[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Commissioners of the Township of South Fayette 4-11-1973 by Article VI of Ord. No. 230A. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of this chapter is to provide minimum standards to safeguard persons and property and to protect and promote the public welfare by preventing excess erosion, hazardous rock formations and soil slippage, sediment production and other soil and water management problems and by regulating and controlling the design, construction, quality of materials, use, location and maintenance of grading, excavation and fill.
Wherever used in this chapter, the following words shall have the meanings indicated:
- Natural rock layer, hard or soft, in place at ground surface or beneath unconsolidated surficial deposits.
- CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
- The Code Enforcement Officer who has been appointed by the Board of Commissioners to manage this chapter with the assistance of the Township Engineer.
- ENGINEERING GEOLOGIST
- A person who holds a degree in geology from an accredited college or university and who has training and experience in the field of engineering geology.
- ENGINEER, PROFESSIONAL
- A person licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to practice engineering and who is knowledgeable in the branch of civil engineering.
- The detachment and movement of soil or rock fragments by water, wind, ice or gravity, including such processes as gravitational creep.
- Any act by which earth, sand, gravel, rock or any other similar material is cut into, dug, quarried, uncovered, removed, displaced, relocated or bulldozed, and shall include the conditions resulting therefrom.
- Any act by which earth, sand, gravel, rock or any other material is deposited, placed, pushed, dumped, pulled, transported or moved to a new location, and shall include the condition resulting.
- GOVERNING BODY
- The Board of Commissioners of the Township of South Fayette.
- Excavation or fill or any combination thereof, and shall include the conditions resulting from any excavation or fill.
- GRADING PERMIT
- Any permit required under these regulations.
- A danger or potential danger to life, limb, or health or an adverse effect or potential adverse effect to the safety, use or stability of property, waterways, public ways, structures, utilities and storm sewers, and including stream pollution.
- A natural person, but shall also include a partnership, corporation, trust or association.
- RETAINING WALL
- A structure composed of concrete, steel or other approved building material constructed for the purpose of supporting a cut or filled embankment which would otherwise not comply with the requirements of the standards set forth in this chapter and which is more than four feet in height, as measured on the exposed vertical surface of the wall.
- A lot, tract or parcel of land or a series of lots, tracts or parcels of land which are adjoining, where grading work is continuous and performed at the same time.
- SOILS ENGINEER
- A person registered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a professional engineer and who has training and experience in the branch of soils engineering.
- SOIL SURVEY
- The unpublished and operational soil survey for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and the accompanying text entitled "Soil Survey Interpretations of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania," as prepared by the United States Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service, et al. When applicable, the term "soil survey" shall mean the Soil Survey, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
- SOLID WASTE
- All parts of combinations of ashes, garbage, refuse, radioactive material, combustible demolition materials and industrial wastes, such as food-processing wastes, wood, plastic, metal scrap, etc.
A grading permit must be obtained from the township, upon payment of a fee as adopted by resolution from time to time by the Board of Commissioners and on file in the township offices, for new grading, excavations and fills. Changes, additions or alterations made to existing excavation or fills shall conform to the provisions of these regulations. A separate grading permit shall be required for each site. One permit may cover the grading, excavation and any fills made on the same site. Only one permit is required for a continuous parcel to be graded for a proposed major planned development, such as planned residential development or a planned industrial park, when adequate standards or requirements for grading the parcel are approved by the township.
A grading permit will not be required for any of the following situations:
When grading is limited to mining, quarrying or stockpiling of coal, rock, sand, aggregate or clay that satisfies requirements of regulations of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
When grading is limited to solid waste disposal areas or sanitary landfills operated in accordance with the requirements, rules and ordinances adopted by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Allegheny County Department of Health.
