[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Commissioners of the Township of Rochester 2-18-1999 by Ord. No. 372. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter shall be known as the "Rochester Township Grading, Excavation and Fill Ordinance."
The purpose of this chapter is to provide minimum standards to safeguard persons, protect property, maintain the present level of ecology, and promote the public welfare 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 words listed below shall have the following meanings:
- The qualified individual designated from time to time by the Rochester Township Commissioners to act for Rochester Township under this chapter, usually the Township Code Enforcement Officer.
- BUILDING PERMIT
- A valid permit issued by Rochester Township pursuant to the provisions of applicable Rochester Township ordinances for the construction, erection or alteration of a structure or building.
- Uncontaminated; and, as it relates to fill, also non-water-soluble.
- The detachment and movement of soil or rock fragments by water, wind, ice or gravity, including such process as gravitational creep.
- Any act by which earth, sand, gravel, rock, coal or any other similar material is cut into, dug, quarried, uncovered, removed, displaced, relocated or bulldozed, and shall include the conditions resulting therefrom.
- EXISTING OR NATURAL GRADE
- The elevation of the existing ground surface above sea level prior to any excavating or filling.
- A structural barrier to prevent intrusion within a given area.
- Any act by which earth, sand, gravel, rock or any other material is deposited, placed, pushed, dumped, pulled, transported or moved by man from its original location to a new location, and shall include the conditions resulting therefrom.
- FINISHED GRADE
- The elevation of the ground surface above sea level after grading has been completed; the elevation coincides with the elevation called for in a plan of grading.
- An excavation, fill or any combination thereof; "grading" shall include the conditions resulting from any excavation or fill.
- GRADING PERMIT
- Any permit required by this chapter.
- 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, including stream pollution.
- The application of such material as will produce a dust-free, all-weather, hard surface.
- A natural person or persons, but shall also include a partnership or corporation and their heirs, successors and assigns.
- ROUGH GRADE
- That state of grading which approximates the finished grade in a plan of grading.
- A lot, tract or parcel of land, or a series of lots, tracts or parcels of land, joined together, where grading work is continuous and performed at the same time.
- The ratio formed by the horizontal over the vertical difference of position and where the vertical difference is usually expressed as one (e.g., 2:3, 3:1, etc.).
New grading (excavation or fill) or changes, additions, repairs or alterations made to an existing grading (excavation or fill) shall conform to the provisions of this chapter.
No person shall commence or perform any grading (excavation or fill) without first having obtained a grading permit from the Administrator. A separate grading permit shall be required for each site. One grading permit may cover both the excavation and any fill made on the same site.
A grading permit will not be required in the following situations, but in all other respects the provisions of this chapter shall apply:
An excavation which does not exceed four feet in vertical depth at its deepest point measured from the existing grade, if the grading does not cover an area of more than 20% of the site; does not exceed 6,000 square feet; does not exceed 250 cubic yards; does not result in cut and/or fill slope steeper than four horizontal to one vertical; and does not exceed an area of 1,000 square feet for areas recognized by the Township's consulting engineer as containing landslide-prone soils. This exception shall not affect the applicability of this chapter to the requirement of the grading permit for any fill made with the material from such excavation, unless such fill is within the exception of Subsection B herein.
A fill which does not exceed four feet in vertical depth at its deepest point measured to the existing grade, if the grading does not cover an area of more than 20% of the site, does not exceed 6,000 square feet and does not exceed 250 cubic yards and the surface of such fill does not have a slope at any point steeper than four horizontal to one vertical.
An excavation for basements and footings of a building, swimming pool or underground structure authorized by a building permit; and excavation of a driveway between a building site and the street where the plot plans attached to the building permit indicate existing and proposed contours. A grading permit shall not be required for the temporary stockpiling, on the same site, of the material from such excavation within a one-year period beginning from issuance of the building permit.
A single-family house site where the minimum slope between property lines or the maximum excavation or fill (exclusive of the situations referred to in Subsection C hereof) does not exceed the slopes or quantities set forth in the following table:
Normal agricultural activities commonly and routinely engaged in by Township residents owning farms.
Excavations and fills for individual lot utility service installation, such as trenching and backfilling for water or sewer, power, cable television, telephone or other service, for individual property owner use, as long as such excavation or fill is required by the utility having jurisdiction and is necessary for the provision of such service to individual property.
