Municipality of Bethel Park, PA
Allegheny County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Adopted 4-14-1975 by Ord. No. 4-14-75A]
Title. This ordinance shall be known and may be cited as the "Bethel Park Municipal Grading Ordinance."
Purpose. The purpose of this ordinance is to provide minimum standards to safeguard persons and property, to protect and to promote the public welfare by preventing excess erosion, hazardous rock and soil slippage, sediment production and other soil and water management problems, and by regulating and controlling the design, construction, quality of materials, use, location and maintenance of grading, excavation and fill.
Wherever used in this ordinance, the following words shall have the meanings indicated:
ADMINISTRATOR — The person qualified and officially appointed by the Municipal Council to manage this ordinance.
BEDROCK — Natural rock layer, hard or soft, in place at the ground surface or beneath unconsolidated surficial deposits.
BUILDING PERMIT — A permit issued by the Code Official pursuant to the provisions of the Bethel Park Building Code for the construction, erection or alteration of a structure or building.
Editor's Note: The definition of "designated floodplain districts," added 6-8-1981 by Ord. No. 6-8-81C, as amended, was repealed 9-8-2014 by Ord. No. 9-8-14. For current provisions, see Ch. 72, Floodplain Management.
ENGINEERING GEOLOGIST — A person who holds a degree in geology from an accredited college or university and who has training and experience in the field of engineering geology.
ENGINEER, PROFESSIONAL — A person licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to practice engineering and who is knowledgeable in the branch of civil engineering.
EROSION — The detachment and movement of soil or rock fragments by water, wind, ice or gravity, including such processes as gravitational creep.
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, including the conditions resulting therefrom.
FILL — Any act by which earth, sand, gravel, rock or any other material is deposited, placed, pushed, dumped, piled, transported or moved to a new location, including the condition resulting therefrom.
GOVERNING BODY — The Council of the Municipality of Bethel Park.
GRADING — Any excavation or fill, or any combination thereof, including the conditions resulting from any excavation or fill.
GRADING PERMIT — Any permit required under this ordinance.
HAZARD — A danger or potential danger to life, limb or health, or an adverse effect or potential adverse effect to the safety, use or stability of property, waterways, public ways, structures, utilities and storm sewers, including stream pollution.
INSPECTOR — The Administrator or his authorized representative whose duty it is to administer compliance with this ordinance.
MUNICIPALITY — The Municipality of Bethel Park.
MUNICIPAL ENGINEER — That person duly appointed by the municipal officials to act in such capacity. He shall be the Administrator of this Grading Ordinance.
PERSON — A natural person, but also including a partnership, corporation, trust or association.
SITE — A lot, tract or parcel of land, or a series of lots, tracts or parcels of land which are adjoining where grading work is continuous and performed at the same time.
SOILS ENGINEER — A person registered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a professional engineer and who has training and experience in the branch of soils engineering.
SOIL SURVEY — The published and operational soil survey for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and the accompanying text, "Soil Survey Interpretations of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania," as prepared by the United States Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service et al. When applicable, "soil survey" shall mean "Soil Survey, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania."
SOLID WASTE — All, or combinations of, ashes, garbage, refuse, radioactive material, combustible demolition materials and industrial waste such as food-processing wastes, wood, plastic, metal scrap, etc.
New grading, excavations and fills, or changes, additions, repairs or alterations made to existing excavations and fills, shall conform to the provisions of this ordinance.
A grading permit must be obtained from the Administrator for new grading, excavations and fills, or for changes, additions or alterations made to existing excavations or fills, all of which shall conform to the provisions of this ordinance. A separate grading permit shall be required for each site. One permit may cover the grading, excavation and fill made on the same site. If excavated material is to be removed from a grading site, it shall be noted on the application. Such off-site disposal may require the securing of a separate grading permit. A grading permit must be obtained where tree cutting or timber harvesting will result in significant soil disturbance, erosion or sedimentation production.
[Amended 1-10-2005 by Ord. No. 01-10-05B]
Only one permit shall be required for the grading of a large continuous parcel of land for a proposed major planned development, such as residential planned unit development or a planned industrial park, when adequate standards or requirements for grading the parcel are approved by the Administrator.
A grading permit will not be required when:
The fill amount does not exceed 25 cubic yards on any one site.
Grading does not exceed new construction authorized by a building permit properly issued by the Building Inspection Department. Grading under the authorization of a building permit shall follow the standards and requirements of this ordinance.
No exceptions are permitted when the proposed grading activities are to take place in a designated floodplain.
