Borough of Girard, PA
Erie County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents

§ 425-14 Nonconforming uses.

[Amended 10-19-1992 by Ord. No. 614]
The following provisions shall apply to all nonconforming uses or structures:
A. 
A nonconforming use or a nonconforming structure may be continued but may not be extended, expanded, or changed, unless to a conforming use, except as permitted by the Zoning Hearing Board in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
B. 
The Zoning Officer shall identify and register all nonconforming uses and structures as required by Act 247, as amended.[1] A zoning certificate shall then be issued to the owner of said use or structure.
[1]:
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10101 et seq.
C. 
Any nonconforming structure damaged by fire, flood, explosion, or other casualty may be reconstructed and used as before if such reconstruction is performed within 12 months of such casualty, and if the restored structure has no greater coverage and contains no greater cubic content than before such casualty.
D. 
In the event that any nonconforming use, conducted in a structure or otherwise, ceases, for whatever reason, for a period of one year, or is abandoned for any period, such nonconforming use shall not be resumed.

§ 425-15 Accessory uses.

The following provisions shall apply to accessory uses:
A. 
Accessory farm buildings shall not be erected within 100 feet of a neighboring property.
(1) 
Feed lots, runs, pens, kennels, and similar facilities used for commercial animal raising and care shall not be permitted within the Borough. General agriculture activities are permitted to every lot line.
(2) 
Roadside stands for sale of homegrown fruits and vegetables shall be permitted if they do not entail a structure having a floor area greater than 100 square feet, are erected at least 30 feet off the road, parking space is provided off the road, and are conducted on the property from which the crops were grown.
B. 
Every swimming pool shall be enclosed by a fence or wall not less than six feet high to prevent uncontrolled access by small children. The requirement shall supersede all other fencing requirements of this chapter, providing said fence is offset the minimum distance required for a side yard from the edge of the property. Swimming pools 24 inches and less are exempt.
[Amended 1-21-2013 by Ord. No. 725]
C. 
The exterior storage of not more than one motor vehicle which does not have a current inspection sticker shall be considered an accessory use, but two or more shall constitute an auto salvage business and shall not be permitted as an accessory use.
D. 
An open screening wall or fence no more than four feet in height may be erected in the front and side yards of any structure. An open or solid screening wall or fence no more than six feet in height may be constructed in the rear yard of any structure. For purposes of this subsection, the line of demarcation between rear and side yards shall be determined to be the rear wall of the building. A fence not exceeding 10 feet in height may be built in any yard used for public schools, public playgrounds, public parks, public recreation or public institution areas. On corner lots, no fence or enclosure hedge exceeding three feet in height may be erected within 50 feet of the intersection of the curblines.
E. 
No fence shall be constructed within 18 inches of the sidewalk in the front, side or rear yards.
[Added 8-16-2004 by Ord. No. 687]

§ 425-16 Special exceptions.

The following uses may be authorized with such conditions as are deemed appropriate by the Zoning Hearing Board:
A. 
Living quarters in an accessory structure as an accessory use to a single-family house to accommodate domestic employees of the residents of the principal building.
B. 
The accommodation of not more than two nontransient roomers as an accessory use to a single-family house, provided that no sign is displayed.
C. 
Directional signs of a reasonable size in connection with any legal business or industry, provided they contain no information other than instructions for convenience of vehicular traffic in reaching such business or industry.
D. 
Temporary structures and trailers used in conjunction with construction work may be permitted only during the period that the construction work is in progress. Permits for temporary structures shall be issued for a six-month period.
E. 
Sheds: one-story detached accessory buildings used as tool or storage sheds, playhouses or similar uses. The structure must be on a lot where there is an existing single-family dwelling. The structure cannot be designed for human habitation. The gross floor area must not exceed 200 square feet, and the total height must not exceed 10 feet. The structure must be subordinate to the main dwelling. The structure, including soffit, fascia and appurtenances, must be at least 10 feet from each property line and cannot be placed in the front yard. No plumbing or gas installation in the accessory building is allowed. Electrical installation in the accessory building shall be subject to permitting. When an inspection is performed for electrical, the inspector is obligated to address any apparent violation of the Pennsylvania Building Code, when found. To apply for the residential accessory use exemption, a zoning certificate must be filled out and approved by the Zoning Administrator and the applicable fee must be paid.
[Amended 7-15-2013 by Ord. No. 728]
F. 
A swimming pool to be located within the minimum rear or side yard depth, provided the same is approved as to size, construction, material, safety features, location and shielding.
G. 
Wheelchair ramp. A wheelchair ramp may be added to a residence to allow accessibility to a home, provided it meets the Federal ADA standards and the most current Pennsylvania Building Code standards and is built at least 24 inches from any property line. To apply for the residential accessory use exemption, a zoning certificate must be filled out and approved by the Zoning Administrator and the applicable fee must be paid. A building permit must also be obtained, if needed, and all conditions of same met.
[Added 7-15-2013 by Ord. No. 728]

