Township of Lower Moreland, PA
Montgomery County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Commissioners of the Township of Lower Moreland 4-17-1991 by Ord. No. 409.[1] Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Building construction — See Ch. 82.
Floodplain conservation and damage prevention — See Ch. 108.
Property maintenance — See Ch. 150.
Subdivision and land development — See Ch. 180.
Zoning — See Ch. 208.
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance provided that it become effective 4-17-1991.

§ 24-1 District established; purpose.

A. 
The Historic District (hereinafter referred to as the "HD") is hereby established in accordance with an act of the Legislature of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania entitled "Historic Districts" (Act of June 13, 1961, P.L. 282, No. 167), which is described in the Act as follows: "An Act authorizing counties, cities, boroughs, incorporated towns and townships to create historic districts within their geographic boundaries, providing for the appointment of Boards of Historical Architectural Review; empowering governing bodies of political subdivisions to protect the distinctive historical character of these districts and to regulate the erection, reconstruction, alteration, restoration, demolition or razing of buildings within the historic districts."[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 8001 et seq.
B. 
The HD is created to protect the portions of Lower Moreland Township which have a distinctive character recalling the rich architectural and historical heritage of the Township and to make them a source of inspiration to our people by awakening interest in our historic past. Furthermore, the HD is created to promote the economic and general welfare of our citizens; to foster civic beauty through the encouragement of appropriate settings and conservation of desirable character; to promote educational, recreational and cultural activities within the Township; and to advance the principles and goals of the community development of the Township.

§ 24-2 Map.

The area included within the HD shall be as delineated on the Historic District Map of Lower Moreland Township approved by the Board of Commissioners and attached hereto as Exhibit A and made a part of this chapter.[1] Any changes in said map shall be approved by the Board of Commissioners after due consideration by it in accordance with the Act of June 13, 1961, P.L. 282, No. 167, as amended.[2]
[1]
Editor's Note: The Historic District Map is on file in the Township offices.
[2]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 8001 et seq.

§ 24-3 Historical Architectural Review Board established; organization.

An Historical Architectural Review Board, established pursuant to Ordinance No. 290, hereinafter referred to as "HARB," is hereby continued as follows:
A. 
The HARB shall be composed of seven Township residents, to be appointed by the Board of Commissioners. The initial terms of members of the HARB shall be as follows: two members for periods of four years, two members for periods of three years, two members for periods of two years and one member for a term of one year. Thereafter, all members shall be appointed for terms of four years.
B. 
The HARB shall include in its membership persons with the following qualifications:
(1) 
At all times, two members of the HARB, and only two members, shall each be residents of the HD. In the event that a member of the HARB, appointed under the above requirements, shall cease to qualify under such requirements because of removal from residence in the HD or termination of residence in the Township, such member's term of office shall at once automatically end, and the vacancy shall be filled in accordance with this chapter. The person whose term is so terminated may only be reappointed if he later qualifies under the provisions of this subsection or qualifies under the immediately following Subsection B(2).
(2) 
At least one member shall be a registered architect, one member shall be the Township Building Inspector, one member shall be a licensed real estate broker, and the remaining members shall have interest and knowledge in the preservation of historic districts. A person with more than one qualification under this subsection shall be deemed to have only one for the purpose of constituting membership on the HARB, so that one person will not satisfy the above requirements as to more than one qualification.
C. 
A majority of the HARB shall constitute a quorum.
D. 
Annually, the Chairman and officers of the HARB shall be elected by the membership of the HARB.
E. 
The local historical societies shall be invited to submit nominations for the HARB from among local residents interested and knowledgeable about the HARB's mission and objectives.

§ 24-4 Duties of Review Board.