[Added 6-8-1981 by Ord. No. 6-8-81C]
Whenever the Administrator determines that any existing excavation, embankment or fill has become a hazard as defined in Section 40.2 of this ordinance, the owner of the property upon which the excavation, embankment or fill is located, or other person or agent in control of said property, upon receipt of notice from the Administrator, shall, within 24 hours or other reasonable period specified therein, repair, reconstruct or remove such excavation, embankment or fill so as to eliminate the hazard.
If, after such notification, the property owner or his agent has not made the necessary repairs within the time specified, then the Municipal Council may direct municipal employees or hired personnel to make the required repairs, and the cost thereof shall be borne by the property owner, said costs to be collected in the manner provided by law, including the imposition of a lien against the property.
Every applicant for a grading permit shall file a written application therefor with the Administrator, in a form prescribed by the Administrator. Such application shall:
Describe the land on which the proposed work is to be done by lot, block, tract or street address, or a similar description which will readily identify and definitely locate the proposed work.
Be accompanied by plans and specifications prepared, signed and sealed by a professional engineer, giving a reasonable picture of the site and proposed soil erosion controls, if any.
Such plans shall include a description of the site proposed for grading; the accurate location by lot, block, tract, street address, a location map or other similar information; a contour map showing the present contours of the land and the proposed contours of the land after completion of the proposed grading; and a plan showing cross sections of the proposed cut or fill which show the method of benching both cut and/or fill. In addition, a plot plan shall show the location of the grading, boundaries, lot lines, neighboring streets or ways, buildings, surface and subsurface utilities and waterways. In addition, plans shall include a description of the type and classification of the soil from the soil survey or better; details and location of any proposed drainage structures and pipes, walls and cribbing; seeding and/or planting locations and schedules, debris basins and diversion channels; the nature of fill material; and such other information as the Administrator may need to carry out the purposes of this ordinance. All plans shall be dated and bear the name and seal of the professional engineer who prepared the same, the name of the applicant and the owner of the land. Plans shall be submitted in triplicate, one set of which shall be of reproducible nature.
The Administrator may waive the preparation by a professional engineer when it is evident that the proposed work is simple, is clearly shown on the plans submitted, creates no potential nuisance or hazard to adjacent property and does not include the construction of a fill upon which a structure is to be erected.
State the estimated dates for the commencement and completion of grading work.
State the purpose for which the grading application is filed.
State whether excavated material is to be used as on-site fill or if it is to be removed from the site. If material is to be removed from the site, the location and quantity of such disposal must be stated in the application. A separate grading permit may be required for such off-site fill as herein required under Section 40.4 of this ordinance.
The Administrator may require, from the applicant or the applicant's engineer, information and reports from governmental agencies and scientific and/or engineering journals, if available, and professional engineers and/or engineering geologists, if necessary. This information and these reports must be of sufficient detail to ensure that proposed grading will not create a hazard and that there will be minimum of soil erosion on the site to be graded.
To be adequate, a geological report shall include a detailed description of the geological conditions of the site and shall also include conclusions and recommendations that will demonstrate the relationship of the geological conditions to the proposed development, including hazardous conditions, water resources, mineral resources and environmental impact. A soil conservation report shall include an existing site description as to topography, drainage, cover and soils; major resource problems as to soil limitations, erosion, sediment potential and surface runoff changes; and recommendations to minimize soil limitations, erosion, sediment and surface water disposal problems.
[Amended 11-12-2012 by Ord. No. 11-12-12B]
The Administrator shall receive the applications and shall collect all fees. The Administrator shall review all applications and shall indicate the approval thereon. In the event of disapproval, the Administrator shall note the reasons therefor, a copy of which shall be sent to the applicant.
Before issuing a grading permit, the Administrator shall collect a permit fee based upon the volume of material to be graded. The fee shall be set in accordance with a schedule of fees, charges, or expenses as determined by Municipal Council.
Before issuance of a grading permit, the applicant shall post $200 in cash plus a performance bond, corporate surety or other approved security in the amount of 20% of the estimated cost of grading work and erosion control facilities proposed, to guarantee that said work and facilities will be completed in a satisfactory manner and meet the requirements of this ordinance. No bond shall be required if another bond or other approved security is posted for construction and/or site improvements. When all requirements of this permit have been met and the work has been completed in a satisfactory manner, the security shall be replaced with a maintenance bond guaranteeing the work for a period of two years after completion thereof.
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 Municipal Council, acting upon the recommendation of the Administrator, may, if the permit holder presents satisfactory evidence that unusual difficulties have prevented work from being started or completed within the specified time limits, 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.
