Township of Whitpain, PA
Montgomery County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of the Township of Whitpain 5-13-1974 by Ord. No. 95. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Building construction — See Ch. 71.
Subdivision and land development — See Ch. 129.
Chapters subject to fee schedule — See Ch. A166.
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Whitpain Township Grading Ordinance."
The purpose of this chapter is to provide minimum standards to safeguard persons, to protect property and to promote the public welfare by regulating and controlling the design, construction, quality of materials, use, location and maintenance of grading, excavations and fills.
Whenever used in this chapter, the following words shall have the meaning indicated:
BUILDING PERMIT
A permit issued by the Building Official pursuant to Whitpain Township regulations for the construction, erection or alteration of a structure or building.
EXCAVATION
Any act by which earth, sand, gravel, rock or any other similar material is cut into, dug, quarried, uncovered, removed, displaced, relocated or bulldozed, and includes the conditions resulting therefrom.
FILL
Any act by which earth, sand, gravel, rock or any other material is deposited, placed, pushed, dumped, pulled, transported or moved to a new location, and includes the conditions resulting therefrom.
GRADE
The elevation of the existing ground surface at the location of any proposed excavation or fill.
GRADING
Excavation or fill or any combination thereof, and includes the conditions resulting from any excavation or fill.
GRADING PERMIT
Any permit required under § 96-5 hereof.
PERSON
A natural person but shall also include a partnership or corporation.
SITE
A lot, tract or parcel of land, or a series of lots, tracts or parcels of land joined together, where grading work is continuous and performed at the same time.
New grading, excavations and fills, or changes, additions, repairs or alterations made to existing excavations and fills, shall conform to the provisions of this chapter, except that this chapter shall not apply to:
A. 
Work in a public street or alley or in a township park, playground or recreation area or on other public property.
B. 
The mining, quarrying, excavating, processing or stockpiling of rocks, sand, aggregate or clay unless such work affects the support of adjacent or contiguous property or structures.
C. 
The depositing of rubbish or other material at any dump operated by the township.
No person shall commence or perform any grading, excavation or fill without first having obtained a grading permit from the Township Engineer. A separate grading permit shall be required for each site. One permit may cover both an excavation and any fill made on the same site. A grading permit will not be required, however, in the following situations, but in all other respects the provisions of this chapter shall apply:
A. 
An excavation which does not exceed three feet in vertical depth at its deepest point measured from the natural ground surface nor cover an area of more than 1,000 square feet. This exception shall not affect the applicability of this chapter to, or the requirement of a grading permit for, any fill made with the material from such excavation.
B. 
A fill which does not exceed 10 cubic yards of material on any one site or a fill which does not exceed three feet in vertical depth at its deepest point measured from the natural ground surface, nor cover an area of more than 1,000 square feet, provided that the surfaces of such fills do not have a slope at any point steeper than five horizontal to one vertical.
C. 
An excavation below finished grade for basements and footings of a building, swimming pool or underground structure authorized by a building permit and excavation for a driveway between a building site and the street. This exception shall not affect the applicability of this chapter to, or the requirement of a grading permit for, any fill made with the material from such excavation. A grading permit shall not be required for the temporary stockpiling on the same site of the material from such excavation.
D. 
A single-family house site where the maximum gradient between property lines or the maximum excavation or fill (exclusive of the situations referred to in Subsection C hereof) does not exceed the grades or quantities set forth in the following table:
Single-Family House Site
(square feet)
Maximum Gradient Without Permit
(feet)
Maximum Excavation or Fill Without Permit
(cubic yards)
Less than 6,000
12 in 100
75
6,000 to 10,000
15 in 100
100
10,000 to 18,000
15 in 100
200
18,000 to 30,000
15 in 100
250
Over 30,000
20 in 100
250
A. 
Every applicant for a grading permit shall file a written application therefor with the Township Engineer. Such application shall:
(1) 
Describe the land on which the proposed work is to be done, by lot, block, tract or street address or similar description which will readily identify and definitely locate the proposed work.
(2) 
Be accompanied by plans and specifications prepared by a registered engineer, including: a contour map showing the present contours of the land and the proposed contours of the land after completion of the proposed grading; a plot plan showing the location of the grading, boundaries, lot lines, neighboring streets and alleys, buildings, trees over 10 inches in diameter two feet above the ground and sufficient dimensions and other data to show the location of all work; description of the type and classification of the soil; details and location of any proposed drainage structures and pipes, walls and cribbing; nature of fill material and such other information as the Township Engineer may require to carry out the purposes of this chapter. All plans shall be dated and bear the names of the person who prepared the same, the applicant and the owner of the land. Plans shall be submitted in triplicate.
(3) 
State the estimated dates for the starting and completion of the grading work.
(4) 
State the purpose for which the grading application is filed.
B. 
The Township Engineer may waive the requirement for any or all plans and specifications listed above if he finds that the information on the application is sufficient to show that the work will conform to the provisions of this chapter.
[Amended 5-19-1986 by Ord. No. 165]
Before issuing a grading permit, the township shall collect a permit fee in accordance with a schedule of fees as adopted and revised from time to time by resolution of the Board of Supervisors and on file in the office of the Township Manager.
