Borough of Doylestown, PA
Bucks County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Ord. No. 2018-11, 8/20/2018]
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Grading and Tree Protection Ordinance."
[Ord. No. 2018-11, 8/20/2018]
The purpose of this chapter is to regulate the modification of the natural terrain, alteration of drainage, and protection of trees and their root systems within the Borough of Doylestown to assure and safeguard health, safety, ecology, and the general welfare in the Borough.
[Ord. No. 2018-11, 8/20/2018]
From and after the effective date of this chapter, any development or earth disturbance activity requiring a permit under Part 2 herein shall be in conformity with this chapter. In the event of a conflict between this chapter and any other statute, ordinance or regulation, the strictest statute, ordinance, or regulation shall take precedence.
[Ord. No. 2018-11, 8/20/2018]
Unless specifically defined below, words and phrases used in this chapter shall be interpreted to have common English usage, to give effect to the purposes set forth in § 102 above, and to provide reasonable application of this chapter. As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated, unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context:
APPLICANT
A landowner, or contractor acting under the authority of the owner, who has filed an application for approval to engage in any regulated activities as defined in § 105 of this chapter.
DRIPLINE
The area under a tree defined by points on the ground where water will drip off the widest-reaching branches. This is also defined as the "root zone."
EARTH DISTURBANCE
A construction or other human activity which disturbs and destabilizes the surface of the land, including, but not limited to, clearing and grubbing, grading, excavations, embankments, land development, road maintenance, and the moving, depositing, stockpiling or storing of soil, rock or earth materials.
EROSION
The movement of soil particles by the action of water, wind, ice, or other natural forces.
FINAL AS-BUILT PLAN
A plan depicting vertical and horizontal features following construction.
FOUNDATION AS-BUILT PLAN
A plan depicting vertical and horizontal location of a building foundation.
GRADING PERMIT
A permit issued by the Borough stipulating that the grading meets all applicable laws, ordinances, and regulations of the Borough of Doylestown and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
GRADING PERMIT PLAN
A plan depicting proposed vertical and horizontal features submitted with a grading permit application.
LIMIT OF DISTURBANCE
The perimeter of earth disturbance on site.
PERMANENT VEGETATION
Ground cover establishing a 70% vegetated cover over the entire disturbed area to control soil erosion and to survive severe weather conditions.
ROOT ZONE
See "dripline."
SLOPE
The face of an embankment or cut section; any ground whose surface makes an angle with the plane of the horizon. Slopes are expressed in a percentage based upon vertical distance in feet per 100 feet of horizontal distance.
TREE
A woody perennial plant, typically having a single stem or trunk growing to a considerable height and bearing lateral branches at some distance from the ground.
WATERCOURSE
Any channel or conveyance of surface water having a defined bed and banks, whether natural or artificial, with perennial or intermittent flow.
[Ord. No. 2018-11, 8/20/2018]
1. 
The following activities shall be regulated by the provisions of this chapter and require a grading permit:
A. 
Grading, construction, erection, or installation of any obstruction, diversion, or concentration affecting the drainage of any parcel.
B. 
Any earth disturbance within the dripline and root zone of any tree larger than six inches' caliper. This applies whether the tree trunk is located on the subject property, an adjacent property, or is a street tree, if the dripline/root zone is located on the subject property.
C. 
Construction of one or more buildings or building additions where land development plan approval is not required pursuant to Chapter 22 of the Borough of Doylestown Code of Ordinances.
D. 
Earth disturbance greater than 500 square feet.
E. 
Any development activity not addressed above if deemed necessary by the Borough Zoning Officer due to location and/or lot features such as slope, soils, or other natural features, or impact to off-site drainage requiring special consideration.
2. 
The following activities do not require a grading permit:
A. 
Use of land for home gardening, children's play areas, or flowerbeds.
B. 
Construction of a residential accessory structure not exceeding 100 square feet of building area that does not obstruct or redirect surface drainage.
C. 
Existing road or driveway replacement, paving, repaving and/or maintenance. Existing drainage ditches may be restored, maintained and cleared without a grading permit.
D. 
Any work within a right-of-way or public grounds, as defined in Chapter 25 of the Borough's Code of Ordinances.
E. 
Any emergency activity immediately necessary for the protection of life, property, or natural resources, as authorized by the Borough.
1. 
Application for Grading Permit.
A. 
Applications shall be completed in the name of the owner of the property, who must sign the permit application.
B. 
No person, firm, or corporation shall engage in an activity requiring a grading permit unless such permit has been approved and granted. The application shall be accompanied by a fee established by resolution of the Borough Council and included in the Borough's schedule of fees.
2. 
General Conditions for Operation Under Grading Permits.
A. 
Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter or any specific condition of the grading permit, the applicant is responsible for the prevention of damage to other people or property that may be affected by the earthmoving or stripping activity.
B. 
No person, firm or corporation shall modify, cut, fill, excavate, pave, strip, grade, or regrade land in any manner that endangers or damages any adjoining street, alley, or any other public or private property.
C. 
No person, firm, or corporation shall deposit, place, throw, or cause to be deposited, placed or thrown any debris or other material in any drainage structure or watercourse, unless permitted to do by an appropriate federal or state permit.
D. 
No person, firm, or corporation shall fail to maintain in adequate working order any drainage facility on the site. All drainage ditches, culverts, drainpipes, drainage structures, and watercourses shall be kept open and free-flowing at all times.
E. 
The owner of any property upon which any work is performed pursuant to a grading permit shall install and maintain erosion and sediment controls in accordance with the approved plan or as needed until the site is permanently stabilized. In the event any mud and/or debris is transported from the site onto a public roadway or public stormwater facility, the mud and/or debris shall be immediately removed and the facility cleared in a manner satisfactory to the Borough.
F. 
All trees in an area of slope greater than 30% shall be protected with suitable tree wells, unless the necessity for removal is established. Precautions shall be taken to prevent the unnecessary removal of trees. Any grading around trees or any removal of trees must comply with Chapter 25 of the Borough of Doylestown Code of Ordinances, in addition to this chapter.
G. 
Tree protection fence (four feet high) must be installed and maintained around the dripline/root zone of existing trees larger than six inches' diameter in areas of proposed grading activity.
3. 
Grading Permit Plans.
A. 
All applications shall be accompanied by a grading permit plan providing the following information:
(1) 
A plan drawn at a scale of not less than one inch equals 50 feet and prepared to standard plan drafting minimum standards. A site plan or as-built plan previously approved by the Borough for the subject property may be utilized for base plan information. In the absence of reliable property boundary information, such as prior surveys or approved subdivision plans, the Borough Zoning Officer reserves the right to require a plan prepared by a licensed Pennsylvania surveyor or engineer.
(2) 
All the plans shall include the following:
(a) 
Name of preparer, and professional seal, signature and name/address of responsible engineer, surveyor, or landscape architect, if applicable.
(b) 
Name and address of applicant.
(c) 
Tax Map parcel number and acreage.
(d) 
Location of site (address).
(e) 
North arrow.
(f) 
Location map showing relationship of the site to adjoining properties. Scale of the location map shall be one inch equals 800 feet.
(g) 
Date of preparation of the plan, a descriptive list of revisions to the plan, and the revision dates.
(h) 
Deed restriction information (where applicable).
(i) 
A zoning data table comparing required, existing, and proposed dimensions further described in Chapter 27, Part 5, of the Borough of Doylestown Code of Ordinances.
(j) 
Zoning building setback lines, lot lines, monuments/pins/markers, easements, and road rights-of-way.
(k) 
Existing and proposed building/structure locations, building/structure horizontal dimensions, sanitary laterals, water supply pipes, storm sewers, inlets, manholes, downspouts, basement drains, sump pump drains, utility boxes, walls, fences, berms, underground utilities, and all other man-made structures/features.
(l) 
Driveway openings and slopes, driveway turnarounds and parking areas, depressed curb length, and driveway configurations from the garage or parking area to the street.
(m) 
All trees on site larger than six inches' caliper with notes on size and species.
(n) 
All required four-foot tree protection fencing around all trees larger than six inches at the edges of their dripline root zones.
(o) 
Recorded and/or proposed easements, covenants, equitable servitudes, and deed restrictions.
(3) 
For projects requiring a grading permit, the plans shall include the following:
(a) 
Existing and proposed contours at an interval of no more than two feet; existing vegetation; soil types and conditions; watercourses; affected watersheds; and other natural features located within 75 feet of the limits of disturbance.
(b) 
Erosion and sediment control measures with associated installation details and inspection and maintenance schedules.
(c) 
High points, drainage arrows, drainage swales, and the limits of disturbance. This information may be included on a separate plan sheet.
(d) 
First-floor and garage elevations, if applicable.
(e) 
Ground elevations at each corner of each building, if applicable.
(f) 
All earthmoving and stripping changes to the site, including cuts, fills, structures, paving, utilities, vegetation and topsoil proposed to be stripped, and cut/fill balance.
(g) 
Street trees and existing trees to be removed, including species and caliper.
(h) 
Sidewalk and bikeway locations.
(i) 
Recorded and/or proposed easements, covenants, equitable servitudes, and deed restrictions.
B. 
All grading permits shall require the applicant to:
(1) 
Notify the Borough a minimum of two working days prior to commencement of any earth disturbance.
