FAQs for Realtors
What is the property zoned? See the zoning map here. Find the property on the map and read the corresponding district. The names of the zoning districts are only descriptive of the primary activity when the district was created. If you want to know what is allowed, you have to look at the specific uses in Chapter 154, Article VI.
What uses are allowed on the property? Once you’ve found the correct zoning district, you can find the allowed uses here in Article VI of Chapter 154 (Zoning), categorized by zoning district. You can also look up the minimum lot size and setback requirements.
Can the property have horses (or cows or goats or chickens or…)? Every property that has at least one large domestic animal is required to have a manure management plan. See this link for how to create one. PennState Extension.
- For properties 5 acres or less, see Chapter 154.404.H.5 for the maximum number of animals allowed.
- For properties greater than 5 acres, see Chapter 154.404.A.1 (General Agriculture) or 154.404.A.5 (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) or 154.404.A.6 (Kennel) or154.404.A.8 (Boarding Stable). Properties with more than 2.0 Animal Equivalent Units/acre require an approved nutrient management plan from the Bucks County Conservation District. Use the Penn State Extension website to compute AEU’s.
There’s something on the property that’s been there a very long time. Is it grandfathered? “Grandfathered” is a poor term to use. The property is either conforming to zoning requirements or non-conforming. If it’s non-conforming, there are special rules [Article XI of Chapter 154].
How do I know if (fill in the blank) is non-conforming? If it existed prior to February 1971 AND the owner has registered it as a non-conformity, then it’s lawfully non-conforming. If both those conditions aren’t met, then there’s a chance it’s simply non-compliant and in violation.
What if I know something is in violation on the property? Apply for the appropriate permit well before closing and get the defect fixed.
Do I need a resale Certificate of Occupancy? Yes. Fill out the application, pay the fee and call 610-346-6700 x10 to schedule the inspection. Resale Certificate of Occupancy Application
How long is it good for? A year.
What happens if the inspector finds something non-compliant (or the bank won’t fix a problem)? We can issue a “conditional” CO to allow the transaction to close. The buyer has to sign an affidavit acknowledging they’re aware of the defect, they’re taking ownership of the defect, and they have a fixed period of time (usually a year) to correct it by getting the appropriate permits.
What can you tell me about the property at [fill in the address]? Sorry, but the Township’s role is to review and approve or deny permit applications. You’re welcome to fill out a Right To Know request and come examine the property file free of charge. And you’re welcome to request the resale CO inspection so as to ascertain if there are any issues.
My buyer wants to [fill in the blank]. Is that allowed? Sorry, but we don’t offer opinions based on verbal descriptions over the phone. You have the option to apply for a zoning permit (cost $65), or, if it’s particularly complex you can ask for a preliminary opinion (cost $200 and payable in advance). The Zoning Officer’s decision establishes property rights for a landowner and has an automatic right of appeal, which is why we don’t do this without a written record. You can also engage your own attorney for advice. The Township’s Code of Ordinance’s are online to make it easier for a professional to get information.
My buyer is considering subdividing the property. Is that allowed? There is a lot that goes into subdividing, and you’ll have to hire a professional engineer to do it anyway. Your buyer should consult with a PE familiar with the Township’s Code to see what’s feasible and to get a cost estimate.
My buyer wants to add an in-law suite or accessory apartment. Is that allowed? Generally, yes. See Chapter 154.404.H.1 of the Springfield Township Code. The biggest hurdle you’ll have to clear is determining if the septic system is appropriately sized. For that you’ll need to talk to the BCHD.
My buyer wants to add a pole barn/shed. Is that allowed? Generally, yes. See Chapter 154.501.4.A.(3) with respect to accessory structures.
What permits does my buyer need to do things? Almost every project requires a zoning permit. Building permits are required in many circumstances. Stormwater permits are also often required. The place to start is with a zoning permit, and we can tell you the remaining requirements once we understand your project better. Bldg & Zoning Permit Submission Guidelines (revised 8/3/10)