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Township of Unity, PA
Westmoreland County
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Unity Township is hereby divided into districts of different types, each type being of such number, shape, kind and area and of such common unity of purpose and adaptability of use that are deemed most suitable to carry out the objectives of this chapter and the Comprehensive Plan.
For the purpose of this chapter, Unity Township is hereby divided into districts which shall be designated as follows:
A. 
Residential Districts:
(1) 
R-1 Rural Residential District.
(a) 
Purpose. It is the intent and purpose of the Rural Residential District to mutually provide for development of housing opportunities and preserve identified sensitive environmental areas. Lands within the Rural Residential District possess many common features, including: steep slopes, open spaces and forested areas, limited access to public water and sewer, natural resources and sensitive environmental areas, and lower densities of housing. Past development patterns have generally included homes on larger lots either within developments or on distinct lots. Topography and lack of access to public utilities has limited substantial development in certain areas of this zoning district. Accordingly, larger lot sizes are required in the areas of this district not served by public water and/or sewer.
(2) 
R-2 Suburban Residential District.
(a) 
Purpose. The Township recognizes the benefits that traditional suburban neighborhood development patterns have had in providing single-family detached housing opportunities in the Township. It is the intent and purpose of this district to: provide for moderate density residential development in areas that are environmentally suited to such development and which currently have or are planned for sewer or sewer and water service; provide for traditional suburban neighborhood housing development opportunities characterized by smaller lot sizes than those required in the Suburban Residential District.
(3) 
R-3 Rural Village District.
(a) 
Purpose. The Rural Village District includes lands in older established villages and coal patch towns in the Township that are predominantly residential in nature, but may include a mixture of nonresidential uses along major roadways, as prescribed by the Village Commercial Overlay, contained in this chapter. The purpose of the district is to provide for a mixture of single-family dwellings and multifamily dwellings, generally on smaller lots, and smaller home-based and neighborhood businesses to serve the needs of the residents, where determined appropriate by the Village Commercial Overlay.
B. 
Commercial and Manufacturing Districts.
(1) 
B-1 Neighborhood Commercial District.
(a) 
Purpose. The Neighborhood Commercial District is intended to accommodate uses that provide convenience goods and services for persons residing in adjacent residential areas. It is the intent that the Neighborhood Commercial Zoning District not be encroached upon by other, more intensive commercial or industrial uses. The uses permitted within this district shall be compatible with surrounding residential architecture and scale.
(2) 
B-2 Community Commercial District.
(a) 
Purpose. The purpose of the Community Commercial District is to encourage a mix of business, office and service uses, within a designated commercial district along the Route 30 Corridor. The Community Commercial District will support small to medium scale specialty retail, offices and other uses that are larger than those permitted in the B-1 District and different than those permitted in the B-3 District. The district will be tied together with street amenities and design treatments such as sidewalks, streetlighting, signage, landscaping, street trees and screened parking areas.
(3) 
B-3 Regional Commercial District.
(a) 
Purpose. It is the intent and purpose of this district to provide for commercial and associated uses which generate or depend on large volumes of traffic. The district is developed to accommodate development on Route 30 east of the Route 981 intersection. Businesses located within this district primarily provide through traffic and regional oriented goods and services due to their proximity to principal arterial streets. Development within this district is governed by regulations that seek to reduce the negative effects of unsightly, dangerous intersections and to provide regulations for highway-associated uses through adequately sized parcels of land. A critical objective of this district is to create commercial areas that contribute positively to the image, appearance and character of Unity Township.
(4) 
M-1 Manufacturing District.
(a) 
Purpose. This district includes lands that provide for new industrial and technology development and protect existing industrial sites and allow for continued operation of existing general industry, manufacturing, extraction, salvage and related activities, subject to performance standards and buffering requirements to minimize potential environmental impacts. Accessory office uses and freestanding offices are allowed as well as other uses that are not as appropriate for more restrictive districts
(5) 
I-AP Institutional Airpark District.
(a) 
Purpose. It is the intent and purpose of this district to provide for a well designed park-like development for the uses in this Institutional Airpark District to promote and encourage high-quality employment opportunities for residents of Unity Township and economic development for the region as a whole in and around the Arnold Palmer Airport. Design standards and requirements for this district are intended to make it compatible with the surrounding residential areas. These regulations have been established to (1) provide a healthful operating environment; (2) to protect the accepted use from encroachment of uses adverse to their operation; and (3) to minimize their impact on surrounding uses. This district should be restricted to tracts that have close proximity to principal streets, are fairly level and act as a buffer between adjacent residential areas and nearby downgrading influences such as heavily traveled highways.