§ 425-17 Signs.

[Amended 4-21-2003 by Ord. No. 679; 7-15-2013 by Ord. No. 727]
A. 
General sign provisions applicable to all zoning districts.
(1) 
No person shall erect, alter, place or permit to be placed, or replace any sign without first obtaining a zoning certificate and building permit, unless otherwise exempted. All signs shall conform to the requirements of this section and the most current Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code. All signs, as defined, shall require a permit for the erection and maintenance of the same, unless otherwise exempted.
(2) 
Each application for a sign permit shall be accompanied by a drawing, to scale, showing the design which is being proposed, the size, character and color of letter, lines and symbols, the method of illumination, the exact location of the sign in relation to the building and property and construction details. The application shall be accompanied by the permit fee, as designated in the appropriate municipal resolution.
(3) 
Any permit issued by the Zoning Officer for erection, alteration, replacement or relocation of any sign shall expire automatically 12 months after the date of issuance if work authorized by the permit has not been initiated and diligently pursued.
(4) 
Sign supports, braces, guys and anchors shall be maintained in such a manner as not to cause a hazard.
(5) 
Signs shall be maintained free of peeling paint or paper, fading, staining, rust, or other condition which impairs legibility or intelligibility. All signs shall be constructed of a durable material and maintained in good condition. All signs, other than those constructed of decay-resistant wood, shall bear a protective treatment to guard against rust or decay. Signs using removable paper or other materials and general signs bearing protective coatings such as paint shall be maintained in such condition as to eliminate loose or frayed material protruding or hanging or falling from the structure. Any sign found to be in an unsafe or poorly maintained condition upon inspection shall be declared to be a public nuisance, and the Zoning Officer shall give notice to the owner, in writing, to repair or remove the sign within 10 days. Upon failure of the owner to comply, the municipality shall remove the sign at the owner's expense in accordance with state and local law.
(6) 
Signs may be internally illuminated, or, if externally illuminated, the source of the light shall be enclosed and directed to prevent the source of light from shining directly onto traffic or residential property.
(7) 
Illumination.
(a) 
Illumination, when authorized by this section, shall be directed upon the sign face and not towards adjoining properties or streets.
(b) 
Flashing or oscillating signs shall not be permitted.
(c) 
Lighting shall be stationary and constant in intensity and color at all times.
(d) 
The intensity of any source of illumination of any sign, whether indirect or internal, shall be controlled so as to not exceed a maximum of 1.0 footcandle at the property line.
(e) 
External light bulb fixtures shall project no colors.
(f) 
Lighting emitted by signage shall be subject to lighting standards otherwise applicable to the property.
(8) 
No sign shall be placed in, upon or over any public right-of-way, alley, or other public place, except as may be otherwise permitted by this section.
(9) 
No light pole, utility pole, or other supporting member shall be used for the placement of any sign unless specifically designed and approved for such use.
(10) 
No sign shall be erected in any place where it may, by reason of its position, shape, color, or other characteristic, interfere with, obstruct the view of, or be confused with any authorized traffic sign, signal, or device.
(11) 
No sign shall be located in such a position that it will cause a hazard by obstructing visibility. No sign shall interfere with minimum site distance required by PENNDOT standards from access drives to a street. No sign, other than official traffic signs and off-premises directional signs, shall hang over or be erected within the right-of-way of any street.
(12) 
No commercial vehicle which, in the opinion of the Zoning Administrator, has the intended function of acting as a sign shall be parked in any area abutting the street, unless no other parking area is available.
(13) 
No sign shall contain any moving or animated parts or have the appearance of having any moving or animated parts, provided that variable time/temperature signs, digital signs and electronic message boards may be permitted in accordance with § 425-17F(10).
(14) 
No wall sign shall extend above the roofline of a building.
(15) 
No sign shall be permitted within street lines (curb lawns), except those of a duly constituted governmental body, including traffic signs, and similar regulatory notices. [Ordinance 679; Section 4(F)(1)[1]]
[1]:
Editor's Note: For the provisions of this section, originally adopted by Ord. No. 679, see § 425-17D(2)(a).
