Township of Easttown, PA
Chester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
A. 
Losses resulting from periodic flooding. The flood hazard areas of Easttown Township are subject to periodic inundation which would result, or has resulted, in loss of property, damage to structures, loss of soils and other detrimental effects of erosion, which may result in loss of life, injury to people, disruption of public and private activities and services, burdensome public expenditures for flood protection, and impairment of the tax base, all of which do or may adversely affect the public health, safety and general welfare.
B. 
General causes of these flood losses. These flood losses are or will be caused by:
(1) 
The cumulative effect of obstructions in flood hazard areas causing increases in flood heights and velocities.
(2) 
The occupancy of flood hazard areas by uses vulnerable to floods.
It is the purpose of this article to promote the public health, safety, and general welfare and to minimize those losses described in § 274-9A above by provisions designated to:
A. 
Restrict or prohibit uses which are dangerous to health, safety or property in time of flood or which could cause increased flood heights or velocities, a threat to life or property upstream or downstream or a danger of damage to the project or adjacent property owners.
B. 
Protect the quality and quantity of surface and subsurface water supplies adjacent to and underlying flood hazard areas.
C. 
Provide areas for the deposition of floodborne sediment.
D. 
Require that uses vulnerable to floods, including public facilities, be constructed so as to be protected against flood damage.
A. 
Definition of "flood hazard area."
(1) 
The area is:
(a) 
The bed or channel of any perennial stream, river, or other watercourse, or any lake, pond, impoundment, or other contained body of water (provided such lake, pond impoundment or other body of water is in excess of one acre in area);
(b) 
The lands adjacent to the foregoing that must be reserved in order to discharge a flood of a one-hundred-year frequency; or
(c) 
All areas designated as being within the one-hundred-year floodplain in the Flood Insurance Study prepared for Easttown Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, by the Federal Emergency Management Agency Federal Insurance Administration and shown on the accompanying maps. Prior to any change in this floodplain area, the approval of the Federal Insurance Administrator shall be obtained (September 2006, or as amended).
[Amended 6-2-2014 by Ord. No. 422-14]
(2) 
The flood hazard area consists of all land in the flood area, and this article shall apply to all land within the flood hazard area.
B. 
Flood Hazard Area Map. The flood hazard area shall be shown on the Flood Boundary and Floodway Map and Flood Insurance Rate Maps that accompany the Flood Insurance Study. These maps are incorporated herein by reference.
[Amended 12-15-2014 by Ord. No. 424-14]
C. 
Overlay. The flood hazard area shall not be deemed to be an independent zoning district, but rather shall be deemed a district overlay to the end that to the extent any building, use, or structure is permitted by the terms of this article, special exception, variance, or other order of any administrative office, agency, or body, or any judicial determination, the same shall be governed by the general terms of this chapter, applicable to the uses, structures, and other regulations pertaining to the zoning district in which the building, use or structure is situated.
D. 
Rules for determination of district boundaries and one-hundred-year-flood elevations.
(1) 
The initial determination of the boundaries of the flood hazard area shall be made by scaling distances on the maps. In the event of any dispute as to the accuracy of the boundaries of said district and their precise location, as, for example, where there appears to be a conflict between the mapped boundary and actual field conditions, the data contained in the Flood Insurance Study shall be the determining factor. Where the study has utilized approximate methods, or in areas that are not included in the study, the following methodology shall be utilized as deemed appropriate by a professional engineer.
(a) 
Among the data which should be gathered to estimate extreme runoff are statistics of rainfall, temperature, physical characteristics of the watershed and previously measured (if available) flow data and high-water marks. Methods taking into consideration the amount, duration, and intensity of rainfall, and the nature of the watershed with reference to area, shape, slope, porosity of soil, and state of cultivation, antecedent moisture conditions, and degree of urbanization of the drainage basin should be employed. Calculation of flood flows shall assume the watershed to be completely urbanized for drainage areas of less than 1.5 square miles. Consideration of urbanization factors must be done for watersheds of more than 1.5 square miles.