A. 
The HARB shall give counsel to the Board of Commissioners regarding the advisability of issuing any certificate of appropriateness required to be issued pursuant to said Act of June 13, 1961, P.L. 282, No. 167,[1] as from time to time amended, and this chapter. For this purpose, the HARB may make and amend rules and regulations of its organization and procedures consistent with the ordinances of the Township and the laws of the commonwealth. Action taken at any meeting shall require the affirmative vote of a majority of the HARB. The members of the HARB shall serve without compensation and shall make an annual report of their transactions to the Board of Commissioners by March 1 of each succeeding year. Each HARB member shall at all times be required to strictly observe all conflict-of-interest statutes, from time to time adopted, as they are interpreted under applicable cases, and all ordinances or regulations adopted pursuant thereto from time to time. Failure to do so shall be cause for immediate removal by the Board of Commissioners or court proceedings as the Board of Commissioners shall deem advisable.
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 8001 et seq.
B. 
The HARB shall, in addition to the aforementioned duties, have the duties set forth below. In taking any actions under this section, the HARB shall show due regard for the sensibilities of owners of buildings, structures and properties and shall obtain their permission, in writing, before entering into or onto their premises for any of the following purposes:
(1) 
To conduct a survey of buildings and structures for the purpose of determining those of historic or architectural significance and the pertinent facts about them and act in collaboration with appropriate groups to the extent that either may be able to undertake such work; to maintain photographic records of historic sites, buildings and structures, which photographs shall consist of a view of each and every side of said historic sites, buildings and structures; and to maintain and periodically to revise detailed listings of historic sites, buildings and structures with appropriate data about them, appropriately classified with respect to national, state or local significance, to the period or field of interest or otherwise.
(2) 
To periodically propose to the Board of Commissioners, as deemed appropriate, the establishment of additional historic districts or additions or revisions to the existing district(s).
(3) 
To formulate recommendations concerning the preparation and publication of maps, brochures and descriptive materials about the Township's sites and buildings and structures of historical or architectural significance.
(4) 
To formulate recommendations concerning the establishment of an appropriate system of markers for selected historic or architectural sites, buildings and structures, including details for the installation and care of such historic markers.
(5) 
To cooperate with and advise the Board of Commissioners, the Township Planning Commission, other appropriate planning bodies and other Township agencies in matters related to sites, buildings and structures of historic or architectural significance, such as appropriate architectural conformance, land usage, parking facilities, signs, adherence to lot dimensional regulations and minimum structural standards.
(6) 
To cooperate with and enlist assistance from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, the National Park Service and other appropriate agencies, public and private, including local historical societies concerned with historic sites, buildings and structures, in the conduct of the HARB's stated purposes and activities.
(7) 
To advise property owners regarding the appropriateness of external proposed construction, demolition, restoration or other physical alterations to buildings, structures, signs, landscaping or parking facilities within the HD in order to preserve the general historic, architectural and aesthetic character of the HD.
(8) 
To advise owners of historic buildings and structures on the following:
(a) 
Problems of preservation.
(b) 
Appropriate architectural conformity for any external alterations, additions and restoration with the original building or structure and its historic architectural period and in keeping with the general historic, architectural and aesthetic nature of the HD.
(c) 
Assistance concerning such items as external color(s) (paint or otherwise), landscaping, signs, parking and the other physical and aesthetic aspects, thereby promoting restoration and maintenance in keeping with the general historic and architectural nature of the HD.
(9) 
To encourage owners of the building or structure in the HD to consult with the HARB and solicit its assistance.
(10) 
To review and formulate recommendations to the Board of Commissioners on all subdivision and land development applications and proposed zoning changes within the HD and to the Zoning Hearing Board on all requests for variances and special exceptions within the HD. In reviewing requests for authorization or expansion of nonconforming uses, the recommendations shall consider activities which were the original uses of the historic building or structure (e.g., country store, blacksmith shop, carriage house, etc.). In the interest of preserving and restoring the historic and architectural appearance of the HD, consideration shall be given to recommending variations from prescribed yard requirements for porches, step, posts, fences, walls, etc., provided that:
(a) 
Such items are necessary or contributory to authentic restoration, reconstruction or alteration.
(b) 
The items will not constitute a public safety hazard or jeopardize public health and welfare.

§ 24-5 Duties of Building Inspector.

