[Ord. 2009-4, 1/20/2009, § 1; as amended by A.O.]
This part shall be known and may be cited as the "Grading Control Ordinance," implanting 25 Pa. Code, Chapter 102, "Erosion Control," as well as provisions of Act 167, Stormwater Management Act, 32 P.S. § 680.1 et seq., Article V of the MPC, 53 P.S. § 10501 et seq., and the Second Class Township Code, 53 P.S. § 65101 et seq.
[Ord. 2009-4, 1/20/2009, § 2]
The purposes of this part are to regulate the modification of the natural terrain, the alteration of drainage, and to provide for certain erosion and sediment control measures within the Township to assure and safeguard health, safety, ecology, and the general welfare in the Township.
[Ord. 2009-4, 1/20/2009, § 3]
From and after the effective date of this part, any subdivision and/or land development approved under the Township's Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance [Chapter 22] and/or Zoning Ordinance [Chapter 27], any activity regulated by the Solebury Township Stormwater Management Ordinance [Chapter 23], or any activity requiring a permit under § 9-105, Subsection 1, herein, shall be in conformity with this part. In the event of a conflict between this part and any other statute, ordinance or regulation, the strictest statute, ordinance, or regulation shall take precedence.
[Ord. 2009-4, 1/20/2009, § 4]
Unless specifically defined below, words and phrases used in this part shall be interpreted to have common English usage, to give effect to the purposes set forth in § 9-102 above, and to provide reasonable application of this part. As used in this part, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context:
- BMP (BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICE)
- Activities, facilities, measures or procedures used to manage stormwater impacts from land development, to protect and maintain water quality and groundwater recharge and to otherwise meet the purposes of this part, to including, but not limited to, infiltration, filter strips, low impact design, bioretention, wet ponds, permeable paving, grassed swales, forested buffers, sand filters, and detention basins.
- Any man-made change to improved or unimproved real estate including, but not limited to, the construction or placement of buildings or other structures, mobile homes, streets and other paving utilities, mining, dredging, filling, grading, excavation, or drilling operations, and the subdivision of land.
- EARTH DISTURBANCE
- A construction or other human activity which disturbs and destabilizes the surface of the land including, but not limited to, clearing and grubbing, grading, excavations, embankments, land development, road maintenance, and the moving, depositing, stockpiling or storing of soil, rock or earth materials.
- Process by which the surface of land, including channels, is worn away by water, wind or chemical action.
- EROSION AND SEDIMENT POLLUTION CONTROL (E&S) PLAN
- A site-specific plan identifying the BMPs to minimize accelerated erosion and sedimentation, pursuant to 25 Pa. Code, Chapter 102.
- EXISTING GRADE
- Vertical elevation of the ground surface prior to earthmoving.
- FINISHED GRADE
- Final vertical elevation of the ground after development.
- Slope of a street, other public way, land area, drainage facility, or pipe specified in percent.
- GRADING PERMIT
- The permit required to be obtained prior to earth disturbance in connection with the conduct of activities regulated by this part.
- HIGH TUNNEL
- A structure that meets the requirements of 35 P.S. §§ 680.4
and 680.11(c).[Added by Ord. No. 2019-003, 3/19/2019]
- LIMIT OF DISTURBANCE
- The perimeter of earth disturbance on site.
- NATURAL GROUND SURFACE
- Ground surface in its original state before any earth disturbance.
- All contiguous land under single and separate ownership.
- PERMANENT VEGETATION
- Ground cover establishing a 75% vegetated cover to control soil erosion and to survive severe weather conditions.
- A grading permit.
- Any person to whom a grading permit is issued.
- Any individual, association, trust, partnership or corporation, including any members, directors, officers, employees, partners or principals thereof. Whenever used in any clause prescribing and imposing a penalty, person includes the members, trustees, partners, directors, officers, managers and supervisors, or any of them, of partnerships, associations, corporations or other form of entity.
- A parcel or parcels of land intended to have one or more buildings or intended to be subdivided into two or more lots.
