§ 143-181 Determination of floodplain elevation for approximated floodplain and alluvial soils floodplain.
The specific intent of the regulations of the Floodplain Conservation District is to protect areas of floodplain subject to and necessary for the containment of floodwaters, in order to promote the public health, safety and welfare. The following shall be the specific objectives of the Floodplain Conservation District:
To prevent the erection of structures in areas unfit for human usage by reason of danger from flooding, unsanitary conditions or other hazards.
To minimize danger to public health by protecting the quality and quantity of surface and subsurface water supplies and promoting safe and sanitary drainage.
To permit only those uses which can be appropriately located in the floodplain as herein defined and which will not impede the flow or storage of floodwaters or otherwise cause danger to life and property at, above or below their locations along the floodplain.
To protect those individuals who might choose, despite the flood dangers, to develop or occupy land on a floodplain, having received relief under the provisions of this chapter.
To protect adjacent landowners and those both upstream and downstream from damages resulting from development within the floodplain and the consequent obstruction or increase in flow of floodwaters.
To reduce the financial burdens imposed upon the Township, its governmental units and its individuals by frequent and periodic floods.
To require that permitted uses vulnerable to floods be developed so as to be protected from flood damage in accordance with the requirements of the Federal Flood Insurance Program, P.L. 93-234, and the Pennsylvania Floodplain Management Act, P.L. 166, and any subsequent amendments thereto.
Editor's Note: See 32 P.S. § 679.101 et seq.
To maintain undisturbed the ecological balance between elements of natural systems, including wildlife and vegetation, that are dependent upon watercourses and adjacent land areas.
To protect other municipalities within the same watershed from the impact of improper development and the consequent increased potential for flooding.
To provide areas for the deposition of flood-borne sediment.
The Floodplain Conservation District is defined as those areas of the Township subject to flooding as defined in Subsections A and B of this section. Where the Flood Insurance Study does not extend along a waterway, the regulations of Subsection A shall apply.
Those areas subject to inundation by the waters of the one-hundred-year flood as delineated in the Flood Insurance Study for the Township of Lower Providence, as prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), effective December 19, 1996, or the most recent revisions thereof. Said floodplain shall be comprised of three subdistricts as follows:
Floodway (FW). That portion of the Floodplain Conservation District required to carry and discharge the waters of the one-hundred-year flood without increasing the water surface elevation at any point more than one foot above existing conditions, as demonstrated in the Flood Insurance Study referenced above. The term shall also include floodway areas which have been identified in other available studies or sources of information for those floodplain areas where no floodway has been identified in the Flood Insurance Study.
Floodway fringe (FF). Those portions of land within the Floodplain Conservation District subject to inundation by the one-hundred-year flood, lying beyond the floodway in areas where detailed study data and profiles are available.
Approximated floodplain (FA). Those portions of land within the Floodplain Conservation District subject to inundation by the one-hundred-year flood, where a detailed study has not been performed but where a one-hundred-year floodplain boundary has been approximated. The boundary for this floodplain must be verified using hydrologic and hydraulic engineering studies.
Alluvial soils (AS). The low area adjoining and including any water or drainage course or body of water subject to periodic flooding or overflow and delineated as alluvial soils or local alluvium by the Soil Conservation Service, United States Department of Agriculture, in the Soil Survey of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania 2008. The boundary for this floodplain must be verified using hydrologic and hydraulic engineering studies.
[Amended 10-20-2011 by Ord. No. 602]
The Floodplain Conservation District is delineated on the Lower Providence Floodplain Map, which is hereby a part of this chapter and which is available for inspection at the Township office.
Any change in the Floodplain Conservation District shall be reflected on the Floodplain Map. All changes to areas identified in the Flood Insurance Study are subject to review and approval of the Federal Insurance Administrator (FIA).
Studies used to establish the floodplain boundaries shall be available in the Township office for reference. Whenever there is a difference between the map and the data contained in the studies, the data contained in the studies shall determine the boundary of the district.
§ 143-181 Determination of floodplain elevation for approximated floodplain and alluvial soils floodplain.
For approximated floodplain area, elevation and floodway information from other federal, state or other acceptable sources shall be used when available. When such other information is not available, hydrologic and hydraulic engineering studies shall be performed to determine this elevation, subject to review by the Township Engineer.