Excavations and fills for landscaping performed by individual property owners or those contracted by individual property owners for the purposes of individual lot enhancement. No permit is required so long as the grades, depths, volumes, areal measurement and other items specified elsewhere in this chapter are not exceeded.
Every applicant for a grading permit shall file a written application therefor with the Administrator. 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 locate the proposed work.
Be accompanied by plans and specifications, in triplicate, prepared by a registered engineer, registered surveyor or registered landscape architect, licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, including: a plan of survey; a contour map showing the present contours of the land and the proposed contours of the land after completion of the proposed grading at a scale not smaller than 50 feet to one inch and a contour interval of not greater than five feet; a plan showing cross sections of the proposed cut and/or fill at fifty-foot intervals which show the method of benching both cut and/or fill, however, under no circumstances shall there be fewer than two cross sections for each property involved under said grading permit; a plot plan showing the location of the grading, boundaries, lot lines, neighboring streets and ways, existing and proposed buildings, existing waterlines, sewers and drains, existing utility lines, type of ground cover or vegetation, sufficient dimensions and other data to show the location of all work, description of the type and classification of soil obtained from an on-site investigation, details and location of existing watercourses, and details of paving, information regarding any proposed drainage structures and pipes, walls and cribbing, details of bridges and/or culverts required to cross over watercourses, nature of fill material and such other information as the Administrator may require to carry out the purpose of this chapter. All plans shall be dated and bear:
State the estimated dates of the starting and completion of the grading work.
State the purpose for which the grading application is filed.
Before issuing a grading permit, the Administrator shall collect a permit fee as follows:
For revising a grading plan, 50% of the fee required for the applicable volume hereinabove set forth shall be imposed.
Maximum fee. Except where a soil consultant is required, a maximum fee of $2,500 shall be imposed.
A grading permit application reviewed in conjunction with a land development application (i.e., subdivision/site plan) shall be required to pay a flat fee of $50. The cost of Engineer's review will be charged to the subdivision/site plan application.
Before issuance of a grading permit, the applicant shall post a bond with a corporate surety. Such bond shall be executed by a corporate surety, as well as by the principal, and shall be subject to the approval of the Rochester Township Solicitor. The bond shall issue to the benefit of Rochester Township and be conditioned upon the faithful performance of the work required under the terms and conditions of the grading permit to the satisfaction of the Administrator. In lieu of said bond, a cash deposit in said amount may be made with Rochester Township. Said bond shall be in the amount of 50% of the estimated cost of the work to guarantee the completion of said work, including erosion and sedimentation control and storm drainage system, as contemplated by the grading permit.
Every grading permit shall expire by limitation and become null and void if the work authorized by such grading permit has not been commenced within one year or is not completed within two years from the date of issue, provided that the Administrator may, if the grading permit holder presents satisfactory evidence in writing that unusual difficulties have prevented the work from being started or completed within the specified time limits, grant 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 grading permit.
Where in the opinion of the Administrator (with the concurrence of the Rochester Township Consulting Engineer), the work as proposed by the applicant is likely to endanger any person, property, street or way, the Administrator shall deny the grading permit. In determining whether the proposed work is likely to endanger property, streets, alleys or streams, create hazardous conditions or damage the ecology of the area, the Administrator shall give consideration to, but shall not be limited to, possible saturation by rains, earth movements, runoff of surface waters, subsurface conditions such as the stratification and faulting of rock, and the nature and type of the soil, rock or other minerals.
The Rochester Township Board of Commissioners shall promptly consider appeals from the provisions of this chapter or from the determinations of the Administrator, and the Rochester Township Board of Commissioners may consider alternate methods, standards or materials proposed by the applicant. Any applicant or grading permit holder shall have the right to appeal to any court of competent jurisdiction within 30 days from any decision or determination of the Rochester Township Board of Commissioners.
The Administrator shall make the inspections hereinafter required and shall either approve that portion of the work that has been completed or notify the grading permit holder wherein the same fails to comply with the provisions of this chapter. Where it is found by inspection that the soil or other conditions are not as stated or shown on the application, the Administrator shall serve notice to the permit holder and stop work on the site immediately until approval is obtained for a revised grading plan conforming to the existing conditions.
Plans and specifications and a valid copy of the grading permit for grading work, approved by the Administrator, shall be maintained at the site during the progress of the grading work until the work has been satisfactorily completed.