(2) 
Obtain Bucks County Conservation District sediment and erosion control plan approval where applicable.
(3) 
Comply with the Borough's Stormwater Management Ordinance.
(4) 
Install and maintain tree protection, silt fence and all other required erosion and sediment control measures identified on the approved plan, until permanent stabilization is achieved.
(5) 
Allow the Borough official/employee and Borough Engineer to enter the site for the purpose of inspecting compliance with the grading permit.
(6) 
Be responsible to ensure all erosion and sediment control measures are maintained in accordance with the inspection schedule outlined on the approved plan. The applicant shall determine the condition and need for replacement or repair of in-place control measures, the overall effectiveness of the plan, and the need for additional control measures.
4. 
General Grading Requirements.
A. 
All erosion and sediment control measures shall be installed in accordance with the approved plan prior to any earthmoving and/or stripping activities.
B. 
No excavation or fill shall be made with a slope steeper than four horizontal to one vertical, except under the following conditions:
(1) 
The material is sufficiently stable to sustain a steeper slope. A sealed, written statement to that effect from an engineer licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania shall be submitted to the Borough. The statement shall affirm that the site has been inspected and the deviation from the slope restriction shall not result in injury to persons or damage to property. A detail of the treatment of the slope (proposed grade, seeding, erosion protection, etc.) shall be submitted with the application.
(2) 
A concrete, masonry, or other approved retaining wall is designed and constructed in accordance with acceptable engineering practice to support the slope of the excavation or fill. Design plans bearing the signature and seal of the responsible licensed professional engineer or geologist shall be submitted for Borough records.
C. 
Edges of slopes shall be a minimum of five feet from property lines, ultimate/future right-of-way lines of streets, and easements to permit the normal rounding of the edge without encroachment on the abutting property, right-of-way, or easement.
D. 
All lawn areas shall be graded at a minimum slope of 2% to provide positive drainage away from buildings.
E. 
Stormwater shall not pond, except where (detention basins, stormwater management BMPs, swales, etc.) proposed in accordance with a stormwater management plan approved by the Borough for the site.
F. 
In no case shall grading be completed in such a manner as to divert or concentrate water onto adjacent property unless part of an approved stormwater management plan and an easement is obtained from the property owner.
G. 
In no case shall roof water be conveyed in such a manner as to divert or concentrate water onto adjacent property unless part of an approved stormwater management plan and an easement is obtained from the property owner.
H. 
In no case shall grading be completed in such a manner as to obstruct an existing drainage path.
I. 
Each person, corporation, or other entity that makes any surface changes to the site shall be required to collect on-site surface runoff and control it to a point of discharge into the drainage area, watercourse, stormwater easement, or storm sewer system.
J. 
All plans wherein a sump pump or basement drain is proposed to be installed shall provide for discharge of the sump pump/drain to a natural watercourse, drainage swale, stormwater easement, or storm sewer system. Under no condition shall sump pumps be discharged into the street or over a sidewalk.
K. 
No grading equipment shall be permitted to be loaded, unloaded, or stored on a public street without approval from the Borough. No grading equipment shall be permitted to travel on or across a public street unless licensed for operation on public thoroughfares.
L. 
Before granting a certificate of occupancy for buildings, building lots shall be finish-graded and stabilized with permanent vegetation. A conditional occupancy permit may be issued by the Borough if it is not possible to establish lawns due to the season of the year.
5. 
As-Built Plans.
A. 
A foundation as-built plan shall be submitted to, and approved by, the Borough for all new dwellings and nonresidential structures prior to continuing construction past the foundation stage. These plans shall include lot lines, zoning setback lines, exact foundation location, and elevations of basement floor and top of bearing wall. Foundation as-built plans must be prepared and sealed by a registered land surveyor or engineer.
B. 
A final as-built site plan shall be submitted and approved to verify compliance with the approved grading permit and other permits prior to issuance of a certificate of occupancy. Final as-built plans shall be required for all new dwellings, nonresidential structures, and any other sites where, in the determination of the Zoning Officer, a final as-built plan is required to verify compliance with the approved plan and any other applicable Borough ordinance. Final as-built plans shall reflect the as-constructed condition of the site and include all information required on the grading permit plan. The as-built plan must be prepared and sealed by a registered land surveyor or engineer.
6. 
Inspections.
A. 
The Borough official or Borough Engineer shall make periodic inspections to verify compliance with the approved plan. All plans, reports, and schedules required by and approved under this chapter shall be maintained by the applicant at the site during the progress of the work.
B. 
To obtain inspections, the applicant shall notify the Borough Building Department at least two working days before completion of the following:
(1) 
Installation of tree protection fencing and erosion and sediment controls.