For the alluvial soils floodplain area, the applicant shall determine the elevation with hydrologic and hydraulic engineering studies, subject to review by the Township Engineer.
The initial determination of the boundaries of the Floodplain Conservation District shall be made by the Township Zoning Officer. The areas considered to be floodplain may be revised or modified by the Supervisors where studies or information provided by a qualified agency or person documents the need or possibility for such revision. The Supervisors shall act only upon the affirmative recommendation of the Township Engineer. No modification or revision of any area identified as being floodplain in the Flood Insurance Study prepared by the Federal Insurance Administration shall be made without prior approval from the Federal Insurance Administrator.
This chapter supersedes any provisions currently in effect in flood-prone areas, except to the extent that those provisions are more restrictive.
The Floodplain Conservation District shall be an overlay on all zoning districts, in accordance with the following:
For any lot or portion thereof lying within the floodplain, the regulations of the Floodplain District shall take precedence over the regulations of the underlying district.
Should the underlying zoning of any lot or part thereof which is located in the Floodplain District be changed through any legislative or judicial action, such change shall have no effect on the overlying Floodplain District unless such change was included as part of the original application.
The following uses and no others are permitted in the Floodplain Conservation District. All permitted uses are subject to the floodproofing regulations stipulated in this chapter and in other Township codes. Within any designated floodway (FW) area, no new construction, development, use, activity or encroachment of any kind shall be allowed, except where the rise in flood heights caused by the proposed development is fully offset by accompanying stream improvements.
Cultivation and harvesting of crops according to recognized soil conservation practices.
Pasture; grazing land.
Outdoor plant nursery; orchard.
Recreation use, such as park, day camp, picnic grove, golf course, hunting, fishing and boating club, including hiking, bicycling and bridle trails, but excluding structures.
Forestry, lumbering and reforestation, excluding storage and mill structures.
Game farm, fish hatchery (excluding structures), hunting and fishing reserve.
Wildlife sanctuary; woodland preserves; arboretum.
Sealed public water supply wells.
Utility transmission lines.
Front, side or rear yards and required lot area for any zoning district.
Temporary parking when authorized as a special exception.
Sanitary sewers and sewage pumping stations (provided sealed to minimize or eliminate infiltration of floodwaters).
Fences which are capable of allowing unrestricted passage of floodwaters and most debris, for example, barbed wire or post and rail fences.
Relocation of a watercourse, provided that it has been approved by the Township Supervisors, with the prior recommendations of the Township Planning Commission and the approval of the Soil Conservation Service and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources. In addition, all adjacent communities and the Bureau of Community Planning of the Pennsylvania Department of Community Affairs shall be notified prior to the alteration or relocation of a watercourse. Copies of such notification shall be sent to the Federal Insurance Administrator. The flood-carrying capacity within the altered or relocated portion shall be maintained.
The following uses shall be specifically prohibited in the Floodplain Conservation District:
Freestanding structures, buildings and retaining walls.
Sanitary landfills, dumps, junkyards, outdoor storage of vehicles and materials.
On-site sewage disposal systems.
Private water supply wells.
The construction, enlargement or expansion of manufactured home parks or manufactured home subdivisions.
The construction, enlargement or expansion of hospitals (public or private).
The construction, enlargement or expansion of nursing homes (public or private).
The construction, enlargement or expansion of jails or prisons.
The construction, enlargement or expansion of any structure which would be used for the production, storage or maintenance of a supply (more than 550 gallons or other comparable volume, or any amount of radioactive substances) of the following toxic substances which are dangerous to human life:
Nitric acid and oxides of nitrogen.
Petroleum products (gasoline, fuel, oil, etc.).
Sulphur and sulphur products.
Pesticides (including insecticides, fungicides and rodenticide).
Radioactive substances, insofar as such substances are not otherwise regulated.
Any other dangerous materials or substances regulated by the appropriate federal or state agencies.
The following uses are permitted in the Floodplain Conservation District when authorized as a conditional use by the Lower Providence Township Board of Supervisors. Within any designated floodway (FW) area, no new construction, development, use, activity or encroachment of any kind shall be allowed, except where the rise of flood heights caused by the proposed development is fully offset by accompanying stream improvements.