A. 
The Building Inspector shall not issue a permit for any erection, reconstruction, alteration, restoration, demolition or relocation of a building, structure or sign in the HD until the Board of Commissioners has issued a certificate of appropriateness. Upon receipt of an application for a building permit for such work to be done in the HD, the Building Inspector shall act in accordance with the procedures presently being followed in that office, except as those procedures are necessarily modified by the following requirements. The information shall be as reasonably necessary for the Board of Commissioners to make a determination as to a certificate of appropriateness in connection with the specific application:
(1) 
He shall forward to the HARB a copy of the application for a building permit, together with a copy of all plans, specifications and any other information filed by the applicant, within seven days of filing thereof.
(2) 
He shall maintain in his office an appropriate record of all such applications and of his handling and final disposition of the same, including dates related to the various stages of application processing, which shall be in addition to and adequately cross-referenced to his other records.
(3) 
He shall require the applicant to submit, for major external changes and new construction, four copies of the following materials to clearly portray the scope and intent of the project:
(a) 
A plot plan at a scale of one inch equals 10 feet, or such other scale as may be approved by the Building Inspector, showing:
[1] 
Property lines, dimensions and lot number(s); provided, nevertheless, that the Building Inspector may require the applicant to submit professional or architectural drawings.
[2] 
Required setback lines applicable to the property, with dimensions from the property lines.
[3] 
Sidewalk widths and curblines, including dimensions from the property lines.
[4] 
Street(s) bordering property with right-of-way widths shown.
[5] 
Physical features within the property lines, both existing and proposed, e.g., buildings, driveways, walkways, walls, fences, hedges, trees, shrubbery, signs, etc.
(b) 
Floor plans of existing and proposed buildings, including any changes or additions to other physical features of the property {See Subsection A(3)(a)[5] above.} to the extent that external appearance of the building or structure is thereby affected. All such plans shall be to scale.
(c) 
Elevations of the building or structure, to scale, showing existing conditions and proposed additions and changes indicating all materials and colors.
(d) 
Enlarged details of pertinent features of Subsection A(3)(c) above, details to be to scale.
(e) 
Pertinent outline specifications, particularly data related to materials.
(f) 
Any other information deemed applicable to clearly portray the presentation in addition to items listed above.
B. 
If the information accompanying the application is not sufficient, the application shall not be accepted for filing until adequate information is furnished.

§ 24-6 Meeting to discuss application; notice to applicant.

Upon receipt by the HARB of a notice that an application for a building permit for the erection, reconstruction, alteration, restoration, demolition or relocation of a building or structure in the HD has been filed, the HARB shall schedule a meeting within 30 days to consider the advice and suggestions which the HARB will give to the Board of Commissioners. The applicant shall be given notice of the time and place of said meeting and be invited to appear to explain the project. The HARB may advise property owners within or abutting the HD and may invite such other persons or groups as it desires to attend its meeting. The HARB may hold any additional meetings considered necessary to carry out those additional responsibilities stipulated in § 24-4B.

§ 24-7 Consideration and determination of issuance of certificate.

In determining the advice and suggestions to be presented to the Board of Commissioners concerning the issuing of a certificate of appropriateness, which certificate in turn authorizes the issuance of a permit, pertaining to the original building or structure as it existed as of January 17, 1979, for the erection, reconstruction, alteration, restoration, demolition or relocation of all or part of any building or structure within the HD, the HARB shall consider the following:
A. 
The effect of the proposed change upon the general historic and architectural nature of the HD.
B. 
The appropriateness of the following items and the relation of these and similar factors and features of buildings or structures in the HD where they are visible from a public street or way:
(1) 
Mass, including height, bulk and the nature of the roofline.
(2) 
Proportions, including height to width.
(3) 
Yard space.
(4) 
Landscaping and use of paved areas.
(5) 
Facade openings for doors and windows, including their size, locations and proportions.
(6) 
Type of roof.
(7) 
Projections, including porches, eaves and bays.
(8) 
Materials.
(9) 
Color.
(10) 
Texture.
(11) 
Ornamentation.
(12) 
Signage.
C. 
Moving and relocation shall receive due consideration as an ultimate alternative to the preservation of the building, structure or sign.
D. 
The Board of Commissioners shall give due consideration to both the HARB's recommendation and the applicant's position, and the Board of Commissioners shall exercise its independent discretion in making its determination as to the issuance or refusal of a certificate of appropriateness under this chapter, the recommendation of the HARB being merely advisory in nature.

§ 24-8 Denial of certificate; submission of suggested plans to applicant and Board of Commissioners.