(2) 
Installation of stormwater management facilities (if required).
(3) 
Final grading.
(4) 
Final landscaping.
C. 
Prior to commencing stripping, clearing and/or grading, the applicant shall cause the limit of disturbance to be staked out and tree protection fence installed in accordance with the approved grading permit plan. In the event the staked-out area is larger or in a substantially different location from the area depicted on the grading permit plan, the applicant, prior to the commencement of stripping, clearing or grading, shall file an amended application in accordance with the procedures set forth herein for the grading area which is in fact proposed. The applicant shall not strip, clear or grade any area not designated on the grading permit plan approved by the Borough.
D. 
A final inspection shall be conducted by the Borough or Borough Engineer to certify compliance with this chapter. Satisfactory compliance with this chapter, including submission of as-built plans pursuant to Subsection 5 of this section, shall be necessary before issuance of a certificate of occupancy permit.
7. 
Responsibility.
A. 
The applicant shall not be relieved of responsibility for damage to persons or property otherwise imposed by law, and the Borough or its officials will not be made liable for this damage, by:
(1) 
The issuance of a grading permit in accordance with this chapter or other applicable laws;
(2) 
Compliance with the provisions of approval or with conditions attached to it;
(3) 
Failure of Borough officials to observe or recognize hazardous or unsightly conditions;
(4) 
Failure of Borough officials to deny or to recommend denial of approval; or
(5) 
Exceptions from the requirements of this chapter.
8. 
Approval Expiration and Renewal.
A. 
Every grading permit issued hereunder shall expire at the end of 12 months from the date of issuance if work has not commenced. Where work has commenced within 12 months of permit issuance, the approval shall remain valid for two years from the date of issuance. The applicant may, within 30 days prior to expiration of the approval, request an extension, in writing, to the Borough, setting forth therein the reasons for the requested extension, and provide proof of extension of erosion and sediment control plan approval from the BCCD and/or PADEP as necessary. If, at the discretion of the Borough, an extension is warranted, the Borough may grant additional time for completion of work.
9. 
Plan Revisions and Additional Conditions.
A. 
Grading permit plan revisions shall be submitted to the Borough and shall be processed and approved or disapproved in the same manner as the original plans. Field modifications of a minor nature may be authorized by the Borough.
B. 
Where the Borough official or Borough Engineer determines that stormwater or erosion and sediment damage may result from grading at a site with an approved plan, work may be ordered by the Borough to be stopped and the applicant required to install temporary structures or take such other measures as may be necessary to protect adjoining property or public safety.
1. 
Any person, partnership or corporation who or which has violated or permitted the violation of the provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be found guilty of a summary offense, the penalty for which shall be a fine of no less than $500, including reasonable attorneys' fees and the cost of prosecution incurred by the Borough as a result thereof. Each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate violation.
2. 
Remedy for Violation. In addition to the penalties as set forth in Subsection 1 above, any property subjected to earthmoving or stripping activities performed in violation of this chapter shall be restored to its previous condition, including replacement of excavated earth, removal of illegally placed fill, and restoration of grades and planting. In order to enforce this section, the Borough Solicitor may seek injunctive relief in accordance with the Rules of Civil Procedure and the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.[1] Any activity undertaken or carried out in noncompliance with this chapter may be declared by the Borough Council to be a public nuisance and abatable as such.
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10101 et seq.
3. 
Revocation or Suspension of Permit. Any permit issued under this chapter may be revoked or suspended by the Borough Council, after notice to the applicant, for:
A. 
Failure to properly carry out the erosion and sediment control measures described in the application and/or accompanying plans at the times specified in the approved plan's construction schedule or within any extension that may be granted by the Borough.
B. 
Violation of any other condition of the grading permit.
C. 
Violation of any provision of this chapter or any other applicable law, ordinance, rule, or regulation relating to the earthmoving and/or stripping activities.
D. 
The existence of any condition or the doing of any acts constituting or creating a nuisance or hazard or endangering human life or the property of others, including, without limitation, the discharge of sediments from the site or the failure of the control to prevent accelerated erosion or waterborne sediment from leaving the site of construction.
4. 
Notice of Nonconforming Work. If, at any stage of construction, the earthmoving and/or stripping activities do not conform to the grading permit; to the attached conditions; or to the accompanying plans and specifications, including modifications thereof; or for any violation of this chapter, a written notice to comply shall be given to the applicant. Such notice shall set forth the nature of corrections required and the time within which corrections shall be made. The applicant shall have 10 working days to remedy the items noted as noncompliant in any notice to comply.
Appeals from the determination of the Borough staff or from the Borough Engineer in the administration of this chapter shall be made by the applicant to the Borough Council within 30 days of that determination or decision.