Township of Union, PA
Washington County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Notes
Grading
Created: 2017-04-25
See new legislation under New Laws.
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of the Township of Union 8-3-1983 by Ord. No. 72. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Uniform construction codes — See Ch. 113.
Floodplain management — See Ch. 128.
Stormwater management — See Ch. 225.
Streets and sidewalks — See Ch. 236.
Subdivision and land development — See Ch. 242.
Zoning — See Ch. 280.

§ 135-1 Purpose and title.

A. 
The purpose of this chapter is to provide minimum standards to safeguard persons and to protect and to promote the public welfare by regulating and controlling the design, construction, quality of materials, use, location, maintenance and reclamation of grading, excavation and fill.
B. 
The title of the chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Union Township Grading Ordinance."

§ 135-2 Definitions.

Wherever used in the chapter, the following words shall have the meanings indicated:
BUILDING PERMIT
Any permit required by the applicable ordinance or any amendment thereto.[1]
ENGINEER
The appointed Engineer of the Township.
EXCAVATION
Any act or the result of such 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.
FILL
Any act or the result of such 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 conditions resulting therefrom.
GRADE
The elevation of the existing ground surface at the location of any proposed excavation or fill.
GRADING
Excavation or fill, or any combination thereof, and shall include the conditions resulting from any excavation or fill.
GRADING PERMIT
Any permit required under §§ 135-3 and 135-4 of this chapter.
PERSON
A natural person, partnership or corporation and their heirs, successors and assigns.
SITE
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.
TOWNSHIP
The Township of Union.
ZONING OFFICER
The appointed Zoning Officer of the Township.
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I).

§ 135-3 Scope.

New grading, excavations and fills or changes, additions, repairs or alterations made to existing excavations and fills shall conform to the provisions of this chapter, except that this chapter shall not apply to:
A. 
Work when done by the Township, Washington County or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, or authorized by the Township, Washington County or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in a public street or alley or in a Township park, playground or recreation area or on other municipal property.

§ 135-4 Permits required; exceptions.

No person shall commence or perform any grading, excavation or fill without first having obtained a grading permit from the Zoning Officer and approval from the Engineer. A separate grading permit shall be required for each site. One permit may cover the grading, excavation and any fill made on the same site. A grading permit will not be required, however, in any of the following situations, but in all other respects the provisions of this chapter shall apply:
A. 
No grading permit shall be required for any excavation which is to be made which does not exceed 100 cubic yards in amount at any one site and the cut slope does not exceed one vertical to two horizontal and where the top of the cut face will be entirely inside a line three feet from the property in which the excavation is to be made.
B. 
No grading permit shall be required when a fill is to be made which does not exceed 100 cubic yards in amount at any one site and the slope does not exceed at any point three horizontal to one vertical and the bottom line of the fill slope will be entirely inside a line three feet from the property lines of the property on which the fill is placed.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I).
C. 
No grading permit will be required for any excavations and backfill made below finished grade for basements or footers, home swimming pools or activity for which an underground building permit has been properly issued by the Township, and no grading permit shall be required for the temporary stockpiling of the material from such excavation on the same site; provided, however, that if the material from such excavation is thereafter to be used for fill for which a grading permit is required, such permit must be obtained prior to such use in accordance with the requirements of this chapter. In addition, if excavated material is stockpiled on a site for a period longer than 120 days, then a permit shall be required when disposing of the fill material.

§ 135-5 Application.

A. 
Every applicant for a grading permit shall file a written application with the Zoning Officer. Such application shall:
(1) 
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.
(2) 
Be accompanied by plans and specifications prepared at the expense of the applicant by a registered engineer, including:
(a) 
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 at fifty-foot intervals which show the method of benching both cut and/or fill. However, under no circumstances shall there be fewer than three cross sections for each site involved under said permit.
(b) 
A plot plan showing the location of the grading, boundaries, lot lines, neighboring streets or ways, buildings, trees with trunks over eight inches in diameter, and sufficient dimensions and other data to show the location of all work.
(c) 
Description of the type and classification of soil. Where required by the Engineer, a geotechnical investigation report will be prepared and submitted by the applicant to the Township. The geotechnical investigation report shall be prepared by a soils engineer approved by the Engineer.
(d) 
Details and location of any proposed drainage structures and pipes, walls and cribbing. Design calculations shall be provided where required by the Engineer.
(e) 
Nature of all fill material and such other information as the Engineer may require to carry out the purposes of this chapter.
(3) 
State the estimated dates for starting and completion of the grading work.
(4) 
State the purpose for which the grading application is filed. If the grading application is filed in the nature of site preparation for any permitted use or uses under Chapter 242, Subdivision and Land Development, or Chapter 280, Zoning, of the Code, such application must be accompanied by all the plans, documents, bonds and other requirements set forth in ordinances of the Township for such permitted use or uses.
B. 
All plans and reports shall be dated, submitted in triplicate, and shall bear:
(1) 
The name and seal of the registered professional engineer who prepared the same.
(2) 
The name and address of the applicant.
(3) 
The name and address of the owner of the land.
C. 
Where, owing to special circumstances and conditions, compliance with the provisions of this chapter would result in unnecessary hardship, the Board of Supervisors may make such special reasonable exceptions as will not be contrary to the public interest and may impose such conditions as it deems necessary to adequately protect the public interest.