A. 
If the HARB, on the basis of the information received from the applicant and, if deemed beneficial, information or assistance from other persons, Township officials or agencies and its general background and knowledge, decides to recommend against the granting of a certificate of appropriateness, it shall indicate to the applicant and/or owner the changes in plans, specifications or other documentation, if any, which, in the opinion of the HARB, would protect the distinctive historical character of the HD. The HARB shall withhold its report to the Board of Commissioners for a period of 10 calendar days following its discussion for the applicant and/or owner to decide whether or not to make the suggested changes in his plans, specifications and other documentation. If the applicant and/or owner determines that he will make the suggested changes, he shall so advise the HARB, which shall advise the Board of Commissioners, in writing, accordingly and hold the application in abeyance pending receipt of revised plans, specifications and other documentation for review by the HARB for compliance with the suggested changes.
B. 
The HARB, after the first meeting with the applicant provided for in § 24-6 of this chapter, shall submit to the Board of Commissioners, in writing, within 60 days of the date of application, unless the application is held in abeyance pursuant to § 24-8A, its advice and suggestions concerning the issuance of a certificate of appropriateness, recommending the authorization or rejection of a permit for the erection, reconstruction, alteration, restoration, demolition or relocation of all or a part of any building or structure within the HD. The written report shall state the following facts:
(1) 
The exact location of the area in which the work is to be done.
(2) 
The changes to be made to the building or structure, particularly to the exterior character of the work to be constructed.
(3) 
The effect of the proposed changes upon the general historic and architectural nature of the HD.
(4) 
The appropriateness of the proposed architectural features.
(5) 
The general design, arrangement, texture, material and colors of the building or structure and the relation of such features to similar features of the buildings or structures to the HD.
(6) 
The opinion of the HARB, whether favorable, unfavorable or evenly divided, and including any dissent, as to the appropriateness of the proposed work and how it will preserve or destroy the historic aspect and character of the HD.
(7) 
The specific advice and suggestions of the HARB to the issuance by the Board of Commissioners of a certificate of appropriateness.
(8) 
A tie vote of the HARB as to its recommendation or opinion shall be reported with or without comment to the Board of Commissioners for its action under § 24-9.

§ 24-9 Consideration of application by Board of Commissioners.

Upon receipt of the written recommendations of the HARB as provided in § 24-8B of this chapter, the Board of Commissioners shall consider at a regular or special meeting the question of issuing a certificate of appropriateness authorizing a permit for the work covered by the application within. The applicant shall be advised by the Township Manager of the time and place of the meeting (with 10 days' advance notice) at which the application will be considered, and the applicant shall have the right to attend to be heard. In determining whether or not to certify the appropriateness of the proposed erection, reconstruction, alteration, restoration, demolition or relocation of all or a part of any building or structure within the HD, the Board of Commissioners shall consider the same factors as the HARB, as set forth in § 24-7 of this chapter, and the report of the HARB. If the Board of Commissioners approves the application, it shall issue a certificate of appropriateness authorizing the Building Inspector to issue a permit for the proposed work. If the Board of Commissioners disapproves, it shall do so in writing, and copies shall be given to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. The disapproval shall indicate what changes in the plans and specifications, if any, would meet the conditions for protecting the distinctly historical character of the HD. Action by the Board of Commissioners shall be by majority vote, which shall be taken no later than 90 days after the application for a permit under this chapter, unless the application is held in abeyance pursuant to § 24-8A. Failure by the Board of Commissioners to act within such time shall be deemed an approval of the application for a certificate of appropriateness.

§ 24-10 Denial of building permit.

Upon receipt of the written disapproval of the Board of Commissioners, the Building Inspector shall disapprove the application for a building permit and so advise the applicant. The applicant may appeal from the disapproval as provided by law and ordinances of the Township. The Township Manager shall have the power to institute any proceedings at law or in equity necessary for the enforcement of this chapter and/or the other Township codes as presently enacted and as may be subsequently amended. Such disapproval shall entitle the applicant to pursue all remedies available by proceedings in court, as may from time to time be provided under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

§ 24-11 Study of district.

The HARB shall study the land use, building sizes and setbacks, lot sizes, landscaping and other physical characteristics within the HD. When any such study requires entry onto or within private property limits, the consent of the owner must be obtained in writing. When warranted, the HARB may recommend any changes or revisions of zoning which should be implemented to further the intent of this chapter to the Board of Supervisors. As part of this effort, the HARB, in conjunction with the Planning Commission, may employ, after approval of the Board of Commissioners, the services of professional consultants in the field of community planning, architectural design and historical preservation.

§ 24-12 Violations and penalties.

Any person, firm or corporation who fails to obtain a permit pursuant to this chapter or who exceeds the terms of any permit granted hereunder shall be subject to prosecution before a District Justice and, upon conviction, shall be sentenced to pay the costs of prosecution and a fine not to exceed $600.