The owner shall pay the actual cost of any material tests and reimburse the township for necessary inspection at the current rate for each hour or portion thereof that a township inspector is engaged on the work.
Every grading permit shall expire by limitation and become null and void if the work authorized by such permit has not been commenced within six months or is not completed within one year from the date of issue, provided that the Township Engineer may, if the permit holder presents satisfactory evidence that unusual difficulties have prevented work from being started or completed within the specified time limit, grant a reasonable extension of time, and provided further that the application for the extension of time is made before the date of expiration of the permit.
A. 
Where, in the opinion of the Township Engineer, the work as proposed by the applicant is likely to endanger any property or any street or alley, he shall deny the grading permit. In determining whether the proposed work is likely to endanger property or streets or alleys or create hazardous conditions, the Township Engineer shall give due consideration to: possible saturation by rains, earth movements, runoff of surface waters and subsurface conditions such as the stratification and faulting of rock and the nature and type of the soil or rock.
B. 
The Board of Supervisors shall consider promptly appeals from the provisions of this chapter or from the determinations of the Township Engineer, and the Board shall make determinations of alternate methods, standards or materials when in its opinion strict compliance with the provisions of this chapter is unnecessary. Any applicant or permit holder shall have the right to appeal to any court of competent jurisdiction from any decision or determination of the Board of Supervisors.
A. 
The Township Engineer shall, when requested, make the inspections hereinafter required and shall either approve that portion of the work which has been completed or notify the permit holder wherein the same fails to comply with the provisions of this chapter. Where it is found by inspection that the soil or other conditions are not as stated or shown in the application, the Township Engineer may refuse to approve further work until approval is obtained for a revised grading plan conforming to existing conditions.
B. 
Plans for grading work, bearing the stamp of approval of the Township Engineer, shall be maintained at the site during the progress of the grading work and until the work has been approved.
C. 
The permit holder shall notify the Township Engineer in order to obtain inspections in accordance with the following schedule and at least 24 hours before the inspection is to be made:
(1) 
Initial inspection. When work on the excavation or fill is to be commenced.
(2) 
Rough grading. When all rough grading has been completed.
(3) 
Drainage facilities. When drainage facilities are to be installed and before such facilities are backfilled.
(4) 
Special structures. When excavations are completed for retaining or crib walls and when reinforcing steel is in place and before concrete is poured.
(5) 
Final inspection. When all work, including the installation of all drainage and other structures, has been completed.
D. 
If at any stage of the work the Township Engineer shall determine by inspection that the nature of the formation is such that further work as authorized by an existing permit is likely to endanger property or streets or alleys or create hazardous conditions, the Township Engineer may require, as a condition to allowing work to be done, that such reasonable safety precautions be taken as the Township Engineer considers advisable to avoid such likelihood of danger. Safety precautions may include, but shall not be limited to, specifying a flatter exposed slope, construction of additional drainage facilities, berms, terracing, compaction or cribbing.
A. 
No excavation shall be made with a cut face steeper in slope than one horizontal to one vertical except under one or more of the following conditions:
(1) 
The excavation is located so that a line having a slope of one horizontal to one vertical and passing through any portion of the cut face will be entirely inside the property lines of the property on which the excavation is made.
(2) 
The material in which the excavation is made is sufficiently stable to sustain a slope of steeper than one horizontal to one vertical and a written statement of a civil engineer, licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and experienced in erosion control, to the effect is submitted to the Township Engineer and approved by him. The statement shall state that the site has been inspected and that the deviation from the slope specified above will not result in injury of persons or damage to property.
(3) 
A retaining wall or other approved support is provided to support the face of the excavation.
B. 
The Township Engineer may require an excavation to be made with a cut face flatter in slope than one horizontal to one vertical if he finds the material in which the excavation is to be made unusually subject to erosion or if other conditions exist which make such flatter cut slope necessary for stability and safety.
C. 
Excavations shall not extend below the angle of repose or natural slope of the soil under the nearest point of any footing or foundation of any building or structure unless such footing or foundation is first properly underpinned or protected against settlement.
D. 
Before commencing any excavation which will in any way affect an adjoining property or structures thereon, the person making or causing the excavation to be made shall notify in writing the owners of adjoining buildings not less than 30 days before such excavation is to be made that the excavation is to be made. Adjoining properties and structures shall be properly protected.
A. 
No fill shall be made which creates any exposed surface steeper in slope than 11/2 horizontal to one vertical except under one or more of the following conditions:
(1) 
The fill, in the opinion of the Township Engineer, is located so that settlement, sliding or erosion of the fill material will not result in property damage or be a hazard to adjoining property, streets, alleys or buildings.
(2) 
A written statement from a civil engineer, licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and experienced in erosion control, certifying that he has inspected the site and that the proposed deviation from the slope specified above will not endanger any property or result in property damage, is submitted to and approved by the Township Engineer.
B. 
The Township Engineer may require that the fill be constructed with an exposed surface flatter than 11/2 horizontal to one vertical if he finds that under the particular conditions such flatter surface is necessary for stability and safety.