C. 
Special districts.
(1) 
C Conservation District.
(a) 
Purpose. The purpose of the Conservation District is to control development within identified portions of the Township in and around the Chestnut Ridge area that include steep slopes and sensitive environmental features to preserve these areas that contribute to the rural character of the Township and to:
[1] 
Prevent soil erosion and protect the Township from undue expense caused by such erosion.
[2] 
Protect property from stormwater runoff caused by improper or excessive construction on steep slopes.
[3] 
Preserve scenic views and to protect unique and unusual natural areas.
(2) 
A Agricultural Residential District.
(a) 
Purpose. The Agricultural Residential District includes lands that are intended to be utilized for agricultural purposes, certain residential uses and a limited number of environmentally friendly, low-impact commercial activities requiring large amounts of space. This land heavily contributes to the rural character of the Township. It is a goal of the Township to retain these farms through a variety of methods. It is understood that circumstances may make these lands available for development. It is the intent of this district to permit low density lots if there are no available public utility services.
(3) 
I Institutional District.
(a) 
Purpose. The purpose of this district is to provide areas for large educational, medical, health and public institutions and the development of facilities to meet their needs.
D. 
Overlay districts.
(1) 
FP Floodplain Overlay District.
(a) 
Purpose. Unity Township has adopted an ordinance regulating development within floodplains that is part of Chapter 104, Subdivision and Land Development, of the Code of the Township of Unity. All development within designated floodplains, as indicated on the official FEMA maps shall be considered part of the Zoning District Map as an Overlay District. Any development within this district shall be subject to those regulations contained in Chapter 104, and comply with same prior to the issuance of any occupancy permit by the Zoning Officer. Such provisions are incorporated herein by reference hereto as if set forth at length in this chapter. The identified floodplain areas described above shall consist of the following specific areas as indicated on the Official Maps prepared by FEMA, and shall be considered as an overlay to the Unity Township Zoning Map:
[1] 
FW (floodway area): The areas identified as "floodway" in the AE Zone in the Flood Insurance Study prepared by the FEMA. The term shall also include floodway areas which have been identified in other available studies or sources of information for those floodplain areas where no floodway has been identified in the Flood Insurance Study.
[2] 
FF (flood-fringe area): The remaining portions of the one-hundred-year floodplain in those areas identified as an AE Zone in the Flood Insurance Study, where a floodway has been delineated.
[3] 
FE (special floodplain area): The areas identified as Zone AE in the Flood Insurance Study, where one-hundred-year flood elevations have been provided, but no floodway has been delineated.
[4] 
FA (general floodplain area): The areas identified as Zone AE in the Flood Insurance Study for which no one-hundred-year flood elevations have been provided. When available, information from other federal, state and other acceptable sources shall be used to determine the one-hundred-year elevation, as well as a floodway area, if possible. When no other information is available, the one-hundred-year elevation shall be determined by using a point on the boundary line of the identified floodplain area which is nearest the construction site in question.
(b) 
Specifications and requirements. Specific provisions and requirements for developments that are located within this overlay are located in Chapter 104, Subdivision and Land Development, of the Code of the Township of Unity. All development within this district shall comply with those provisions and requirements. Such provisions and requirements are incorporated herein by reference hereto as if same were set forth in detail hereafter.
(2) 
VC Village Commercial Overlay District.
(a) 
Purpose. The purpose of the Village Commercial Overlay District is to encourage traditional, pedestrian and "short-trip" friendly, local commercial businesses along established mixed-use corridor areas of certain R-3 zoning districts. Through the use of standards unique to the Overlay District for area, bulk, height, and orientation, as well as for design, parking, accessory uses, signage, lighting, and screening, this Overlay will empower these areas to develop in a manner complimentary to, and compatible with, existing development. It is the intent of this Overlay District to permit small-scale commercial and service uses that serve the immediate neighborhood similar to those uses permitted in the B-1 Zoning District. In addition to commercial uses, the Overlay will permit the development of office uses, multifamily residential dwellings, civic uses, and other uses permitted in or compatible with the underlying R-3 District. The provisions of this Overlay District shall supplement the underlying zoning district in which a property is located. The standards prescribed herein shall control the overall development in this Overlay District and, where there may exist any conflict between the provisions of this section and those of the underlying zoning district, the provisions of this section shall prevail. This section shall not change the status of any existing use, lot, or structure established prior to the adoption date of this chapter.