When the requirements of this ordinance for obtaining a permit have been met, the Administrator shall approve the proposed plan and grant a grading permit to the applicant. Approved work may then start. However, when, in the opinion of the Administrator, work proposed by the applicant is likely to endanger any property or person, or any street or alley, or create hazardous conditions, the grading permit shall be denied. In determining whether the proposed work is likely to endanger any property or any street or alley, or create hazardous conditions, the Administrator shall give due consideration to possible saturation by rains, earth movements, runoff surface waters and subsurface conditions such as the stratification and faulting of rock, aquifers, springs and the nature and type of the soil or rock.
The Municipal Council shall, within 45 days, consider appeals from the decision of the Administrator or from the denial of a permit by the Administrator, and the Municipal Council, within 45 days, shall consider alternate methods, standards or materials proposed by the developer when, in its opinion, strict compliance with the provisions of this ordinance is unwarranted or creates undue hardship. Any applicant or permit holder shall have the right to appeal to any court of competent jurisdiction from any decision of the Municipal Council under the provisions of applicable state law relating to appeals.
The permittee or his agent shall notify the Administrator in writing of the start and completion of each continuous grading operation. Notice shall be received by the Administrator, or at his office, at least two working days before the start or completion of grading operations.
Plans for grading work, bearing the stamp of approval of the Municipal Engineer, shall be maintained at the site during the progress of the grading work and until the work has been approved.
Grading work at the various stages, or at any other time, will be subject to spot inspections at the discretion of the Administrator, to determine that the work is being performed in compliance with this ordinance.
Any physical changes in the site, such as surface water drainage, soil and bedrock dislocations, alteration of groundwater discharge or any other natural or man-made modification which would cause a doubt to be cast upon the feasibility of the contents of the original permit approval, must be reported to the Administrator within 24 hours of discovery of such condition. Failure to do so is deemed as just reason for revocation of the permit and forfeiture of the security.
In special cases, when grading occurs in areas of landslide-prone soil as recognized by the soil survey or better, the Administrator may require special precautions and/or soil tests from the grader. The results of all soil tests and core borings made relating to the side graded shall be submitted to the Administrator, the cost of such tests and reports to be borne by the permittee.
Maximum slope steepness of a cut shall be three horizontal to one vertical for minimizing erosion and landslide hazards. However, a governmental review agency, professional engineer or engineering geologist may recognize the types of soil on the site to be graded from the soil survey or better. Maximum slopes can then be determined as follows:
Landslide-prone soils where existing slopes are of a gradient greater than 25% shall have cut slopes no steeper than three horizontal to one vertical. Soil survey map symbols are: 34-DE-6, 34-E-2, 34-F-1, 65-E-2.
Landslide-prone soils where existing slopes are of a gradient less than 25% shall have cut slopes no steeper than two horizontal to one vertical. Soil survey map symbols are:
Soils which are not landslide-prone, or have a low probability of being landslide-prone, shall have a slope no steeper than two horizontal to one vertical. All soil survey map symbols except the symbols listed above denote soils of low landslide probability.
Cut slopes.
Cut slopes which are steeper than those specified above may be allowed under a grading permit, at the discretion of the Administrator, provided that one or both of the following are satisfied:
The material in which the execution is made is sufficiently stable to sustain a slope steeper than the slope specified above for recognized soil conditions on the site. A written statement, signed and sealed by a professional soils engineer, stating that the steeper slope will have sufficient stability and that the risk of creating a hazard will be slight, must be submitted to the Administrator for approval.
A retaining wall or other approved support, designed by a professional engineer and approved by the Administrator, is provided to support the face of the excavation.
General requirements set forth in Section 40.19 of this ordinance must also be met.
The top or bottom edge of slopes shall generally be set back three feet from adjacent property lines or street right-of-way lines in order to permit the normal rounding of the edge without encroaching on the abutting property or street.
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 or movement.
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 the adjacent property or buildings, not less than 30 days before such excavation is to be made, that the proposed excavation is to be started. Adjoining properties and structures shall be protected as provided in the Municipality's Building Code as is then on file in the office of the Building Inspector and/or as required by the Administrator.
Guidelines for cuts in the Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, shall be followed. One or a combination of guidelines shall be used to minimize hazards, depending on site conditions and proposed grading.
No fill shall be made in a residentially zoned area of the municipality or with an exposed face adjacent to such a district which creates a slope steeper than two horizontal to one vertical, except under one or more of the following conditions:
The fill, in the opinion of the Municipal 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, ways or buildings.
A written statement from a professional civil engineer, licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and experienced in soils engineering, certifying that he has inspected the site and that the proposed deviation from the standard specified slopes will not endanger any property or result in personal hazard or property damage is submitted to approved by the Administrator.
