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Township of Ross, PA
Allegheny County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Ord. 2035, 12/9/2002; § 1800; as amended by Ord. 2232, 5/14/2007, § 1; and by Ord. 2288, 4/12/2010]
1. 
Establishment of Design Review Board. For the purpose of providing technical advice on issues involving new residential developments of three lots or more and nonresidential uses within the Conservation Corridor Overlay District to the Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners, a design review board may be established. The Board shall consist of seven members, the majority of which shall be residents of the Township and be appointed by the Ross Township Board of Commissioners. Membership of the Board shall be as follows:
A. 
Three members (residents within the Conservation Corridor Overlay District) nominated by the Board of Commissioners with professional/technical backgrounds in one of the following areas:
(1) 
Landscape architecture.
(2) 
Architecture.
(3) 
Environmental or soil sciences.
(4) 
Site planner.
(5) 
Engineer.
(6) 
Geologist.
B. 
One member of the Ross Township Board of Commissioners.
C. 
One member of the Ross Township Planning Commission.
D. 
Two business owners who own businesses within the Conservation Corridor Overlay District.
2. 
The normal term of design review board members shall be five years, unless appointments are made to fill unexpired terms. However, the initial terms of the first design review board shall be fixed so that not more than two members shall be replaced or reappointed during any one calendar year. Specifically, the initial terms shall be established as follows:
A. 
One member shall be appointed for two years.
B. 
Two members shall be appointed for three years.
C. 
Two members shall be appointed for four years.
D. 
Two members shall be appointed for five years.
3. 
The design review board should meet monthly, unless there are no applications or business to be reviewed by the board. The design review board shall consider all projects at their meetings first following the filing of an application. The design review board shall issue or deny a certificate of appropriateness within 15 days of the meeting at which the project is considered, unless a greater length of time is agreed to by the applicant.
[Ord. 2035, 12/9/2002, § 1801]
1. 
A technical review shall be completed for nonresidential uses within the Conservation Corridor Overlay involving changes or new construction relating to:
A. 
Signs.
B. 
Buildings and outdoor improvements of nonresidential uses or lots which front or provide access to Rochester Road, Lowries Run Road, Reuse Run Road and Sewickley Oakmont Road.
(1) 
Any material change in the exterior appearance of existing buildings.
(2) 
Any new construction of a principal building or accessory building.
(3) 
Any material change of existing walls, fences, driveways and parking areas or construction of new walls, fences, driveways and parking areas.
(4) 
Any addition or alteration of any type of exterior lighting device.
(5) 
Any change of use.
(6) 
Any buildings reconstructed or rehabilitated over 25% of tax value.
(7) 
Any building expanded by 10% or more.
[Ord. 2035, 12/9/2002, § 1802]
1. 
Proposed signs or proposed alterations to existing signs shall be accurately depicted on twenty-four inch by thirty-six inch sheets to a scale to fill the sheet as far as practical. Drawing will indicate height of sign from ground and shall give all the dimensions of the sign. The support post(s) of the sign may be broken. Indicate colors, materials and exact location of the proposed signs or sign alterations.
2. 
A site plan shall be required of any improvement deemed to be of such significance that an actual plan will be necessary in order for the design review board to conduct a thorough review of the proposal. Site plans shall be required for outdoor improvements and for additions to existing buildings or new buildings, but shall not be required for exterior material or appearance changes to existing buildings. In the latter situation, elevations shall be submitted in such detail that the reviewing body could fully envision the completed alteration with the full knowledge of colors, materials, window sizes.
3. 
When a site plan is required, the following minimum information is required to be depicted:
A. 
All lot lines, minimum yard area lines, lines of existing streets and rights of way.
B. 
All existing and proposed improvements on the lot including, but not limited to, buildings, structures, parking areas, curbs, sidewalks, lighting devices, pedestrian paths and landscaped areas.
[Ord. 2035, 12/9/2002, § 1803]
1. 
Design Requirements for Nonresidential Uses. All drawings on twenty-four inch by thirty-six inch minimum size sheets and drawn to a scale to fill the sheet as far as practical. Explanatory notes to be on a separate sheet unless space is available without infringing on the scale of the drawing. All drawings to be cross referenced.
