Township of Shaler, PA
Allegheny County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
All new and existing fences, walls and hedges that are installed, planted, placed, constructed, erected or maintained shall be installed, placed, constructed, erected or maintained in accordance with the requirements of this article.
A. 
This article shall not apply to any fence or wall constructed on a governmental, municipal or public utility facility for public safety purposes or as a requirement of a state or federal agency.
B. 
This article shall not apply to any pet containment fence, unless the fence is located within a public right-of-way or public property that the Township owns or has an easement over, under, around or through.
All fences and walls that are constructed with generally accepted building materials and which comply otherwise with the permit requirements of this section and the performance standards of this article shall be permitted in all residential districts, with the exception of fences and walls constructed with jumbo concrete block, precast or poured concrete, or of the gabion basket type, none of which shall be permitted without approval by the Zoning Hearing Board for use as a special exception in those residential districts.
All legal nonconforming fences and walls in existence prior to the effective date of this article are permitted to continue, subject to the following provisions:
A. 
No such nonconforming fence or wall may be enlarged or altered in a way which increases its nonconformity.
B. 
Should such nonconforming fence or wall be destroyed by any means to an extent of more than 50% of its replacement cost at time of destruction, it shall not be reconstructed except in conformity with the provisions of this article.
C. 
No such nonconforming fence or wall may be structurally altered so as to change the shape, size, type or design of the fence or wall.
A. 
No retaining wall measured from the lowest level of grade to the top of the wall which is over four feet in height, and no retaining wall under four feet in height which is supporting a surcharge, shall be constructed, erected or installed without first obtaining a permit from the Township.
B. 
All retaining walls requiring a permit shall be professionally engineered and structural calculations for the retaining wall shall be provided by a licensed Pennsylvania engineer and submitted with the permit application.
C. 
No permit or permit application is required for:
(1) 
Retaining walls that are not over four feet (1219 mm) in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge.
(2) 
Fences not over six feet (1829 mm) high.
(3) 
Repairs to an existing fence or wall with no structural changes.
(4) 
The installation of gates up to eight feet in width in an existing fence or wall with no structural change.
(5) 
Planting of continuous hedgerows, living fences or similar landscape features.
A. 
Applications for permits shall be made upon forms provided by the Building Department.
B. 
The following information and materials shall be provided with the application:
(1) 
A current lot survey sealed by a professional engineer or licensed and registered land surveyor shall be submitted for Township review and record with each permit application for any lot on which a wall requiring a permit is to be erected.
(2) 
The sealed lot survey shall include the location of all existing and proposed walls, structures, easements and setback dimensions.
(3) 
Structural calculations prepared by a licensed Pennsylvania engineer shall be submitted with the permit application for all retaining walls measured from the lowest level of grade to the top of the wall which are over four feet in height, and all retaining walls under four feet in height which are supporting a surcharge.
(4) 
A fee in such amount as set from time to time by resolution of the Board of Commissioners shall be paid.
A. 
From the effective date of this article, it shall be illegal for any person to place or allow to be placed any fence, posts, lampposts, basketball hoops or any other obstruction or structure within 10 feet of the edge of the paved portion of any public street or highway in the Township.
B. 
Any fence, post, lamppost, mailbox, sign, basketball hoop or wall located in a public right-of-way or other recorded easement is placed at the owner's risk and may be ordered removed at any time by the Township for any reason including for expansion or maintenance of public services.
C. 
All fences, walls and hedges, including but not limited to posts, foundations and overhang elements, shall be wholly contained on the applicant's property, and all fences and walls shall comply with the setback requirements of this article.
D. 
All fences, walls and hedges shall not be placed in any manner to hinder access to an easement.
E. 
All fences, walls and hedges shall not be erected in a manner that obstructs the free flow of surface water within or across the lot to which it is associated or the adjacent lots.
F. 
Where residential uses are abutting or where nonresidential uses are abutting, fences, retaining walls and enclosure walls do not need to follow setback requirements in the respective zoning districts, and fences, retaining walls and enclosure walls may be located at the property line as set forth in this article.
