Township of Lower Providence, PA
Montgomery County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Added 4-16-2009 by Ord. No. 577]
Considering the historic, economic, aesthetic, cultural and identity values of our villages and other similar areas to Lower Providence Township; considering these values rest primarily on the existence of older and historic buildings in our villages and other similar areas; considering these values also rest on the overall character of the combined physical elements in our villages and other similar areas; considering the size, shape, and location of buildings and parking as well as some building features such as, but not limited to, gable roofs and porches, and some streetscape features determine the overall village character; and considering safe pedestrian circulation is important to the economic health of the village businesses, is desired by residents in surrounding residential areas, and contributes to community harmony and quality of life, it is the intent of the VC Village Commercial District to permit the use of land for limited commercial, office and residential uses, while preserving the distinct architectural character of important historic and culturally significant areas of Lower Providence Township. In addition, the specific intent of this article is as follows:
A. 
Overall site design.
(1) 
To provide regulating standards which are necessary to encourage orderly, well-planned development and to ensure the compatibility of development with the character of the villages and the surrounding areas.
(2) 
To regulate the location of buildings and parking so that the village character is maintained and to make commercial enterprises more attractive to pedestrians.
(3) 
To limit building footprints and encourage multistory buildings to remain or be constructed in order to retain and strengthen the character of the villages.
B. 
Architectural scale and preservation of village character.
(1) 
To allow building conversions within existing certified historic or culturally significant structures or buildings built prior to 1945.
(2) 
To require the retention, rehabilitation, and reuse of existing certified historic or culturally significant structure(s) or building(s) built prior to 1945, unless replaced by buildings of the same architectural styles and proportions, while also allowing for new construction to occur as additions to the rear and sides of existing buildings.
(3) 
To ensure that new buildings or building additions have an architectural scale and character commensurate with the existing residential architecture of the villages.
(4) 
To encourage owner-occupied, small-scale buildings with residential character for residential, nonresidential, and/or mixed uses.
C. 
Traffic control.
(1) 
To provide areas to accommodate nonresidential uses that do not generate large volumes of traffic, which minimize adverse impacts on abutting residential neighborhoods and which maintain the visual character and architectural scale of the existing villages.
(2) 
To limit and discourage development of strip-type, highway-oriented commercial uses which create traffic hazards and congestion because they generate higher traffic volumes and/or require numerous individual curb cuts.
(3) 
To require provisions for shared driveways and parking for nonresidential and/or mixed uses to reduce the number of driveway intersections and potential hazards of vehicular turning movements.
D. 
Existing neighborhood protection.
(1) 
To limit hours of operation in order to respect nearby residential uses so they are not adversely affected at night by noise and other nuisances.
(2) 
To ensure that unsightly accessory uses such as trash, vending, or storage are not allowed or are completely hidden inside buildings.
(3) 
To ensure that neighboring residential properties are protected from environmental impacts with measures such as, but not limited to, property line buffering and screening.
E. 
Signage: to provide for special signage regulations that help to retain and strengthen the village character and prevent the village character from being destroyed or diminished by signage that is not appropriate to the character of our villages.
F. 
Lighting: to ensure that lighting is provided for pedestrian and vehicular safety and to protect surrounding residential properties from glare.
A. 
Class One uses permitted by right. The following uses shall be permitted by right when proposed to be conducted within an existing building with or without expansion of interior floor space for the use or uses proposed:
[Amended 1-21-2016 by Ord. No. 629]
(1) 
Single-family detached residence;
(2) 
Two-family residence;
(3) 
Family day-care home;
(4) 
Bed-and-breakfast;
(5) 
No-impact home-based businesses in accordance with the standards set forth in § 143-27A(9).
B. 
