Special Exceptions

A special exception is a permitted use within a particular zoning district subject to review by the County Zoning Hearing Board. The decision of the Zoning Hearing Board must be based on "express standards and criteria" and they may "attach reasonable conditions and safeguards" if necessary to implement the purpose of the ordinance. Since 1968, there have been approximately 536 special exceptions granted by the Board. Of these, approximately 303 special exceptions (57%) throughout the County have centered on the Agricultural Rural District. 

This District is defined as "land which is level to gently rolling, possesses productive soil characteristics, or contains useful mineral deposits." The largest percentage of land in Fayette County has been designated in this category.

Leading Causes for Special Exception

When analyzing the types of special exceptions being granted by the Board in the Agricultural Rural District, it is of interest to examine the nature of the categories which are dominating this need. The following lists, by percentage, show the leading causes for special exception action in three of the County quadrants, northeast, northwest, and southwest.

Northeast

Cause Percentage
Home Occupations
11%
Mineral Extraction
20%
Neighborhood Business
19%
Strip Mining
23%
Other
27%

Northwest

Cause Percentage
Home Occupations
11%
Mineral Extraction
10%
Neighborhood Business
28%
Strip Mining
16%
Other
35%

Southwest

Cause
Percentage
Strip Mining
41%
Neighborhood Business
15%
Mineral Extraction
11%
Home Occupations
5%
Other
28%

Future Planning

As noted previously, the four main special exception areas are strip mining, mineral extraction, neighborhood business, and home occupations. If there is an inordinate amount of activity in a particular category, it is usual to seek relief in some other manner when considering future planning. For example, neighborhood business may suggest the need for recognition of activity nodes beyond the currently defined growth boundaries.

Home occupations may suggest the need for recognition of the differences between intensive and non-intensive activities with consideration of uses by right instead of special exceptions. Strip mining and mineral extraction may suggest the need for specific districts for those activities apart from the agricultural pursuits. There may be a need to consider an agricultural district which is geared solely to protection of that economic resource apart from mineral extraction.

Amount of Special Exception Activity

Another consideration for future land use planning is the amount of special exception activity within specific municipalities. Perhaps these are the municipalities which need more definitive planning beyond the intent of the current Agricultural Rural District. The following delineates those municipalities with the greatest number of special exceptions in reference to the Agricultural Rural District.

Special Exceptions in Reference to the Agricultural Rural District

Municipality Percentage
Bullskin Township
9%
Georges Township
10%
German Township
17%
Jefferson Township
6%
Nicholson Township
6%
Saltlick Township
10%
Springfield Township
5%
Springhill Township 
5%
Upper Tyrone Township
6%