Township of Lower Gwynedd, PA
Montgomery County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
STATUTORY REFERENCES
General provisions and definitions — See Penna. Mun. Plan. Code, Art. I.
Zoning — See Penna. Mun. Plan. Code, Art. VI.
GENERAL REFERENCES
General provisions and definitions — See Section 1250.04; Ch. 1298.
Establishment — See Section 1256.01.
Signs — See Ch. 1292.
Off-street parking and loading — See Ch. 1294.
Nonconforming uses — See Ch. 1296.

§ 1256.01 Application of chapter.

[Ord. 253. Passed 2-16-1988]
In an "AA-1" Residential District, the regulations set forth in this chapter shall apply.

§ 1256.02 Permitted uses.

[Ord. 253. Passed 2-16-1988]
In an "AA-1" Residential District, a building may be erected or used, and a lot may be used or occupied, for any of the following purposes and no other:
(a) 
Farming;
(b) 
One single-family detached dwelling either:
(1) 
In accordance with the regulations applicable to an "AA" Residential District; or
(2) 
In accordance with the regulations of this chapter;
(c) 
Municipal use;
(d) 
Cluster development as a conditional use in accordance with Section 1298.07 and the regulations set forth in this chapter;
(e) 
Cluster development with a density bonus as a conditional use for the preservation of increased open space in accordance with Section 1298.07 and the regulations set forth in this chapter;
(f) 
Cluster development with a density bonus for the preservation of a Township historic or cultural resource as a conditional use in accordance with Section 1298.07 and the regulations set forth in this chapter;
(g) 
Accessory uses in accordance with Section 1250.04(2) and Chapter 1298.

§ 1256.03 Lot area, density and width.

[Ord. 253. Passed 2-16-1988]
(a) 
Minimum Lot Area. In an "AA-1" Residential District, a lot area of not less than 70,000 square feet shall be provided for every dwelling or other building.
(b) 
Density. The number of dwelling units shall not exceed 0.45 dwelling units per developable acre over the developable area of the entire tract, including that portion of the tract to be permanently reserved as permanent open space. This limitation shall in all cases govern density.
(c) 
Minimum Lot Width. A lot width of not less than 225 feet at the building line shall be provided for every dwelling or other building.

§ 1256.04 Yards.

[Ord. 253. Passed 2-16-1988]
(a) 
Front Yards. In an "AA-1" Residential District, there shall be a front yard on each lot, which yard shall be not less than 80 feet in depth.
(b) 
Side Yards. There shall be two side yards on each lot, neither of which shall be less than 55 feet in width.
(c) 
Rear Yards. There shall be a rear yard on each lot, which yard shall be not less than 75 feet in depth.
An accessory use structure, if entirely separate from the main building and located at least 10 feet further back than the rear of the main building, may be erected in the rear yard, but not within 20 feet of the rear or side property lines.
(d) 
Corner Lots. Yards for corner lots are regulated by Section 1298.09.

§ 1256.05 Lot coverage.

[Ord. 253. Passed 2-16-1988]
(a) 
Building Coverage. In an "AA-1" Residential District, the total building coverage shall not exceed 10%.
(b) 
Impervious Coverage. The total impervious coverage shall not exceed 25% for a single-family residential use.

§ 1256.06 Building height.

[Ord. 253. Passed 2-16-1988; Ord. 257. Passed 6-21-1988; Ord. No. 409. Passed 7-22-2003]
(a) 
The maximum height for dwellings, buildings or other structures erected or enlarged in an "AA-1" Residential District shall be 45 feet, not exceeding 2 1/2 stories.
(b) 
The maximum height for any building accessory to any dwelling shall be 14 feet, not exceeding one story, except that by special exception, the height of accessory buildings constructed entirely outside any mandatory set-back areas on lots exceeding 40,000 square feet shall not exceed 35 feet or 2 1/2 stories.

§ 1256.07 Off-street parking.

[Ord. 253. Passed 2-16-1988]
(a) 
Residential. For each dwelling unit in an "AA-1" Residential District, two all-weather off-street parking spaces shall be provided, in accordance with Chapter 1294.
(b) 
Nonresidential. For any permitted use other than a residential use, parking facilities shall be provided in accordance with Chapter 1294. Such parking shall not occupy any portion of the front, side or rear yards required under this chapter.
(c) 
Setbacks. No parking area or driveway shall be located closer than five feet to any property line, except the portion of the driveway required for normal ingress and egress.