(b) 
Permitted and conditional uses. In addition to those uses permitted by right, or by special exception or conditional use in the underlying R-3 District, all commercial uses that are permitted by right in the B-1 Neighborhood Commercial District according to the Use Tables incorporated in Appendix A herein,[1] shall be permitted as a conditional use or special exception use in this Overlay. Home occupations shall be a permitted use within this overlay district subject to permitting and compliance with the requirements set forth in this chapter for same. Bed-and-breakfasts are permitted in this district as a conditional use.
[1]
Editor's Note: Appendix A is included as an attachment to this chapter.
(c) 
Area and bulk requirements.
[1] 
The area and bulk requirements required of the B-1 Neighborhood Commercial District shall be generally applicable for nonresidential uses within the Village Commercial Overlay District.
[2] 
The area and bulk requirements of the underlying R-3 District shall be applicable for residential uses within the Village Commercial Overlay District.
(3) 
TC Transportation and Corridor Enhancement Overlay District.
(a) 
Intent and purpose.
[1] 
The purpose of this district is to provide and manage access to land development, while preserving the regional flow of traffic in terms of safety, capacity, and speed. Major roadways, including highways and other arterials, serve as the primary network for moving people and goods. These transportation corridors also provide access to businesses and homes and have served as the focus for commercial and residential development. If access systems are not properly designed, these roadways will be unable to accommodate the access needs of development and retain their primary transportation function. This section balances the right of reasonable access to private property, with the right of the citizens of Unity Township and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to safe and efficient travel.
[2] 
To achieve this policy intent, state and local roadways have been categorized by function and classified for access purposes based upon their level of importance. Regulations have been applied to these roadways for the purpose of reducing traffic accidents, personal injury, and property damage attributable to poorly designed access systems, and to thereby improve the safety and operation of the roadway network. This will protect the substantial public investment in the existing transportation system and reduce the need for expensive remedial measures. These regulations also further the orderly layout and use of land, protect community character, and conserve natural resources by promoting well-designed road and access systems and discouraging the unplanned subdivision of land.
(b) 
Applicability. This section shall apply to all arterials and selected collectors within Unity Township, as identified herein and to all properties abutting these roadways. The standards of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation shall apply to all roadways in the State Highway System.
(c) 
Conformance with plans, regulations, and statutes. This section is adopted to implement the community development objectives set forth in this chapter and in the Unity Township Comprehensive Plan. In addition, this section conforms with sound planning principles of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission as specified in the 2025 Transportation and Development Plan for Southwestern Pennsylvania and the planning policies of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation set forth in the Pennsylvania Statewide Long Range Transportation Plan (PennPlan). The section also conforms with the standards of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and policy and planning directives of the Federal Transportation Equity Act of 1998.
(d) 
Specifications and requirements. Specific provisions and requirements for developments that are located within this overlay are located in Chapter 104, Subdivision and Land Development, of the Code of the Township of Unity. All development within this district shall comply with those provisions and requirements. Such provisions and requirements are incorporated herein by reference hereto as if same were set forth in detail hereafter.
(4) 
AZD Airport Zoning Overlay District.
(a) 
Purpose. In order to protect against hazards to air navigation, there are hereby created and established certain Airport Zoning Districts (AZDs) which include all of the land lying beneath the approach surfaces, transitional surfaces, horizontal surfaces and conical surfaces as they apply to the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport. Such zones are visually depicted on the Height Limitation and Zoning District Map prepared January 2008 which is made a part hereof. An area located in more than one of the following zones is considered to be only in the zone with the more restrictive height limitation. The Airport Zoning Districts are:
[1] 
AZD-1: Primary Surface Zoning District.
[2] 
AZD-2: Utility Runway Visual Approach Zoning District.
[3] 
AZD-3: Runway Larger Than Utility with a visibility minimum as low as 3/4 mile Non-Precision Instrument Approach Zone (Runway 05).
[4] 
AZD-4: Precision Instrument Runway Approach Zone (Runway 23).
[5] 
AZD-5: Transitional Zoning District (adjacent to approach zoning districts).
[6] 
AZD-6: Horizontal Zoning District.
[7] 
AZD-7: Conical Zoning District.
(b) 
Specific requirements. Specific provisions and requirements for the Airport Zoning Overlay District are located in Chapter 104, Subdivision and Land Development, of the Code of the Township of Unity. All development within this district shall comply with those provisions and requirements. Such provisions and requirements are incorporated herein by reference hereto as if same were set forth in detail hereafter.