- The face of embankment or cut section; any ground whose surface makes an angle with the plane of the horizon. Slopes are expressed in a percentage based upon vertical distance in feet per 100 feet of horizontal distance.
- Any activity which removes the vegetative surface cover, including tree removal; and the clearing and storage or removal of topsoil.
- An ephemeral, intermittent or perennial stream of water, river, brook, creek, or swale identified on USGS or SCS mapping; and/or delineated waters of the commonwealth.
[Ord. 2009-4, 1/20/2009, § 5]
The following activities require a grading permit:
Modifying, disturbing, blocking, diverting or otherwise adversely affecting the natural flow of surface water within an ephemeral, intermittent, or perennial stream or, in a manner to impact an adjoining parcel.
Construction, erection, or installation of any drainage dam or obstruction affecting the drainage of any parcel.
Earth disturbance in excess of 2,000 square feet.
The following activities do not require a grading permit:
Use of land for gardening for home consumption.
Agricultural activity when operated in accordance with a conservation plan, nutrient management plan or erosion and sedimentation control plan approved by the Bucks County Conservation District. Construction of new and/or expansion of existing buildings, structures, and/or impervious surfaces (including associated earth disturbance) shall be subject to the provisions of this chapter, unless the structure qualifies as a "high tunnel" under 35 P.S. §§ 680.4 and 680.11(c), subject to confirmation by the Township Engineer that the criteria of the aforementioned statutory provisions are met. Such high tunnels shall comply with the provisions of this chapter identified in § 9-116, including the modified requirements set forth in that section.
[Amended by Ord. No. 2019-003, 3/19/2019]
Forest management operations following the Department of Environmental Protection's management practices contained in its publication Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control Guidelines for Forestry and operating under an E&S plan approved by the Bucks County Conservation District which have a zoning permit approval by the Township.
Public road replacement paving, repaving and/or maintenance.
Any emergency activity immediately necessary for the protection of life, property, or natural resources.
Application for Grading Permit.
Grading permits shall be issued in the name of the owner of the property who must apply for, and sign, the permit application.
No person, firm, or corporation shall engage in an activity requiring a grading permit unless a grading permit has been obtained by the owner of the property.
The grading permit application shall be accompanied by a fee and review escrow established by resolution of the Board of Supervisors and included in the Township's Schedule of Fees.
All applications must be accompanied by an erosion and sedimentation control plan in accordance with § 9-106 of this part.
Not more than one grading permit will be issued for a site at any one time. Active grading permits may be amended by the permittee (property owner) if additional earth disturbance is proposed.
Additional improvements or grading not shown on the approved grading permit plan must be identified on a revised grading permit plan approved by the Township prior to installation/construction.
Issuance of Permits. Upon the approval of all required plans and/or applications by the appropriate Township official/employee, the Township shall issue the grading permit(s). No grading permit shall be issued until all the plans and applications required to be submitted by this part for all proposed earthmoving or stripping activities have been reviewed and found satisfactory by the appropriate Township official/employee as set forth in this part.
Standards for Issuance of Grading Permit.
Notwithstanding any provision of this part or any condition of the grading permit, the permittee is responsible for the prevention of damage to other people or property that may be affected by the earthmoving or stripping activity.
No person, firm or corporation shall modify, cut, fill, excavate, pave, strip, grade, or regrade land in any manner that endangers or damages any adjoining street, alley, or any other public or private property. Any earth disturbance conducted adjacent to a property or street line shall support physical damage or personal injury that might result.
No person, firm, or corporation shall deposit, place, throw, or cause to be deposited, placed or thrown any debris or other material in any drainage structure or watercourse.
No person, firm, or corporation shall fail to maintain in adequate working order any drainage facility on the site. All drainage ditches, culverts, drain pipes, drainage structures, and watercourses shall be kept open and free-flowing at all times.
The owner of any property upon which any work is performed pursuant to a grading permit granted under this part shall continuously maintain and repair all graded surfaces, erosion and sediment control devices, retaining walls, drainage structures, and other protective devices, plantings and ground cover, installed or completed in accordance with the approved plan.
