[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Council of Peters Township as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 3-26-2012 by Ord. No. 747 (Ch. 25, Part 1, of the 1981 Code of Ordinances)]
Timber harvesting regulations are intended to:
Preserve environmental and economic benefits associated with proper forest management; and
Promote proper forest stewardship; and
Avoid unreasonable and unnecessary restrictions on the right to practice forestry; and
Protect the rights of adjoining property owners; minimize the potential for adverse environmental impacts associated with any logging or timber harvesting operation; and
Avoid unreasonable and unnecessary restrictions on the right of property owners to log or harvest timber (which activity is a permitted use in all zoning districts).
To encourage maintenance and management of forested or wooded open space and promote the conduct of forestry as a sound and economically viable use of forested land throughout the Township. Forestry activities, including timber harvesting, shall be a permitted use by right in all zoning districts.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The act of cutting a standing tree so that it falls to the ground.
- The management of forests and timberlands when practiced in accordance with accepted silvicultural principles, through developing, cultivating, harvesting, transporting and selling trees for commercial purposes, which does not involve any land development.
- A place where logs, pulpwood, or firewood are assembled for transportation to processing facilities.
- An individual, partnership, company, firm, association, or corporation that is in actual control of forestland, whether such control is based on legal or equitable title, or any other interest entitling the holder to sell or otherwise dispose of any or all of the timber on such land in any manner, and any agents thereof acting on their behalf, such as forestry consultants, who set up and administer timber harvesting.
- Discarded items not naturally occurring on the site, such as tires, oil cans, equipment parts, and other rubbish.
- The act of cutting live trees for cordwood, for timber, for pulp or for any purpose, excepting therefrom a homeowner cutting on his own property for his own use; clearing for development of building sites with approved final plats, site plans or grading plans; or clearing for farming operations. A "logger" is defined as the person(s) performing the work on behalf of the owner.
- To cut tops and slash into smaller pieces to allow material to settle close to the ground.
- An individual, partnership, company, firm, association, or corporation engaged in timber harvesting, including the agents, subcontractors, and employees thereof.
- PRECOMMERCIAL TIMBER STAND IMPROVEMENT
- A forest practice, such as thinning or pruning, which results in better growth, structure, species composition, or health for the residual stand but which does not yield a net income to the landowner, usually because any trees cut are of poor quality, too small or otherwise of limited marketability or value.
- Dragging trees on the ground from the stump to the landing by any means.
- Woody debris left in the woods after logging, including logs, chunks, bark, branches, uprooted stumps, and broken or uprooted trees or shrubs.
- Any area of forest vegetation whose site conditions, past history, and current species composition are sufficiently uniform to be managed as a unit.
- Any natural or artificial channel of conveyance for surface water with an annual or intermittent flow within a defined bed and bank.
- TIMBER HARVESTING, TREE HARVESTING or LOGGING
- The part of forestry involving cutting down trees and removing logs from the forest for the primary purpose of sale or commercial processing into wood products.
- The upper portion of a felled tree that is not merchantable because of small size, taper, or defect.
- Areas that are inundated or saturated by surface water or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances, do support a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions including swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas.
Permit, notification, insurance and surety.
When a property owner wishes to conduct or permit to be conducted a logging or timber-harvesting operation on his property, such owner shall obtain a logging permit from Peters Township. The fee schedule for logging and timber harvesting permits shall be as indicated in the current Township Fee Schedule.
Logging operations within Peters Township on any parcel of property over one acre in size shall require a permit. Logging permits shall only be valid for a period of six months or as otherwise indicated on the permit. However, since the logging operation may be adversely affected or delayed by unusual circumstances of weather or other occurrences, one additional six-month extension, after payment of a renewal fee equal to the initial permit fee, may be granted by the Township. Any additional extensions shall require application to the Peters Township Council.
A logging and timber harvesting permit shall not be required, and this section shall not apply to:
Clearing operations associated with a site plan or land development plan approved by the Planning Commission or Council.
Clearing undertaken for the purpose of home construction authorized by an approved building permit.
Individual lots affected by a logging operation of less than one acre in size, provided that the entire logging or timber-harvesting operations does not exceed a total of one acre.
Before the issuance of a permit, the applicant shall show proof that the logging operator has general liability insurance in an amount no less than $1,000,000, automobile liability insurance in an amount no less than $500,000, and property damage liability insurance in an amount no less than $100,000, all in favor of the Township and the property owner.
Before the issuance of a permit, the applicant shall show proof that the logging operator has worker's compensation insurance.
To insure compliance by the applicant with the requirements set forth in this article, a cash bond, irrevocable letter of credit, or other security acceptable to the Township shall be submitted; the amount of such security shall be no less than $1,000, plus $500 per acre for all acreage to be logged over two acres. The Township, only after reviewing the post-logging report filed by the certified forester engaged to oversee the project, shall release said security upon the completion of the logging or timber-harvesting operation.