The grading permit holder shall notify the Administrator in order to obtain inspections in accordance with the following schedule. Such notifications shall be made by the grading permit holder at least 72 hours before the inspection is to be made.
Initial inspection: when work on the excavation or fill is about to be commenced.
Rough grading: when all rough grading has been completed.
Drainage facilities: when drainage facilities are installed and before such facilities are backfilled.
Special inspection: if at any time conditions are found which are not stated on the grading permit holder's application.
Special structures: when excavations are complete for retaining walls and crib walls, and when reinforcing steel is in place, before concrete is poured.
Final inspection: when all work, including installation of drainage and other structures, has been completed.
If, at any stage of the work, the Administrator shall determine by inspection that conditions exist such that the work as authorized by an existing grading permit is likely to endanger any property, streets or ways or create hazardous conditions, the Administrator may require, as a condition of allowing the work to be done, that such reasonable safety precautions be taken as the Administrator considers advisable and as such will avoid the likelihood of danger. Safety precautions may include, but shall not be limited to, specifying a lesser degree of slope, construction of additional drainage facilities, berms, terracing, cribbing or walls or additional compaction of fill material.
Following are general standards for grading:
No grading, stripping of topsoil, excavation or other land disturbance activity which changes the existing contours or results in the removal of existing vegetation (other than the removal of dead or diseased plant material) shall be permitted before the final grading permit has been approved.
Grading shall be limited to the minimum area necessary to provide for buildings, roads, parking areas, utilities and other facilities shown in an approved grading permit.
Grading in areas susceptible to landslides, subsidence, flooding or steep slopes or in wetlands shall comply with the additional provisions hereunder.
A soil erosion and sedimentation control plan shall be prepared in accordance with the provisions of Title 25, Environmental Resources. Chapter 102, Erosion Control, and approved by the Beaver County Conservation District (BCCD) prior to the commencement of any grading or other regulated earth disturbance activity, unless the BCCD determines that a soil erosion and sedimentation control plan is not required. Any disturbed areas shall be seeded with PaDOT seed mix Type D or its equivalent approved by the Township.
The applicant shall be responsible for protecting adjacent and downstream properties from damage which occurs as a result of earth disturbance on the site. Such protection shall include cleaning up and restoring to their original condition any adjacent and downstream properties adversely affected by silt, debris, flooding or other damage resulting from the earth disturbance activity.
The top and bottom edges of cut or fill slopes shall be kept back from property or right-of-way lines three feet plus 1/5 the height of the cut or fill, which total distance need not exceed 10 feet.
Topsoil stripped from the site in preparation for earthmoving activities shall be stockpiled on site and replaced on the site over all regraded, nondeveloped areas at a minimum depth of four inches.
Fill area shall be prepared by removing organic material, such as vegetation and rubbish, and other material determined by the Administrator to prevent proper compaction and stability.
Proposed grading shall be accomplished so that existing stormwater runoff flows are neither increased from predevelopment rates nor concentrated at the point of release onto abutting or downstream properties. Permit applicant may be required to provide proof of sewer runoff flows.
Maximum steepness of graded slopes shall be no greater than two horizontal to one vertical except under the following conditions:
Where the height of a proposed slope will not exceed 10 feet, then a maximum slope steepness of one horizontal to one vertical may be allowed where soil conditions permit and doing so will help to preserve existing vegetation or other significant natural features. The cut or fill shall be located so that a line having a slope of two horizontal to one vertical and passing through any portion of the slope face will be entirely inside the property lines of the proposed grading work.
Where a retaining wall, designed and sealed by a registered professional engineer, licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is constructed to support the face of the slope. Retaining walls must be constructed in accordance with the American Association of State Highway Officials Standard Specifications for Highway Bridges, latest edition.
Excavation adjacent to any building foundation walls, footing or structures shall not extend beyond the angle of repose or natural slope of the soil under the nearest point of the same unless the foundations, footing or structures have been sufficiently underpinned or otherwise protected against settlement.
Graded slopes of 20 or more feet in height shall be benched every 12 feet. Benches shall have a minimum width of six feet and a maximum slope of 5%. Benches shall be planted with trees at a rate of one tree per 30 linear feet of bench. Trees shall have a minimum caliper of 1.5 inches DBH. Species of trees may be mixed but shall consist of hardy native species. New planting shall be inspected yearly, and all dead, diseased or damaged trees shall be replaced.