All trees in an area of extreme grade change, as determined by the Township, shall be protected with suitable tree wells, unless the necessity for removal is established. Precautions shall be taken to prevent the unnecessary removal of trees. Any grading around trees or any removal of trees must comply with the Township's Zoning Ordinance [Chapter 27] and Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance [Chapter 22].
In connection with site grading for roads, driveways, building areas or other site improvements, the lateral extent of cut or fill areas shall not be more than 30 feet beyond the top of slope in fills or the toe of slope in cuts or extend closer than 75 square feet to the bank of any watercourse, lake, pond, or wetland.
All permits shall require the permittee to:
Notify the Township Engineer a minimum of 48 hours prior to commencement of any earth disturbance.
Obtain permission from the Township Engineer and where applicable, Bucks County Conservation District, prior to modifying the erosion and sedimentation control plan.
Install and maintain all required erosion and sediment control measures identified on the approved erosion and sedimentation control plan.
Allow the Township official/employee and Township Engineer to enter the site for the purpose of inspecting compliance with the grading permit.
Provide, until the problem is corrected, additional stabilizing measures on sites that, in the judgment of the Township Engineer, are found to be eroding excessively within one year of completion of construction activity.
Be responsible to ensure all erosion and sedimentation control measures are maintained in accordance with the inspection schedule outlined on the approved erosion and sedimentation control plan. The permitee shall determine the condition and need for replacement or repair of in-place control measures, the overall effectiveness of the plan, and the need for additional control measures.
[Ord. 2009-4, 1/20/2009, § 6]
An erosion and sedimentation (E&S) control plan prepared pursuant to requirements of the Clean Streams Law, 35 P.S. § 691.1 et seq., and 25 Pa. Code, Chapter 102, shall be submitted with all grading permit applications. The plan shall include a construction staging narrative indicating the sequence of earthmoving activities, and proposed erosion and sedimentation control procedures. Measures used to control erosion and reduce sedimentation during construction activities shall strictly conform to the standards and specifications of the Bucks County Conservation District (BCCD) and sequence of earthmoving activities. Verification of approval of the E&S plan must be received in writing from the BCCD.
It shall be the responsibility of the property owner and each person, corporation, or other entity performing grading and/or building activities to install and maintain erosion and sedimentation controls in accordance with the approved E&S plan until the site is stabilized. In the event any mud and/or debris is transported from the site onto a public roadway, the mud and/or debris shall be immediately removed and the roadway swept and/or washed as deemed necessary by the Township.
[Ord. 2009-4, 1/20/2009, § 7]
All applications for a grading permit shall be accompanied by a grading plan providing the following information:
A site plan (plot plan) drawn at a scale of not less than one inch equals 50 feet and contour intervals of no more than two feet prepared by a registered professional land surveyor, landscape architect, or engineer, licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The site plan shall include all of the following located within 75 feet of the limits of disturbance:
Lot lines, monuments/pins/markers, and setback lines.
Existing and proposed contours; existing vegetation; soil types and conditions, watercourses; affected watersheds; and other natural features.
Erosion and sedimentation control measures, high points, drainage arrows, drainage swales, and the limits of disturbance.
First floor and garage elevations.
Existing and proposed building/structure locations, building/structure horizontal dimensions, wells, wastewater treatment systems, sanitary laterals, water supply pipes, storm sewers, inlets, manholes, basement drains, sump pump drains, utility boxes, walls, fences, berms, underground utilities, and all other man-made structures/features.
Ground elevations at each corner of each building.
All earthmoving and stripping changes to the site, including cuts, fills, structures, paving, utilities, vegetation and topsoil proposed to be stripped, and cut/fill balance.
Street trees and existing trees to be removed including genus, species, and caliper.
Driveway openings and slopes, driveway turnarounds and parking areas, depressed curb length, and driveway configurations from garage or parking area to street.
Sidewalk and bikeway locations.
Easement, covenants, equitable servitudes, and deed restrictions.
The site plan shall also include the following:
Seal, signature and of name/address of responsible engineer, surveyor, or landscape architect.
Name and address of permitee (property owner).