Where tracts or parcels to be subdivided and developed contain grades of 12% or less and do not lie within or affect a natural drainageway, a permit is not required. However, all tracts over 25 acres must submit proposals for such a permit according to the requirements of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
When soil excavated under the authorization of a building permit properly issued by the governing body is temporarily stockpiled on the same site as excavation; provided, however, that if the material from such excavation is thereafter to be used for fill purposes for which a grading permit is required, such permit must be obtained prior to such use in accordance with the requirements of this chapter.
Whenever the Board of Commissioners, upon the recommendation of its Code Enforcement Officer, determines that any existing excavation, embankment or fill has become a hazard as defined in § 163-2, the owner of the property upon which the excavation, embankment or fill is located or other person or agent in control of said property, upon receipt of notice, in writing, from the Code Enforcement Officer, shall within the reasonable period specified therein repair, reconstruct or remove such excavation, embankment or fill so as to eliminate the hazard. If, after such notification, the property owner has not made the necessary repairs within the time adopted, then the Board of Commissioners may direct government employees to make the required repairs, and the cost thereof shall be borne by the property owner by a lien filed as provided by law.
Every applicant for a grading permit shall file a written application therefor with the Code Enforcement Officer in a form prescribed by the Code Enforcement Officer.
Such application shall:
Describe the land on which the proposed work is to be done, by lot, block, tract or street address or similar description which will readily identify and definitely locate the proposed work area.
Be accompanied by plans and specifications prepared, signed and sealed by a professional engineer, surveyor or architect, giving a reasonable picture of the site and proposed soil erosion controls, if any. The Code Enforcement Officer may waive the preparation or approval and signature by the professional engineer, surveyor or architect only when it is self-evident that the proposed work is simple, clearly shown on the plans submitted and creates no potential nuisance to adjacent property or hazard and does not include the construction of a fill upon which a structure may be erected. Such plans shall include a description of the site proposed for grading; accurate location by lot, block, tract, street address, longitude and latitude, coordinates, a location map or other similar information; a contour map, showing the present contours of the land and the proposed contours of the land after completion of the proposed grading and a plan showing cross sections of the proposed cut or fill which show the method of benching both cut and/or fill. In addition, a plot plan may show the location of the grading, boundaries, lot lines, neighboring streets or ways, buildings, surface and subsurface utilities and waterways. In addition, plans shall include a description of the type and classification of the soil from the soil survey or better; details and location of any proposed drainage structures and pipes, walls and cribbing; seeding locations and schedules, debris basins and diversion channels; the nature of fill material; and such other information as the Code Enforcement Officer may need to carry out the purposes of this chapter. All plans shall be dated and bear the name and seal of the professional engineer who prepared the same and the names of the applicant and the owner of the land. Plans shall be submitted in triplicate, one set of which shall be a reproducible nature.
State the estimated dates for the starting and completion of grading work.
State the purpose for which the grading application is filed.
To be adequate, a geological report shall include a detailed description of the geological conditions of the site and shall include conclusions and recommendations that will demonstrate the relationship of the geological conditions to the proposed development, including hazardous conditions, water resources, mineral resources and environmental impact. A soil conservation report shall include existing site description as to topography, drainage, cover and soils; major resource problems as to soil limitations, erosion and sediment potential and surface runoff changes; and recommendations to minimize soil limitations, erosion and sediment and surface water disposal problems.
The Code Enforcement Officer may obtain additional information and reports from governmental agencies and scientific and/or engineering journals, if available, and professional engineers and/or engineering geologists, if necessary.
In no case shall the Code Enforcement Officer require more than minimum adequate standards, as recommended by governmental agencies, professional engineers or engineering geologists and other requirements specified in this chapter, for issuing a grading permit.
Before issuance of a grading permit, the applicant shall post a bond, corporate surety or other approved security in the amount of 50% of the estimated cost in excess of $5,000 of the grading work and erosion control facilities, as determined by the Commissioners, to guarantee that said work and facilities will be completed in a satisfactory manner and meet the requirements of this chapter. No bond shall be required if another bond or other approved security is posted for construction and/or site improvements. When all requirements of this permit have been met and the work has been completed in a satisfactory manner, the full amount of security shall be returned to the person posting said security.