(b) 
In all cases, a safety factor shall be used in calculating the design flood. The computed or measured flood flow is multiplied by a safety factor or a formula developed from the criteria in this subsection to obtain the design flood flow based on the following criteria:
Resulting Backwater or
Loss of Structure will Cause
Safety Factor
(multiply calculated runoff by)
No or negligible damage
1.0
Minor damage
1.3
Moderate damage
1.5
Great damage
2.0
Catastrophe, probably loss of human life
2.5
(2) 
If a formula is used to determine the design flood, it should include all or some of the following factors:
(a) 
Risk.
(b) 
Development or urbanization factor.
(c) 
Undeveloped area or woods factor.
(d) 
Limestone factor (negative or reducing factor).
(e) 
Other factors peculiar to the site.
(3) 
The method utilized for computing runoff for ungauged streams shall be identified in § 388-21, Calculation methodology, of Chapter 388, Stormwater Management.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I).
E. 
The flood hazard area data so compiled, including plans and runoff computations for single lots or subdivisions of less than 25 acres, shall be submitted by the applicant to the Zoning Officer for processing by the Township Engineer, who shall render an opinion thereon to the Zoning Officer. The Zoning Officer shall thereupon be bound by the opinion of the Township Engineer with respect to the location of the flood hazard area, but the Zoning Officer, the applicant, or any person aggrieved by such determination may appeal to the Zoning Hearing Board for a review thereof. In any proceeding before the Zoning Hearing Board, the party contesting the Township Engineer's determination as certified to the Zoning Officer shall have the burden of proof. Data for areas over 25 acres shall be submitted by the applicant to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, for processing, approval and permit requirements as required by that authority.[2]
[2]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I).
F. 
Compliance. No development may occur, and no building or other structure may be erected or used, or substantially improved, and no lot may be used or occupied within the flood hazard area without full compliance with this chapter.
G. 
Abrogation and greater restrictions. It is not intended by this section to repeal, abrogate, or impair any existing easements, covenants, or deed restrictions. Where this section imposes greater restrictions, the provisions of this section shall prevail. All other ordinances inconsistent with this section are hereby repealed to the extent of the inconsistency only, and to the extent that this section imposes greater restrictions than do other articles of Chapter 455, Zoning, this section shall prevail. However, to the extent not inconsistent with this section, land within flood hazard areas shall also be deemed to be in and subject to the classification shown on the Zoning Map and restrictions applicable thereto.
H. 
Warning and disclaimer of liability. The degree of flood protection required by this section is considered reasonable for regulatory purposes and is based on available scientific study. Larger floods may occur on rare occasions, or the flood height may be increased by man-made or natural causes. In such instances, areas outside the flood hazard area or land uses permitted within the flood hazard area may be subject to flooding or flood damage. This section shall not create liability on the part of the Township or any officer or employee thereof for any damages that result from reliance on this section or any administrative decision lawfully made hereunder.
A. 
A lot located in the flood hazard area may be used or occupied for any of the following purposes and no other, and then only to the extent that they are not prohibited by any other ordinance:
(1) 
Agricultural uses, such as general farming, pasture, orchard, grazing, outdoor plant nurseries, truck farming, forestry, and wild crop harvesting.
(2) 
Recreation uses that do not require structures such as park, picnic grounds, golf courses, archery, hiking and riding trails, fishing areas, as well as game farm, fish hatchery, wildlife sanctuary, nature preserve and swimming areas.
(3) 
For a lot partially within a contiguous district and partially within a flood hazard area, no land disturbance or structure may be placed less than 50 feet from the boundary of any flood hazard area, except as permitted by § 274-19B.
(4) 
Parking areas and roads, constructed of gravel or other permeable material, to serve permitted uses in a flood hazard area, or where required by regulations of any contiguous district.
(5) 
Boundary fences.
B. 
