MUNICIPAL ZONING REGULATIONS AN ACT GRANTING TO MUNICIPALITIES OF DELAWARE AUTHORITY TO ADOPT ZONING REGULATIONS.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Delaware, in General Assembly met (two-thirds of each branch concurring):
Section 1. Repeal of Former Act: Chapter 114 of Volume 33 of the Laws of Delaware is hereby repealed.
Section 2. Grant of Power: For the purpose of promoting health, safety, morals, or the general welfare of the community, the legislative body of cities and incorporated towns is hereby empowered to regulate and restrict the height, number of stories, and size of buildings and other structures, percentage of lot that may be occupied, the size of yards, courts, and other open spaces, the density of population, and the location and use of buildings, structures and land for trade, industry, residence or other purposes.
Section 3. Districts: For any or all of said purposes such legislative body may divide the municipality into districts of such number, shape, and area as may be deemed best suited to carry out the purposes of this Act; and within such districts it may regulate and restrict the erection, construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair or use of buildings, structures or land. All such regulations shall be uniform for each class or kind of buildings throughout each district but the regulations in one district may differ from those in other districts.
Section 4. Purposes in View: Such regulations shall be made in accordance with a comprehensive plan and designed to lessen congestion in the streets; to secure safety from fire, panic and other dangers; to promote health and the general welfare; to provide adequate light and air, to prevent the overcrowding of land; to avoid undue concentration of population; to facilitate the adequate provision of transportation, water, sewerage, schools, parks and other public requirements. Such regulations shall be made with reasonable consideration, among other things, as to the character of the district and its peculiar suitability for particular uses, and with a view to conserving the value of buildings and encouraging the most appropriate use of land throughout such municipality.
Section 5. Method of Procedure: The legislative body of such municipality shall provide for the manner in which such regulations and restrictions and the boundaries of such districts shall be determined, established and enforced, and from time to time amended, supplemented or changed. However, no such regulations, restriction or boundary shall become effective until after a public hearing in relation thereto, at which parties in interest and citizens shall have an opportunity to be heard. At least fifteen days notice of the time and place of such hearing shall be published in an official paper or a paper of general circulation in such municipality.
Section 6. Changes: Such regulations, restrictions and boundaries may from time to time be amended, supplemented, changed, modified or repealed. In case, however, of a protest against such changes signed by the owners of twenty per cent. or more, either of the area of the lots included in such proposed change, or of those immediately adjacent thereof extending one hundred feet therefrom, or of those directly opposite thereto, extending one hundred feet back from the street frontage of such opposite lots, such amendment shall not become effective except by the favorable vote of three-fourths of all the members of the legislative body of such municipality. The provisions of the previous section relative to public hearings and official notice shall apply equally to all changes or amendments.
Section 7. Zoning Commission: In order to avail itself of the powers conferred by this Act, the Mayor or the Chief Executive of such cities or towns shall appoint a commission to be known as the Zoning Commission of three members, said appointments to be confirmed by the Legislative body, to recommend the boundaries of the various original districts and appropriate regulations to be enforced therein. Said commission to consist of not more than two members from one party and appointments to be made for two, four, and six years, and for six-year terms thereafter. Such commission shall make a preliminary report and hold public hearings thereon before submitting its final report; and such legislative body shall not hold its public hearings or take action until it has received the final report of such commission.
Section 8. Board of Adjustment: Such local legislative body shall provide for the appointment of a Board of Adjustment and in the regulations and restrictions adopted pursuant to the author- ity of this Act shall provide that the said Board of Adjustment may, in appropriate cases and subject to appropriate conditions and safeguards, make special exceptions to the terms of the ordinance in harmony with its general purpose and intent and in accordance with general or specific rules therein contained. The Board of Adjustment shall consist of the Chief Engineer of the Street and Sewer Department, the City Solicitor and the Mayor. If the city or town has no City Engineer or City Solicitor, then the Mayor or chief executive of such city or town shall appoint two members, each to be appointed for a term of three years and removable for cause by the appointing authority, upon written charges and after public hearing, who with the presiding officer of the Zoning Commission shall constitute the Board of Adjustment for such city or town. Vacancies shall be filled for the unexpired term of any member whose term becomes vacant. The Board shall adopt rules in accordance with the provisions of any ordinance adopted pursuant to this Act. Meetings of the Board shall be held at the call of the chairman and at such other times as the Board may determine. Such chairman, or in his absence, the acting chairman, may administer oaths and compel the attendance of witnesses. All meetings of the Board shall be open to the public. The Board shall keep minutes of its proceedings, showing the vote of each member upon each question, or if absent or failing to vote, indicating such fact, and shall keep records of its examinations and other official actions, all of which shall be immediately filed in the office of the Board and shall be a public record. Appeals to the Board of Adjustment may be taken by any person aggrieved or by any