(16) 
No signs shall contain information or advertising for any product or service not sold on the premises.
(17) 
Existing nonconforming signs. Every sign or other advertising structure lawfully in existence on the effective date of this section may not be replaced, altered or relocated, unless it is made to comply with this section, except in the case of a sign accidentally damaged or destroyed. A change in wording of the sign message does not constitute replacement, alteration or relocation and, as such, shall be permitted.
(18) 
All setbacks specified within this section shall apply to the entirety of the sign, including elements that overhang or extend from the supporting structure.
(19) 
No part of any sign shall emit noise.
(20) 
A sign shall bear no more than two faces.
(21) 
Obscene signs are prohibited. No sign shall utilize sexually explicit or suggestive language or graphics or any illustration of "specified sexual activities" or "specified anatomical areas" as defined in this Code[2] and/or which bears language deemed obscene by Ordinance 15 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, Public Indecency.
[2]:
Editor's Note: See Ch. 325, Sexually Oriented Businesses.
(22) 
Automatic changeable-copy signs shall not bear advertising or mention of an establishment, an activity, a product, a service or entertainment which is sold, produced, manufactured, available or furnished at a site other than on the premises on which the sign is located.
(23) 
Within 90 days of a business's closing, the sign copy of the associated obsolete sign or signs shall be removed or obscured in a manner commensurate with general construction standards outlined herein.
B. 
Prohibited signs applicable to all zoning districts.
(1) 
A sign that is not permitted by this section is prohibited.
(2) 
The following additional sign types are expressly prohibited.
(a) 
Billboards.
(b) 
Roof signs.
(c) 
Portable signs and temporary signs, except as may be otherwise permitted.
C. 
Nonconforming signs, illegal signs and signs accessory to nonconforming uses applicable to all zoning districts.
(1) 
Every permanent sign which does not conform to the height, size, area, or location requirements of this section as of the date of the adoption of this section is hereby deemed to be nonconforming.
(2) 
Nonconforming signs may not be altered, expanded, enlarged, or extended; however, nonconforming signs may be maintained and repaired so as to continue the useful life of the sign. An existing nonconforming sign, including a billboard, shall not be changed to a digital sign.
(3) 
For purposes of this section, a nonconforming sign may be diminished in size or dimension or the copy of the sign amended or changed without jeopardizing the privilege of nonconforming use. If a sign is nonconforming in its setback, this section shall not apply, and the sign shall not be replaced.
(4) 
Any nonconforming sign destroyed by fire or other casualty loss shall not be restored or rebuilt if reconstruction will constitute more than 50% of the surface of the sign on the date of loss.
(5) 
Any sign which, for a period of six months or more, no longer advertises a bona fide business conducted or product sold shall be removed by the owner of the building, structure, or property upon which such sign is located, within 30 days of receipt of written notice by the Zoning Administrator.
(6) 
A sign accessory to a nonconforming use may be erected in the Borough in accordance with the sign regulations for the subject zoning district.
D. 
Exempted signs applicable to all zoning districts.
(1) 
The following signs shall be permitted in all districts, and no permit shall be required to erect such signs:
(a) 
Temporary signs announcing a drive or event of a civic, philanthropic, educational or religious organization, providing such sign shall not exceed 32 square feet in area and shall be removed immediately upon completion of the drive or event.
(b) 
Signs offering the sale or rental of the premises upon which the sign is erected. Not more than one sign shall be placed on the property, unless such property fronts on more than one street, in which case one sign may be erected on each street frontage.
(c) 
Temporary signs of contractors, developers, architects, engineers, builders and artisans, erected and maintained on the premises where the work is being performed, provided that the area of such sign shall not exceed 32 square feet, and provided that such sign shall be removed upon completion of the work.
(d) 
Trespassing signs, signs indicating the private nature of a road, driveway or premises and signs controlling fishing or hunting on the premises, provided that the area of such sign shall not exceed four square feet.
(2) 
The following signs shall be permitted:
(a) 
No sign shall be permitted within street lines (curb lawns), except those of a duly constituted governmental body, including traffic signs, and similar regulatory notices.
(b) 