Applications for permitted uses requiring changes in the floodplain should include after-development use calculations. The Water Obstructions Act, as written in Chapter 105 of Title 25 of the Pennsylvania State Code, regulates dams, obstructions, and other structures "along, across or projecting into all streams and bodies of water," as well as changes in the course current, cross section or location of any stream in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Submission of plans and calculations in accordance with Department of Environmental Protection criteria must be made to the DEP and a permit obtained whenever an alteration or obstruction of a stream or body of water is contemplated. The DEP definition of "stream" is "all bodies or channels of conveyance of surface waters and parts thereof. The stream or watercourses need not flow constantly."
C. 
Prior to any alteration or relocation of a watercourse, adjacent communities and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development shall be notified. Copies of the notifications shall be submitted to the Federal Insurance Administrator. The developer shall assure that the flood-carrying capacity within the altered or relocated portion is maintained.
D. 
The following uses when authorized as a special exception and provided that such uses are compatible with those permitted in an adjacent district, and further provided that any grading or filling of the soil does not substantially alter or reduce the cross-sectional area of the stream basin at the point of the proposed use and will not result in increasing the elevation of a one-hundred-year frequency flood:
(1) 
Circuses, festivals, and similar transient amusement enterprises, provided all required permits are obtained.
(2) 
Waterlines and sealed wells.
(3) 
Railroads, roads, bridges, and utility transmission lines.
(4) 
Storm sewer outlet and sanitary sewer treatment plant outlet, which shall take the shortest route across the flood hazard area to point of discharge, and sewage pumping stations, provided that construction is floodproofed.
(5) 
Dams and impoundment basins where approved by appropriate public agencies.
(6) 
Docks and piers for boating.
(7) 
Accessory uses customarily incidental to any of the foregoing.
E. 
Prohibited uses and activities. The following uses and activities are specifically prohibited in any flood hazard area:
(1) 
Sod farming.
(2) 
Removal of topsoil.
(3) 
Cutting or removal of living trees, except necessary clearing for construction permitted by special exception.
(4) 
Outdoor storage.
(5) 
Construction and maintenance of septic tanks and cesspools.
(6) 
Tennis courts with fencing.
(7) 
Any development in the floodway area as delineated on the Flood Insurance Rate Map accompanying the Flood Insurance Study, which would cause a rise in flood heights unless a rise is offset by stream or other improvements.
(8) 
Under no circumstances will the following activities and/or development be located within a flood hazard area since they present a special hazard to the health and safety of the public:
(a) 
Hospitals (public or private).
(b) 
Continuing care retirement community (public or private).
(c) 
Jails or prisons.
(d) 
Individual mobile homes, new mobile home parks, mobile home subdivisions and substantial improvements thereto, as well as individual mobile homes.
(e) 
The production, storage, or maintenance of a supply of the following materials and substances as being dangerous to human life:
[1] 
Acetone.
[2] 
Ammonia.
[3] 
Benzene.
[4] 
Calcium carbide.
[5] 
Carbon disulfide.
[6] 
Celluloid.
[7] 
Hydrochloric acid.
[8] 
Hydrocyanic acid.
[9] 
Magnesium.
[10] 
Nitric acid and oxides of nitrogen.
[11] 
Petroleum products (gasoline, fuel oil, etc.).
[12] 
Phosphorus.
[13] 
Potassium.
[14] 
Sodium.
[15] 
Sulphur and sulphur products.
[16] 
Pesticides (including insecticides, fungicides and rodenticides).
[17] 
Radioactive substances, insofar as such substances are not otherwise regulated.
F. 
Grading, filling, and storage of material. A change in grade by either cut or fill, or combination of both, may be permitted as a special exception, but only upon the following conditions:
(1) 
The effect is not to increase the elevation of the one-hundred-year frequency flood; and
(2) 
The effect is not to increase the runoff characteristics of the area disturbed.