Tax Map parcel number and acreage.
Location of site (address).
Subdivision name (where applicable).
Location map showing relationship of the site to adjoining properties. Scale of the location maps shall be one inch equals 800 feet.
Date of preparation of the plan, a descriptive list of revisions to the plan, and the revision dates.
Deed restriction information (where applicable).
A statement, signed and sealed by a registered professional land surveyor, landscape architect, or engineer, licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania indicating that, to the best of his/her knowledge and belief, the proposed grading activities shall not significantly increase stormwater runoff to, and/or otherwise adversely impact, downstream properties except as may be part of an approved stormwater runoff collection and management plan.
[Ord. 2009-4, 1/20/2009, § 8]
All erosion and sedimentation control measures shall be installed in accordance with the approved E&S plan prior to any earthmoving and/or stripping activities.
No excavation or fill shall be made with a slope steeper than four horizontal to one vertical, except under the following conditions:
The material is sufficiently stable to sustain a steeper slope. A sealed, written statement to that effect from an engineer licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania shall be submitted to the Township. The statement shall affirm that the site has been inspected and the deviation from the slope restriction shall not result in injury to persons or damage to property. A detail of the treatment of the slope (proposed grade, seeding, erosion protection, etc.) shall be submitted with the application.
A concrete, masonry, or other approved retaining wall is designed and constructed in accordance with acceptable engineering practice to support the slope of the excavation or fill. Design plans bearing the signature and seal of the responsible licensed professional engineer or architect shall be submitted for Township records.
Edges of slopes shall be a minimum of five feet from property lines, ultimate/future right-of-way lines of streets, and easements to permit the normal rounding of the edge without encroachment on the abutting property, right-of-way, or easement.
All lots, tracts, or parcels shall be graded at a minimum slope of 2% to provide positive drainage away from buildings.
Stormwater shall not pond, except where (detention basins, swales, etc.) proposed in accordance with the stormwater management plan for the site.
In no case shall grading be completed in such a manner as to divert water onto adjacent property unless part of a stormwater management plan and an easement is obtained from the property owner.
Each person, corporation, or other entity that makes any surface changes to the site shall be required to collect on-site surface runoff and control it to a point of discharge into the drainage area watercourse, stormwater easement, or storm sewer system.
No grading equipment shall be permitted to be loaded, unloaded, or stored on a public street. No grading equipment shall be permitted to travel on or across a public street unless licensed for operation on public thoroughfares.
The construction of underground utility lines involving installation, maintenance or repair that disturbs more than 1,000 square feet shall be subject to the following criteria:
No more than 500 feet of trench is to be opened at one time.
Where consistent with safety and space considerations, excavated material is to be placed on the uphill side of trenches.
Trench dewatering devices shall discharge in a manner that will not adversely affect flowing streams, drainage systems or off-site property.
Before granting final occupancy permits for buildings, building lots shall be finish graded and stabilized with permanent groundcover. A temporary occupancy permit may be issued by the Township if it is not possible to establish lawns due to the season of the year. Prior to issuance of the temporary occupancy permit, Township may require extra mulching, installation of silt barriers, and/or construction of temporary sedimentation basins to control excess runoff, in addition to escrow to secure establishment of ground cover.
First Floor Certifications. Construction of any structure requiring a grading plan under this part shall not continue past the foundation stage until the owner/builder has submitted certification that the first floor and garage floor elevations of the proposed structure conform to the plans submitted with the grading permit application. The certification shall be submitted to the Township and shall be signed and sealed by the responsible registered professional land surveyor, landscape architect, or engineer, licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
[Ord. 2009-4, 1/20/2009, § 9]
All plans prepared in conjunction with a grading permit application shall conform to the approved subdivision and/or land development plan for the site (where applicable).
Plans prepared in conjunction with an application for a grading permit shall be referred by the Township to the Township Engineer for review.
[Ord. 2009-4, 1/20/2009, § 10]
The Township Engineer shall make inspections as hereinafter required to verify compliance with the approved grading plan and erosion and sedimentation control plan. All plans, reports, and schedules required by and approved under this part shall be maintained by the applicant at the site during the progress of the work.