G. 
Where a nonresidential use abuts a residential use, a fence, retaining wall or enclosure wall on the nonresidential lot shall be set back a minimum of 10 feet from the residential property line.
H. 
Fences or walls over two feet in height which are abutting a public sidewalk or public right-of-way shall be set back a minimum of two feet from the public sidewalk or public right-of-way.
A. 
Fences.
(1) 
Except as provided herein, the maximum height of a fence in all zoning districts in the Township is six feet in height.
(2) 
The maximum height of a fence in a residential district, erected between the front building line and the front property line, is four feet in height.
(3) 
Where a fence is erected on a retaining wall, the maximum height of the fence is six feet in height, separate and distinct from the height of the retaining wall.
(4) 
The Code Enforcement Officer may require that any fence be a lesser height when a higher fence creates a traffic hazard or obstructs visibility at an intersection.
(5) 
The Code Enforcement Officer may authorize fences on certain properties to exceed the above height limitations for public safety reasons, including but not limited to fences around tennis courts, golf driving ranges, utility substations, baseball fields, athletic fields and public swimming pools, or if a requirement of a state or federal agency.
B. 
Walls.
(1) 
Enclosure walls.
(a) 
Except as provided herein, the maximum height of an enclosure wall in a residential district in the Township is six feet in height.
(b) 
The maximum height of an enclosure wall in a residential district erected between the front building line and the front property line is four feet in height.
(c) 
The Code Enforcement Officer may require that an enclosure wall be a lesser height when a higher enclosure creates a traffic hazard or obstructs visibility at an intersection.
(d) 
The Code Enforcement Officer may authorize enclosure walls on certain properties to exceed the above height limitations for public safety reasons, including but not limited to enclosure walls around tennis courts, golf driving ranges, utility substations, baseball fields, athletic fields and public swimming pools, or if a requirement of a state or federal agency.
(2) 
Retaining walls.
(a) 
The maximum height of a retaining wall in a residential district in the Township, erected on a property line, is four feet in height.
(b) 
The maximum height of a retaining wall in a nonresidential district abutting a residential district in the Township, erected on a property line, is four feet in height.
(c) 
Retaining walls more than four feet in high shall be set back as required by those sections relating to setbacks of this article, unless the abutting property owner's verified signature also appears on the application form consenting to a higher height on the property line or unless the applicant is the owner of both abutting lots.
(d) 
Retaining walls in residential districts and in nonresidential districts of the Township may be any height, but if and only if the retaining wall complies fully with § 225-110E (relating to setbacks), and if and only if the retaining wall is a professionally engineered retaining wall, designed and sealed by a licensed Pennsylvania engineer to retain the earth on one side at a higher elevation than the earth on the other side in such a way that resists the lateral displacement of soil or other materials in order to stabilize slopes and provide usable areas of land at different elevations and conform to all requirements of the Uniform Construction Code.
(e) 
Where a fence is erected on a retaining wall, the maximum height of the retaining wall is the maximum height for retaining walls as set forth herein, separate and distinct from the height of the fence.
C. 
Hedges. None of the height limits established in this article shall apply to hedges, including any closely planted trees or vegetation. However, hedges located in the clear vision area are subject to required maintenance, including trimming and/or removal. Hedges shall be sufficiently set back at time of planting so that mature vegetation remains within private property and does not encroach into the public street right-of-way.
A. 
Fences and enclosure walls shall be measured from the mean level of the ground surrounding the fence or the enclosure wall to the highest point of such fence or enclosure wall.
B. 
Retaining walls shall be measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall.
A. 
The setbacks and other restrictions specified by this section are minimal and may be increased by the Township or by the recommendation of the civil engineer, soils engineer or engineering geologist, if necessary for safety and stability or to prevent damage of adjacent properties from deposition or erosion or to provide access for slope maintenance and drainage.
B. 
