Township of Easttown, PA
Chester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Amended 6-2-2014 by Ord. No. 422-14]
The purpose of this article is to:
A. 
Protect stream banks, water quality, sensitive soils, natural habitat and scenic vistas through the provision and protection of a vegetated strip of land surrounding the resource.
B. 
Regulate uses and structures, and provide transitional provisions, at or near watercourses, floodplains, wetlands and other bodies of water.
C. 
Establish continuous vegetated strips along water bodies that serve to filter and remove pollution-laden runoff from entering water bodies and protecting against stream bank erosion and tree loss.
D. 
Promote and protect stabilized stream banks, which will reduce downstream transport of eroded sediment and pollutants.
E. 
Preserve species-rich vegetative communities along and adjacent to water bodies.
F. 
Provide shade for streams and other water bodies that reduce direct sunlight and lower water temperatures.
A. 
An undisturbed vegetated area shall extend a minimum of 50 feet, measured horizontally, outward from the edge of a protected wetland, floodplain, or watercourse, and completely surround the protected natural resource(s).
B. 
In the case of a stream or pond, the minimum buffer width shall be measured from the top of the bank.
C. 
In the case of an intermittent stream, it shall be measured from the center of the channel.
D. 
The riparian buffer zone shall also apply to the perimeter of approved wetland mitigation areas where all state and federal permits have been received.
E. 
The riparian buffer zone shall not be designated along industrial ponds, sewerage treatment lagoons, man-made irrigation ditches, stormwater management basins and other artificial features with similar water quality or storage facility.
F. 
The limit of the hydric soils shall be as defined in this chapter, unless reclassified by a certified soil scientist.
G. 
The riparian buffer zone shall be delineated on the conservation plan, in accordance with § 274-6.
A. 
With the exception of those uses or activities listed below, the riparian buffer zone shall not be regraded, filled, built upon, or otherwise altered or disturbed. Any permanent disturbance shall be of a design and so located as not to conflict with the purpose of a RBZ to protect water quality.
(1) 
Regulated activities permitted by the commonwealth, e.g., a permitted stream or wetland crossing;
(2) 
Selective removal of diseased, hazardous or invasive plant species;
(3) 
A soil or stream conservation project approved by the Chester County Conservation District, including stream bank stabilization and restoration;
(4) 
Vegetation installation and management in accordance with an approved landscape plan and riparian buffer zone management plan;
(5) 
Trails composed of pervious surfaces; however, such trail shall not come within 15 feet of any stream bank.
B. 
Nonconforming uses or structures are subject to the following:
(1) 
Where existing nonconforming structures are located within the RBZ on which less than 2,000 square feet of additional impervious surface area or less than 5,000 square feet of total land disturbance is proposed, a one-time encroachment into the RBZ of up to 25 feet for such improvements is permitted, without seeking a variance or conditional use approval.
[Amended 12-15-2014 by Ord. No. 424-14]
(2) 
In the event that 50% or more of an existing nonconforming structure is voluntarily demolished, the area of impervious surface and land disturbance shall fully conform to the requirement of § 274-18 of this article.
C. 
Minimally invasive disturbance associated with stormwater management, or the installation of sealed water supply wells, water pipelines, and storm and sanitary sewer lines, provided they are designed and constructed to eliminate infiltration of floodwater into the system and discharges from the system into waters of the commonwealth, may be permitted as a conditional use, with proof of minimal disturbance and restoration practices of exposed earth, with approval from the Board of Supervisors.
D. 
The planting, supplementing, or reestablishment of vegetation that will slow stormwater runoff velocities, filter silt and pollutants from runoff, form a fibrous root system to hold soil in place and prevent erosion, shade streams, and stabilize eroded stream banks shall be provided, in accordance with a riparian buffer zone management plan, as required by this chapter.
A riparian buffer provides the following benefits: reduces the amount of nutrients, sediments, pesticides, and other harmful substances that reach watercourses, wetlands, and other surface water bodies; provides for shading of the aquatic environment to moderate temperatures and protect fish habitat; provides organic matter which provides food and habitat for bottom-dwelling organisms essential to the food chain; increases stream bank stability and reduces stream bank erosion and sediment production; conserves natural features important to land and water features (e.g., headwater areas, groundwater recharge zones, streams and prime wildlife habitat); and conserves natural, scenic and recreation areas and promotes the functioning of greenways.
A. 
At a minimum, the first 25 feet adjacent to the natural resource that does not contain existing trees shall be planted in accordance with § 274-32. This is in order to establish a fibrous root system, to protect the stream banks from erosion, and to shade watercourses.
B. 
Any areas of woodland disturbance, for any purpose, within the entire width of the RBZ shall be reforested in accordance with § 274-32, even if the amount of disturbance falls within that permitted by § 274-29B.
C. 
If replacement plantings are required by Article VIII, Woodlands and Wooded Lots, of this chapter, all or part of the required replacement plantings may be used to accomplish the planting requirements of this section. The plantings, which may include trees, shrubs, and seedling trees, should complement and extend the existing surrounding vegetation and natural systems.
D. 
The remainder of the RBZ and the area between newly installed plants shall be stabilized and established with meadow grasses and wildflowers.
A. 
A riparian buffer zone management plan shall be submitted as part of preliminary and final plan application. In the case of a conditional use, the RBZ management plan shall be submitted along with the application for conditional use approval. The plan may be provided on a separate sheet in the development plan set or may be a separate bound document and shall include the following information:
(1) 
A narrative describing the development of the subject property;
(2) 
A description of the existing natural resources on the property;
(3) 
A narrative describing the significance and purpose of the RBZ;
(4) 
A description of any proposed impacts within the delineated RBZ;
(5) 
Plant lists, notes, details and any other pertinent information needed to fully describe the proposed procedures and methods necessary to accomplish the establishment of a healthy, vegetated RBZ; and
(6) 
The maintenance activities that will be performed to ensure the control of erosion and the continued health and vigor of the plants within the RBZ. Such activities may change over the course of plant establishment and may include mowing schedules.
B. 
The preparation and planting procedures may include, but shall not be limited to, invasive plant removal and control; stream bank stabilization; the provision of animal browse protection, such as plastic tubes for seedling trees; erosion control matting; the provision of any markers or signs identifying the RBZ; and mowing schedules for meadow grass establishment.
C. 
The maintenance narrative shall include, but shall not be limited to, the following provisions:
(1) 
A list of prohibited activities that may lead to excessive erosion or pollution, which may include restrictions on traffic, the removal of plant material, and the use of chemicals;
(2) 
An annual inspection and report by a qualified professional;
(3) 
Inspections immediately following severe storm events to monitor erosion and sedimentation;
(4) 
Procedures for corrective action to erosion;
(5) 
A time frame for removal of planting aids, such as staking and tree tubes;
(6) 
A guarantee and procedures for replacement and/or supplement of plantings that die or do not become well established in perpetuity.