[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Commissioners of Upper Moreland Township as Title 9, § 4.09; amended 4-5-1982 by Ord. No. 977; 1-23-1989 by Ord. No. 1175. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
Title. This chapter shall be known and may be cited as "The Upper Moreland Grading Ordinance."
Purpose. 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 grading, excavation, and removal or destruction of topsoil, trees or other vegetative cover or land within the Township of Upper Moreland.
Validity. If any section, subsection, sentence, clause or phrase of this chapter is for any reason held to be invalid or unconstitutional by the decision of any court of competent jurisdiction, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of the chapter.
Unless otherwise expressly stated, the following words shall, for the purpose of this chapter, have the meanings herein stated. Words in the singular include the plural, and words in the plural include the singular. Present tense includes the future. The word "building" shall be deemed to include the word "structure."
- An excavation. The difference between a point on the original ground and a designated point of lower elevation on the final grade. Also, the material removed in excavation.
- The removal of surface materials by the action of natural elements.
- Any act by which earth, sand, gravel, rock or any other similar material is dug into, cut, quarried, uncovered, removed, displaced, relocated or bulldozed and shall include the conditions resulting therefrom (excluding normal agricultural activity).
- 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 above the natural surface of the ground or on top of the stripped surface and shall include the conditions resulting therefrom. The difference in elevation between a point on the original ground and a designated point of higher elevation in the final grade. The material used to make a fill.
- That area defined in the Township Zoning Ordinance as the Floodplain Conservation District; the floodplain definition contained therein is made part of this chapter by reference.
- The elevation of the existing ground surface at the location of any proposed excavation or fill.
- LAND DEVELOPMENT
- The improvement of one or more contiguous lots, tracts or parcels of land for any purpose involving:
- A. One or more buildings; or
- B. The division or allocation of land between or among two or more existing or prospective occupants by means of or for the purpose of streets, common areas, leaseholds, building groups or other features; a division of land into lots for the purpose of conveying such lots singly or in groups to any person, partnership or corporation for the purpose of erection of buildings by such person, partnership or corporation.
- QUALIFYING SITE
- Any lot, tract or parcel of land, or series of lots, tracts or parcels of land, joined together where grading work is continuous and performed at the same time.
- The surface water discharge or rate of discharge of a given watershed after a fall of rain or snow that does not enter the soil but runs off the surface of the land.
- RUNOFF FROM A FULLY DEVELOPED AREA UPSTREAM
- The surface water runoff that can be reasonably anticipated upon maximum development of that area of the watershed located upstream from the subject tract, as permitted by prevailing zoning or the Township Comprehensive Plan, whichever is greater.
- The process by which mineral or organic matter is accumulated or deposited by moving wind, water, or gravity. Once this matter is deposited (or remains suspended in water), it is usually referred to as "sediment."
- The face of an embankment or cut section; any ground whose surface makes an angle with the plane of the horizon. Slopes are usually expressed in a percentage, based upon vertical difference in feet per 100 feet of horizontal distance or the relationship of the horizontal distance to the vertical distance.
- SOIL STABILIZATION
- Chemical, physical or structural treatment of a mass of soil to increase or maintain its stability or otherwise improve its engineering properties.
- The division or redivision of a lot, tract or parcel of land by any means into two or more lots, tracts, parcels or other divisions of land, including changes in existing lot lines for that purpose, whether immediate or future, or lease, transfer of ownership or building or lot development; provided, however, that the division of land for agricultural purposes into parcels of more than 10 acres, not involving any new street of easement of access, shall be exempted.
- A low-lying stretch of land which gathers or carries surface water runoff.
- Surface soils and subsurface soils which presumably are fertile solid and soil material, ordinarily rich in organic matter or humus debris. Topsoil is usually found in the uppermost soil layer called the "A" horizon.
- A permanent stream, intermittent stream, river, brook, creek, channel, ditch, swale, or culvert for water, whether natural or man-made.
Editor's Note: See § 350-120.
Permits required. No person shall commence or perform any grading, excavation, fill, topsoil removal or removal of vegetative cover within the Township of Upper Moreland without first having obtained a grading permit from the Township Zoning Officer upon the recommendation of 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:
Every applicant for a grading permit shall file a written application therefor with the Township zoning office. Such application shall:
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.
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 grading. The plan shall show contours at vertical intervals of two feet with sufficient details to show the course, structure, and capacity of all drainage facilities and the method of drainage of the adjacent or contiguous territory. In areas included within relatively level tract, contours may be shown at lesser intervals as may be necessary for study as determined by the Township Engineer. In no case shall the contour interval exceed 100 feet horizontally. Bench marks to which contour elevations refer shall be noted. The datum shall refer to USCGS and USGS datum. A plot plan showing the location of the grading, boundaries, lot lines, neighboring streets and alleys, buildings, trees over eight inches in diameter measured at a point three 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; floodplains, watercourses, existing and proposed drainage structures; 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 name of the person who prepared the same, the applicant, and the owner of the land. Eight copies shall be submitted.
Include a plan to be approved by the Township Engineer for minimizing erosion and sedimentation in conformity with the requirements of this chapter.
State the reason for which the grading is proposed.