Where residential uses are abutting or nonresidential uses are abutting, fences, retaining walls and enclosure walls do not need to follow setbacks in the respective zoning districts, and fences, retaining walls and enclosure walls may be located at the property line as set forth in this article.
C. 
Where a nonresidential use abuts a residential use, a fence, retaining wall or enclosure wall on the nonresidential lot shall be set back a minimum of 10 feet from the residential property line unless the abutting residential property owner's verified signature also appears on the nonresidential lot application form consenting to a higher height on the property line or unless the applicant is the owner of both abutting lots.
D. 
Fences or walls over two feet in height which are abutting a public sidewalk or public right-of-way should be set back a minimum of two feet from the public sidewalk or public right-of-way.
E. 
Setbacks for retaining walls (see Exhibit I[1]).
(1) 
A retaining wall which is not over four feet in height may be placed on a property line, provided the retaining wall is not in a public right-of-way area.
(2) 
Retaining walls more than four feet in height shall be set back as required in this section unless the abutting property owner's verified signature also appears on the application form consenting to a higher height on the property line or unless the applicant is the owner of both abutting lots.
(3) 
A retaining wall which is over four feet in height shall be set back a minimum of five feet from all property lines for each additional four feet in height over four feet. For example, a retaining wall or a terraced retaining wall over four feet in height but not over eight feet in height shall be set back a minimum of five feet from all property lines, and a retaining wall or a terraced retaining wall over eight feet in height but less than 12 feet in height shall be set back a minimum of 10 feet from all property lines.
(4) 
Terraced retaining walls. The height of a terraced retaining wall is cumulative and is equal to the combined height of each wall. There shall be a minimum of five feet between the exposed faces of each wall.
(5) 
Where the difference in elevation to be retained is more than eight feet, the retaining wall shall be stepped back in segments of approximately equal height.
(6) 
A variance to the requirements of this section may be granted by the Zoning Hearing Board when a proposed retaining wall is necessary to insure the normal use of the property, i.e., for a sideline driveway.
(7) 
The maximum setback required for an engineered retaining wall of any height is 10 feet from all property lines.
(8) 
The maximum height of any retaining wall shall be determined in accordance with the attached Exhibit A which illustrates how maximum height is to be measured.[2]
[2]
Editor's Note: Exhibit A is located in "Street and Building Details" attached to this chapter.
[1]
Editor's Note: Exhibit I, Retaining Wall Layout, is attached to this chapter.
A. 
All walls shall comply with all requirements of the Uniform Construction Code.
B. 
All fences and walls shall be constructed and located in strict compliance with all Township grading and stormwater standards and shall not cause additional runoff from the property on which they are sited.
C. 
Decorative/finished side of fences and walls:
(1) 
Fences that have one finished or decorative side shall be oriented with the finished or decorative side facing outward toward adjacent parcels and away from the interior of the lot to which the fence is associated.
(2) 
Masonry enclosure walls shall be finished in a similar manner on all sides.
(3) 
Except where provided as a special exception, where retaining walls or high foundation walls are required and would be visible from a public right-of-way or residentially zoned property, the following shall apply to retaining walls more than four feet in height:
(a) 
The retaining wall shall be constructed of or faced with brick, stone, split-face or fluted concrete block, textured poured-in-place concrete, or other materials with texture to reduce the apparent mass of the wall; or
(b) 
In order to soften the appearance of the wall, hanging and/or climbing vegetation shall be planted on the retaining wall.
The owner of a property where a fence or wall is located is responsible for maintenance of both sides of the fence or enclosure wall.
A fence or wall permit applicant shall make all construction or work for which a permit is required accessible and exposed for inspection until approved by the Code Enforcement Officer. Approval as a result of an inspection is not an approval of a violation of the provisions of this article. Inspections presuming to give authority to violate the provisions of this article are not valid. The permit applicant shall ensure the work remains accessible and exposed for inspection purposes. Neither the Code Enforcement Officer nor the Township is liable for expense entailed in removing or replacing of any material to allow inspection.