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Township of Lower Oxford, PA
Chester County
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[Ord. 3/1/1978, 3/1/1978, § 701]
1. 
Findings of Fact.
A. 
The flood hazard areas of Lower Oxford Township are subject to periodic inundation which results in loss of property, loss of life, damage to structures, injury to people, disruption of public and private activities and services, burdensome public expenditures for flood protection relief, and impairment of the tax base, all of which adversely affect the public health, safety and general welfare.
B. 
The foregoing flood losses are 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.
C. 
This Part 13 is based upon and is consistent with the objectives and the intent of the Comprehensive Plan of Lower Oxford Township.
2. 
Statement of Purpose. It is the purpose of this Part 13 to promote the public health, safety and general welfare and to minimize those losses described in Subsection 1 of this § 27-1300 by provisions designed to:
A. 
Regulate or prevent the erection of buildings and other structures in areas unfit for development by reason of periodic flooding.
B. 
Protect public health by preventing pollution of surface and subsurface water supplies and providing surface area to absorb and retain runoff for maintenance of the subsurface water supply.
C. 
Protect public safety by preserving natural floodplains and valley flats which are subject to periodic flooding in order (1) to prevent the increase in flood volume and rate of flow which results from covering the floodplains with impervious surfaces and from constricting natural drainage channels and (2) to provide areas for the deposition of sediment.
D. 
Prevent added downstream damage from increased flood volume and rate of flow and to permit uses of the floodplain compatible with the preservation of natural conditions and the maintenance of the stream flow throughout the year; and
E. 
Minimize the financial burden imposed on the community, its governmental bodies, and individuals by floods.
[Ord. 3/1/1978, 3/1/1978; as added by Ord. --/--/1985, --/--/1985; as amended by Ord. 5-96, 11/13/1996; and by Ord. 2-2006, 11/8/2006]
1. 
Identification of Floodplain Areas. The identified floodplain area shall be any area of the Township of Lower Oxford, Chester County, subject to the one-hundred-year flood, which is identified as "Zone A" in the Flood Insurance Study (FIS) dated September 29, 2006, and the accompanying maps as prepared for Lower Oxford by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), or the most recent revision thereof. Including all digital data developed as part of the Flood Insurance Study.
2. 
Determination of the One-Hundred-Year Flood Elevation. For the purpose of this Chapter 27, the one-hundred-year Flood Elevation shall be used as the basis for regulation. When available, information from other federal, state or other acceptable sources shall be used to determine a floodway area. To determine the one-hundred-year Flood Elevation, the elevation at a given point on the boundary of the identified floodplain area which is nearest the construction site in question will be used. In helping to make this necessary elevation determination, other sources of data, where available, shall be used such as:
A. 
Corps of Engineers - Floodplain Information Reports.
B. 
U.S. Geological Survey - Flood Prone Quadrangles.
C. 
U.S.D.A., Soil Conservation Service - County Soil Surveys (Alluvial Soils) or P.L. 566 Flood Information.
D. 
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources - Flood Control Investigations.
E. 
Known high -water marks from past floods.
F. 
Other sources.
In lieu of the above, the Township may require the applicant to determine the elevation with hydrologic and hydraulic engineering techniques. Hydrologic and hydraulic analyses shall be undertaken only by professional engineers or others of demonstrated qualifications, who shall certify that the technical methods used correctly reflect currently accepted technical concepts. Studies, analyses, computations, etc., shall be submitted in sufficient detail to allow a thorough technical review by the Township.
3. 
Changes in Identification of Area. The identified floodplain area may be revised or modified by the Board of Supervisors where studies or information provided by a qualified agency or person documents the need for such revisions. However, prior to any such changes, approval must be obtained from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
4. 
Overlay Concept.
A. 
The Floodplain District described above shall be overlays to the existing underlying districts as shown on the Official Zoning Map, and as such, the provisions for the Floodplain District shall serve as a supplement to the underlying district provisions.