(3) 
No storage of any material that may be hazardous to the health and welfare of the surrounding population or which is in violation of the Clean Streams Act[1] or regulations of the Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Flood Plain Management Act (Act 166-1978)[2] and regulations of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development shall be permitted with a flood hazard district.
[1]
Editor's Note: See 35 P.S. § 691.1 et seq.
[2]
Editor's Note: See 32 P.S. § 679.101 et seq.
G. 
All permitted utilities shall be designed and constructed to minimize or eliminate flood damage.
H. 
Riparian buffer zone. Floodplains are subject to protection by a fifty-foot-wide, undisturbed riparian buffer zone, in accordance with Article V, Riparian Buffer Zone (RBZ).
A. 
Any use permitted within the zoning district wherein the lot may lie not specifically prohibited in § 274-12E shall be permitted within a flood hazard area if and only if the Zoning Hearing Board affirmatively finds the following enumerated criteria are met:
(1) 
That there is no danger to life or property due to increased flood heights or velocities caused by any encroachment permitted by such granting of special exception. No development shall be permitted by special exception or variance that would cause a rise in flood heights in the floodway, unless the rise is offset by stream or other improvements.
(2) 
That there is no danger that materials may be swept onto other lands or downstream to the injury of others.
(3) 
That the proposed water supply and sanitation systems are safe and adequately protected from flood, and that the systems are capable of avoiding the spread of disease, contamination or unsanitary conditions when the lands are inundated to the base flood level.
(4) 
That during inundation to base flood level there is safe and convenient access to the property for ordinary and emergency vehicles.
(5) 
That the proposed use is not susceptible to flood damage when the lands are inundated to the base flood level.
(6) 
That the lowest floor (including basement) of all new construction and substantial improvements of residential structures is elevated 18 inches above the base flood level.
(7) 
That all new construction and substantial improvements of nonresidential structures have the lowest floor (including basement) elevated to or above the base flood level or, together with attendant utility and sanitary facilities, be designed so that below the base flood level the structure is watertight with walls substantially impermeable to the passage of water and with structural components having the capability of resisting hydrostatic and hydrodynamic loads and effects of buoyancy. Structures, which are not adequately elevated, should be designed to be completely or essentially dry in accordance with the classifications W1 and W2 in the publication entitled "Floodproofing Regulations" (United States Army Corps of Engineers, June 1972) or some other equivalent standard.
(8) 
All new construction and substantial improvements (including the placement of prefabricated buildings and mobile homes) shall:
(a) 
Be designed (or modified) and adequately anchored to prevent flotation, collapse, or lateral movement;
(b) 
Be constructed with materials and utility equipment resistant to flood damage;
(c) 
Be constructed by methods and practices that minimize flood damage.
(9) 
Manufactured homes, including those substantially damaged and any improvements thereto, must meet the following requirements:
(a) 
Over-the-top ties must be provided at each of the four corners of the manufactured home, with two additional ties per side at intermediate locations. Manufactured homes less than 50 feet long require one additional tie per side.
(b) 
Frame ties must be provided at each corner of the manufactured home, with five additional ties per side at intermediate points. Manufactured homes less than 50 feet long require four additional ties per side.
(c) 
All components of the anchoring system must be capable of carrying a force of 4,800 pounds.
(d) 
Stands or lots must be elevated on a permanent foundation so that the lowest floor of the manufactured home will be at or above the base flood level.
(e) 
Adequate surface drainage and access for a hauler must be provided.
(f) 
In the instance of elevation on pilings, lots must be large enough to permit steps. Piling foundations must be placed in stable soil no more than 10 feet apart. Reinforcement must be provided for pilings more than six feet above ground level.
(10) 
Where floodproofing is utilized for a particular structure, a registered professional engineer or architect shall certify that the floodproofing methods are adequate to withstand the flood depths, pressures, velocities, impact and uplift forces and other factors associated with the base flood, and a record of such certificates indicating the specific elevation to which structures are elevated and/or floodproofed shall be maintained in the Township.
