Zoning Permits: Permitted Use

A zoning permit for ‘permitted use’, or ‘by-right’ development, is a permit granted for development that conforms to all aspects of a zoning ordinance. This means that the type of activity the project will create already falls under the allowable land uses for that zone and requires no additional or supplementary approvals.

This generally - but not always - garners the least level of review.  In more densely populated areas with lengthy ordinances, a permitted use application may receive a more thorough review than a conditional use or special use exception application. However, this is rarely the case for areas where fracking takes place.

There usually is little opportunity for public notification of a permitted use application and no opportunity for review by either the zoning hearing board or the local governing body. A permitted use application is submitted by the applicant to a zoning officer. A zoning officer reviews the application and determines whether the proposed use meets one of the permitted uses delineated for that zone. For example, a permitted use in a residential area might be a place of worship or a single family dwelling.

Who makes the decision: Zoning Officer

Who can appeal the decision: The applicant or an impacted landowner

Timeline to appeal the decision: Appeals must be filed within 30 days of the Zoning Officer’s decision.

Opportunities for Public Engagement: There are usually few opportunities for public comment on a permitted use application and no requirement that notice of the application be made public. Depending on the municipality, notification or publication of by-right zoning applications may vary.

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