Class Two uses permitted by right. The following uses shall be permitted by right when proposed to be conducted within an existing building with or without expansion of interior floor space for the use or uses proposed:
[Amended 1-21-2016 by Ord. No. 629]
(1) 
Dwelling unit above a Class Two nonresidential use;
(2) 
Antique store;
(3) 
Art dealers;
(4) 
Baked goods stores;
(5) 
Bookstores;
(6) 
Camera and photographic supplies stores;
(7) 
Children's and infants' clothing stores;
(8) 
Clothing accessories stores;
(9) 
Coffee shops, on-premises brewing;
(10) 
Computer and software stores;
(11) 
Confectionery and nut stores;
(12) 
Cookie shops;
(13) 
Fish and seafood markets;
(14) 
Florists;
(15) 
Floor covering store;
(16) 
Fruit and vegetable markets;
(17) 
Furniture store;
(18) 
Gift, novelty, and souvenir stores, excluding adult novelty stores;
(19) 
Grocery store;
(20) 
Hardware store;
(21) 
Historic artisans;
(22) 
Hobby, toy, and game stores;
(23) 
Household appliance stores;
(24) 
Ice cream parlors;
(25) 
Jewelry stores;
(26) 
Luggage and leather goods stores;
(27) 
Meat markets, excluding meat processing;
(28) 
Medical/dental office;
(29) 
Men's clothing stores;
(30) 
Music or fine art studio;
(31) 
Musical instrument and supplies stores;
(32) 
News dealers and newsstands;
(33) 
Office;
(34) 
Office supplies and stationery stores;
(35) 
Optical goods stores;
(36) 
Paint and wallpaper store;
(37) 
Personal service;
(38) 
Pets/pet supply stores, excluding kennels;
(39) 
Pharmacy;
(40) 
Post office;
(41) 
Prerecorded tape, compact disc, and record stores;
(42) 
Produce shop;
(43) 
Publishing, printing, or copy-related activity;
(44) 
Radio, television, and other electronics stores;
(45) 
Restaurant, excluding drive-throughs;
(46) 
Sewing, needlework, and piece goods stores;
(47) 
Shoe stores;
(48) 
Specialty food stores, excluding meat processing;
(49) 
Sporting goods stores;
(50) 
Window treatment stores;
(51) 
Women's clothing stores;
(52) 
Dance studio;
(53) 
Day spa;
(54) 
Library;
(55) 
Museum;
(56) 
Two or more of the uses listed herein, when located in one building.
C. 
Class Three uses permitted by conditional use. The following uses shall be permitted by conditional use when proposed to be conducted within an existing building when expansion of interior floor space is proposed and/or when a new building is proposed:
[Amended 1-21-2016 by Ord. No. 629]
(1) 
All Class One uses and Class Two uses, including combinations of these uses;
(2) 
Beer/wine/liquor stores;
(3) 
Bank without a drive-through;
(4) 
Establishments serving alcoholic beverages;
(5) 
Multiple buildings, but only when the existing principal structure is retained;
(6) 
Within the Audubon Village area of the V-C Zoning District, as shown on the attached map,[1] drive-throughs in conjunction with a bank, pharmacy, restaurant, or coffee shop.
[1]
Editor's Note: Said map is on file in the Township of Lower Providence offices.
D. 
Following adoption of this article, any pre-1945 principal structure within the designated district boundaries must be retained, reused, and maintained in a habitable condition, pursuant to § 143-285 of this article, when a change of use or owner occurs.
E. 
Prohibited uses. Any use not specifically allowed shall be prohibited in this district. This shall include, but not be limited to, any drive-through facilities (except those permitted within the Audubon Village area of the VC Zoning District as shown on the attached map); communications antennas; utility structures; sexually oriented businesses; parking lots as a primary use; criminal treatment center; drug or alcohol treatment centers; group homes operated as criminal, alcohol, or drug treatment centers or halfway houses; any retail or specialty retail, unless specified above; and any establishment selling vehicles of any kind, including, but not limited to, new or used automobiles, new or used trucks, new or used recreational vehicles, or new or used boats.
[Amended 1-21-2016 by Ord. No. 629]
A. 
Dimensional standards for all VC Village Commercial uses shall be in compliance with the following:
Dimensional and Coverage Standards
Class 1 and Class 2 Uses
Class 3 Uses
(1)
Maximum building footprint for a tract containing a pre-1945 building, including additions, but not including unenclosed portions (square feet per lot)
2,000
4,000
(2)
Maximum building height
Not to exceed 35 feet; decorative architectural elements not to exceed an additional 5 feet
(3)
Maximum Building Width (feet):
(a)
Maximum building width facing the street
40
50
(b)
Maximum building width for any portion of a structure located 50 feet or more from the ultimate right-of-way
40
80
(4)
Maximum building coverage
10%
20%
(5)
Maximum impervious coverage
30%
30%
(6)
Maximum impervious coverage with provisions1 for shared parking and driveways to adjacent properties that are concurrently zoned Village Commercial
50%
50%
(7)
Minimum vegetation, trees or landscaping with provisions1 for shared parking and driveways to adjacent properties that are concurrently zoned Village Commercial
50%
50%
(8)
Minimum lot size (square feet)
15,000
30,000
(9)
Minimum lot width at building setback line (feet)
75
125
(10)
Minimum street frontage (feet)
50
50
NOTE:
1 "Provisions" means construction of shared parking and driveways or, if adjacent parcel does not have any nearby parking or driveway, aisles and easements that would facilitate shared parking and driveways when the adjacent parcel is further developed.