Political signs are permitted on private property only after obtaining the consent of the owner.[3]
[3]:
Editor's Note: See also Ch. 331, Art. I, Political Signs.
(c) 
In commercial districts, special temporary promotional devices, signs or displays, such as banners or pennants, are permitted. Where such signs are outside of a building, they shall remain on display for a period not to exceed 30 consecutive days.
E. 
Units of measurement applicable to all zoning districts.
(1) 
The area of a sign shall be measured as the area within a single, continuous perimeter composed of any straight-line geometric figure which encloses the extreme limits of writing, representation, emblem, logo, or any other figure of similar character, together with any frame or other material or color forming an integral part of the display or used to differentiate the sign from the background against which it is placed, excluding only the structure necessary to support the sign.
(2) 
The area of a freestanding, ground, or projecting sign that has two faces shall be measured by including the area of all sign faces, except that if two such faces are placed back-to-back and are of equal size, the area of the two back-to-back faces shall be counted as one face. If the two back-to-back faces are of unequal size, the larger of the two sign faces shall be counted as the one face.
(3) 
The height of a sign shall be measured as the vertical distance from the highest point of the sign to the grade of the adjacent street or the average grade of the ground immediately beneath the sign, whichever is less.
(4) 
For buildings with multiple tenants, the sign areas for wall signs, marquee signs, projecting signs, and awning signs shall be determined by taking that portion of the front wall of the building, applicable to each tenant space, and computing sign requirements for that portion of the total wall. In the case of a corner lot, the wall area adjacent to the tenant space on the second street frontage shall be used to calculate the sign area for a second wall sign, awning sign, or projecting sign. Each sign shall be attached to the same wall which is used to determine its size.
F. 
Sign regulations applicable to all zoning districts.
(1) 
Temporary signs are subject to Ordinance 679.[4]
[4]:
Editor's Note: The provisions originally adopted by Ord. No. 679 are codified as § 425-17D(1) and (2).
(2) 
All ground, wall and freestanding signs may include message boards and digital signs.
(3) 
Electronic message boards and digital signs shall be subject to § 425.17F(10).
(4) 
No sign or other structure shall be erected, constructed or maintained over or across any sidewalk of the Borough, the lowest part of which or the supports of which are less than 10 feet above the highest point of the underlying sidewalk. Signs which project from any building over a sidewalk shall not project more than 2/3 of the distance from the building to the curb.
(5) 
Real estate signs shall be removed within seven days after completion of the sale or lease of the property.
(6) 
Construction signs are permitted within any zoned district, subject to Ordinance 679.[5]
[5]:
Editor's Note: The provisions originally adopted by Ord. No. 679 are codified as § 425-17D(1) and (2).
(7) 
Special event signs are permitted within any zoned district, subject to Ordinance 679.[6]
[6]:
Editor's Note: The provisions originally adopted by Ord. No. 679 are codified as § 425-17D(1) and (2).
(8) 
Directional signs are permitted subject to the following restrictions:
(a) 
A directional sign may contain a logo of an on-premises establishment, but no advertising copy.
(b) 
No such sign shall exceed six square feet in area or four feet in height.
(c) 
Directional signs shall be limited to traffic control functions.
(9) 
Garage and estate sale signs are permitted subject to the following restrictions:
(a) 
One sign per lot or parcel is permitted, located on the lot or parcel on which such sale is being conducted, or on any other lot or parcel with the permission of the property owner, and erected outside of any public street right-of-way.
(b) 
Such sign shall not exceed six square feet in area.
(c) 
Such sign shall be erected no more than seven days prior to the day(s) of the sale and shall be removed within one day after the completion of the sale.
(10) 
Message boards, digital signs and electronic message boards are permitted subject to the following restrictions, as applicable:
(a) 
Only one digital sign shall be permitted on a lot or parcel; the size of which may not exceed 30 inches by 84 inches (2.5 feet by seven feet).
(b) 
Messages displayed on digital signs located within any zoning district shall have a minimum duration of 10 seconds.
(c) 
All electronic messages shall be static, and the transition between messages shall be instantaneous, with no more than 0.3 second between messages.
(d) 
No digital sign shall create glare or have characteristics that impair the vision of motorists or create a nuisance for surrounding properties.
