Township of Upper Gwynedd, PA
Montgomery County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents

§ 103-2.1 Applicability of minimum standards.

The following minimum standards shall apply for all construction and development proposed within any identified floodplain area.

§ 103-3 Residential structures.

A. 
In AE Zones, any new construction or substantial improvement shall have the lowest floor (including basement) elevated up to, or above, the regulatory flood elevation.
B. 
In A Zones, where there are no base flood elevations specified on the FIRM, any new construction or substantial improvement shall have the lowest floor (including basement) elevated up to, or above, the regulatory flood elevation determined in accordance with Chapter 195, § 195-24D(2)(d).
C. 
The design and construction standards and specifications contained in the 2009 International Building Code (IBC) and in the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC), or the most recent revisions thereof, and ASCE 24 and 34 Pa. Code (Chapters 401 to 405, as amended) shall be utilized where they are more restrictive.
D. 
Within any floodway area/district [See § 195-24D(2)(a).], no new construction or development shall be allowed unless a permit is obtained from the Department of Environmental Protection regional office.
E. 
Within any AE Area/District without floodway [See § 195-24D(2)(c).], no new construction or development shall be located within the area measured 50 feet landward from the top-of-bank of any watercourse unless a permit is obtained from the Department of Environmental Protection regional office.
F. 
Floodproofing of residential buildings is not permitted.

§ 103-4 Nonresidential structures.

A. 
In AE Zones, any new construction or substantial improvement of a nonresidential structure shall have the lowest floor (including basement) elevated up to, or above, the regulatory flood elevation or be designed and constructed so that the space enclosed below the regulatory flood elevation:
(1) 
Is floodproofed so that the structure is watertight with walls substantially impermeable to the passage of water; and
(2) 
Has structural components with the capability of resisting hydrostatic and hydrodynamic loads and effects of buoyancy:
B. 
In A Zones, where no base flood elevations are specified on the FIRM, any new construction or substantial improvement shall have the lowest floor (including basement) elevated or completely floodproofed up to, or above, the regulatory flood elevation determined in accordance with § 195-24D(2)(d) of Chapter 195, Zoning.
C. 
Any nonresidential structure, or part thereof, made watertight below the regulatory flood elevation shall be floodproofed in accordance with the W1 or W2 space classification standards contained in the publication entitled "Flood-Proofing Regulations" published by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (June 1972, as amended March 1992) or with some other equivalent standard. All plans and specifications for such floodproofing shall be accompanied by a statement certified by a registered professional engineer or architect, which states that the proposed design and methods of construction are in conformance with the above-referenced standards.
D. 
The design and construction standards and specifications contained in the 2009 International Building Code (IBC) and in the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC), or the most recent revisions thereof, and ASCE 24 and 34 Pa. Code (Chapters 401 to 405, as amended) shall be utilized where they are more restrictive.
E. 
Within any floodway area/district [See § 195-24D(2)(a).], no new construction or development shall be allowed unless a permit is obtained from the Department of Environmental Protection regional office.
F. 
Within any AE Area/District without floodway [(See § 195-24D(2)(c).], no new construction or development shall be located within the area measured 50 feet landward from the top-of-bank of any watercourse unless a permit is obtained from the Department of Environmental Protection regional office.
G. 
Floodproofing techniques that require human intervention are not permitted. "Human intervention" means that a person has to take some action before the floodwater arrives, such as turn a valve, close an opening or switch on a pump.

§ 103-5 Space below lowest floor.

A. 
Fully enclosed space below the lowest floor (excluding basements), which will be used solely for the parking of a vehicle, building access, or incidental storage in an area other than a basement, shall be designed and constructed to allow for the automatic entry and exit of floodwaters for the purpose of equalizing hydrostatic forces on exterior walls. The term "fully enclosed space" also includes crawl spaces.
B. 
Designs for meeting this requirement must either be certified by a registered professional engineer or architect or meet or exceed the following minimum criteria:
(1) 
A minimum of two openings having a net total area of not less than one square inch for every square foot of enclosed space;
(2) 
The bottom of all openings shall be no higher than one foot above grade; and
(3) 
Openings may be equipped with screens, louvers or other coverings or devices, provided that they permit the automatic entry and exit of floodwaters.

§ 103-6 Historic structures.

Historic structures undergoing repair or rehabilitation that would constitute a substantial improvement as defined in this chapter must comply with all ordinance requirements that do not preclude the structure's continued designation as a historic structure. Documentation that a specific ordinance requirement will cause removal of the structure from the National Register of Historic Places or the State Inventory of Historic Places must be obtained from the Secretary of the Interior or the State Historic Preservation Officer. Any exemption from ordinance requirements will be the minimum necessary to preserve the historic character and design of the structure.