In issuing permits, the Administrator may impose conditions requiring that a fill be constructed with an exposed surface flatter than two horizontal to one vertical, if under the particular circumstances involved such flatter surface is necessary for stability and for the safety of persons and property.
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 as determined by the Municipal Engineer and so specified on the grading permit.
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 used in the fill other than clean soil or earth. If the filling operation is intermittent, the Administrator may require that the top and exposed surfaces of the fill be so covered at the completion of each such interruption.
No fill of any kind shall be placed over trees, stumps or other materials which could create a nuisance or be susceptible to attracting rodents, termites or other pests.
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 20% more than the Municipal Engineer's estimated cost of adequately covering such fill with clean soil or earth has been furnished to the municipality. Such bond shall be executed by a corporate surety, as well as by the principal, and shall be subject to the approval of the Municipal Solicitor as to form. The bond shall inure to the benefit of the municipality 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 Municipal Engineer. In lieu of such bond, a cash deposit or a certified check in the same amount may be made with the Municipal Treasurer.
[Added 6-8-1981 by Ord. No. 6-8-81C]
Standards for Floodplains and Watercourses.
No encroachment, alteration, or improvement of any kind shall be made to any watercourse until all adjacent municipalities which may be affected by such action have been notified by the municipality, and until all required permits or approvals have been first obtained from the Department of Environmental Resources, Bureau of Dams, Waterways and Wetlands or any other applicable governmental agencies.
Editor's Note: Former Section, regarding relocation of watercourses, was repealed 9-8-2014 by Ord. No. 9-8-14. For current provisions, see Ch. 72, Floodplain Management.
Any new construction, development, uses or activities allowed within any identified floodplain area, shall be undertaken in strict compliance with the provisions contained in this ordinance and any other applicable codes, ordinances and regulations.
Editor's Note: Former Section, regarding requirements in a floodplain or watercourse, was repealed 9-8-2014 by Ord. No. 9-8-14. For current provisions, see Ch. 72, Floodplain Management.
All fills shall be compacted to provide stability of fill material and to prevent undesirable settlement or slippage. Fills shall be compacted using modern methods and equipment. Fills shall be constructed under the supervision of a qualified soils engineer who shall certify in writing as to the adequacy of the compaction, and he shall submit results of the compaction tests to the Municipal Engineer.
The top or bottom edge of slopes shall, generally, be set back three feet from adjacent property lines or street right-of-way lines in order to permit the normal rounding of the edge without encroaching on the abutting property or street.
Guidelines for fills in the Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, shall be followed. One or a combination of guidelines shall be used to minimize hazards, depending on site conditions and proposed grading.
All grading shall be done in conformity with the requirements of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Allegheny County Conservation Soil District. Reports and plans required to be submitted to these agencies shall also be submitted to the Municipality.
[Amended 11-12-2001 by Ord. No. 11-12-2001E]
Guidelines for minimizing erosion and sediment in the Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and the Erosion and Sedimentation Pollution Control Program Manual (March, 2000 et seq.), Bureau of Water Quality Protection Division of Waterways, and Erosion Control, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Water Management, shall be followed. One or a combination of guidelines shall be used to minimize hazards, depending on site conditions and proposed grading. However, the Administrator may approve grading plans not meeting guidelines of the Handbook if proposed grading will not constitute a hazard. Governmental and/or engineering reports shall be used as evidence that proposed grading will not constitute a hazard.
[Amended 11-12-2001 by Ord. No. 11-12-2001E]
All slopes shall be sown with crown vetch or other approved anti-erosion vegetation.
Care shall be taken to prevent erosion and sedimentation entering adjoining streams. Approved anti-erosion devices shall be installed where directed to achieve this requirement.
The owners of property, whose sites are one acre or greater in size, on which grading work or other significant disturbance of the soil would occur or any other activity which would increase surface water runoff in an uncontrolled manner, shall obtain the proper permits for controlling erosion, sedimentation and stormwater flows from the Allegheny County Soil Conservation District which authorizes the discharges from grading, excavation, or fill activities.
[Added 11-12-2001 by Ord. No. 11-12-2001E]
As used in this section, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
A structure composed of concrete, steel or other approved building material constructed for the purpose of supporting a cut or fill embankment which would otherwise not comply with the requirements of the standards set forth in this ordinance, and which is more than four feet in maximum height as measured on the exposed vertical surface of the wall.
If a retaining wall is constructed to satisfy a requirement of this ordinance, a building permit, as provided for by other municipal regulations, shall not be required. The grading permit will apply to the retaining wall, but the requirements for inspection, etc., as stated herein are applicable.
Retaining walls must be constructed in accordance with sound engineering practice. The plans submitted for approval shall bear the seal of a professional engineer.
