Township Planning Commission and subject to a Public Hearing held by the Board of Supervisors prior to being considered for adoption.  The draft can be viewed by clicking the link below.


A Zoning Ordinance is a Fluid Document –

A Township Zoning Ordinance continues to be a fluid document.  As lifestyles, community demographics and the socio-economics of a community change (as well as state law and legal/legislative precedence), so a Zoning Ordinance must also change and be amended to reflect these changes.

Over recent years, the Township has found that some of the regulations stated are no longer valid or enforceable or that there has been legal case precedence that requires the Township to address or amend regulations accordingly.  The Township has also found some ambiguities and other terms and regulations within its current Zoning Ordinance that need defining and clarification.  Finally, the Township would like to streamline some of the approval processes to assist residents in utilizing their properties with the least amount of government regulation.

To that end, the Township Board of Supervisors authorized the Township Planning Commission to undertake the challenge and embarked on an effort to review the existing, adopted Zoning Ordinance and make amendments as it sees fit and appropriate.

The intent is not to make sweeping changes to any zoning district classifications or to the permitted uses identified as appropriate for the given zoning districts, but rather to address the issues previously stated.

Process –

This review process began in the summer of 2015 with gaining the input of the Township Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission, Zoning Hearing Board, Township Staff as well as Township legal and engineering consultants.

In February of 2016, an ad-hoc committee was formed to take all the input and recommended potential amendments and discuss each determining the validity and appropriateness for each suggested amendment.

The ultimate goal will be for this committee to present to the Township Planning Commission their findings with actual proposed amendments.

The Township Planning Commission will then review the committee’s recommendations and make whatever changes, deletions or amendments of their own that they see fit and send a recommendation for the Township Board of Supervisors for their consideration.

The Board of Supervisors will review the Planning Commission’s recommendations (along with any recommendations made by the Lancaster County Planning Commission) and hold a public hearing(s) for public input.  Once all input has been considered, the Board will have the ability to approve and adopt these amendments.  The newly adopted (amended) Township Zoning Ordinance will have full effect in East Donegal Township once it is adopted by the Township Board of Supervisors.  That is until the lifestyles, community demographics and socio-economics of the community (as well as state law and legal/legislative precedence) change and the Township sees a need to amend the Ordinance again.

Update Process Flowchart


Progress/Work Products To Date:

Zoning Ordinance Review Committee meeting minutes/notes:

February 29, 2016 Meeting Minutes/Notes

March 23, 2016 Meeting Minutes/Notes

June 27, 2016 Meeting Minutes/Notes

July 25, 2016 Meeting Minutes/Notes

August 22, 2016 Meeting Minutes/Notes

November 14, 2016 Meeting Minutes/Notes

February 27, 2017 Meeting Minutes/Notes

FINAL DRAFT – Proposed Ordinance Amendments


Background Information Regarding Zoning

Purpose and Intent

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania gives municipalities the ability to regulate how land is used so as to ensure compatible uses and minimize negative impacts on surrounding properties.  A  Zoning Ordinance also assists in promoting, protecting and facilitating the public health safety, morals and general welfare and coordinate practical community development.  An example might be designating areas for industrial uses with such uses being separated from residential uses.

A Zoning Ordinance, by law must accommodate all reasonable uses including various commercial, industrial, residential, institutional and agricultural uses.

East Donegal Township has such a Zoning Ordinance adopted with these different community development goals in mind and provides for these various uses in such a manner that minimizes the negative impacts of uses on adjoining properties and protects the health, safety and general welfare of the community as required by the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.

The East Donegal Township Zoning Ordinance Contents

East Donegal Township has a number of ordinances related how public health and safety.  These Ordinances are codified and consolidated into one document known as the Code of Ordinances of East Donegal Township.  Chapter 27 is entitled “Zoning”.  As with other ordinances, the Zoning Ordinance is broken down into “Parts” identified as such:

Part 1 – General Provisions.  This Part describes the purpose and intent of the Ordinance and it’s applicability to community stated objectives.

Part 2 – Definitions.  The Part defines terms uses throughout the Ordinance and plays an important role in determining the applicability of the various regulations.

Part 3 – Classifications of Zoning Districts.  This Part defines the types of zoning districts in which various uses may be employed.

Part 4 – Nonconforming Uses and Structures.  Uses and structures that were built and/or utilized under a particular zoning allowance that have subsequently become non-conforming due to changes in the zoning regulations and allowances are allowed to be continued and even expanded to a degree even though the “current” zoning regulations would prohibit such use or structure.  This Part describes how these non-conforming uses and structures are treated.

Part 5 – District Regulations.  This Part identifies the uses permitted in the various zoning districts.  Further, this Part also prescribes the bulk and area requirements such as minimum lot size, lot width; the required setbacks from property lines, the maximum amount of lot coverage and maximum height allowances.

Part 6 – General Regulations.  This Part provides for regulations dealing with dealing with specific structures, uses, anomalies, landscaping, performance standards for various uses and street classifications.

Part 7 – Parking and Loading Requirements.  This Part deals with the requirements for parking facilities, dimensions and other design criteria.

Part 8 – Sign Standards.  This Part provides regulations on the types, numbers and sizes of signs permitted for various uses in the various zoning districts.

Part 9 – Conditional Uses.  In zoning terms, there are three types of permitted uses – “By Right Uses”, “Conditional Uses” and “Special Exception Uses”.  By right uses are those uses by which the Zoning Officer has the sole right to grant with no other zoning approvals.  A Special Exception Use is a permitted use that the Zoning Officer can grant only after approval has been obtained from the East Donegal Township Zoning Hearing Board.  These special exception uses generally have specific criteria that needs to be complied with in order to be approved.  This Part deals with permitted use that the Zoning Officer can grant only after approval has been obtained from the East Donegal Township Board of Supervisors.  These conditional uses also have specific criteria that needs to be complied with in order to be approved. This Part prescribes such criteria. (The only difference between a Special Exception Use and a Conditional Use is the Board that grants the approval).

Part 10 – Special Exception Uses.  This Part, as stated earlier, deals with permitted uses approved by the East Donegal Township Zoning Hearing Board before the Zoning Officer can consider issuing a Zoning Permit.  This Part provides the prescribed criteria associated with the “Special Exception” uses.

Part 11 – Enforcement Procedures.  This part defines the role of the Zoning Officer and the Zoning Permitting process.

Part 12 – Appeals Procedure.  This Part provides the provisions for making application to the East Donegal Township Zoning Hearing Board and Board of Supervisors including defined functions of each Board in zoning matters, application processes, legal prescriptions of notifications and timeframes.

Part 13 – Amendments.  This Part provides requirements on when and how to enact and amend a Zoning Ordinance.

Part 14 – Airpark Zoning.  This Part identifies and prescribes the specific requirements of the airport zoning classification district in East Donegal Township.  This Part also prescribes land use provisions and maintenance  of properties surrounding the airport as far as it affects the function of the airport per Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

Next Steps –

To date, the Zoning Ordinance Review Committee has reviewed and made suggested changes to Parts  1-6.  This is about halfway through the Ordinances.

Upcoming Chapters will get to some of the criteria associated with various special permitted uses such as the keeping of chickens and horses, farm occupations and in-law suites.

We Want To Hear From You/On-line Public Inform Form –

If there are thoughts, ideas or concerns that you would like the committee to discuss, feel free to print and complete the Public Dialog Form and submit it to the Township office.  You can do this via hand delivery, email or fax.

Public Input Form