B. 
Where there happens to be any conflict between the provisions or requirements of any of the Floodplain Districts and those of any underlying district, the more restrictive provisions shall apply.
5. 
Zoning Map. The boundaries of the Floodplain District are established as shown on the Official Zoning Map of the Township which is declared to be a part of this Chapter 27 and which shall be kept at the Township office.
6. 
District Provisions.
A. 
All uses, activities, and development occurring within any floodplain district shall be undertaken, only in strict compliance with the provisions of this Chapter 27 and with all other applicable codes and ordinances such as the Township Building Code and Chapter 22, "Subdivision and Land Development." The Township shall review all requests for development to determine if all other governmental permits, such as those required by federal, state, county, and municipal laws, have been obtained including, but not limited to, those required by the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act (Act 1966-537, as amended); the Pennsylvania Dam Safety and Encroachments Act (Act 1978-325, as amended); the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Act (Act 1937-394, as amended); and the U.S. Clean Water Act, Section 404, 33 U.S.C. § 1344. No permit, special exception or variance shall be issued until this additional permit documentation has been obtained.
B. 
Under no circumstances shall any use, activity and/or development adversely affect the capacity of the channels or floodways of any watercourse, drainage ditch, or any other drainage facility or system.
C. 
Prior to any proposed alteration (crossings, dams or impoundments) or relocation of any stream, watercourse, etc., within the Township, a permit shall be obtained from the Department of Environmental Protection, Regional Office. Further, notification of the proposal shall be given to all affected adjacent municipalities. Copies of such notifications shall be forwarded to both the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Community and Economic Development.
D. 
In the Floodplain District any new construction and/or development that would cause any increase in the one-hundred-year flood heights shall be prohibited.
E. 
Permitted Uses. The following uses are permitted in an area designated as a floodplain and no others, provided they are in compliance with the provisions of the underlying district and are not prohibited by any other ordinance and provided that they do not require structures, fill, or storage of materials and equipment:
(1) 
Agricultural uses such as: general farming, pasture, orchard, grazing, outdoor plant nurseries, truck farming, forestry, and wild crop harvesting.
(2) 
Recreation uses such as: park, camp, picnic grounds, golf course, golf driving range, archery and shooting ranges, hiking and riding trails, hunting and fishing areas, game farm, fish hatchery, wildlife sanctuary, nature preserve and swimming areas.
(3) 
Permeable parking areas and roads to serve other permitted uses in the Flood Hazard District, or where required by the regulations for any contiguous district.
F. 
Special Exception. The following uses are permitted only upon the granting of a special exception by the Zoning Hearing Board, in accordance with §§ 908 and 913 of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, as amended, 53 P.S. §§ 10908, 10913, and upon the condition that no use permitted as a special exception shall increase the elevation of the one-hundred-year frequency flood.
(1) 
Accessory uses customarily incidental to any of the foregoing permitted uses.
(2) 
Circuses, festivals, and similar transient amusement enterprise.
(3) 
Roadside stands and signs.
(4) 
Railroads, roads, bridges, and utility transmission lines.
(5) 
Sealed water supply wells and water pipelines.
(6) 
Storm and sanitary sewer outlets, which shall take the shortest route across the District to the point of discharge.
(7) 
Grading and fill provided that the effect is not to alter substantially the cross-sectional profile of the stream basin at the point of the proposed use.
(8) 
Dams and impoundment basins where approved by appropriate private public agencies.
(9) 
Single-family residences, where the property will not otherwise yield a reasonable return because of specific circumstances of topography, lot size, or lot shape, in any part of the District not having alluvial soils.
G. 
Administration of Special Exceptions.
(1) 
Special Exception Procedures. Upon receiving an application for a special exception permit, the Zoning Hearing Board shall, prior to rendering a decision thereon, require the applicant to furnish such of the following material as is deemed necessary by the Board:
(a) 
Plans in triplicate drawn to scale showing the nature, location, dimensions and elevation of the lot and existing and proposed uses; photographs showing existing and proposed uses and vegetation, soil types and other pertinent information.