The backfilling of retaining walls and the insertion of subterranean drainage facilities shall be done strictly in accordance with the provisions of this ordinance and the appropriate municipal specifications.
In general, where a wall is replacing an exposed slope, the vertical face of the wall shall be set back a minimum of three feet from the adjoining property.
A special exception to this requirement may be applied for and granted by the Administrator if it can be satisfactorily demonstrated that such a variance is necessary to permit normal use of the property, i.e., for a sideline driveway, or other reasonable considerations.
The requirement of this subsection may also be set aside when the proposed retaining wall is a joint venture between adjacent property owners, and appropriate documents so stating are filed with the application for the permit.
Adequate provisions shall be made to prevent any surface or subsurface waters from damaging:
The cut face of an excavation.
The sloping surface of a fill.
Adjacent property affected by the change in the existing natural runoff pattern.
Such drainage provisions shall be indicated on the grading plans submitted for approval.
To prevent damage, grading plans shall follow Vegetative Control Methods and Ditch and Conduit Control Methods in the Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, when they are applicable to the site. The Administrator may approve methods and materials recommended by governmental agencies and professional engineers when they are more suitable to the site in preventing damage. Drainage facilities shall be designed to accommodate the severest storm that might occur during a twenty-five-year period.
At the top of all cut or fill slopes which are steeper than two horizontal to one vertical, and eight or more feet in total height, a chain-link fence not less than four feet in height, and of a design meeting the approval of the Municipal Engineer, shall be erected.
The owner of the property being graded shall be responsible to protect and clean up lower properties of silt and debris which has washed down onto the lower properties as a result of the grading work on the higher property.
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 development work shall be preserved.
When grading activity is to take place in the floodway (FW) portion, the effect of such grading must be fully offset by accompanying improvements.
[Added 6-8-1981 by Ord. No. 6-8-81C]
The owner of any property upon which an excavation or fill has been made shall maintain in good condition and repair the excavation or fill constructed, and also all retaining walls, cribbing, drainage structures, fences, ground cover and any other protective devices as may be a part of the permit requirements.
If, at any time subsequent to the completion of the grading work, the cut face or fill slope shall evidence signs of deterioration, erosion or other evidence which might be detrimental to the properties above and below the graded site, the Administrator may direct the property owner to take necessary remedial steps in accordance with the sound engineering practice to restore the grading to a safe condition, and to do so in a reasonable period of time.
Neither the issuance of a permit under the provisions of this ordinance nor compliance with the provisions hereto or with any condition imposed by the municipal official hereunder shall relieve any person from any responsibility for damage to persons or property resulting therefrom, or as otherwise imposed by law, nor impose any liability upon the Municipality for damages to persons or property.
Compliance with the requirements of this ordinance shall be incumbent upon the person performing any grading, the presence or absence of an inspector notwithstanding.
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 ordinance.
When notice of any violation of, or noncompliance with, the provisions of this ordinance has been given by the Administrator or the Code Enforcement Officer, or their representative, to any person, such violation shall be discontinued immediately or within a reasonable time limit specified in such notice. If such violation is not discontinued or extends beyond the specified time limit, the Administrator shall revoke the grading permit, and the violator shall be subject to the applicable penalty.
Any person violating any of the provisions of this ordinance shall be liable, on conviction thereof, to a penalty not exceeding $100. Whenever such person shall have been notified by the Code Enforcement Officer, by service of summons in a prosecution, or in any other way, that he is committing such violation of this ordinance, 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.
Any violation of the provisions of this ordinance, when certified in writing by the Administrator, shall incur the automatic forfeiture of the cash bond of $200 required to be deposited under completion and performance guaranties section of this ordinance. This automatic forfeiture is also applicable to partially satisfy costs incurred as referred to in hazardous conditions section of this ordinance.
In case any work is performed by any person in violation of any of the provisions of this ordinance, the proper officer of the Municipality of Bethel Park, in addition to other remedies, may institute in the name of the Municipality of Bethel Park an appropriate action or proceeding, whether by legal process or otherwise, to prevent such unlawful work and to restrain or abate such violation.
The provisions of this ordinance are severable, and if any of its provisions or any part of any provision shall be held unconstitutional, the decision of the court shall not affect or impair any of the remaining provisions. It is hereby declared to be the intent of the Municipal Council that this ordinance would have been enacted had such unconstitutional provisions or parts thereof not been included herein.
Any ordinance or parts of any ordinance conflicting with the provisions of this ordinance shall be, and the same are hereby, repealed to the extent of such conflict, and specifically Ordinance No. 8-12-68C is repealed in its entirety.