§ 103-7 Existing structures.

A. 
The provisions of this chapter do not require any changes or improvements to be made to lawfully existing structures. However, when an improvement is made to any existing structure, the following provisions shall apply.
B. 
The following provisions shall apply whenever any improvement is made to an existing structure located within any identified floodplain area:
(1) 
No expansion or enlargement of an existing structure shall be allowed within any floodway area/district that would cause any increase in BFE.
(2) 
No expansion or enlargement of an existing structure shall be allowed within an AE Area/District without floodway that would, together with all other existing and anticipated development, increase the BFE more than one foot at any point.
(3) 
Any modification, alteration, reconstruction or improvement of any kind to an existing structure to an extent or amount of 50% or more of its market value shall constitute a substantial improvement and shall be undertaken only in full compliance with the provisions of this chapter.
(4) 
The above activity shall also address the requirements of 34 Pa. Code, as amended, and the 2009 IBC and the 2009 IRC.
(5) 
Any modification, alteration, reconstruction or improvement of any kind to an existing structure to an extent or amount of less than 50% of its market value shall be elevated and/or floodproofed to the greatest extent possible.
(6) 
Any modification, alteration, reconstruction or improvement of any kind that meets the definition of "repetitive loss" shall be undertaken only in full compliance with the provisions of this chapter.

§ 103-8 Accessory structures.

All structures located in identified floodplain areas, including accessory structures, will have to be elevated or floodproofed as established in Chapter 103, Article II.

§ 103-9 Rebuilding of destroyed structures.

Structures located within the Floodplain Conservation District may be rebuilt if destroyed by fire or other catastrophe, provided that the reconstruction shall be in compliance with the floodproofing or elevation requirements of this chapter and, if located in the floodway, shall not result in an increase in the base flood elevation.

§ 103-10 Use of fill.

If fill is used, it shall:
A. 
Extend laterally at least 15 feet beyond the building line from all points.
B. 
Fill shall consist of soil or rock materials only. Sanitary landfills shall not be permitted.
C. 
Fill material shall be compacted to provide the necessary stability and resistance to erosion, scouring or settling.
D. 
Fill slopes shall be no steeper than one vertical on two horizontal, unless substantiating data justifying steeper slopes is submitted to and approved by the Township Engineer or Floodplain Administrator.
E. 
Fill shall be used only to the extent to which it does not adversely affect adjacent properties.

§ 103-11 Placement of buildings on lots.

All buildings and structures shall be designed, located and constructed so as to offer the minimum obstruction to the flow of water and shall be designed to have a minimum effect upon the flow and height of floodwater.

§ 103-12 Anchoring.

A. 
All buildings and structures shall be firmly anchored in accordance with accepted engineering practices to prevent flotation, collapse or other movement, thus reducing the threat to life and property and decreasing the possibility of the blockage of bridge openings and other restricted sections of the watercourse.
B. 
All air ducts, large pipes and storage tanks and other similar objects or components located at or below the base flood elevation shall be firmly anchored in accordance with accepted engineering practices to prevent flotation.

§ 103-13 Floors, walls and ceilings.

Where located at or below the regulatory flood elevation:
A. 
Wood flooring shall be installed to accommodate a lateral expansion of the flooring, perpendicular to the flooring grain, without incurring structural damage to the building.
B. 
Plywood shall be of an exterior or marine grade and of a water-resistant or waterproof variety.
C. 
Walls and ceilings in nonresidential structures shall be designed and constructed of materials that are water-resistant and have sufficient wet strength and be so installed as to survive inundation.
D. 
Window frames, door frames, door jambs and other components shall be made of metal or other water-resistant material.

§ 103-14 Electrical systems.

A. 
All electric water heaters, electric furnaces, electric air-conditioning and ventilating systems and other electrical equipment or apparatus shall be permitted only at elevations above the base flood elevation.
B. 
No electrical distribution panels shall be allowed at an elevation less than three feet above the base flood elevation.
C. 
Separate electrical circuits shall serve lower levels and shall be dropped from above.

§ 103-15 Plumbing.

A. 
Water heaters, furnaces, air-conditioning and ventilating units and other electrical, mechanical or utility equipment or apparatus shall be permitted only at elevations above the regulatory flood elevation.
B. 
All gas and oil supply systems shall be designed to prevent the infiltration of floodwaters into the systems and discharges from the systems into floodwaters. Additional provisions shall be made for the drainage of these systems in the event that floodwater infiltration occurs.
C. 
On-site sewage disposal systems are prohibited in a floodplain.

§ 103-16 Paints and adhesives.