A. 
Building Setback and Placement Flexibility. The maximum building setbacks for a nonresidential use shall be 25 feet for two story buildings or structures (reference Subsection 1C maximum height). However, maximum building setbacks may be exceeded when a development or use incorporates enhanced pedestrian spaces and amenities in the setback area. Enhanced pedestrian spaces and amenities consist of features such as plazas, courtyards, arcades, outdoor seating, widened sidewalks or pedestrian pathways, benches, shelters, street furniture, public art or kiosks.
B. 
Floor Area Ratio (FAR)/Open Space Requirements. In order to promote unique building design and preservation of open space (environmentally significant areas, e.g., woodlands, stream corridors, wetlands, steep slopes, etc.), the following standards shall be required within the Overlay District:
(1) 
Common surveying practice dictates that the calculation of lot area is based upon horizontal measurements. However, it is recognized, that common survey practice take into consideration the variation in slope and other elements in the vertical plan.
(a) 
Maximum FAR shall be .40 per gross area with calculation based on horizontal measurements.
(b) 
Maintenance of open space shall be guaranteed prior to final plan approval. Further, a note shall be placed on the final plan indicating that the required open space shall not be further subdivided, disposed of or dissolved.
(c) 
Maximum coverage shall be no more than 50% of the gross lot area. Coverage includes all buildings, sidewalks, access drives, parking areas and stormwater management facilities.
C. 
Maximum Height. In order to promote unique design and retention of natural features on site the height of a nonresidential building may reach a maximum of five stories. However, for buildings or structures which exceed two stories in height, the building setback shall be increased by five feet for each additional story to ensure adequate light, air and circulation.
D. 
Pedestrian Pathways.
(1) 
In order to preserve land area for the future construction of a pedestrian pathway, a pedestrian easement shall be required for all new construction, land developments, change of uses and for buildings reconstructed or rehabilitated over 25% of tax value or for buildings expanded by 10% or more which front onto Rochester Road, Lowries Run Road and Sewickley Oakmont Road. Pathways constructed within the easement shall be paved with a material acceptable to the Township Engineer.
(2) 
Pathways constructed within the easement shall be a minimum of four feet in width and connect to the lot line of adjacent parcels. Where feasible, pathways should be installed within the street right-of-way beginning at the edge of the right-of-way and measuring toward the street.
E. 
Landscape Plantings and Buffer Area.
(1) 
In order to improve traffic and pedestrian safety and the country qualities of the corridor, a landscaped buffer shall be required for all new construction and land developments, change of uses and for buildings reconstructed or rehabilitated over 25% of tax value or for buildings expanded by 10% or more.
(2) 
Private landscaping plays a major role in determining the overall character of the corridor and provides continuity. Efforts should be made to relate what is done on one site with that of its neighboring sites. The large clusters of existing trees and the stream corridors contribute to the "country atmosphere" of the conservation corridor area. Street tree planting and landscaping should promote a "country village" character. Wherever feasible, mature trees that may already exist in the proposed landscaped areas shall be retained and incorporated into the new planting schemes.
F. 
Driveways.
(1) 
In order to reduce pedestrian and vehicular conflict within the Conservation Corridor Overlay District nonresidential uses shall not be permitted more than one driveway per 100 feet of street frontage.
(2) 
For new land developments, the minimum distance between any two adjacent curb cuts shall be 100 feet, unless the same creates an "undue hardship."
(3) 
Road frontage along nonresidential uses shall be defined by curbs and curb-cuts as specified in the Township Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance [Chapter 22]. These requirements shall apply to all new construction and land developments and, where practical, for change of uses and for building reconstructed or rehabilitated over 25% of tax value or for buildings expanded by 10% or more.
G. 
Street Trees. Deciduous shade or ornamental street trees shall be planted every 50 feet of lot frontage. This distance assumes an average tree spread of 50 feet. Where feasible, street trees shall be planted at the edge of the right-of-way. These requirements shall apply to all new construction and land developments, change of uses and for buildings reconstructed or rehabilitated over 25% of tax value or for buildings expanded by 10% or more.
H. 