C. 
Whenever a fill is to be made of materials other than clean soil or earth, the grading permit shall be subject to the following additional limitations and requirements:
(1) 
The fill shall be completed within a reasonable length of time, the said time limit to be determined by the Township Engineer and to be specified on the grading permit.
(2) 
Clean soil or earth shall be placed over the top and exposed surfaces of the fill to a depth sufficient to effectively conceal all materials other than clean soil or earth within the fill. Where the nature of the fill requires, the Township Engineer may require clean soil or earth to be placed over the top and exposed surfaces of the fill to a depth sufficient to conceal all materials at the end of each day's operations.
(3) 
No grading permit shall be issued for the filling of materials other than clean soil or earth until a faithful performance bond in the amount of at least 200% of the Township Engineer's estimated cost of adequately covering such fill with clean soil or earth has been furnished to the township. Such bond shall be executed by a corporate surety as well as by the principal and shall be subject to the approval of the Township Solicitor as to form. The bond shall inure to the benefit of the township and be conditioned upon the faithful performance of the work required under the terms and conditions of the grading permit to the satisfaction of the Township Engineer. In lieu of the said bond, a cash deposit in the said amount may be made with the Township Treasurer or with a bank or trust company approved by the Township Solicitor, which shall act as escrow agent.
All fills shall be compacted to provide stability of material and to prevent undesirable settlement. The fill shall be spread in a series of layers, each not exceeding 12 inches in thickness, and shall be compacted by a sheepsfoot roller or other approved method after each layer is spread. The Township Engineer may require tests or other information if in his opinion the conditions or materials are such that additional information is necessary.
Adequate provisions shall be made to prevent any surface waters from damaging the cut face of an excavation or the sloping surface of a fill. Slopes of more than 10 feet in vertical height shall be separated by level berms of at least four feet in width. Berm ditches shall be constructed where necessary to prevent erosion. All drainage provisions shall be of such design as to carry surface waters to the nearest practical street, storm drain or natural watercourse approved by the Township Engineer as a safe place to deposit and receive such waters. The Township Engineer may require such drainage structures or pipes to be constructed or installed as in his opinion are necessary to prevent erosion damage and to satisfactorily carry off surface waters.
The owner of any property on which an excavation or fill has been made shall maintain in good condition and repair all retaining walls, cribbing, drainage structures, fences and other protective devices.
A. 
The top or bottom edge of slopes shall be at least three feet from property or right-of-way lines of streets in order to permit the normal rounding of the edge without encroaching on the abutting property. At property lines where walls or slopes are steeper than one to one and six feet or more in height, they shall be protected by a substantial fence three feet or more in height. Before a grading permit is issued, a bond may be required to guarantee the protection of steep slopes.
B. 
The owner of a property shall be responsible to protect and clean up lower properties of silt and debris washing from his property as a result of the grading of his property.
C. 
In order to prevent the denuding of the landscape, wherever practicable, large trees and other natural features constituting important physical, aesthetic and economic assets to existing or impending suburban development shall be preserved.
D. 
An erosion and sedimentation control plan in conformance with the regulations of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection must also be prepared and implemented. A Department of Environmental Protection permit may also be required.
A. 
If, upon final inspection of an excavation or fill, it is found that the work authorized by the grading permit has been satisfactorily completed in accordance with the requirements of this chapter and any other requirements imposed, a grading certificate covering such work and stating that the work is approved shall be issued to the permit holder by the Township Engineer.
B. 
The Township Engineer shall have the power to revoke any grading certificate whenever he finds that the work covered by the certificate has been materially extended or altered without a permit to do so or that any retaining walls, cribbing, drainage structures, fence or other protective devices shown on the approved plans and specifications submitted with the application for a permit have not been maintained in good order and repair.
C. 
Before such revocation, the Township Engineer shall first give written notice to the permit holder and to the owner of the property involved, specifying the defective condition and stating that unless such defective condition is remedied satisfactorily, the grading certificate may be revoked. If the defective condition is remedied, the certificate shall not be revoked.
A. 
No person shall construct, enlarge, alter, repair or maintain any grading, excavation or fill or cause the same to be done contrary to or in violation of any provision of this chapter.
B. 
When written notice of a violation of any of the provisions of this chapter has been served by the Township Engineer on any person, such violation shall be discontinued immediately.
C. 
Any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall be liable, on conviction thereof, to a penalty not exceeding $600 and costs of prosecution for each and every offense or, upon default in payment of the fine and costs, to imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 30 days, and whenever such person shall have been notified by the Township Engineer by service of summons in a prosecution or in any other way that he is committing such violation of this chapter, each day that he shall continue such violation after such notification shall constitute a separate offense, punishable by a like fine or penalty. Such fines or penalties shall be collected as like fines or penalties are now by law collected.
[Amended 5-19-1986 by Ord. No. 165; 1-2-1989 by Ord. No. 184]
In case any work is performed by any person in violation of any of the provisions of this chapter, the proper officer of the township, in addition to other remedies, may institute in the name of the township any appropriate action or proceeding, whether by legal process or otherwise, to prevent such unlawful work and to restrain or abate such violation.