§ 135-6 Permit procedure.

A. 
The Zoning Officer shall receive all applications and shall collect all fees. The Zoning Officer shall transmit all applications to the Engineer, who shall indicate his approval thereon. In the event of disapproval, the Engineer shall specify the reasons therefor, a copy of which shall be sent to the applicant.
B. 
Before issuing a grading permit, the Zoning Officer shall collect a permit fee, the amount of which shall be specified from time to time by resolution of the Board of Supervisors of the Township.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Original subsection 6.3, concerning escrow account, which immediately followed this subsection, was repealed at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I).

§ 135-7 Bond. [1]

Prior to issuance of a grading permit, on a case-by-case basis, the Township Engineer may require that a faithful performance bond be supplied to the Township in an amount to be determined by the Engineer. The bond shall inure to the benefit of the Township and be conditioned upon the faithful performance to the satisfaction of the Engineer of the work required under the terms and conditions of the grading permit. In lieu of such bond, a cash deposit or certified check in the same amount may be delivered to the Township Treasurer for deposit.
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I).

§ 135-8 Expiration of permit.

Every grading permit shall expire by limitation and become null and void if the work authorized by such permit has not been commenced within three months or is not completed within one year from the date of issue, provided that the Board of Supervisors, acting upon the recommendation of the Engineer, may, if the permit holder presents satisfactory evidence that unusual difficulties have prevented work 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 permit.

§ 135-9 Denial of permit; appeals.

A. 
Where in the opinion of the Engineer the work as proposed by the applicant is likely to endanger any property or person or any street or alley or create any condition hazardous to the public, he shall recommend denial of the grading permit. In determining whether the proposed work is likely to endanger property or streets or alleys or create conditions hazardous to the public, the Engineer shall give due consideration to any factors relevant to the proposed work, including but not limited to:
(1) 
Possible saturation by rains.
(2) 
Earth movements.
(3) 
Surface water runoff.
(4) 
Subsurface conditions, such as stratification and faulting of rock, aquifers and springs.
(5) 
The nature and type of the soil or rock.
B. 
The Board of Supervisors of the Township shall hear appeals from the denial of applications for permits under this chapter or from determinations of the Zoning Officer, and the Board of Supervisors shall make its decision on such appeals in accordance with § 135-5C herein. The applicant shall have the right to appeal a denial of a permit application or a determination of the Zoning Officer to the Board of Supervisors within 30 days after such denial or determination. The Board of Supervisors shall hold a hearing within 30 days after the filing of such appeal and shall make a decision on such appeal within 45 days after such hearing, or after the last hearing if more than one. Any applicant or permit holder shall have the right to appeal to a court of competent jurisdiction from the decision of the Board of Supervisors of the Township. Such appeal shall be taken within 30 days after the mailing of such decision or determination by the Board of Supervisors.

§ 135-10 Inspections.

A. 
The Engineer shall, when requested by the permit holder, make the inspections hereinafter required and shall either approve that portion of the work which has been completed or notify the 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 in the application, the Engineer may refuse to approve further work until approval is obtained for a revised grading plan conforming to existing conditions.
B. 
Grading work plans, bearing the stamp of approval of the Engineer, shall be maintained at the site during the progress of the grading work and until the work has been finally approved.
C. 
The permit holder shall notify the Engineer to obtain inspections in accordance with the following schedule and at least 24 hours before the inspection is to be made:
(1) 
Initial inspection. When work on the excavation or fill is about to be commenced.
(2) 
Rough grading. When all rough grading has been completed.
(3) 
Drainage facilities. When drainage facilities are to be installed and before such facilities are backfilled.
(4) 
Special structures. When excavations are complete for retaining crib walls, etc., and when reinforcing steel is in place, and before concrete is poured.
(5) 
General completion final. When all work, including the installation of all drainage and other structures, has been completed.
(6) 
Site stabilization. When all final seeding, fertilizing and mulching has been completed and the vegetation has stabilized the disturbed areas.