(b) 
A series of cross-sections at twenty-five foot intervals along the lot shoreline, showing the stream channel or the lake or pond bottom, and elevation of adjoining land areas, to be occupied by the 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, flood proofing, filling, dredging, grading, storage, water supply, and sanitary facilities.
(e) 
Computation of the increase, if any, in height of flood stages which would be attributable to any proposed uses.
(2) 
Consultation by the Zoning Hearing Board. In considering any application for a special exception, the Zoning Hearing Board shall consult with the Board of Supervisors of Lower Oxford Township, the Planning Commission of Lower Oxford Township, the Lower Oxford Township Engineer, and other technical experts to determine the extent to which the proposed use would (A) diminish the capacity of the flood hazard area to store and absorb flood waters, to moderate flood velocities, and to accommodate sediment; (B) be subject to flood damage; and, (C) cause erosion and impair the amenity of the flood hazard area. In proceedings before the Zoning Hearing Board, the burden of proof shall be on the applicant to show that the use will be in general conformity with the objectives of this Part and that proper safeguards will be observed.
(3) 
Factors to be Considered by the Zoning Hearing Board. In passing upon each application, the Zoning Hearing Board shall consider:
(a) 
The danger to life and property due to increased flood heights or velocities caused by encroachments.
(b) 
The danger that materials may be swept on to other lands or downstream to the injury of others.
(c) 
The proposed water supply and sanitation systems, and the ability of these systems to avoid causing disease, contamination and unsanitary conditions.
(d) 
The susceptibility of the proposed use to flood damage and the effect of such damage on the owner.
(e) 
The importance of the proposed use to the community.
(f) 
The requirements of the use for a water front location.
(g) 
The availability of alternative locations not subject to flooding for the proposed use.
(h) 
The compatibility of the proposed use with existing and foreseeable nearby use.
(i) 
The relationship of the proposed use to the Comprehensive Plan and floodplain management program for the area.
(j) 
The safety of access to the property in times of flood for ordinary and emergency vehicles.
(k) 
The expected heights, velocity, duration, rate of rise and sediment transport of the flood water expected at the site.
(l) 
Such other factors which are relevant to the purposes of this Chapter 27.
(4) 
Conditions. Upon consideration of the factors listed above, and the purposes of this Chapter 27, the Zoning Hearing Board may attach such conditions to the granting of a special exception permit as it deems necessary to further the purposes of this Part 13. Among such conditions, without limitation because of specific enumeration, may be included:
(a) 
Modification of waste disposal and water supply facilities.
(b) 
Limitations on periods of use and operation.
(c) 
Impositions of operational controls, sureties and deed restrictions.
(d) 
Floodproofing measures such as the following, without limitation because of specific enumeration:
(i) 
Anchorage to resist flotation and lateral movement.
(ii) 
Installation of watertight doors, bulkheads and shutters.
(iii) 
Reinforcement of walls to resist water pressures.
(iv) 
Use of paints, membranes or mortars to reduce seepage of water through walls.
(v) 
Addition of mass or weight to structures to resist flotation.
(vi) 
Installation of pumps to lower water levels in structures.
(vii) 
Construction of water supply and waste treatment systems so as to prevent the entrance of flood waters.
(viii) 
Pumping facilities for subsurface external foundation wall and basement floor pressures.
(ix) 
Construction to resist rupture or collapse caused by water pressure or floating debris.
(x) 
Cut-off valves on sewer lines, or the elimination of gravity flow basement drains.
(xi) 
Elevation of structures to reduce likelihood of flood damage.
(5) 
New structures or substantial improvements to existing structures shall be required to comply with all applicable requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program regulations (Section 60.3 and b), including elevation, floodproofing and anchoring.