(11) 
That the granting of special exception will not alone or cumulatively with other relief granted along the same watercourse impair the Township's eligibility to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program or render the Township or its inhabitants subject to any of the sanctions such as loss of federal aid by reason of noncompliance with the National Flood Insurance Program regulations or any of the other applicable regulations promulgated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency with reference to the National Flood Insurance Program.
(12) 
Variances shall only be issued in accord with Article XV, Zoning Hearing Board, of Chapter 455, Zoning, which requires that the criteria in Section 910.2 of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code be met (53 P.S. § 10910.2).[1]
(a) 
A determination that the variance is the minimum necessary, considering the flood hazard to afford relief.
(b) 
A determination that failure to grant the variance would result in exceptional hardship to the applicant.
(c) 
A determination that the granting of the variance will not result in increased flood heights, additional threats to public safety or extraordinary public expense or create nuisances, cause fraud on or victimization of the public, or conflict with existing local laws or ordinances. The Zoning Hearing Board shall notify the applicant that:
[1] 
The issuance of a variance to construct a structure below the base flood level will result in increased premium rates for flood insurance up to amounts as high as $25 for $100 of insurance coverage.
[2] 
Such construction below the base flood level increases risks to life and property. Such notification shall be maintained along with a record of all variance actions, including justification for their issuances. All variances issued shall be reported in the annual report submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I).
B. 
Procedure.
(1) 
Prior to development in the flood hazard area, a development permit, a use and occupancy permit, or special exception, whichever shall first be requested, or within such time thereafter as to permit the Township adequate opportunity to review the application prior to a hearing or action thereon, the applicant shall furnish such of the following material as is necessary for a complete consideration of the matter:
(a) 
Plans, in triplicate, drawn to scale, showing the nature, location, dimensions and elevation of the lot and proposed lowest floor, including basement, elevation, photographs where necessary or appropriate to demonstrate existing uses and vegetation, and soil overlay showing the soil types and other pertinent information.
(b) 
One-hundred-year-flood elevations as contained in the flood profiles of the Flood Insurance Study and/or additional cross sections as may be necessary, showing the stream channel, lake or pond bottom, elevation of adjoining land areas to be occupied by proposed uses and high water information.
(c) 
Profile showing the slope of the bottom of the channel, lake or pond.
(d) 
Specifications for building materials and construction, floodproofing, filling, dredging, grading, storage, water supply, and sanitary facilities.
(e) 
Computation of the increase in the water surface elevation of the base flood, if any, which would be attributable to the proposed development. This is so that it can be determined that the development, particularly if proposed for the floodway, will not cause a rise in flood heights.
(f) 
Evidence that all required state and federal permits have been obtained, including those required under Act 537, the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act,[2] the Pennsylvania Water Obstruction Act of 1913, as amended,[3] and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972, Section 404, 33 U.S.C. § 1344.
[2]
Editor's Note: See 35 P.S. § 750.1 et seq.
[3]
Editor's Note: The Water Obstruction Act of 1913 was repealed 10-23-1979 (P.L. 204, No. 70). See now the Dam Safety and Encroachments Act, 32 P.S. § 693.1 et seq.
(2) 
All information filed shall be forwarded to the Township Engineer for review prior to any action or hearing, and a copy of any report prepared by the Township Engineer shall be forwarded in advance of the hearing to the applicant.
C. 
Conditions. Upon consideration of an application under the terms of this section, the Board may attach such conditions to the granting of a special exception as it deems necessary to further the purposes of this section. Such conditions may include but are not limited to the following:[4]
(1) 
Modification or floodproofing of waste disposal and water supply facilities.
(2) 
Limitations on periods of use and operation.
(3) 
Floodproofing measures of any nature or kind deemed necessary by the Township Engineer, which would prevent or lessen damage to a building located in the flood hazard district or to the safety of the occupant thereof.
(4) 
Imposition of operational controls, surety or guarantee for completion of any floodproofing measures and deed restrictions.
[4]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I).