No grading shall be permitted in a floodplain or wetland area unless a permit is obtained from the appropriate Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection office. The applicant shall be responsible for payment for all costs associated with obtaining said permit and shall produce said permit for inspection upon request of the Administrator.
The following standards shall apply to all grading and disturbance of land with slopes of 25% or greater. If any of the delineated steep slope areas include soils or geologic features which indicate possible instability, the additional standard contained in § 81-15 shall apply.
Slopes between 24% and 40%. No more than 25% of slope areas with existing grades between 25% and 40% shall be stripped of vegetation or disturbed through grading. Grading for roads shall be limited to the cartway, and the remainder of the right-of-way shall be left undisturbed.
Slopes exceeding 40%. No development or disturbance shall be allowed on slopes exceeding 40%. Very limited disturbance for utilities may be allowed if the applicant demonstrates that no feasible alternative location exists.
No fill material shall 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.
All fills shall be compacted to provide stability of fill material and to prevent undesirable settlement or slippage.
No fill shall be made which creates any exposed surface steeper in slope than three horizontal to one vertical, except under the following condition:
A written statement from a registered professional engineer, licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and experienced in erosion control and geological sciences, certifying that he/she has inspected the site and that the proposed deviation from the slope specified above will not result in increased risk of injury to persons or damage to adjacent property, streets, alleys, structures or receiving streams from erosion and sedimentation, is submitted and approved by the Administrator.
The Administrator may require that the fill be constructed with an exposed slope less than or flatter than three horizontal to one vertical if he/she finds that under the particular conditions such flatter slope is necessary for stability and safety.
Whenever a fill is to be made of materials other than clean soil or earth, the grading permit shall be subject to the following additional limitations and requirements:
The fill shall be completed within a reasonable length of time, said time limit to be determined by the Administrator and to be specified in the grading permit.
Clean soil or earth shall be placed over the top and exposed surfaces of the fill to a depth sufficient to effectively conceal all materials, other than clean soil or earth, within the fill. Topsoil must meet Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Publication 408 Specifications.
Construction debris such as brick or concrete shall be considered as fill material if such material is "rubblized" and all reinforcing bar material removed prior to placement.
No rock or material in excess of 12 inches in any dimension, or nominal lift thickness, whichever is less, shall be buried or placed in fills.
No organic materials shall be placed in fills.
When the proposed fill material is other than clean soil or earth, the Administrator may require clean soil or earth to be placed over the top and exposed surfaces of the fill to a depth sufficient to conceal all material at the end of each day's operation.
No fill of any kind shall be placed over trees, stumps or other material which would/could create a nuisance or be susceptible to attracting rodents, termites or other pests.
No grading permit shall be issued for filling with material other than clean soil or earth until a performance bond in the amount of at least 10% more than the Administrator's estimated cost (i.e. 110%) of adequately covering such fill with clean soil or earth and providing erosion and sedimentation control and drainage has been furnished to Rochester Township. Such bond shall be in conformance with that as set forth in § 81-8B.
No trading, removal of vegetation, construction or other disturbance shall be permitted on soils that are classified as slide-prone or unstable, on any land that is delineated as unstable, or on any other areas of a site that exhibit signs of instability, except in accordance with the provisions of this section.
Unstable areas of a site may be set aside as common or private open space.
Limited disturbance of unstable areas may be allowed if the applicant demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Administrator that the proposed disturbance will not cause sliding, movement or any unsafe condition either on the site or on any adjacent property.
Evidence of the safety of any proposed disturbance shall require site investigation and certification in writing by a registered professional soils engineer, engineering geologist or professional engineer with experience in soil engineering that the proposed activity will not create or exacerbate unsafe conditions.
All fills shall be compacted to provide stability of material and to prevent undesirable settlement. The fill shall be spread in a series of layers and shall be compacted by a sheepsfoot roller or other approved method after each layer is spread. The Administrator may require a minimum level of compactive effort and tests verifying the level of effort or other information if, in the opinion of the Administrator, the conditions or materials are such as additional information is necessary. Where fills are placed on slopes of 15% or more, benching of the surface shall be required and indicated on the cross sections. Fills that exceed a height of eight feet shall be provided at the toe of the slope with a key bench at least two feet deep and four feet wide across the entire length of the toe.