(a) 
Fully enclosed space below the lowest floor (including basement) is prohibited.
(b) 
Partially enclosed space below the lowest floor (including basement) 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 "partially enclosed space," also includes crawl spaces. Designs for meeting this requirement must either be certified by a registered professional engineer or architect, or meet or exceed the following minimum criteria:
(i) 
A minimum of two openings having a net total area of not less than one square inch for every square foot of enclosed space.
(ii) 
The bottom of all openings shall be no higher than one foot above grade.
(iii) 
Openings may be equipped with screens, louvers, etc., or other coverings or devices, provided that they permit the automatic entry and exist of floodwaters.
(c) 
Consideration may be given to the requirements of 34 Pa. Code (Chapters 401-405, as amended) and the 2003 IRC (Sections R323.2.2 and R323.1.4) and the 2003 IBC (Sections 1612.4, 1612.5, 1202.3.2 and 1203.3.3).
H. 
Variances. If granted, a variance shall involve only the least modification necessary to provide relief. If it should become necessary to grant any variance, the applicant shall be required to comply with all applicable requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program Regulations (60.3a and b), including the requirements for elevation, floodproofing and anchoring. The applicant must also comply with any other requirements considered necessary by the Zoning Hearing Board.
(1) 
In granting any variance, the Zoning Hearing Board shall 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 27.
(2) 
Whenever a variance is granted, the Board shall notify the applicant in writing that:
(a) 
The granting of the variance may result in increased premium rates for flood insurance.
(b) 
Such variances may increase the risks to life and property.
(3) 
Within any floodplain area, no variance shall be granted for:
(a) 
The commencement of any of the following activities; or the construction, enlargement, or expansion of any structure used, or intended to be used, for any the following activities:
(i) 
Hospitals.
(ii) 
Nursing homes.
(iii) 
Jails or prisons.
(b) 
The commencement of, or any construction of, a new manufactured home park or manufactured home subdivision, or substantial improvement to an existing manufactured home park or manufactured home subdivision.
(c) 
Any new or substantially improved structure which will be used for the production or storage of any of the following dangerous materials or substances or which will be used for any activity requiring the maintenance of a supply (more than 550 gallons or other comparable volume or any amount of radioactive substances) or any of the following dangerous materials or substances on the premises:
(i) 
Acetone.
(ii) 
Ammonia.
(iii) 
Benzene.
(iv) 
Calcium carbide.
(v) 
Carbon disulfide.
(vi) 
Celluloid.
(vii) 
Chlorine.
(viii) 
Hydrochloric acid.
(ix) 
Hydrocyanic acid.
(x) 
Magnesium.
(xi) 
Nitric acid and oxides of nitrogen.
(xii) 
Petroleum products (gasoline, fuel oil, etc.).
(xiii) 
Phosphorus.
(xiv) 
Potassium.
(xv) 
Sodium.
(xvi) 
Sulphur and sulphur products.
(xvii) 
Pesticides (including insecticides, fungicides, and rodenticides).
(xviii) 
Radioactive substances, insofar as such substances are not otherwise regulated.
I. 
Administration of Variances. In reviewing any request for a variance, the Board shall consider, at a minimum, the following:
(1) 
That there is good and sufficient cause.
(2) 
That failure to grant the variance would result in exceptional hardship to the applicant.
(3) 
That the granting of the variance will (a) neither result in an unacceptable or prohibited increase in flood heights, additional threats to public safety, or extraordinary public expense, (b) nor create nuisances, cause fraud on, or victimize the public, or conflict with any other applicable state or local ordinances and regulations.
(4) 
No variance shall be granted for any development within the floodway area that would cause any increase in the elevation of the one-hundred-year flood.
J. 
A complete record of all variance requests and related actions shall be maintained by the Board. In addition, a report of all variances granted during the year shall be included in the Annual Report to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Notwithstanding any of the above, however, all structures shall be designed and constructed so as to have the capability of resisting the one-hundred-year flood.