Street Lighting and Off-Street Parking Area Lighting. Street lights are required and shall be at a pedestrian scale, fit harmoniously into the design of the site, be a maximum of 20 feet in height and supply a light intensity of 1.2 foot candle power. Lighting fixtures shall be indirect, understated and compatible with the country character of the surrounding area and the building. Light levels should provide for adequate safety, yet not detract from or overly emphasize the site or building.
(1) 
One street light shall be required for every 60 feet of road frontage and be located within the right-of-way along the pedestrian pathway, where feasible.
(2) 
One off-street parking area light shall be required for every 10 parking spaces contained on site and shall be located within a landscaped planting island and supply a light intensity of one foot candle power.
(3) 
Lighting of pedestrian ways to be at a level of two-foot candle power.
I. 
Utilities. All necessary utilities and other site appurtenances such as overhead wires, utility poles, antennas and exterior heat exchangers should be located out of public view or screened with landscaping. Utilities shall be placed underground for all new construction and are encouraged to be located underground at the time of building conversions and renovations.
J. 
Location of Off-Street Parking Areas. The location of parking areas for uses which require more than three vehicular spaces shall be to the rear or side of the principal structure on the site.
K. 
Off-Street Parking Requirements. Off-street parking shall be required as defined in the base zoning district or for a particular use.
L. 
Interconnection of Off-Street Parking Areas. Parking areas shall be connected to adjacent parcels through an access drive.
(1) 
Where a parking area of a new building or structure abuts an undeveloped lot an access drive shall be extended to the lot line for future connection to the adjacent parcel or a curb-cut shall be provided for ease of future connection.
(2) 
Where feasible, an access drive should be extended to the lot line for future connection to the adjacent parcel or a curb-cut provided for ease of future connection when:
(a) 
A use changes.
(b) 
A building is reconstructed or rehabilitated over 25% of tax value.
(c) 
When a building is expanded by 10% or more.
M. 
Off-Street Parking Area Interior Landscaping. Standards for landscaping within off-street parking areas containing 10 or more parking spaces shall be as follows:
(1) 
A terminal island shall be provided at both ends of all rows of parking spaces. Each terminal island shall measure at least seven feet in width and 40 feet in length. Each terminal island shall include at least one deciduous shade tree, a mix of plantings and ground cover.
(2) 
A divider island, a minimum of seven feet in width, shall be provided between abutting rows of parking. The divider island shall contain a minimum of one ornamental tree at thirty-five-foot intervals or one deciduous shade tree at fifty-foot intervals and appropriate ground cover along the entire length of the island in either situation.
(3) 
The interior parking area shall contain a minimum of one deciduous shade tree or ornamental tree for every 10 parking spaces.
N. 
Perimeter Off-Street Parking Area Landscaping Requirements. Perimeter landscaping requirements shall be in accordance with Part 14 of this chapter. However, where parking areas are located within the side yards area, a continuous planting of flowering shrubs or hedges (with a 3 1/2 foot average height) in conjunction with shade trees at maximum intervals of 60 feet shall be planted along the perimeter area which faces the street.
O. 
Street Level Vitality. Long expanses of blank walls facing the street or other public area severely detract from the attractiveness and perceived safety of pedestrians using those spaces. Therefore, in order to enhance street safety and provide a comfortable street environment, new buildings or buildings reconstructed or rehabilitated over 25% of tax value or for buildings expanded by 10% or more shall have no blank walls or facades facing any public street within the Conservation Corridor Overlay District. Building entrances shall be oriented to the street with windows and doorways facing out onto the street.
P. 
Signs. Signs are a vital part of the nonresidential uses in the Conservation Corridor Overlay District. A balance must be struck between the need to identify and call attention to an individual business or use and the broader need for a positive image of the entire corridor. Excessive competition for visibility from the automobile too often results in a commercial area characterized by visual clutter with oversized, poorly placed and badly designed signs.
(1) 
General Sign Standards.
(a) 
The total sign area for all signs permitted shall not exceed one square foot for each linear foot of lot frontage. Note, the total sign area for all signs combined shall not exceed 100 square feet.
(b) 
No more than three signs shall be permitted per street frontage. All signs, except for those that are exempted from permit and directional signs, shall be counted in calculating the number of allowable signs.