B. 
Building location and minimum setbacks shall be as follows:
Building Location and Setback Standards
Class 1 and Class 2 Uses
Class 3 Uses
(1)
Front yard
Building shall be located minimum 2 feet and maximum 15 feet from the ultimate right-of-way
(2)
Minimum side yard (feet)
20
20
(3)
Minimum rear yard (feet)
30
30
(4)
Minimum setback to a residential district (feet)
20
40
(5)
Minimum setback to a residential district where there is more than one building on the lot (feet)
80
80
(6)
Minimum distance between buildings on the same lot (feet)
15
15
(7)
Maximum distance between buildings on the same lot (feet)
85
85
C. 
Minimum parking area or vehicular circulation setbacks:
Parking and Circulation Setback Standards
Class 1 and Class 2 Uses
Class 3 Uses
(1)
From street ultimate right-of-way (feet)
75
75
(2)
From all nonresidential property lines (feet)
6, unless parking is shared between properties
6, unless parking is shared between properties
(3)
From all residential districts (feet)
15, or 10 if an eight-foot-high fence or wall that is landscaped on both sides is provided as a screen
25, or 10 if an eight-foot-high fence or wall that is landscaped on both sides is provided as a screen
(4)
From the rear or side of all buildings (feet)
5 for parking; 5 for vehicular circulation
5 for parking; for vehicular circulation
D. 
Separate individual buildings on the same lot may be connected to each other with a covered, but not enclosed, walkway.
In addition to the parking requirements in Article XII, the following regulations shall apply:
A. 
The parking area shall be designed to permit vehicles to turn around on the lot. Backing onto a public street from parking is prohibited.
B. 
The minimum setback of parking areas and vehicular circulation areas from property lines shall be observed unless a parking or vehicular circulation area is shared by abutting lots, in which case the parking or vehicular circulation area may cross property lines. Access easements or other legal mechanisms acceptable to the Board of Supervisors shall be provided for shared parking areas and vehicular circulation areas.
C. 
Shared parking areas and circulation between nonresidential lots are required to qualify for the fifty-percent maximum impervious coverage permitted by § 143-282. This requires construction of shared parking and driveway connections. If the adjacent parcel has not provided for shared parking and driveways, then driveway stubs and easements shall be required to facilitate shared parking and driveways when the adjacent parcel is further developed.
D. 
The total parking requirement may be reduced pursuant to § 143-73 when shared parking is provided or, in the case of no existing adjacent parking areas but a reserved parking area is physically possible, paved connections to the property line and cross easements are required, and reduction will be permitted in compliance with the Township's reserve parking standards. If the reduced parking capacity proves to be insufficient under routine use, the full parking capacity shall be required to be installed. Bike racks must also be provided close to the building entry(ies).
E. 
There shall be no parking in the front yard.
F. 
The number of driveways onto a collector or higher-classification street, for each property under single and separate ownership at the time this article is adopted, shall be limited to one unless additional driveways are approved by the Board of Supervisors.
Where a nonresidential use abuts a residential district, a ten-foot screening buffer pursuant to § 123-50C of the Lower Providence Township Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance shall be provided.
A. 
All existing certified historic structure(s) or a structure(s) built prior to 1945 located on the site must be retained, maintained in a habitable condition, and reused on site in the original existing location(s). All pre-1945 structures must have a certificate of compliance prior to the issuance of any permit for any new construction or use.
B. 
New buildings or building additions must have an architectural scale and character commensurate with architectural styles typical of the villages.
(1) 
Any additions to existing buildings on a lot must be located to the rear and must be constructed of natural materials such as stone, brick, wood siding, shingles, slate, or materials of similar nature. Industrial or artificial materials such as raw concrete finish, anodized or galvanized metal, tinted glass, plastics, vinyls, or materials of similar nature are prohibited, unless these materials are used in such a way as to resemble historic characteristics.
(2) 
The facade of all newly constructed building(s) that replace existing buildings shall avoid any long, monotonous uninterrupted wall(s) or roof plane(s). The architectural style, scale, proportions, and character must be consistent with the building being replaced and compatible with the village character. The scale and massing of the facade shall be designed to present a residential appearance. Roofs shall be pitched and architectural features such as porches, staggered setbacks, bay windows, and various types of wall facing(s) may also be used to achieve a more intimate and varied village appearance. Architectural features such as gables, dormers, or chimneys may be used. Historic architectural details such as shutters, trim, eave brackets, fluted columns, etc., are encouraged if they contribute to the historic character of the area.