Dams, culverts and bridges approved by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the pertinent departments thereof, if the same has jurisdiction over the watershed in question.
Grading or regrading of lands, including the deposits of topsoil and the grading thereof, and the construction of retaining walls; provided that a detailed engineering study shall accompany any application for special exception on this ground and that this study shall be reviewed by the Soil Conservation Service, United States Department of Agriculture. All grading or regrading shall be conducted in compliance with the Lower Providence Stormwater and Erosion Control Ordinance.
Paved roads, driveways and parking lots, where required by the regulations for the underlying district applicable to the lot, provided that:
In the case of roads and driveways no such facilities shall be permitted as a conditional use if alternative alignments are feasible and desirable.
In the case of parking facilities, parking for temporary uses only may be permitted. No temporary parking shall be permitted unless vehicles shall be capable of being removed quickly during periods of flood flow thus posing no threat to the safety of the vehicles, their users and/or to downstream properties. Temporary parking for periods not to exceed one hour of parking for recreation uses would be examples of such exceptions.
Other uses similar to the above, provided that the effect is not to alter substantially the cross-sectional profile of the stream basin at the point of the proposed construction or use.
No conditional use shall be granted for any construction, development, use or activity within any floodway area that would cause any increase in the one-hundred-year-flood elevation.
Whenever a conditional use is granted, the Township Board of Supervisors shall notify the applicant, in writing, that the granting of the special exception may result in increased premium rates for flood insurance, and such special exceptions may increase the risks to life and property.
Upon any application for zoning change or land development or subdivision approval, the applicant shall clearly set forth on any plan submitted to the Township all areas of the subject tract which shall lie within the Floodplain Conservation District. The grant of a zoning permit or approval of a subdivision plan in the Floodplain Conservation District shall not constitute a representation, guarantee or warranty of any kind by the Township or by any official or employee thereof of the practicability or safety of the proposed use and shall create no liability upon the Township, its officials or employees.
An existing use or structure which at the time of the enactment of this chapter does not comply with the provisions thereof is deemed to be a nonconforming use. If any nonconforming use is discontinued or any existing nonconforming structure remains vacant for a period of one year, the property and structure may only be used thereafter in conformity with this chapter. An inventory of all such nonconforming uses shall be made within 6 months of the passage of this chapter, and it shall be the responsibility of the Zoning Officer to make such inventory and to keep the same current. Structures existing in any identified floodplain area prior to the enactment of this chapter, but which are not in compliance with these provisions, may continue to remain subject to the following:
Existing structures located in any identified floodplain area shall not be expanded or enlarged unless the effect of the proposed expansion or enlargement of flood heights is fully offset by accompanying improvements.
Any modification, alteration, reconstruction or improvement of any kind to an existing structure, to an extent or amount of less than 50% of its market value, shall be elevated and/or floodproofed to the greatest extent possible.
Any modification, alteration, reconstruction or improvement of any kind to an existing structure, to an extent or amount of 50% or more of its market value, shall be undertaken only in full compliance with the provisions of this chapter.
For a use other than those permitted in § 143-184, an application seeking approval of a conditional use or a variance shall be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors or Zoning Hearing Board as appropriate, along with required studies or information and the findings of the Zoning Officer.
The Board of Supervisors or Zoning Hearing Board shall consider all applications for conditional uses or variances in accordance with the procedures outlined in § 143-188 of the Zoning Ordinance. The following standards shall be used when considering conditional use or variance applications:
No conditional use or variance shall be granted for any use, structure or development within the floodway if any increase in the one-hundred-year-flood elevation would result, unless such increase is fully offset by accompanying stream improvements.
All new or substantially improved structures permitted by conditional use or variance shall be elevated and floodproofed in accordance with § 143-191 of this chapter.
All structures shall be constructed so as to prevent the entrance of floodwaters into the water supply and waste treatment systems as well as other utility and facility systems. In addition, waste treatment systems shall be designed to minimize or eliminate discharges from the systems into floodwaters.
The effect of the use shall not significantly alter the carrying capacity of the stream and floodplain at the location of the proposed use.