A copy of all plans and applications for proposed logging to be considered for approval shall be submitted by the logger to any other appropriate agencies, i.e., Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Environment Protection; Bureau of Forestry; Fish Commission; Washington County Conservation District, etc., for their review and/or approvals.
The landowner and the operator shall be jointly and severally responsible for complying with the terms of the logging plan.
The Township will notify all property owners within 300 feet of the property line of the property where the logging activity will take place.
Permit application requirements. Application for such a logging permit shall be made in writing to the Planning Director on forms supplied by the Township. Such application shall be accompanied by the following:
A written logging plan prepared by a certified forester, hired by the operator and approved by the Township. The forester shall be skilled in current silviculture best management practices and authorized to practice in the State of Pennsylvania. To be authorized to practice, foresters shall be certified by the Society of American Foresters. (If future legislation requires that foresters be licensed/registered with the state, then so shall this article.) No timber harvesting shall occur until the plan has been prepared and a logging permit has been issued by the Township. The provisions of the plan shall be followed throughout the operation. In addition, a copy of the plan shall be available at the harvest site at all times during the operation and shall be provided to the Township or Township-delegated officials upon request.
As a minimum, the logging plan shall include the following:
Description of proposed operation, including purpose, start and completion dates, logging techniques and methods (i.e., clear-cutting, group selection, single-tree selection, etc.), and measures necessary to properly restore the property and minimize potential negative impacts, including aesthetics, erosion, residual stand damage, etc.
Total land area involved in the proposed logging operation.
A chart indicating the quantity of trees, the ranges (dbh) and species of the trees selected for harvesting and a statement confirming that each tree to be removed has been designated by the consulting forester, with paint or other distinctive means, at two points so as to be readily visible by the logger. The higher of the two marks shall be provided around the entire circumference of the tree. The lower point shall be low enough on the tree so as to be visible on the stump after the tree is removed.
Narrative outlining the revegetation of all disturbed areas, including but not limited to access roads, landing areas, skid trails, and harvest areas.
Proposed stormwater control measures to be utilized, if applicable.
Proposed stream crossings and wetland protection measures to be utilized, if applicable.
Design, construction, maintenance, and retirement of the access system, including haul roads, skid roads, skid trails and landings.
Design, construction, and maintenance of water control measures and structures such as culverts, broad-based dips, filter strips, and water bars.
Design, construction, and maintenance of stream and wetland crossings.
The logging plan shall address and comply with the requirements of all applicable state regulations, including, but not limited to, the following:
Erosion and sedimentation control regulations contained in Title 25 Pennsylvania Code Chapter 102, promulgated pursuant to the Clean Streams Law (35 P.S. § 691.1 et seq.).
Stream crossing and wetlands protection regulations contained in Title 25 Pennsylvania Code Chapter 105, promulgated pursuant to the Dam Safety and Encroachments Act (32 P.S. § 693.1 et seq.).
An erosion and sedimentation pollution control plan that satisfies the requirements of Title 25 Pennsylvania Code Chapter 102 shall also satisfy the requirements for the logging plan and associated map specified in § 402-3B, provided that all information required by these subsections is included or attached.
Washington County Conservation District requirements and approvals.
Any permits required by state laws and regulations shall be attached to and become part of the logging plan.
A sketch plan containing the following information:
A survey stamped by a surveyor of record showing the property boundary and proposed area to be logged indicated by a heavy line with length of course in feet.
Contain a vicinity map, which shows the property(s) proposed for timber harvesting as shown on a current Township map. The vicinity map shall identify all adjacent properties and property owners surrounding the proposed logging operation.
The location and names of streets and roads adjacent to the proposed logging operation.
Utility rights-of-way and/or easements.
The existing watercourses, floodplains, woodlands, and wetlands.
Show all existing and proposed contours in two-foot intervals.
Location of all grading and earth disturbance activities, including, but not limited to, roads, landings, and water control measures and structures.
The plan must show the required twenty-five-foot buffer in all applicable locations. See § 402-3C(3) below.
Point of access onto public roadway(s) where aggregate entrance is to be placed.
Erosion and sedimentation control measures to be as approved by the Washington County Conservation District.
Logging operation, regulations and practices.
All property boundaries adjacent to proposed logging operations must be staked at intervals no greater than 100 feet by a registered surveyor prior to commencement of logging.
Trees selected for harvesting shall be marked at two distinctive locations thereon. The higher of the two marks shall be provided around the entire circumference of the tree. The lower mark must be visible on the stump after the tree is removed.