§ 1256.08 Special requirements.

[Ord. 253. Passed 2-16-1988]
(a) 
Permanent Open Space. With the exception of a development in accordance with the regulations of the "AA" Residential District, as permitted in Section 1256.02(b)(1), not less than 10% of the gross area of a tract in an "AA-1" Residential District shall be preserved as permanent open space. Such permanent open space shall be provided in accordance with Section 1256.11(a) and shall not consist of any undevelopable land. The permanent open space may be offered for dedication but is not required to be offered. Any organization which owns permanent open space shall comply with the requirements of Section 1256.11(b)(2) or (3).
(b) 
Signs. Signs shall be permitted in accordance with Chapter 1292.
(c) 
Swimming Pools; Tennis Courts; Equine Facilities. Accessory structures such as swimming pools, tennis courts and equine facilities shall be subject to Chapter 1298.
(d) 
Detention Basins in Yards. Detention basins shall be allowed in yard areas only in accordance with Section 1298.14.

§ 1256.09 Criteria for cluster developments.

[Ord. 253. Passed 2-16-1988; Ord. 409. Passed 7-22-2003]
Cluster developments in accordance with the development standards contained in Section 1256.10 shall be permitted in an "AA-1" Residential District, as a conditional use, subject to the provisions of Section 1298.07 on sites meeting the following criteria:
(a) 
The tract of land to be developed shall be a minimum of five acres and shall be in single and separate ownership or shall be the subject of an application filed jointly by all the owners of the entire tract who shall stipulate that the entire tract will be developed in accordance with the approved plan.
(b) 
A planned cluster development shall be serviced by public water and public sewerage acceptable to the Board of Supervisors and subject to the approval of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources, or any applicable local authority.
(c) 
Not less than 10% of the total developable area of the tract and all nondevelopable area shall be preserved as common open space in accordance with Section 1256.11.

§ 1256.10 Development standards for cluster developments.

[Ord. 253. Passed 2-16-1988. Ord. 377. Passed 9-25-2000]
Cluster developments in an "AA-1" Residential District shall be developed in accordance with the provisions for development in such District, above, except as specifically modified by this section and by Section 1256.11, regulating common open space.
(a) 
Use Regulations. In a cluster development, single-family detached residential dwellings, open space and recreational areas and structures are permitted.
(b) 
Density. The number of dwelling units shall not exceed 0.50 per developable acre over the developable area of the entire tract, including that portion of the tract to be permanently reserved as common open space. This limitation shall in all cases govern density.
(c) 
Lot Area. A lot area of not less than 50,000 square feet shall be provided for every dwelling. Undevelopable land shall not be counted when calculating the minimum lot area, although such undevelopable land may be included within individual lots if permitted by the Board of Supervisors.
(d) 
Minimum Lot Width. A lot width of not less than 175 feet at the building line shall be provided for every dwelling.
(e) 
Yard Regulations.
(1) 
Front yards. There shall be a front yard on each lot, which yard shall be not less than 75 feet in depth.
(2) 
Side yards. There shall be two side yards on each lot, neither of which shall be less than 45 feet in width.
(3) 
Rear yards. There shall be a rear yard on each lot, which yard shall be not less than 75 feet in depth. An accessory use structure, if entirely separate from the main building and located at least 10 feet farther back than the rear of the main building, may be erected in the rear yard, but shall not be located within eight feet of the rear or side property line.
(4) 
Yards Adjacent to Single-Family Residential Districts. Yard areas shall be provided on lots adjacent to lands in other Single-Family Residential Districts, as required, so that individual lots in an "AA-1" District shall not have smaller adjacent yards than those required for individual lots in the adjacent Residential District. In the event that the specific lot in the immediate adjacent residential district is eligible for cluster development (and, therefore, a reduction of yard regulations), this provision shall not apply.
(5) 
Corner lots. Yards for corner lots are regulated by Section 1298.09.
(f) 
Lot Coverage.
(1) 
Building coverage. The total building coverage shall not exceed 25%.
(2) 
Impervious coverage. The total impervious coverage shall not exceed 35%.