Upstream and downstream lands abutting the property shall not be unreasonably affected by the proposed use.
The general welfare of public interest of Lower Providence Township or of other municipalities in the same watershed shall not be adversely affected.
Upon approval of a conditional use or variance, the Board of Supervisors or Zoning Hearing Board shall notify the applicant, in writing, that the issuance of a decision to allow construction of a structure below the base flood elevation will result in increased premium rates for flood insurance and such construction below the base flood elevation increases risks of life and property.
The Board of Supervisors and Zoning Hearing Board shall maintain a record of all decisions, including justification for their issuance, and report such decisions issued in the annual report submitted to the Federal Insurance Administration.
A property owner of a lot of record, as of the date of the enactment of this article, who is able to prove that the strict enforcement of this article would create undue hardship by denying a reasonable use of an existing lot which is situated either wholly or partially in the Floodplain District, may seek relief by applying for a variance from the Zoning Hearing Board.
The Zoning Hearing Board, after deciding upon the merits of the application, may permit the applicant to make some reasonable use of the property in question, while ensuring that such use will not violate the basic purpose of this article as specified in § 143-178 herein.
In considering a use as a variance, the Zoning Hearing Board shall consider those standards outlined in § 143-188 herein.
Variance shall only be granted upon the following:
A determination that failure to grant the variance would result in exceptional hardship to the applicant.
A determination that the granting of a variance will not result in increased flood heights, additional threats to public safety, extraordinary public expense, create nuisances, cause fraud on or victimization of the public or conflict with existing local laws or ordinances.
A determination that the variance is the minimum necessary, considering the flood hazard, to provide relief.
The following standards shall apply to any substantially improved structure or any new structure permitted by variance within the Floodplain Conservation District:
For any residential structure, the lowest floor (including basement) shall be at least 1 1/2 feet above the one-hundred-year-flood elevation.
For any nonresidential structure, the lowest floor (including basement) shall be at least 1 1/2 feet above the one-hundred-year-flood elevation or be designed and constructed so that the space enclosed by such structure shall remain either completely or essentially dry during any flood up to that height.
Any new or substantially improved nonresidential structure which will not be completely or adequately elevated shall be designed and constructed to be completely or essentially dry in accordance with the standards contained in the publication entitled "Floodproofing Regulations" (United States Army Corps of Engineers, June 1972), or some other equivalent standard, for that type of construction.
All manufactured homes to be placed or substantially improved within the Floodplain Conservation District shall be elevated on a permanent foundation such that the lowest floor of the manufactured home is 1 1/2 feet above the base flood elevation and shall be securely anchored to an adequately anchored foundation system in accordance with the provisions of the FEMA manual, Manufactured Home Installation in Flood Hazard Areas.
For all new construction and substantial improvement, fully enclosed areas below the lowest floor that are subject to flooding shall be designed to automatically equalize hydrostatic flood forces on exterior walls by allowing for the entry and exit of floodwater. Designs for meeting this requirement must either be certified by a registered professional engineer or architect or must meet or exceed the following minimum criteria:
A minimum of two openings having a total net area of not less than one square inch for every square foot of enclosed area subject to flooding shall be provided.
The bottom of all openings shall be no higher than one foot above grade.
Openings may be equipped with screen, louvers or other coverings or devices, provided that they permit the automatic entry and exit of floodwater.
All improved structures and buildings within any FW, FF or FA area shall be firmly anchored in accordance with accepted engineering practices to prevent flotation, collapse or lateral movement.
Land use/building permits shall be required before any construction or development is undertaken within any floodplain area of the Township.
The Zoning Officer shall issue a land use/building permit for construction or development in the floodplain area only after it has been determined that the proposed work to be undertaken will be in conformance with the requirements of this and all other applicable codes and ordinances.
Prior to the issuance of any land use/building permit, the Zoning Officer shall review the application for permit to determine if all other necessary governmental permits such as those required by state and federal laws have been obtained, including those required by Act 537, the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act, the Water Obstruction Act of 1913 and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972, Section 404, 33 U.S.C. § 1334. No permit shall be issued until this determination has been made.
Editor's Note: See 35 P.S. § 750.1 et seq.