A twenty-five-foot buffer area is required next to any adjacent property, wetland, stream, floodplain, private driveway and/or public road/trail. No timber harvesting, or operations related to timber harvesting, may occur within the buffer area. Also, no tops or slash may be stored or left in the buffer area. The twenty-five-foot buffer requirement may be waived only in locations where the property owner directly adjacent to the proposed timber harvesting operations has provided written consent to do so. The buffer requirement may only be waived along the portion of said owner's property.
Logging operations or removal of products shall take place between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday. No work is permitted on Sunday.
No commercial sale of wood or logs shall be permitted on the property unless the property is located in a commercial zone.
Upon completion of the logging or timber harvesting operation, all disturbed areas, including, but not limited to, the landing area(s), roads, or grading to facilitate roads, and skid trails shall be revegetated pursuant to the erosion and sedimentation control plan and pre-logging plan as approved by the Washington County Conservation District and Peters Township, respectively.
Litter resulting from a timber harvesting operation shall be removed from the site before it is vacated by the operator.
Felling or skidding on or across any public thoroughfare is prohibited without the express written consent of the Township or the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, whichever is responsible for maintenance of the thoroughfare.
Proper erosion and sedimentation control measures shall be taken on disturbed property to prevent accelerated water runoff.
No property shall be clear-cut unless the practice is proven practical by the certified forester hired by the operator and approved by the Township. Any and all efforts shall be made to reduce the negative impacts on surrounding properties if clear-cutting shall occur.
Trees falling on adjacent properties as a result of logging or timber harvesting operations shall immediately be returned to the landowner's property. The operator(s) shall be responsible for any damage, cost, or restoration to the affected adjacent property.
Road maintenance, protection and bonding.
Pursuant to Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Chapter 49; and Title 67 Pennsylvania Code, Chapter 189, the landowner and the operator shall be responsible for repairing any damage to Township roads caused by traffic associated with the timber harvesting operation to the extent the damage is in excess of that caused by normal traffic and may be required to furnish a bond to guarantee the repair of such damages.
Prior to hauling on any Township road with an established weight limit, an excess maintenance agreement shall be executed and a bond shall be posted in accordance with the Township's road bonding requirements.
At the point of access, the logger shall construct an aggregate entrance area to support the roadway edge and prevent mud from being tracked onto the road. The roadway shall be kept clean and free of mud and wood debris. Any disturbance along a Township-maintained roadway to create a new or improve upon an existing access shall be reconstructed back into its original condition as it was prior to the commencement of the logging or timber harvesting operation.
No parking of logging vehicles or storage of logs shall be permitted in any public right-of-way.
Peters Township shall have the authority to suspend any logging or timber harvesting operation should the Township determine that conditions of the logging or timber harvesting operation will cause or make likely damage to a Township-maintained roadway.
Roads, bridges and culverts damaged as a result of a logging or timber harvesting operation shall be repaired in accordance with Township standards and specifications.
The operator shall not create a new or utilize an existing access onto a Township or state maintained roadway without first obtaining permission from the Township or Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for utilizing said access.
Township-designated staff or consultants may go upon the site of any timber harvesting operation before, during, or after active logging to:
Upon finding that a timber harvesting operation is in violation of any provision of this article, the Township shall issue the operator and the landowner a written notice of violation describing each violation and specifying a date by which corrective action must be taken. The Township may order the immediate suspension of any logging or timber-harvesting operation and may institute any appropriate action to prevent, restrain, correct, or abate the violation of this article (as permitted by 53 P.S. § 10617) if corrective action has not been taken by the date specified in a notice of violation; the operation is proceeding without a logging plan; or the operation is causing an immediate environmental risk. Suspension orders shall be in writing, shall be issued to the operator and the landowner, and shall remain in effect until, as determined by the Township, the operation is brought into compliance with this article or other applicable statutes or regulations. The landowner or the operator may appeal an order or decision of the Township within 30 days of issuance to Township Council.
Any logging operator or landowner who violates any provision of this section; refuses to allow a Township enforcement officer access to a harvest site pursuant to this section; or who fails to comply with a notice of violation or suspension order issued pursuant to this section shall, upon conviction thereof before a Magisterial District Judge under the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, be guilty of a summary offense and shall be punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000, plus costs of prosecution. In default of payment thereof, the defendant may be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 90 days. Each day or portion thereof that such violation continues or is permitted to continue shall constitute a separate offense, and each section of this article that is violated shall also constitute a separate offense.
The application filing fee is as set by the Township Council from time to time.
The Planning Director and Township Engineer shall examine said application to determine compliance with all applicable codes and ordinances within 15 days after a complete application with all other materials required by this article and either approve or reject said application. If the application is rejected, the Planning Director shall inform the applicant, in writing, stating the reasons for such rejection.
When provisions of this code conflict with other applicable codes, the more stringent code shall apply.