Prior to commencing stripping, clearing and/or grading, the permittee shall cause the area where stripping, clearing and grading is proposed to be staked out so the disturbed area conforms with the approved grading plan. In the event the staked out area is larger or in a substantially different location from the area depicted on the grading plan, the permittee, prior to the commencement of stripping, clearing or grading, shall file an amended application in accordance with the procedures set forth herein for the grading area which is in fact proposed. The permittee shall not strip, clear or grade any area not designated on the grading plan approved by the Township.
A final inspection shall be conducted by the Township Engineer to certify compliance with this part. Satisfactory compliance with this part shall be necessary before issuance of a use and occupancy permit.
Costs of inspections required or permitted hereunder shall be paid from fees collected by the Township in accordance with the established schedule of fees.
[Ord. 2009-4, 1/20/2009, § 11]
The permittee shall not be relieved of responsibility for damage to persons or property otherwise imposed by law, and the Township or its officials will not be made liable for this damage, by:
The issuance of a grading permit in accordance with this part or other applicable laws.
Compliance with the provisions of a permit or with conditions attached to it.
Failure of Township officials to observe or recognize hazardous or unsightly conditions.
Failure of Township officials to deny or to recommend denial of a permit.
Exceptions from the requirements of this part.
[Ord. 2009-4, 1/20/2009, § 12]
Every grading permit issued hereunder shall expire at the end of six months from the date of issuance if work has not commenced. Where work has commenced within six months of permit issuance, the grading permit shall remain valid for two years from the date of issuance. The permittee may, within 30 days prior to expiration of the grading permit, request an extension in writing to the Township, setting forth therein the reasons for the requested extension. If, at the discretion of the Township, an extension is warranted, the Township may grant additional time for completion of work.
[Ord. 2009-4, 1/20/2009, § 13]
Amendments of the grading plan shall be submitted to the Township and shall be processed and approved or disapproved in the same manner as the original plans. Field modifications of a minor nature may be authorized by the Township Engineer.
Where the Township Engineer determines that storm damage may result from grading at a site where work is authorized by a grading permit, work may be ordered by the Township to be stopped and the permittee required to install temporary structures or take such other measures as may be necessary to protect adjoining property or public safety.
On a site with earth disturbance of at least one acre or where unusual site conditions prevail, and on all stream crossing projects, the Township Engineer may specify the time of start of grading and time of completion or may require that the operations be conducted in specific stages to ensure completion of protective measures prior to the advent of seasonal rains.
[Ord. 2009-4, 1/20/2009, § 14; as amended by A.O.]
Penalties. Any person, firm or corporation who shall violate any provision of this part, upon conviction thereof in an action brought before a magisterial district judge in the manner provided for the enforcement of summary offenses under the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than $50 nor more than $1,000 for the first offense, and not less than $150 nor more than $1,000 for each offense thereafter. If said fine is not paid and the project is not brought within compliance with the issued summons within 10 days after the issuance of the summons, then, upon issuance of a formal notice of violation and conviction thereof, the person, firm or corporation violating any provision of this part shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $1,000, plus all court costs, including reasonable attorneys fees incurred as a result of the prosecution and, in default of payment of said fine and costs, to a term of imprisonment not to exceed 90 days. Each day that a violation of this part continues or each section of this part which shall be found to have been violated shall constitute a separate offense.
Remedy for Violation. In addition to the penalties as set forth in Subsection 1 above, any property subjected to earthmoving or stripping activities performed in violation of this part shall be restored to its previous condition, including replacement of excavated earth, removal of illegally placed fill, and restoration of grades and planting. In order to enforce this section, the Township Solicitor may seek injunctive relief in accordance with the rules of civil procedure and the Pennsylvania MPC, 53 P.S. § 10101 et seq.
Revocation or Suspension of Permit. Any permit issued under this part, including those issued through approval of subdivision and land development plans, may be revoked or suspended by the Board of Supervisors, after notice to the permittee for:
Failure to carry out the erosion and sedimentation control measures described in the application and/or accompanying plans at the times specified in the erosion and sedimentation control plan's construction schedule or within any extension that may be granted by the Township.