(3) 
Evaluation of the appearance of a project shall be based on the quality of its design and on its relationship to its surroundings, guided by the provisions of this section. Site characteristics to be evaluated for this purpose include building and plant materials, colors, textures, shapes, massing, rhythms of building components and details, height, roofline and setback. The massing of larger commercial buildings shall be de-emphasized in a variety of ways, including the use of projecting and recessed sections, and balconies and terraces above the first floor, to reduce their apparent overall bulk and volume.
(4) 
Mechanical equipment, satellite dishes, and other utility hardware, whether located on the roof or exterior of the building or on the ground adjacent to it, shall be screened from the public view and with materials identical to or strongly similar to building materials or by heavy landscaping that will be effective in winter, or they shall be located so as not to be visible from any public way. In no case shall wooden fencing be used as a rooftop equipment screen.
(5) 
Building entries. Each street level business or tenant space shall have at least one entrance on a street and parking lot side. No more than two adjacent businesses or tenant spaces have the ability to share the same entrance unless the entrance also provides an entry to businesses above or below the first level.
(6) 
Exterior building face material standards.
(a) 
Acceptable primary building materials include the following: high-quality materials such as brick, stone, wood clapboard, or split-faced aggregate block. Synthetic materials such as vinyl and external finish insulation systems are acceptable accent materials but are limited to twenty-percent wall area on each elevation.
(b) 
Unacceptable primary building materials include the following: painted brick, poured "case in place" concrete panels, nondecorative cinder block, tilt-up concrete panels with a ribbed or corduroy appearance, sheet metal panels.
(c) 
Windows. First floor facing street or public walkways, parking areas, or privately accessible walkways shall have a minimum of thirty-percent transparent window area on walls. First floor height computations shall use 12 feet as the maximum for calculated wall area.
(d) 
Awnings: canvaslike material if used. Awnings shall not be back- or internally lighted. Vinyl, poly, or plastic awnings are not permitted.
(e) 
Public plazas and open spaces. Pedestrian amenities shall be included in all public plazas, such as benches, tables, seating areas, passive areas, public art display, gardens and fountains. The Township retains the right to require that improvements be installed by the property owner or developer.
C. 
The applicant shall submit sufficient information at the time of application in the form of architectural elevations or sketches of building additions, restoration of existing structures and architectural renderings in an electronic media format in order to determine to what extent the design guidelines are being followed. A survey of architectural features of nearby historic buildings may be required to be provided by an applicant.
D. 
In order to facilitate traffic circulation, all parking areas for a proposed use(s) with an existing structure(s) built prior to 1945, or certified historic structure(s) located on the site, shall be directly connected to nonresidential parking areas on adjacent lots. If a connection cannot be made when the proposed use is constructed, a driveway shall be provided extending to the adjacent property line in a location where a future connection can be made in compliance with § 143-283 herein.
E. 
Each nonresidential use shall provide access easements for its parking aisles and driveways guaranteeing access to all abutting nonresidential lots, whether a physical access connection currently exists or not. The parking area shall be so designed to readily accommodate shared access.
F. 
For new construction and additions, historic period streetlighting shall be provided.
G. 
For new construction and additions, crosswalks shall be provided across all driveways and at intersections adjacent to the subject property.
H. 
Sidewalks shall be required and shall be at least five feet in width. Sidewalks shall be constructed with special materials or a decorative surface treatment pursuant to the adopted design manual. Sidewalks internal to the site may be covered by a porch or other sun or rain sheltering structure.
I. 
Any other reasonable request by the Board of Supervisors, provided that the request improves the overall health, safety, and general welfare of the residents of Lower Providence Township.
J. 
Facilities with drive-through service permitted within the Audubon Village area of the VC Zoning District shall provide a minimum of an eight-car stacking area for each drive-through lane, including the space at the pick-up window. These queuing spaces shall not interfere with other patron parking spaces on the site or on the internal circulation of the site. A bypass lane to exit from the drive-through/pick-up window lane and to circulate around the waiting line is to be provided. The applicant shall provide a detailed queue-demand study utilizing data of other existing in-kind facilities, if the minimum stacking area of eight vehicles is not being provided. The Board of Supervisors may reduce and/or increase stacking area if the Board determines such an action to be necessary. In no case shall the queue extend into the site access driveways and/or interfere with movements into/out of the site or traffic on the adjacent roadways.
[Added 1-21-2016 by Ord. No. 629]