(e) 
The digital sign shall not be illuminated beyond the default settings of the manufacturer's brightness or dimming controls.
(f) 
The digital sign shall have automatic dimming capabilities that adjust the brightness of the sign to changes in the ambient light levels at all times of the day and night.
(g) 
The owner of the sign shall allow the Borough to use the electronic message board to communicate emergency public service information relating to disasters or emergencies.
(h) 
Audio speakers or any form of pyrotechnics are prohibited in conjunction with a manual or electronic message board.
(i) 
Any property on which is located a manual or an electronic message board shall not be permitted to have a temporary sign or a sign displayed on a vehicle.
(j) 
Any digital sign that is not in working order shall be shut off until repairs are made.
G. 
Schedule of sign regulations. Signs in each zoning district shall be subject to the following regulations:
(1) 
R-1A, R-1, R-2, and R-3 Zoning District: permitted signs.
(a) 
In any residential district, a sign is permitted which announces the name, address, or professional activity of the occupant of the premises on which said sign is located and is reflective of the character of the neighborhood.
[1] 
No sign shall be permitted to exceed the following dimensions: 68 inches horizontal plane; 34 inches vertical plane; and 18 inches of space between the sign and the ground, for a total of 52 inches.
[2] 
Signs must be located 14 feet from the sidewalk.
[3] 
Sign posts shall not be more than four inches in diameter and 55 inches high. (See Attachment A.[7])
[7]:
Editor's Note: See the Girard Borough Sign Requirement diagram included as an attachment to this chapter.
(2) 
Church, school or similar public structure.
(a) 
A bulletin board not exceeding 24 square feet is permitted in connection with any church, school or similar public structure.
(3) 
C-1, C-2, M-1 Zoning Districts: permitted signs.
(a) 
Business signs shall be permitted in commercial and manufacturing districts in connection with any legal business or industry when located on the same premises and if they meet the following requirements:
[1] 
Signs shall not contain information or advertising for any product or service not sold on the premises.
[2] 
Signs shall not have a combined aggregate surface size greater than five square feet for each foot of width of the principal structure on the premises.
[3] 
No sign or other structure shall be erected, constructed or maintained over or across any sidewalk of the Borough, the lowest part of which or the supports of which are less than 10 feet above the highest point of the underlying sidewalk. Signs which project from any building over a sidewalk shall not project more than 2/3 of the distance from the building to the curb.
[4] 
Signs, open areas, and structures shall not be illuminated in any manner which causes undue distraction, confusion or hazard to vehicular traffic.
[5] 
One freestanding sign is permitted for each property to a maximum size of 25 feet in height and 20 feet in width and must also comply with § 425-7G(3)(a)[2].
H. 
Special land uses.
(1) 
Billboards.
(a) 
Billboards shall not be permitted.
(b) 
No portion of the face or structure of any existing billboard shall include any moving parts or changing illumination.
(c) 
No existing billboard shall permit the advertising or other display of tobacco products, alcohol products, or sexually oriented business.
I. 
Violations and penalties. Upon a determination by the Girard Borough Manager that a violation of this section has occurred, the following action shall be taken:
(1) 
The Borough Manager shall direct a registered or certified letter notice to the owner of such property. The owner shall be determined by reviewing the county tax assessment records of the most current year. Said letter shall be mailed to the address as determined by such records.
(2) 
The said letter notice shall inform the said owner as to the violation of this section, citing the reason for violation and giving the owner 15 days to remove the reason for the violation. If the owner, occupant, mortgagee, or lessee fails to comply with the order of the Borough within the time specified in the notice and no petition for a hearing before Borough Council is filed by the owner within 10 days thereafter, or following a hearing by the Girard Council where the order is sustained thereby, the Borough shall cause such building or structure to be repaired, vacated, or demolished, as determined by the Girard Borough Manager in accordance with the standards hereinbefore provided. The Girard Borough may collect the cost of such repair, vacation or demolition, together with a penalty of 10% of such cost, in the manner provided by law, or the Girard Borough may seek injunctive relief in a court of competent jurisdiction pursuant to the Rules of Civil Procedure, or a combination of the above, and charge the cost thereof to such owner.