§ 135-11 Excavation standards.

A. 
No excavation shall be made with a cut face steeper in slope than one vertical to 1 1/2 horizontal, except under one or more of the following conditions:
(1) 
The excavation is located so that a line having a slope of one vertical to 1 1/2 horizontal and passing in any portion of the cut face will be entirely inside a line three feet inside the property lines of the property on which the excavation is made. Approval by the Engineer under this subsection is contingent upon receipt of a written statement by a civil engineer or geologist licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and experienced in soils engineering and geology to the effect that such excavation will not result in injury to person or damage to property.
(2) 
The material in the excavation made is sufficiently stable to sustain a slope of steeper than one vertical to 1 1/2 horizontal, and a written statement of a civil engineer or geologist licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and experienced in soils engineering and geology to that effect is submitted to the Engineer and approved by him. The statement shall state that the site has been inspected and that the deviation from the slope specified above will not result in injury to persons or damage to property.
(3) 
A retaining wall or other approved support designed by a registered engineer, licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and approved by the Engineer, is provided to support the face of the excavation and to prevent injury to persons or damage to property.
B. 
The Engineer may require an excavation to be made with a cut face flatter in slope than one vertical to 1 1/2 horizontal if he finds that the material in which the excavation is to be made is unusually subject to erosion or if other conditions exist which make such flatter cut slope necessary for stability and safety.
C. 
Excavations shall not extend below the angle of repose or natural slope of the soil under the nearest point of any footing or foundation of any building or structure unless such footing or foundation is first properly underpinned or protected against settlement.
D. 
Before commencing any excavation which may in any way affect an adjoining property or structures thereon, the person making or causing the excavation to be made shall notify, in writing, the owners of the adjacent property or buildings not less than 30 days before such excavation is to be made that the proposed excavation is to be started. Adjoining properties and structures shall be protected as provided in the Township Building Code as is then on file in the office of the Zoning Officer and/or as required by the Engineer.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 113, Construction Codes, Uniform.

§ 135-12 Fill standards.

A. 
No fill shall be made in the Township which creates a slope steeper than one vertical to two horizontal, except under one or more of the following conditions:
(1) 
The fill, in the opinion of the Engineer, is located so that settlement, sliding or erosion of the fill material will not result in property damage or be a hazard to adjoining property, streets, ways or buildings.
(2) 
A written statement from a civil engineer, licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and experienced in soils engineering, certifying that he has inspected the site and that the proposed deviation from the standard specified slopes will not endanger any property or result in personal hazard or property damage, is submitted to and approved by the Engineer.
B. 
In issuing permits, the Township, on the advice and recommendation of the Engineer, may impose conditions requiring that a fill be constructed with an exposed surface flatter than 2 1/2 horizontal to one vertical if the Engineer advises that, under the particular circumstances involved, such flatter surface is necessary for stability and for the safety of persons and property.
C. 
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:
(1) 
The fill shall be completed within a reasonable length of time as determined by the Engineer and so specified on the grading permit.
(2) 
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 used in the fill other than clean soil or earth. If the filling operation is intermittent, the Engineer may require that the top and exposed surfaces of the fill be so covered and seeded at the completion of each lift.
(3) 
No fill of any kind shall be placed over trees, stumps or other materials which would create a nuisance or be susceptible to attracting rodents, termites or other pests.

§ 135-13 Standards for compaction of fill.

A. 
All fills shall be compacted to provide stability of fill material and to prevent undesirable settlement or slippage.
B. 
The fill shall be installed in a series of layers, each not exceeding 12 inches in thickness, and each layer shall be compacted by passing a sheep's-foot roller or other approved equipment across the layer in a minimum of four passes as the layer is spread.
C. 
Pieces of rock or boulders having a thickness of more than six inches or a cross-sectional area in any plane of more than 1 1/2 square feet shall not be permitted in fills.
D. 
No fill material that will support combustion shall be permitted.
E. 
Where fills are placed on any existing slope greater than 5%, the toe of the fill shall be prepared by cutting a bench 10 feet wide on a reverse slope of one vertical to 10 horizontal.
F. 
For fills higher than 10 feet above the toe of the proposed slope, there shall be constructed benches at eight-foot intervals measured vertically from the base of the fill. Said benches shall be six feet in width and shall have a floor cut to a reverse slope of one vertical to six horizontal.
G. 
The Engineer, with the approval of the Board of Supervisors, may require tests or additional information if, in his opinion, the conditions or materials of the fill are such that the additional information is necessary.