The Township Engineer may waive the requirements for any or all plans and specifications listed above if he finds that the work contemplated will conform to the provisions of this chapter.
Before any grading permit is issued, the applicant shall pay the appropriate permit fee as established in Chapter 140, Fees, Rates and Permits, of the Upper Moreland Township Code.
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, however, that the Township Engineer may, if the permit holder presents satisfactory evidence that unusual difficulties have prevented work being started or completed within the specified time limits, grant reasonable extensions of time, and provided the application for extension of time is made before the date of expiration of the permit.
The Township Zoning Officer shall deny a grading permit upon recommendation of the Township Engineer where, in their opinion, the work as proposed by the applicant may endanger any property or any street or alley or fails to meet Township standards. In determining whether the proposed work is likely to endanger any property or streets or alleys or create hazardous conditions, the Township Zoning Officer 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.
The Board of Commissioners shall promptly consider appeals from the provisions of this section or from the determinations of the Township Engineer, and the Board shall make determinations or alternative methods, standards or materials when, in its opinion, strict compliance with the provisions of this chapter is not necessary. 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 Commissioners.
Measures used to control erosion and reduce sedimentation shall, as a minimum, meet the standards and specifications of the Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District as contained in the Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook, June 1970, and the Upper Moreland Township Code, § 300-25. The Township Engineer, or other official as designated, shall ensure compliance with the appropriate specifications.
Plans for erosion and sediment control shall be submitted in support of the grading permit application.
In order to provide more suitable sites for building and other uses, to improve surface drainage, and to control erosion, the following requirements shall be met:
All lots, tracts, or parcels shall be graded to provide proper drainage away from buildings and dispose of it without unwanted ponding, and all lands within a development shall be graded to drain and dispose of surface water without ponding, except where approved by the Board of Commissioners (such as for retention basins) on the recommendation of the Township Engineer.
All drainage provisions shall be of such design to adequately handle the surface runoff and carry it to the nearest suitable outlet, such as a curbed street, storm drain, or natural watercourse. Where drainage swales are used to divert surface waters away from buildings, they shall be sodded or planted as required and shall be of such slope, shape and size as to conform with the requirements of the Township Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance.
Concentration of surface water runoff shall only be permitted in swales or watercourses.
Excavations and fills.
Cut and fill slopes shall not be steeper than 2:1 unless stabilized by a retaining wall or cribbing.
Adequate provisions shall be made to prevent surface water from damaging the cut face of excavations or the sloping surfaces of fills.
Cut and fills shall not endanger adjoining property.
Fill shall be placed and compacted so as to minimize sliding or erosion of the soil.
Fills shall not encroach on natural watercourses or constructed channels.
Fills placed adjacent to natural watercourses or constructed channels shall have suitable protection against erosion during periods of flooding.
Grading shall not be done in such a way so as to divert water onto the property of another landowner without the expressed written consent of the affected landowner.
During grading operations, necessary measures for dust control shall be exercised.
Grading equipment shall not be allowed to cross live streams. Provision will be made for the installation of culverts or bridges.
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:
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.
Clean soil or earth shall be placed over the top and exposed surfaces of the fill to a depth not less than four inches and sufficient to 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 in a depth sufficient to conceal all materials at the end of each day's operations.
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 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 or by the principal, as the Township may require, and shall be subject to the approval of the Township Solicitor as to form. In lieu of said bond, a cash deposit in the said amount may be made with the Township or with a bank or trust company approved by the Township Solicitor, which shall act as escrow agent.
Notice to adjacent property owners. Before commencing any excavation or fill which will affect an adjoining property or structures thereon, the person making or causing the excavation to be made shall give written notice to the owners of said adjoining properties or structures not less than 14 days before such excavation is to be made. Adjoining properties and structures shall be protected as provided in the Township Building Code.
In order to maintain the supply of natural vegetation, prevent erosion of the topsoil on the site and surrounding properties, foster the retention of groundwater supply, and generally attempt to maintain the ecological balance in the Township, the following requirements shall be met:
Every existing tree with a trunk eight inches or more in caliper (measured at one foot above existing ground line), which is destroyed because of street alignment, building placement, parking area location, grading or otherwise, shall be replaced with one new tree of a type specified by the Township with a trunk of not less than three inches in caliper measured at one foot above ground line.
Such new trees shall not be placed on the lot as street trees or in place of trees required as screening.
At the discretion of the Township, a number of trees not greater in number than those destroyed may be planted on lands owned by the Township in order to maintain the proper ecological balance of the Township. The Township shall assess the developer the cost of these trees, but the Township will bear the cost of planting.
When written notice of a violation of any of the provisions of this chapter has been served by the Township Zoning Officer, or any other person designated by him, such violation shall be discontinued immediately.
Any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall be liable, on conviction thereof, to a penalty not exceeding $300 for each and every offense, and whenever such person shall have been notified by the Township Zoning Officer or by service of a summons in a prosecution or other written notice that he is committing such violations 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.
In case any work is performed by any person in violation of any of the provisions of this chapter, the proper official of this Township, in addition to other remedies, may institute in the name of the Township any appropriate action or proceeding at law or in equity, whether by legal process or otherwise, to prevent such unlawful work and to restrain and abate such violations.