Every grading permit shall expire by limitation and become null and void if the work authorized by such permit has not been commenced within six months or is not completed within one year from the date of issue, provided that the governing body, acting upon the recommendation of the Code Enforcement Officer, may, if the permit holder presents satisfactory evidence that unusual difficulties have prevented work being started or completed within the specified time limits, grants a reasonable extension of time and provided, further, that the application for the extension of time is made before the date of expiration of the permit. Any physical changes in the site, such as surface water drainage, soil and bedrock dislocations, alteration of groundwater discharge or any other natural or man-made modification which would cause a doubt to be cast upon the feasibility of the contents of the original permit approval, must be reported to the Code Enforcement Officer in the intervening period between approval of permit and completion of the project.
When the requirements of this chapter for obtaining a permit have been met, the Code Enforcement Officer shall approve the proposed plan and grant a grading permit to the applicant. Approved work may then start. However, when, in the opinion of the Code Enforcement Officer, work proposed by the applicant is likely to endanger any property or person or any street or alley or create hazardous conditions, the grading permit shall be denied. In determining whether the proposed work is likely to endanger property of streets or alleys or create hazardous conditions, the Code Enforcement Officer shall give due consideration to possible saturation by rains, earth movements, runoff surface waters and subsurface conditions, such as the stratification and faulting of rock, aquifers, springs and the nature and type of the soil or rock.
The Board of Commissioners shall consider, within 15 days, appeals from the provisions of these regulations or from the denial by the Code Enforcement Officer, and the Board of Commissioners, within 15 days, shall consider alternate methods, standards or materials proposed by the developer when, in his opinion, strict compliance with the provisions of these regulations is unnecessary. Any applicant or permit holder shall have the right to appeal to any court of competent jurisdiction from any decision of the governing body.
The permittee or his agent shall notify the Code Enforcement Officer, in writing, of the start and completion of each continuous grading operation. Notice shall be received by the Code Enforcement Officer or at his office at least two working days before start or completion of grading operations.
Grading work at these stages or at any other time will be subject to spot inspections, at the discretion of the Code Enforcement Officer, to determine that the work is being performed in compliance with these regulations.
In special cases, when grading occurs in areas of landslide-prone soil, as recognized by the soil survey or better, the Code Enforcement Officer may require special precautions from the grader. The results of all soil tests and core borings made relating to the site graded shall be submitted to the Code Enforcement Officer.
Maximum slope steepness of a cut should normally be three horizontal to one vertical for minimizing erosion and landslide hazard. However, soils which have a low probability of being landslide-prone shall be permitted to have a slope no steeper than 11/2 horizontal to one vertical.
Cut slopes which are steeper than those specified above may be allowed under a grading permit, provided that one or both of the following is satisfied:
The material in which the excavation is made is sufficiently stable to sustain a slope steeper than the slope specified above for recognized soil conditions on the site. A written statement, signed and sealed by a professional engineer, stating that the steeper slope will have sufficient stability and that risk of creating a hazard will be slight, must be submitted to the Code Enforcement Officer.
A retaining wall or other approved support designed by a professional engineer and approved by the Code Enforcement Officer is provided to support the face of excavation.
The top and bottom edge of slopes shall generally be set back from adjacent property lines or street right-of-way lines in order to permit the normal rounding of the edge without encroaching on the abutting property or street.
Guidelines for cuts in the Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, should be followed. One or a combination of guidelines should be used to minimize hazard, depending on site conditions and proposed grading.
No fill should be placed over trees, stumps or other material which could create a hazard. Instead, such materials may be buried in natural ground where no structures will be built or hazard created. Limbs can be chipped and mixed with the topsoil.