§ 135-14 Drainage provisions.

A. 
Adequate provisions shall be made to prevent any surface waters from damaging:
(1) 
The cut face of an excavation.
(2) 
The sloping surface of a fill.
(3) 
Adjacent property affected by the change in the existing natural runoff.
B. 
Excavations cut at the normal one vertical to 1 1/2 horizontal and deeper than 10 feet from the top of the cut shall have six-foot-wide benches installed at ten-foot intervals measured from the top. Said benches shall have reverse floor slopes of one vertical to six horizontal.
C. 
Excavations cut at slopes in excess of the normal set forth in Subsection B above and deeper than 10 feet from the top of the cut shall have similar benches installed at eight-foot intervals measured from the top.
D. 
All drainage provisions shall be of such design as to carry surface water to the nearest practical street storm drain, storm sewer or natural watercourse, as approved by the Engineer as a safe place to deposit and receive such waters.
E. 
The Engineer shall require such drainage structures or pipes to be constructed or installed as may be necessary to prevent erosion damage and to satisfactorily carry off accumulated surface waters.
F. 
Constructed benches in fills or cuts at the top of slopes shall have horizontal gradients of at least 2% for the purpose of carrying off surface waters.
G. 
The planting of sod, shrubs or other vegetation on slopes to prevent erosion may be required where the condition of the grading is such that planting is necessary to protect against erosion, in the opinion of the Engineer.

§ 135-15 Maintenance.

A. 
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 requirement.
B. 
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 or below the grading site, the Board of Supervisors, upon the recommendation of the Engineer, may direct the property owner to take whatever remedial steps are deemed necessary to restore the grading area to a safe condition and to do so within a reasonable period of time.
C. 
If after such notification the property owner has not made the necessary repairs within the allotted time, the Board of Supervisors may direct Township employees to make the required repairs, and the costs thereof shall be borne by the property owner by a lien filed as provided by law.

§ 135-16 General requirements.

A. 
The top or bottom edge of slopes shall be at least three feet from adjacent property lines or street right-of-way lines to permit the normal rounding of the edge without encroaching on the abutting property or street.
B. 
At the top of all cut or fill slopes which are in excess of 1 1/2 horizontal to one vertical and six or more feet in total height, a fence not less than four feet in height and of a design meeting Township standards shall be erected.
C. 
The owner of the property being graded shall take all precautions necessary to prevent the erosion of materials from the grading operation onto properties of others. Said owner shall also be responsible for the removal of silt, debris or other materials which wash onto other properties as a result of the grading work on the said owner's property.
D. 
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 work shall be preserved.

§ 135-17 Violations and penalties.

A. 
No person shall carry out, construct, enlarge, alter, repair or maintain any grading, excavation or fill or cause or permit the same to be done contrary to or in violation of any provision of this chapter.
B. 
When written notice of violation of any of the provisions of this chapter has been served by the Zoning Officer or any other person, such violation shall be discontinued immediately.
C. 
Any person who violates or permits a violation of this chapter shall, upon conviction in a summary proceeding brought before a Magisterial District Judge under the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, be guilty of a summary offense and shall be punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000, plus costs of prosecution. In default of payment thereof, the defendant may be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 90 days. Each day or portion thereof that such violation continues or is permitted to continue shall constitute a separate offense, and each section of this chapter that is violated shall also constitute a separate offense.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I).

§ 135-18 Additional remedies.

In case any work is performed by any person in violation of any of the provisions of this chapter, the Board of Supervisors of the Township, in addition to other remedies, may institute in the name of the Township any appropriate action or proceeding, whether by legal process or otherwise, to prevent such unlawful work and to restrain or abate such violation.

§ 135-19 Commonwealth regulations.

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to relieve an applicant of the responsibility of complying with all applicable regulations of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and/or other commonwealth agencies, including but no limited to acquiring any and all permits required by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and/or other commonwealth agencies.