(5) 
PRD Planned Residential Development Overlay District.
(a) 
Purpose. The purpose of the Planned Residential Development (PRD) Overlay District is to permit residential development which is more creative and imaginative than is generally possible under conventional zoning district controls and subdivision requirements. Further, these regulations are intended to promote more economical and efficient use of the land while providing a compatible blend of housing types, amenities and community facilities of high quality, oriented to the specific development site and preservation of the natural scenic qualities of open space. It is the further intent to permit Planned Residential Developments in the A, R-1, R-2 and R-3 Zoning Districts provided that the Planned Residential Development is located on a parcel(s) of 50 acres or greater.
(b) 
Specific provisions and requirements for the PRD Overlay are located in Chapter 104, Subdivision and Land Development, of the Code of the Township of Unity. All development within this District shall comply with those provisions and requirements. Such provisions and requirements are incorporated herein by reference hereto as if same were set forth in detail hereafter.
(6) 
PGU Planned Group Units.
(a) 
Purpose. The purpose of planned group units (PGUs) is to permit certain commercial development which is more creative and imaginative than is generally possible under conventional zoning district controls and subdivision requirements. Further, these regulations are intended to promote more economical and efficient use of the land while providing a compatible blend of commercial activities, amenities and community facilities of high quality, oriented to the specific development site and preservation of the natural scenic qualities of open space. It is the further intent to permit planned group units in the B-1, B-2, B-3, I-AP and VC Zoning Districts provided that the Planned Group Unit is located on a parcel(s) of three acres or greater.
(b) 
Specific provisions and requirements for the Planned Group Units are located in Chapter 104, Subdivision and Land Development, of the Code of the Township of Unity. All development within this district shall comply with those provisions and requirements. Such provisions and requirements are incorporated herein by reference hereto as if same were set forth in detail herein.
(7) 
Planned Institutional Groups.
[Added 5-11-2017 by Ord. No. O-5-2017]
(a) 
Purpose. The purpose of Planned Institutional Group (PIG) is to permit qualifying institutions to develop in more creative and imaginative ways than generally possible under conventional zoning district controls and subdivision requirements. Further, these regulations are intended to promote more economical and efficient use of the land while providing a compatible blend of housing, educational, recreational and other accessory facilities of high quality, oriented to the specific development site and preservation of the natural scenic qualities of open space. It is the further intent to permit planned group units in the Institutional Zoning District provided that the Planned Institutional Group is located on a parcel(s) of 10 acres or greater.
(b) 
Specific provisions and requirements for the Planned Institutional Group are located in Chapter 104, Subdivision and Land Development, of the Code of the Township of Unity. All development within this district shall comply with those provisions and requirements. Such provisions and requirements are incorporated herein by reference thereto as if same were set forth in detail herein.
(c) 
Planned Institutional Groups shall be identified and provided for as conditional uses in the Institutional Zoning District.
(8) 
RCE Route 30 Corridor Enhancement Overlay District.
(a) 
Purpose. The purpose of the Route 30 Corridor Enhancement Overlay is to develop a common plan and design for commercial properties with frontage along State Route 30. By establishing regulations for the design and orientation of buildings, the selection of building materials, buffering and landscaping, this overlay is designed ensure the coordination of development with other contiguous sites while retaining, to the highest extent possible, the scenic nature of this area.
(b) 
Specific provisions and requirements for the Route 30 Corridor Enhancement Overlay are located in Chapter 104, Subdivision and Land Development, of the Code of the Township of Unity. All development within this District shall comply with those provisions and requirements. Such provisions and requirements are incorporated herein by reference hereto as if same were set forth in detail hereafter.
A map entitled "The Unity Township Zoning Map" dated December 2009 is hereby approved and adopted as a part of this chapter. The Zoning Map shall be kept on file for examination in the Zoning and Planning office at the Township Municipal Building.
District boundaries shown on the District Map which follow the lines of roads, streams and transportation rights-of-way shall be deemed to follow their center lines. Neither the vacation of roads nor the change of stream beds shall effect the location of such district boundaries. One set of the County Tax Assessment Maps for Unity Township shall be maintained in the Zoning and Planning office at the Township Municipal Building showing district boundaries with respect to property lines. When the Zoning Officer cannot definitely determine the location of a district boundary by such center lines, by the scale of dimensions stated on the District Map or by the fact that it clearly coincides with a property line, he/she shall refuse action, and the Hearing Board, upon appeal, shall interpret the location of the district boundary with reference to the scale of the District Map.