§ 425-18 Off-street parking.

[Amended 3-15-1982 by Ord. No. 530]
A. 
Off-street parking spaces shall be provided in accordance with the specifications in this section in any district whenever any new use is established or existing use or structure is enlarged.
Use Parking Space Required
Dwelling 2 for each dwelling unit
Dwelling (single- and two-family) 2 for each dwelling unit
Church, theatre, school 1 for every 4 seats in largest meeting room
Stores, shops, restaurants, clubs, funeral homes 1 for every 100 square feet of public floor space
Business services, warehouses, professional offices 1 for every 300 square feet of gross floor area
Manufacturing plants 1 for every 2 employees
Hospitals 1 for every 2 beds
Motels 1 for every rental unit
Multifamily dwellings The number of parking spaces shall comply with the provisions of Article VII
B. 
No off-street parking space shall have an area less than 200 square feet, exclusive of access drives, and shall not be less than 10 feet by 20 feet in size.
C. 
Any off-street parking lot for more than five vehicles shall be graded for proper drainage and surfaced so as to provide a durable and dustless surface. A design plan must be submitted for approval by the Planning Commission.
D. 
Any lighting used to illuminate any off-street parking lot shall be so arranged as to reflect the light away from adjoining premises in any residential district.

§ 425-19 Off-street loading.

One off-street berth of not less than 35 feet by 10 feet shall be provided by every business and industrial use with a floor area of more than 5,000 square feet, with one additional berth required for each additional 25,000 square feet of floor area.

§ 425-20 Environmental protection requirements.

The following provisions shall apply to all uses of land in all districts unless otherwise noted:
A. 
No cut or fill grade shall exceed a slope of three to one or 33%. This provision shall apply to all cuts and fill exceeding 100 square feet in exposed surface area, including cuts and fills on land naturally exceeding three to one in slope.
B. 
All lands, regardless of their slope, from which structures or natural cover has been removed or otherwise destroyed shall be appropriately graded and seeded within a reasonable time of such clearance activity. The phrase "a reasonable time" shall be interpreted to be within two weeks during the growing season and shall be rigidly applied to construction activities in order to accomplish the intent of keeping erosion to an absolute minimum.
C. 
No cutting, fill, or other disturbing of land and natural vegetation is permissible within 50 feet of the edge of natural drainagecourses, except as permitted by action of the Zoning Hearing Board. In such cases, the Board may grant permission, provided special precautions are taken to insure against continuing erosion or other circumstances which may be harmful to the immediate watercourse or in any way pollute the stream.
D. 
The entrance grade of all structures shall be at least 1/4 inch in height above the established curve or grade elevation for each foot in distance therefrom.

§ 425-21 Manufactured or mobile homes; manufactured or mobile home parks.

[Added 10-19-2009 by Ord. No. 704]
The following provisions shall apply to all manufactured or mobile homes and manufactured or mobile home parks:
A. 
A manufactured or mobile home may be located in an R-1 Zoning District.
B. 
A manufactured or mobile home park may be located in an R-1 Zoning District.
C. 
Manufactured or mobile homes shall be subject to conditions prescribed in an R-1 Residential District herein, plus those conditions prescribed in Chapter 259, Article I, Mobile Homes.
D. 
Manufactured or mobile home parks shall be subject to conditions prescribed in an R-1 Residential District herein, plus those conditions prescribed in Chapter 259, Article II, Manufactured and Mobile Home Parks.