The density requirements for compaction of embankments shall be in accordance with ASTM 1556, D2922 or D3017, latest revision.
Adequate provisions shall be made to prevent any surface waters from damaging the cut face of an excavation or sloping surface of a fill. The Administrator shall require drainage structures or pipes to be constructed or installed which are necessary to prevent erosion and to satisfactorily carry away surface waters. All drainage provisions shall be of such design as to carry surface waters to the nearest practical location or natural watercourse which is a safe place to deposit or receive such waters. Culverts and bridges of proper size shall be installed where a watercourse is to be crossed in accordance with state rules, regulations and law.
The owner of any property upon which an excavation or fill has been made shall maintain structures, fences, ground cover and other protective devices as established by the grading permit, and, further, the continued use of said area shall be contingent upon the maintenance and upkeep, satisfactory to Rochester Township. The certificate of completion may be revoked at any time by the Rochester Township Board of Commissioners in accordance with the procedures set forth in § 81-20B and C, if the conditions of the grading permit are not being observed or if conditions exist that compromise the health, safety and welfare of any person, persons and/or property.
The top and bottom edges of cut or fill slopes shall be kept back from property or right-of-way lines three feet plus 1/5 the height of the cut or fill, which total distance need not exceed 10 feet. The top and bottom cut and fill slopes shall be at least 25 feet from the nearest bank of any stream or body of water unless state requirements dictate the distance to be greater. A temporary fence not less than four feet in height and approved by the Administrator shall be placed at the top of all cut or fill slopes in excess of 11/2 horizontal to one vertical, prior to excavation. Upon completion of grading, a permanent fence not less than four feet in height and meeting Rochester Township fence requirements shall be placed at the top of all such cut or fill slopes. Before a grading permit is issued, a bond shall be required as provided in § 81-8B hereof to guarantee the protection of steep slopes.
In order to prevent the denuding of the landscape, wherever practicable, large trees and other natural features constituting important physical, aesthetic and economic assets to existing or impending development shall be preserved.
All grading, excavation or fill shall be performed so that no unnecessary dust shall be raised.
If, upon final inspection of an excavation or fill, it is found that the work authorized by the grading permit has been satisfactorily completed in accordance with the requirements of this chapter, a grading certificate of completion covering such work and stating that the work is approved shall be issued to the grading permit holder by the Administrator.
The Rochester Township Board of Commissioners shall have the power to revoke or suspend any grading certificate of completion upon the recommendation of the Administrator that the work covered by the grading permit or that any retaining walls, cribbing, drainage structures, fences or other protective devices shown on the approved plans and specifications submitted for a grading permit have not been maintained in good order and repair.
Before such revocation, the Administrator shall first give written notice to the grading permit holder and to the owner of the property involved, specifying the defective condition and stating that unless such defective condition is remedied, the grading certificate of completion shall be revoked. Such conditions shall be corrected within 30 days of notice to the owner to correct the same.
Neither the issuance of a grading permit under the provisions of this chapter nor compliance with the provisions hereof or with any condition imposed by the Rochester Township Engineer or Administrator shall relieve any person from responsibility as may be determined by law for damage to persons or property resulting from permitted operation nor impose any liability upon the Rochester Township agents, officers or employees for injury 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 a violation of any of the provisions of this chapter has been served by the Administrator on any person, such violation shall be discontinued immediately.
Any person, firm, partnership or corporation violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall be liable on conviction thereof before a District Justice or other proper judicial officer to a penalty not exceeding $600 for each and every offense, and whenever such person, firm, partnership or corporation shall have been notified by the Administrator by service of summons in a prosecution or in any other way that he/she is committing such violation of this chapter, each day that he/she shall continue such violation after such notification shall constitute a separate offense punishable by a like fine or penalty. Upon default of the payment of the fine or penalty and the costs, the defendant may be sentenced and committed to the County jail or workhouse for a period not exceeding 30 days.
In case any work is performed by any person in violation of any case of the provision of this chapter, an officer of Rochester Township, in addition to other remedies, may institute in the name of Rochester Township any appropriate action or proceedings, whether by legal process or otherwise, to prevent such unlawful work and to restrain or abate such violation.
All costs for review above administrative costs, including but not limited to engineering and legal, must be paid for by the applicant.