§ 1256.11 Regulations for common open space.

[Ord. 253. Passed 2-16-1988. Ord. 377. Passed 9-25-2000]
(a) 
Common open space in an "AA-1" Residential District shall be designed in accordance with the following standards:
(1) 
Common open space shall be so designated on the plans, and the plans shall contain a notation stating: "Common open space shall not be separately sold and shall not be further developed or subdivided."
(2) 
Common open space areas shall be designed as a continuous system of open space and shall be interconnected with open space areas on abutting parcels whenever possible.
(3) 
Common open space shall be provided with safe and convenient access to the residentially developed area of the tract by adjoining frontage on streets or easements capable of accommodating pedestrian, bicycle and maintenance vehicle traffic. Common open space shall contain appropriate access improvements and shall be provided with perimeter parking areas as appropriate.
(4) 
Common open space shall consist predominantly of natural environmental features or planted and maintained vegetation which may contain walking, biking or equestrian trails.
(5) 
The common open space shall be acceptable to the Board of Supervisors.
(6) 
Common open space shall be designed, wherever possible, to complement and preserve the tract's natural resources, including, but not limited to, trees, wetlands, floodplains, riparian buffers, steep slopes, wildlife habitat, scenic views and interconnected greenways.
(7) 
Common open space may be designed to provide active recreation opportunities.
(8) 
Common open space shall be designed to preserve or enhance historic landscapes or attractive streetscapes within and around the proposed cluster development.
(9) 
Common open space shall not be provided in narrow strips of land less than 50 feet in width unless such strips contain perimeter trails or trail connections or unless such strips have frontage on public roads and provide access to larger contiguous areas of common open space.
(10) 
Common open space shall be designed in accordance with the Lower Gwynedd Township Open Space Plan.
(11) 
When common open space is proposed for any cluster development under this chapter, a note or notes on the record subdivision plan shall indicate the proposed uses as well as the proposed types and schedules of maintenance for each open space parcel shown on the plan without regard to the proposed ownership of such open space parcel by the Township, a homeowners association to be created or an organization permitted under Section 1256.11(b)(2) below. The plan itself shall also depict a method of physically delineating private lots from common open space areas by the use of fencing, sections of fencing, easily visible corner posts or other monuments or methods acceptable to the Board of Supervisors.
(b) 
Provision for ownership and maintenance of the common open space shall be made in a manner so as to ensure its preservation. This shall be accomplished in one of the following ways:
(1) 
The developer shall offer the common open space for dedication for public use and maintenance, if required by the Township. However, the Township need not require that the common open space be dedicated nor accept a dedication of the common open space if offered.
(2) 
With permission of the Township, and with appropriate deed restrictions in favor of the Township and in language acceptable to the Township Solicitor, the developer may transfer the fee simple title in the common open space, or a portion thereof, to a private, nonprofit organization among whose purposes is the conservation of open space land and/or natural resources, provided that:
A. 
The organization is acceptable to the Township and is a bona fide conservation organization with a perpetual existence.
B. 
The conveyance contains appropriate provision for proper retransfer or reverter in the event that the organization becomes unable or unwilling to continue to carry out its functions.
C. 
A maintenance agreement acceptable to the Township is entered into by the developer, organization and Township.
(3) 
If the Township does not require dedication or permit transfer to a conservation organization as provided in paragraph (b)(2) hereof, the developer shall provide for and establish an organization for the ownership and maintenance of the common open space consistent with the requirements for unit owners' associations found in the Pennsylvania Uniform Condominium Act, 68 Pa. C.S. 3101 et seq. If such an organization is created, the deeds and agreements of sale for the common open space and for all individual lots within the tract shall contain the following requirements in language acceptable to the Township Solicitor:
A. 
Such organization shall not dispose of the common open space by sale or otherwise except to the Township or other governmental body, unless the Township has given prior approval. Such transfer shall be made only to another organization which shall maintain the common open space in accordance with this chapter.
B. 
The organization and all lot owners within the development shall agree to be bound by the provisions of Section 705(d)(2) and (3) of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, Act of July 31, 1968, P.L. 805, No. 247, as amended, 53 P.S. 10705(d)(2) and (3), relating to Township maintenance of deteriorating open space and providing for the ability of the Township to access and lien the properties within the development.
C. 
All lot owners within the development shall be required to become members of the organization and pay assessments for the maintenance of the common open space, which assessments may be increased for inflation and which may provide for professional management.
D. 
The Township may require the formation of a reserve fund to cover capital improvements to the common open space.