All fills should be compacted to provide stability of fill material and to prevent undesirable settlement or slippage.
Clean soil or earth should be placed over the top and exposed surfaces of the fill to a depth sufficient to conceal all materials used in the fill other than clean soil or earth. If the filling operation is intermittent, the top and exposed surfaces of the fill should be so covered at the completion of each lift.
The top or bottom edge of slopes should generally be set back from adjacent property lines or street right-of-way lines in order to permit the normal rounding of the edge without encroaching on the abutting property or street.
Guidelines for fills in the Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, should be followed. One or a combination of guidelines should be used to minimize hazard, depending on site conditions and proposed grading.
Guidelines for minimizing erosion and sediment in the Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, should be followed. One or a combination of guidelines should be used to minimize hazard, depending on site conditions and proposed grading. However, the Code Enforcement Officer may approve grading plans not meeting guidelines of the handbook if proposed grading will not constitute a hazard. Governmental and/or engineering reports should be used as evidence that proposed grading will not constitute a hazard.
If a retaining wall is constructed to satisfy a requirement of this chapter, a building permit, as provided for by other municipal regulations, shall not be required. The grading permit will apply to the retaining wall, and the requirements for inspection, etc., as stated herein will be complied with.
Retaining walls must be constructed in accordance with sound engineering practice. The plans submitted for approval shall bear the seal of a professional engineer.
The backfilling of retaining walls and the insertion of subterranean drainage facilities shall be done strictly in accordance with the provisions of this chapter and the appropriate municipal specifications.
In general, where a wall is replacing an exposed slope, the vertical face of the wall shall be three feet, zero inches, back from the adjoining property.
A special exception to this requirement may be applied for and granted by the Code Enforcement Officer if it can be satisfactorily demonstrated that such a modification is necessary to ensure normal use of the property, i.e., for a side-line driveway.
The requirement of this subsection may also be set aside when the proposed retaining wall is a joint venture between adjacent property owners and appropriate documents so stating are filed with the application for the permit.
To prevent damage, grading plans should follow vegetative control methods and ditch and conduit control methods in the Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, when they fit the site. The Code Enforcement Officer may approve methods and materials recommended by governmental agencies and professional engineers when they are more suitable to the site in preventing damage. Drainage facilities shall be designed to accommodate the largest size storm that would occur on the average of every two years.
The owner of any property on which an excavation or fill has been made shall maintain in good condition and repair the excavation or fill permitted and also all retaining walls, cribbing, drainage structures, fences, ground cover and any other protective devices as may be a part of the permit requirements.
If, at any time subsequent to the completion of the grading work, the cut face or fill slope shall evidence signs of deterioration, erosion or other evidence which might be detrimental to the properties above and below the grading site, the Board of Commissioners, upon the recommendation of its Code Enforcement Officer, may direct the property owner to take necessary remedial steps in accordance with sound engineering practice to restore the grading to a safe condition and to do so in a reasonable period of time.
Neither the issuance of a permit under the provisions of this chapter nor the compliance with the provisions hereto or with any condition imposed by the building official hereunder shall relieve any person from any responsibility for damage to persons or property resulting therefrom or as otherwise imposed by law nor impose any liability upon the township for damages to persons or property.
No person shall construct, enlarge, alter, repair or maintain any grading, excavation or fill or cause the same to be done contrary to or in violation of any provision of this chapter.
When written notice of any of the provisions of this chapter has been served by the Code Enforcement Officer on any person, such violation shall be discontinued immediately or within a reasonable time limit specified in such notice. If violation is not discontinued or extends beyond the specified time limit, the Code Enforcement Officer shall revoke the grading permit, and the violation is subject to a fine as prescribed in this chapter.
Any person in violation of any of the requirements of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be subject to a fine not more than $600, plus costs of prosecution and, in default of payment of such fine and costs, to a term of imprisonment of not more than 30 days. Each day's violation shall be considered a separate offense.