Where located at or below the regulatory flood elevation:
A. 
Adhesives shall have a bonding strength that is unaffected by inundation (i.e., marine or water-resistant quality).
B. 
All wooden components (doors, trim, cabinets, etc.) shall be sealed with a marine or water-resistant quality or similar product.
C. 
Paints or other finishes shall be capable of surviving inundation (i.e., marine or water-resistant quality).

§ 103-17 Storage.

No materials that are buoyant, flammable, explosive or, in time of flooding, could be injurious to human, animal or plant life and not listed in § 195-24E(3)(g) of Chapter 195, Zoning, shall be stored below the regulatory flood elevation.

§ 103-18 Manufactured homes.

Where permitted (by variance) within any identified floodplain area:
A. 
All manufactured homes, and any additions thereto, shall be anchored to resist flotation, collapse or lateral movement by providing over-the-top and frame ties to ground anchors in accordance with the following:
(1) 
Over-the-top ties shall be provided at each of the four corners of the manufactured home, with two additional ties per side at intermediate locations for units 50 feet or more in length, and one additional tie per side for units less than 50 feet in length.
(2) 
Frame ties shall be provided at each corner of the manufactured home, with five additional ties per side at intermediate locations for units 50 feet or more in length, and four additional ties per side for units less than 50 feet in length.
(3) 
All components of the anchoring system shall be capable of carrying a force of 4,800 pounds and resisting a minimum wind velocity of 90 miles per hour.
B. 
All manufactured homes, and any additions thereto, shall also be elevated in accordance with the following requirements:
(1) 
The stands or lots shall be elevated on compacted fill or on pilings so that the lowest floor of the manufactured home will be at least 1 1/2 feet above the base flood elevation.
(2) 
Adequate surface drainage is provided, as required in the Upper Gwynedd Township Land Subdivision Regulations of May 27, 1963, as amended.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Former Chapter A205, Subdivision Regulations, approved 5-27-1963 in accordance with the provisions of Ord. No. 60-7, as amended, was repealed 7-28-1986 by Ord. No. 86-12. For current provisions, see Ch. 168, Subdivision and Land Development.
(3) 
Adequate access for a hauler is provided.
(4) 
Where pilings are used for elevation, the lots shall be large enough to permit steps; piling foundations shall be placed in stable soil no more than 10 feet apart; reinforcement shall be provided for pilings that will extend for six feet or more above the ground level.
C. 
All manufactured homes shall be placed on a permanent foundation and shall have all ductwork and utilities, including HVAC/heat pump, elevated to the regulatory flood elevation.
D. 
An evacuation plan indicating alternate vehicular access and escape routes shall be filed with the appropriate disaster preparedness authorities for mobile home subdivisions.
E. 
Placement of a manufactured home on a lot shall require a building permit under this chapter.
F. 
Installation of manufactured homes shall be done in accordance with the manufacturers' installation instructions as provided by the manufacturer. Where the applicant cannot provide the above information, the requirements of Appendix E of the 2009 International Residential Building Code or the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development's "Permanent Foundations for Manufactured Housing," 1984 Edition, draft or latest revision thereto, and 34 Pa. Code Chapters 401 to 405 shall apply.
G. 
Consideration shall be given to the installation requirements of the 2009 IBC and the 2009 IRC, or the most recent revisions thereto, and 34 Pa. Code, as amended, where appropriate and/or applicable to units where the manufacturers' standards for anchoring cannot be provided or were not established for the proposed unit(s)' installation.

§ 103-19 Special requirements for recreational vehicles.

Within any identified floodplain area, recreational vehicles shall be prohibited. If a variance is obtained in accordance with the criteria in Article VIII,[1] then the following provisions apply:
A. 
Recreational vehicles in Zones A and AE must either:
(1) 
Be on the site for fewer than 180 consecutive days; and
(2) 
Be fully licensed and ready for highway use; or
(3) 
Meet the permit requirements for manufactured homes in § 103-18.
[1]
Editor's Note: So in original; see also Chapter 195, § 195-24G.

§ 103-20 Drainage facilities.

Storm drainage facilities shall be designed to convey the flow of stormwater runoff in a safe and efficient manner. The system shall ensure proper drainage along streets and provide positive drainage away from buildings. The system shall also be designed to prevent the discharge of excess runoff onto adjacent properties.

§ 103-21 Water and sanitary sewer facilities and systems.