§ 1256.12 Density bonus for increased preservation of open space.

[Ord. 253. Passed 2-16-1988. Ord. 377. Passed 9-25-2000]
In order to provide for increased preservation of open space, a developer of a tract in an "AA-1" Residential District may request as a conditional use, in accordance with Section 1298.07, that the tract be permitted to be developed at a higher density, if there is preservation of open space in addition to that required by Section 1256.09. All developments under these density bonus provisions shall meet the following requirements and shall comply with all applicable requirements for cluster developments provided in this chapter, and all common open space shall comply with Section 1256.11.
(a) 
Use Regulations. In a cluster development with density bonus, single-family detached residential dwellings, open space and recreational areas and structures shall be permitted. All residential uses shall be subject to the general regulations applicable to an "AA-1" Residential District, except as specifically modified by Sections 1256.09 through 1256.11 and this section.
(b) 
Density Regulations. The total number of dwelling units which shall be permitted in a cluster development with density bonus shall be contingent upon the percentage of the gross area of the tract reserved for common open space uses in addition to all undevelopable areas. For every 5% of the gross area of the tract reserved for common open space above the minimum required under Section 1256.09(c) (which consists of ten percent of the gross area of the tract plus all undevelopable land), a corresponding five-percent increase shall be allowed in the density as set forth in Section 1256.10(b) up to the maximum of .75 dwelling units per developable acre. The maximum density computed by this method, as set forth in the table below, shall in all cases govern density.
Minimum Open Space
Maximum Density in Dwelling Units Per Developable Acre
15% of the gross area of the tract plus all undevelopable area
.55
20% of the gross area of the tract plus all undevelopable area
.60
25% of the gross area of the tract plus all undevelopable area
.65
30% of the gross area of the tract plus all undevelopable area
.70
35% of the gross area of the tract plus all undevelopable area.
.75
(c) 
Development Standards. The minimum area of any lot and the minimum dimensions of lot width at the building line, front yard, side yards and rear yard which shall be permitted in a cluster development with density bonus shall be contingent upon the percentage of the gross area of the tract reserved for common open space uses in addition to all undevelopable areas. For every 5% of the gross area of the tract reserved for common open space above the minimum required under Section 1256.09(c) (which consists of ten percent of the gross area of the tract plus all undevelopable land) to be reserved for common open space, to a maximum of 35% of the gross area of the tract plus all undevelopable area, a corresponding decrease shall be allowed in the minimum area of any lot and the minimum dimensions for lot width at the building line, front yard, side yards and rear yard as set forth in Section 1256.10. The yard required by Section 1256.10(e)(4) shall not be reduced under this section.
(d) 
Historic or Cultural Resources. In a cluster development with density bonus under this section, as a conditional use, the maximum permitted tract density may be increased by 5% of the 0.50 dwelling unit per developable acre, in addition to the increase set forth in subsection (b) hereof, where the tract contains one or more Township historic or cultural resources, and such Township historic or cultural resources shall be preserved as a part of the development plan.
A Township historic or cultural resource shall be defined as a site or structure listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Pennsylvania Historic Resources Survey, the Montgomery County Inventory of Historic and Cultural Resources, a listing of historic and cultural resources compiled by the Board of Supervisors or the Planning Commission, or other appropriate documentation, or a site or structure seeking listing as a historic resource from any or all of the above listings.

§ 1256.13 Application procedure for cluster development or cluster development with density bonus.

[Ord. 253. Passed 2-16-1988]
A cluster development or cluster development with a density bonus shall be available as a conditional use. All applications for this conditional use shall be made in accordance with the provisions of Section 1299.07. Such applications shall be subsequently considered as a subdivision and/or land development application and shall follow the procedures set forth in the Subdivision and Land Development Regulations.