7. 
Existing Structures in Floodplain Districts. A structure or use of a structure or premises which lawfully existed before the enactment of these provisions, but which is not in conformity with these provisions may be continued subject to the following conditions:
A. 
Any modification, alteration, reconstruction, or improvement of any kind to an existing structure and/or use 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 27.
B. 
Any modification, alteration, reconstruction, or improvement of any kind to an existing structure and/or use to an extent or amount of less than 50% of its market value, shall be elevated and/or floodproofed to the greatest extent possible.
C. 
No expansion or enlargement of an existing structure or use shall be allowed within any floodplain area that would cause any increase in the elevation of the one-hundred-year flood.
The above activity shall also address the requirements of the 34 Pa. Code, Chapters 401-405, as amended, and the 2003 IBC (Sections 3402.1 and 1612.4) and the 2003 IRC (Sections R105.3.1.1 and 323.1.4).
D. 
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 27.
E. 
The requirements of 34 Pa. Code, Chapters 401-405, as amended and the 2003 IRC (Sections R102.7.1, R105.3.1, R105.3.1.1 and Appendices E and J), or the latest revision thereof, and the 2003 IBC (Sections 101.3, 3403.1) and conjunction with the provisions of this section.
8. 
Definitions. For the purpose of this § 27-1301, the following definitions shall be added:
BASEMENT
Deemed to include only those areas of a building having its floor below ground level on all sides.
COMPLETELY DRY SPACE
A space which will remain totally dry during flooding; the structure is designed and constructed to prevent the passage of water and water vapor.
CONSTRUCTION
The construction, reconstruction, renovation, repair, extension, expansion, alteration, or relocation of a building or structure, including the placement of manufactured homes.
DEVELOPMENT
Any man-made change to improved or unimproved real estate including, but not limited to, construction, reconstruction, renovation, repair, expansion, or alteration of buildings or other structures, the placement of manufactured homes, streets, and other paving, utilities, filling, grading, excavation, mining, dredging, or drilling operations and the subdivision of land, or the storage of materials or equipment.
ESSENTIALLY DRY SPACE
A space which will remain dry during flooding, except for the passage of some water vapor or minor seepage; the structure is substantially impermeable to the passage of water.
FLOOD
A temporary inundation of normally dry land areas.
FLOOD FRINGE
That portion of the floodplain outside the floodway.
FLOODPLAIN
(1) A relatively flat or low land area adjoining a river, stream, or watercourse which is subject to partial or complete inundation; (2) an area subject to the unusual and rapid accumulation of runoff of surface waters from any source.
FLOODPROOFING
Any combination of structural and nonstructural additions, changes, or adjustments to structures which reduce or eliminate flood damage to real estate or improved real property, water and sanitary facilities, structures and their contents.
FLOODWAY
The designated area of a floodplain required to carry and discharge flood waters of a given magnitude. For the purposes of this Chapter 27 the floodway shall be capable of accommodating a flood of the one-hundred-year magnitude.
HISTORIC STRUCTURE
Any structure that is:
(i)
Listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places as maintained by the U.S. Department of Interior or preliminarily determined by the Secretary of the Interior as meeting the requirements for such listing; or,
(ii)
Certified or preliminarily determined by the Secretary of the Interior as contributing to the historical significance of a registered historic district or a district preliminarily determined by the Secretary to qualify as such; or,
(iii)
Individually listed on the commonwealth's inventory of historic places maintained by the Historic and Museum Commission; or,
(iv)
Individually listed on a local inventory of historic places if any such list is established by the Township and certified by the United States Government or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as such.
LOWEST FLOOR
The lower floor of the lowest fully enclosed area (including basement). An unfinished, flood resistant partially enclosed area, used solely for parking of vehicles, building access, and incidental storage, in an area other than a basement area is not considered the lowest floor of a building, provided that such space is not designed and built so that the structure is in violation of the applicable nonelevation design requirements of this Chapter 27.