(c) 
Signs and supporting structures shall be constructed of wood, metal, brick, stone or a combination of these materials. Sign supporting structures shall be one color.
(d) 
Sign faces shall not be composed of more than three colors not including, black, white and gold. Colors should be in a matte finish.
(e) 
Signs shall be illuminated only by a white, steady, stationary external light of reasonable intensity directed at the sign, without causing glare for motorists, pedestrians or neighboring properties or back-lighted with a diffused light source. Backlighting shall illuminate the letters, characters or graphics on the sign but not its background.
(2) 
Free-Standing Signs. One free-standing type or pole type sign shall be permitted per street frontage with a maximum height of eight feet and a maximum sign area of 20 square feet per side. A free-standing sign shall be erected such that all parts of the sign are at least 10 feet from the adjacent street right-of-way line or on the building side of the pedestrian pathway, whichever is closest to the street.
(3) 
Ground Signs. One ground sign shall be permitted per street frontage with a maximum height of four feet and a maximum sign area of 20 square feet per side. A free-standing sign shall be erected such that all parts of the sign are at least 10 feet from the adjacent street right-of-way or on the building side of the pedestrian pathway, whichever is closest to the street.
(4) 
Wall Signs.
(a) 
Wall signs shall not exceed the height of the upper building face, extend above the roof eave or extend above the lower sill of any upper story window, whichever is lowest.
(b) 
A wall sign shall have a sign face not exceeding three feet measured vertically and any horizontal length within the allowable sign area applicable to the building.
(c) 
Wall signs shall not protrude more than 10 inches from the wall or face of the building.
(5) 
Projecting Signs.
(a) 
Projecting signs cannot exceed the height of the upper building face, extend above the roof eave or extend beyond the lower sill of any upper story window, whichever is lowest.
(b) 
Projecting signs shall have a sign face which does not exceed a maximum of three feet measured vertically and shall have a minimum of 10 feet of clearance from the bottom of the sign to the ground.
(c) 
Such signs may extend a maximum of six feet from the building face, whichever is less.
(d) 
The total area for each projecting sign shall not exceed 12 square feet per side.
(6) 
Window Signs.
(a) 
Window signs include posters, signs, symbols and any other identification of or information about the occupant or activity and/or use of the premises. Neon window signs may be permitted in cases where they are custom designed to be compatible with the architectural character and exterior color of the building.
(b) 
Window signs may be permitted within the allowable total sign area applicable to the building. Note, window signs shall not exceed 10% of the total glass area of the front of the building.
(c) 
Window signs shall be limited to ground floor or first floor windows only, unless a use is located in the second or higher stories of a building and has no first floor occupancy.
(7) 
Prohibited Signs. Signs which are not permitted in the Conservation Corridor Overlay District include:
(a) 
Banners (except for special community events and holidays not to exceed 14 days in advance and two days after the event).
(b) 
Pennants/streamers.
(c) 
Off-premises real estate signs (lease, sale, rental).
(d) 
Portable signs.
(e) 
Mobile placards.
(f) 
Marquee type signs with changeable message.
(g) 
Flashing or blinking signs.
(h) 
Signs with movable parts.
(i) 
Billboards.
(j) 
Signs of roofs, dormers and balconies.
(k) 
Signs employing mercury vapor, low pressure and high pressure sodium and plastic panel rear-lighted signs.
(8) 
Sign Permit Requirements and Accompanying Documents.
(a) 
All signs proposed within the Conservation Corridor, and which are required by § 1424 of this chapter to submit a sign permit, shall also provide the following documentation to permit adequate evaluation by the design review board:
1) 
A detailed scale drawing at a scale no smaller than 1/2 inch equals one foot showing the sign size and proposed message.
2) 
A detailed scale drawing at a scale no smaller than one inch equals 10 feet showing the proposed sign location.
3) 
A description of its construction, including a materials description and colors of sign and supporting structure.
4) 
Written authorization of the owner of the property if other than the applicant.
(9) 
Sign Inspection. After a permit to erect, place, alter or construct a sign has been obtained and work has been completed, as specified in the application, the owner of the sign shall notify the Township which will then inspect the sign. If the sign is as permitted and does not violate any provisions of this or any other applicable regulation, a registration number will be permanently affixed to the sign. If anyone should remove or attempt to remove or alter such number they shall be in violation of this Part.