Violation of any other condition of the grading permit.
Failure to carry out the erosion and sedimentation control measures described in the application and/or accompanying plans in a reasonable workmanlike manner.
Violation of any provision of this part or any other applicable law, ordinance, rule, or regulation relating to the earthmoving and/or stripping activities.
The existence of any condition or the doing of any acts constituting or creating a nuisance, hazard or endangering human life or the property of others, including, without limitation, the discharge of sediments from the site or the failure of the control to prevent accelerated erosion or waterborne sediment from leaving the site of construction.
Nonconforming Work. If at any stage of construction, the earthmoving and/or stripping activities do not conform to the grading permit; to the attached conditions; to the accompanying plans and specification, including modifications thereof; or for any violation of this part, a written notice to comply shall be given to the permittee. Such notice shall set forth the nature of corrections required and the time within which corrections shall be made.
Upon failure to comply within the time specified, the permittee shall be in violation of this part and shall be subject to the following penalties and sanctions:
The revocation of any zoning building permit issued to the offending permittee pursuant to the grading permit and accompanying plans.
A prohibition on the issuance of any further zoning building permits.
The above-referenced sanctions shall be specified in the notice to comply provided above. Any and all remedies are cumulative, and the exercise of one shall not prohibit the exercise of any other remedies contained in either this section, this part, or other applicable ordinances.
In the case of any paving, filling, stripping, grading or regarding; any disturbing, modifying, blocking or diverting the natural overland subsurface flow of stormwater; or any construction, erection and installation of any dam, ditch, culvert, drainpipe, bridge or any other structure or obstruction affecting the drainage of any parcel in violation of this part or any regulations made pursuant thereto, the proper Township authorities, in addition to other remedies provided by law, may institute any appropriate action or proceedings to prevent such unlawful activity; to restrain, correct or abate such violation; to prevent the use of the applicable premises; or to prevent any illegal act, conduct, business or use in or about such premises. In addition, upon the failure of any permittee to complete the control measures specified in the application, the Township may, after revoking such permit, proceed to complete such measures itself and recover the cost thereof from the permittee or its surety.
[Ord. 2009-4, 1/20/2009, § 15]
If compliance with this part imposes severe hardship upon the applicant (i.e., the applicant cannot develop the property as zoned), the applicant may apply to the Township for relief, which if granted, shall be the minimum necessary to permit reasonable use of the site. The Board of Supervisors may, in accordance with the following procedures, authorize exceptions to any of the requirements and regulations set forth in this part:
Application for any exception shall be made by written request of the applicant, stating fully the grounds of the request and facts relied upon the applicant. The written request shall be filed with the grading permit application.
[Added by Ord. No. 2019-003, 3/19/2019]
This section sets forth the modified requirements that high tunnels must comply with under this chapter. High tunnels are exempt from any provision of this chapter not identified below.
The following provisions of this chapter shall apply to high tunnels:
Section 9-105, Subsection 3A through C, E and F. A permit application for a high tunnel must also include a copy of all approved plans (such as a soil conservation plan, nutrient management plan, and/or agricultural erosion and sedimentation plan) for the high tunnel.
Section 9-105, Subsection 6A and D. Also, a condition of any grading permit issued for a high tunnel shall be that all measures required by the approved grading plan (including but not limited to practices required by the Storm Water Management Act) shall be installed in accordance with the approved grading plan prior to any earthmoving and/or stripping activities, and shall be maintained in accordance with the approved grading plan.
Section 9-107, Subsection 1A, except Section 9-107, Subsection 1A(1)(c). Also, the high tunnel grading plan shall:
Illustrate the location of practices included in approved plans (e.g., a soil conservation plan, nutrient management plan, and/or agricultural erosion and sedimentation plan) for the high tunnel; and
Demonstrate the high tunnel's compliance with the requirements of the Storm Water Management Act and illustrate the location of practices required by that law.