A. 
All new or replacement water supply and sanitary sewer facilities and systems shall be located, designed and constructed to minimize or eliminate flood damages and the infiltration of floodwaters.
B. 
Sanitary sewer facilities and systems shall be designed to prevent the discharge of untreated sewage into floodwaters.
C. 
No part of any on-site sewage system shall be located within any identified floodplain area except in strict compliance with all state and local regulations for such systems. If any such system is permitted, it shall be located so as to avoid impairment to it or contamination from it during a flood.
D. 
The design and construction provisions of the UCC and FEMA No. 348, "Protecting Building Utilities From Flood Damages," and the International Private Sewage Disposal Code shall be utilized.

§ 103-22 Other utilities.

All other utilities such as gas lines, electrical and telephone systems shall be located, elevated (where possible) and constructed to minimize the chance of impairment during a flood.

§ 103-23 Streets.

The finished elevation of all new streets shall be no more than one foot below the regulatory flood elevation.

§ 103-24 Uniform Construction Code coordination.

The standards and specifications contained in 34 Pa. Code (Chapters 401 to 405), as amended, and not limited to the following provisions, shall apply to the above and other sections and subsections of this chapter to the extent that they are more restrictive and supplement the requirements of this chapter:
A. 
International Building Code (IBC) 2009, or the latest edition thereof: Sections 801, 1202, 1403, 1603, 1605, 1612, 3402, and Appendix G.
B. 
International Residential Building Code (IRC) 2009, or the latest edition thereof: Sections R104, R105, R109, R323, Appendix AE101, Appendix E and Appendix J.

§ 103-25 Relief from strict compliance.

A. 
If compliance with the elevation or floodproofing requirements stated in this chapter would result in an exceptional hardship for a prospective builder, developer or landowner, the Board of Commissioners may, upon request, grant relief from the strict application of the requirement.
B. 
Relief issued shall conform to the following general guidelines:
(1) 
Any new residential structure or substantial improvement of a residential structure which cannot be elevated to 1 1/2 feet above the base flood elevation shall be elevated to the maximum extent possible and floodproofed for the remaining height to the above specified level in accordance with the requirements established for the W1 through W4 classes in the Office of the Chief of Engineers, United States Army, Publication Number EP 1165-2-314, June 1972, and as subsequently amended.
(2) 
Any modification, alteration, reconstruction or improvement of any kind to an existing residential structure to an extent or amount of less than 50% of its market value, which cannot be elevated and/or floodproofed to the base flood elevation, shall be elevated to the maximum extent possible and floodproofed for the remaining height to the base flood elevation in accordance with the requirements established for the W3 and W4 classes in the publication referenced in § 103-25B(1).
(3) 
Any new nonresidential structure or substantial improvement of a nonresidential structure which cannot be elevated or floodproofed to the required specifications shall be elevated to the maximum extent possible and floodproofed for the remaining height to at least one foot above the base flood elevation or floodproofed to at least one foot above the base flood elevation. The floodproofing measures shall satisfy the requirements of the W3 and W4 classes in the publication referenced in § 103-25B(1).
(4) 
Any modification, alteration, reconstruction or improvement of any kind to an existing nonresidential structure to an extent or amount of less than 50% of its market value, which cannot be elevated or floodproofed to the base flood elevation, shall be elevated to the maximum extent possible and floodproofed for the remaining height to the base flood elevation or floodproofed to the base flood elevation. The floodproofing measures shall satisfy the requirements of the W3 and W4 classes in the publication referenced in § 103-25B(1).
C. 
Requests for relief from the strict application of the provisions of this chapter may be granted by the Township in accordance with the following procedures and criteria.
(1) 
No relief shall be granted for any construction, development, use or activity within any floodway that would cause any increase in the base flood elevation.
(2) 
If granted, relief shall involve only the least modification necessary.
(3) 
In granting relief, the Township may attach whatever reasonable conditions and safeguards it considers necessary in order to protect the public health, safety and welfare and to achieve the objectives of this chapter.
(4) 
Whenever a relief is granted, the Township shall notify the applicant in writing that:
(a) 
The granting of relief may result in increased premium rates for flood insurance.
(b) 
Such relief may increase the risks to life and property.
(5) 
In reviewing any request for relief, the Township shall consider, but not be limited to, the following:
(a) 
That there is good and sufficient cause.
(b) 
That failure to grant the relief would result in exceptional hardship to the applicant.
(c) 
That the granting of the relief will not result in any unacceptable or prohibited increased flood heights, additional threats to public safety, extraordinary public expense, create nuisances, cause fraud on or victimization of the public or conflict with any other applicable local or state ordinances and regulations.
(6) 
A complete record of all requests for relief and related actions shall be maintained by the Township. In addition, a report of all variances granted during the year shall be included in the annual report to the Federal Insurance Administration.
D. 
Notwithstanding any of the above, however, all structures shall be designed and constructed so as to have the capability of resisting the one-percent-annual-chance flood.