Q. 
Retention of Natural Features. The topography and natural resources in the Conservation Corridor Overlay District, include among others, Lowries Run Road, Reis Run Road, steep slopes, wooded areas and wetlands and are considered environmentally sensitive areas. In order to preserve the country character and environmental quality of the northwest quadrant of the Township, no significant environmentally sensitive areas shall be physically disturbed or used for any use other than for public or private conservation areas which conserve open space, water, soil and wildlife resources, except as may be necessary to provide ingress and egress to a property or to enable utility placement.
2. 
Design Requirements for Residential Uses.
A. 
Building Placement.
(1) 
In order to maintain visually the country character of the conservation corridor, it is recommended that residential buildings be sited on any tract so that the building is not constructed:
(a) 
Along the tope of a ridge.
(b) 
In an open field without vegetative screening.
(c) 
Without consideration of environmentally sensitive areas.
B. 
Open Space Development. In order to retain the unique and environmentally significant resources present within the Conservation Corridor District the use of the open space development concept is encouraged as a means of promoting innovative and flexible residential design. Application of the open space development concept shall be in accordance with the following standards:
(1) 
Residential parcels of 10 acres or greater may be developed as a grouping of single-family or multifamily residences such as townhouse or quads located to minimize the adverse impacts on environmentally sensitive areas, preserve woodlands, sloped areas and provide meaningful view sheds. It is the intent of the open space development to preserve natural resources and open land areas.
(2) 
An applicant may be permitted to develop under this option provided that 50% of the parcel, with calculations based on horizontal measurements, is placed under permanent open space conservation easement limiting further subdivision. Design may include zero-lot line concepts, etc.
(3) 
The open space area placed under the conservation easement shall be usable for passive recreation. In no instance shall the land placed under the conservation easement include waste sites, landfills, stormwater management facilities, dumps or spent coal piles or other similar areas.
(4) 
The ownership and maintenance of the open space area must be guaranteed prior to final plan approval as part of the Ross Township Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance [Chapter 22]. Ownership and maintenance shall be assumed by a homeowners association. In no instance shall such organization be dissolved nor shall it dispose of the common open space.
(5) 
Lots, to the maximum extent feasible, shall be clustered in areas of the tract which are relatively free of environmentally sensitive features. Disturbances to existing woodland, hedgerows, mature trees and other significant vegetation shall be minimized.
(6) 
Wherever feasible, access shall be from interior roads rather than existing roads along the periphery of the tract.
(7) 
Density shall not exceed four dwelling units per gross acre. Net developable density shall not exceed eight dwelling units per acre.
[Ord. 2035, 12/9/2002, § 1804]
1. 
Permitted Uses. All uses as established in base zoning districts shall be permitted, unless specifically prohibited in Subsection 2 below. Note, individual retail uses permitted within the Conservation Corridor Overlay District shall not exceed 4,000 square feet of gross floor area.
2. 
Prohibited Uses. Due to the unique character of Conservation Corridor Overlay District it is necessary to restrict certain types of auto dependent uses which would add to traffic conflict and congestion.
A. 
Prohibited Uses.
(1) 
Drive-through uses.
(2) 
Salvage yards.
(3) 
Junkyards.
(4) 
Adult facilities.
3. 
Conditional Uses. Eating and drinking establishments with outside seating areas when proposed adjacent to an existing residentially zoned property, shall be subject to the following conditions:
A. 
Hours of operation shall be established which ensure the compatibility between residential and commercial uses.
B. 
Acceptable noise levels shall be established based upon relative criteria in which the difference in sound level (between the cases with and without the sound source operating) is limited. Relative criteria distinguishes between the ambient and background sound levels. Note, people tend to rate annoyance with relative criteria rather than absolute criteria. Therefore, the increase in noise levels (dBA) shall not exceed 5 dBA above a maximum valve of 65 dBA.
C. 
Landscaping and screening materials shall be used to buffer the outdoor seating area from the view of the adjacent residentially zoned parcel as specified in the Ross Township Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance [Chapter 22].