officer, department, board or bureau of the municipality affected by any decision of the administrative officer. Such appeal shall be taken within a reasonable time as provided by the rules of the Board by filing with the officer from whom the appeal is taken and with the Board of Adjustment a notice of appeal specifying the grounds thereof. The officer from whom the appeal is taken shall forthwith transmit to the Board all the papers constituting the record upon which the action appealed from was taken. An appeal stays all proceedings in furtherance of the action appealed from, unless the officer from whom the appeal is taken certifies to the Board of Adjustment after the notice of appeal shall have been filed with him that by reason of facts stated in the certificate a stay would in his opinion cause imminent peril to life or property. In such case proceedings shall not be stayed overwise than by a restraining order which may be granted by the Board of Adjustment or by a court of record on application on notice to the officer from whom the appeal is taken and on due cause shown. The Board of Adjustment shall fix a reasonable time for the hearing of the appeal, give public notice thereof, as well as due notice to the parties in interest, and decide the same within a reasonable time. Upon the hearing any party may appear in person or by agent or by attorney. The Board of Adjustment shall have the following powers: To hear and decide appeals where it is alleged there is error in any order, requirement, decision or determination made by an administrative official in the enforcement of this Act or of any ordinance adopted pursuant thereto. To hear and decide special exceptions to the terms of the ordinance upon which such Board is required to pass under such ordinance. (3) To authorize upon appeal in specific cases such variance from the terms of the ordinance as will not be contrary to the public interest, where owing to special conditions a literal enforcement of the provisions of the ordinance will result in unnecessary hardship, and so that the spirit of the ordinance shall be observed and substantial justice done. In exercising the above mentioned powers such Board may, in conformity with the provisions of this Act, reverse or affirm, wholly or partly, or may modify the order, requirement, decision or determination appealed from and may make such order, requirement, decision or determination as ought to be made, and to that end shall have all the powers of the officer from whom the appeal is taken. Any person or persons, jointly or severally aggrieved by any decision of the Board of Adjustment, or any taxpayer, or any officer, department, board or bureau of the municipality, may present to a court of record a petition, duly verified, setting forth that such decision is illegal, in whole or in part, specifying the grounds of the illegality. Such petition shall be presented to the court within thirty days after the filing of the decision in the office of the Board. Upon the presentation of such petition, the court may allow a writ of certiorari directed to the Board of Adjustment to review such decision of the Board of Adjustment and shall prescribe therein the time within which a return thereto must be made and served upon the relators attorney, which shall not be less than ten days and may be extended by the court. The allowance of the writ shall not stay proceedings upon the decision appealed from, but the court may, on application, on notice to the Board and on due cause shown, grant a restraining order. The Board of Adjustment shall not be required to return the original papers acted upon by it, but it shall be sufficient to return certified or sworn copies thereof or of such portions thereof as may be called for by such writ. The return shall concisely set forth such other facts as may be pertinent and material to show the grounds of the decision appealed from and shall be verified.
If, upon the hearing, it shall appear to the court that testimony is necessary for the proper disposition of the matter, it may take evidence or appoint a referee to take such evidence as it may direct and report the same to the court with his findings of fact and conclusions of law, which shall constitute a part of the proceedings upon which the determination of the court shall be made. The court may reverse or affirm, wholly or partly, or may modify the decision brought up for review.
Costs shall not be allowed against the board, unless it shall appear to the court that it acted with gross negligence or in bad faith or with malice in making the decision appealed from.
All issues in any proceeding under this section shall have preference over all other civil actions and proceedings.
Section 9. Remedies: - In case any building or structure is erected, constructed, reconstructed, altered, repaired, converted, or mainteained; or any building, structure or land is used in violation of this Act or of any ordinance or other regulation made under authority conferred thereby, the proper local authorities of the municipality, in addition to other remedies, may institute any appropriate action or proceedings to prevent such unlawful erection, construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, conversion, maintanence or use to restrain, correct or abate such violation, to prevent the occupancy of said building, structure or land or to prevent any illegal act, conduct, business or use in or about such premises.
Section 10. Conflict With Other Laws: - Wherever the regulations made under authority of this Act require a greater width or size of yards or courts, or require a lower height of building or less number of stories, or require a greater percentage of lot to be left unoccupied, or impose other higher standards than are required in any other statute or local ordinance or regulation, the provisions of the regulations made under authority of this Act shall govern. Wherever the provision of any other statuteor local ordinance or regulation require a greater width or size of yards or courts, or require a lower height of building or a less number of stories, or require a greater percentage of lot to be left unoccupied, or impose other higher standards than are required by the regulations made under authority of this Act, the provisions of such statute, or local ordinance or regulation shall govern.
Approved April 26, 1934.