MANUFACTURED HOME
A transportable, single-family dwelling intended for permanent occupancy, office, or place of assembly, contained in one or more sections, built on a permanent chassis, which arrives at a site complete and ready for occupancy except for minor and incidental unpacking and assembly operations, and constructed so that it may be used with or without a permanent foundation. The term includes park trailers, travel trailers, recreational and other similar vehicles which are placed on a site for more than 180 consecutive days.
MANUFACTURED HOME PARK
A parcel of land under single ownership which has been planned and improved for the placement of two or more manufactured homes for nontransient use.
MINOR REPAIR
The replacement of existing work with equivalent materials for the purpose of its routine maintenance and upkeep, but not including the cutting away of any wall, partition or portion thereof, the removal or cutting of any structural beam or bearing support, or the removal or change of any required means of egress, or rearrangement of parts of a structure affecting the exitway requirements; nor shall minor repairs include addition to, alteration of, replacement or relocation of any standpipe, water supply, sewer, drainage, drain leader, gas, oil, waste, vent, or similar piping, electric wiring or mechanical or other work affecting public health or general safety.
NEW CONSTRUCTION
Structures for which the start of construction commenced on or after September 5, 1978, and includes any subsequent improvements thereto.
ONE-HUNDRED-YEAR FLOOD
A flood that, on the average, is likely to occur once every 100 years (i.e., that has a one-percent chance of occurring each year, although the flood may occur in any year).
PERSON
An individual, partnership, public or private association or corporation, firm trust, estate, municipality, governmental unit, public utility or any other legal entity whatsoever, which is recognized by law as the subject of rights and duties.
RECREATIONAL VEHICLE
A vehicle which is (i) built on a single chassis; (ii) not more than 400 square feet, measured at the largest horizontal projections; (iii) designed to be self-propelled or permanently towable by a light-duty truck; (iv) not designed for use as a permanent dwelling but as temporary living quarters for recreational, camping, travel, or seasonable use.
REGULATORY FLOOD ELEVATION
The one-hundred-year flood elevation plus a freeboard safety factor of 1 1/2 feet.
REPETITIVE LOSS
Flood related damages sustained by a structure on two separate occasions during a ten-year period for which the cost of repairs at the time of each such flood event, on average, equals or exceeds 25% of the market.
STRUCTURE
Anything constructed or erected on the ground or attached to the ground including, but not limited to buildings, sheds, manufactured homes, and other similar items. This term includes any man-made object having an ascertainable stationary location on or in land or water whether or not affixed to land.
SUBSTANTIAL DAMAGE
Damage from any cause sustained by a structure whereby the cost of restoring the structure to its before-damaged condition would equal or exceed 50% or more of the replacement cost of the structure before the damage occurred.
SUBSTANTIAL IMPROVEMENT
Any repair, reconstruction or improvement of a structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds 30% of the market value of the structure either before the improvement or repair is started, or, if the structure has been damaged and is being restored, before the damage occurred. For the purpose of this definition, "substantial improvement" is considered to occur when the first alteration of any wall, ceiling, floor or other structural part of the building commences, whether or not that alteration affects the external dimensions of the structure. The term does not, however, include either:
(i)
Any project for improvement of a structure to comply with existing state or local health, sanitary or safety code specifications which are solely necessary to assure safe living conditions; or,
(ii)
Any alteration of a structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places or a State Inventory of Historic Places.
UNIFORM CONSTRUCTION CODE (UCC)
The statewide building code adopted by the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 1999 applicable to new construction in all municipalities whether administered by the municipality, a third party or the Department of Labor and Industry. Applicable to residential and commercial buildings, the Code adopted the International Residential Code (IRC) and the International Building Code (IBC), by reference, as the construction standard applicable with the commonwealth floodplain construction. For coordination purposes, references to the above are made specifically to various sections of the IRC and the IBC.