The application of permit shall including the following:
Proposed lowest floor and basement elevations in relation to mean sea level.
The plan shall include existing and proposed contours; information concerning one-hundred-year-flood elevations, velocities and other applicable information such as pressures, impact and uplift forces, associated with the one-hundred-year flood; size of structures, location and elevation of streets; water supply and sanitary sewage facilities; soil type; and floodproofing measures.
A document, certified by a registered professional engineer or architect, which states that the proposed construction has been adequately designed to withstand the one-hundred-year-flood elevations, pressures, velocities, impact and uplift forces and other hydrostatic and buoyancy factors associated with the one-hundred-year flood. Such statement shall include description of the type and extent of floodproofing measures which have been incorporated into the design of the structure.
Unless specifically defined below, words and phrases used in this article shall be interpreted so as to give this article its most reasonable application.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ACCESSORY USE OR STRUCTURE
- A use or structure on the same lot with, and of a nature customarily incidental and subordinate to, the principal use or structure.
- BASE FLOOD
- The flood which has been selected to serve as the basis upon which the floodplain management provisions of this and other ordinances have been prepared. For the purposes of this and other ordinances, it shall be the one-hundred-year flood as referenced in the current Flood Insurance Study and delineated on the Flood Insurance Rate Map of the Federal Insurance Administration.
- BASE FLOOD ELEVATION
- The one-hundred-year elevation as referenced in the Flood Insurance Study. Within the approximated floodplain, alluvial soils floodplain or other similarly documented areas, the one-hundred-year-flood elevation shall be established nearest to the construction site in question.
- Any area of the building having its floor subgrade (below ground level) on all sides.
- A combination of materials to form a permanent structure having walls and a roof. Included shall be all manufactured homes and trailers to be used for human habitation.
- The construction, reconstruction, renovation, repair, extension, expansion, alteration or relocation of a building or structure, including the placement of manufactured homes.
- Any man-made change to improved or unimproved real estate, including but not limited to buildings or other structures, the placement of manufactured homes, streets and other paving, utilities, filling, grading, excavation, mining, dredging or drilling operations, or storage of equipment or materials and the subdivision of land.
- FEMA and FIA
- The Federal Emergency Management and the Federal Insurance Administration who have jurisdiction over the National Flood Insurance Program and its related studies and regulations. FEMA is the parent agency of FIA.
- A temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land areas.
- FLOOD INSURANCE RATE MAP
- The official FIA map which shows special hazard zones and risk areas for insurance rating purposes. For the purpose of this chapter, it also delineates floodplain areas.
- FLOOD INSURANCE STUDY
- The examination and determination of flood hazards by FIA. The flood elevations contained in this study area used for floodplain management purposes as related to this and other ordinances.
- FLOODPLAIN MANAGEMENT
- The application of a program or activities which may consist of both corrective and preventive measures for reducing flood damages.
- Any combination of structural and nonstructural additions, changes or adjustments to structures which reduce or eliminate flood damage to real estate or improved real property, water and sanitary facilities, structures and their contents. Such measures are set forth in Floodproofing Regulations, published by the Office of the Chief Engineers, United States Army, publication number EP 1165 2 314 (June 1972 and as subsequently amended). Floodproofing measures for all new construction and substantial improvements of structures shall satisfy the requirements of the completely dry spaces (W1) and essentially dry spaces (W2) classes referenced in those regulations. In said publication, where reference is made to "below" (or above) the "BFD" (base flood datum), it shall be interpreted as meaning below (or above) the base flood elevation.
- HISTORIC STRUCTURE
- Any structure that is:
- (1) Listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places (a listing maintained by the Department of the Interior) or preliminarily determined by the Secretary of the Interior as meeting the requirements for individual listing on the National Register;
- (2) Certified or preliminarily determined by the Secretary of the Interior as contributing to the historical significance of a registered historic district or a district preliminarily determined by the Secretary to qualify as a registered historic district;
- (3) Individually listed on a State Inventory of Historic Places in states with historic preservation programs which have been approved by the Secretary of the Interior; or
- (4) Individually listed on a local inventory of historic places in communities with historic preservation programs that have been certified either:
- IDENTIFIED FLOODPLAIN AREA
- The floodplain area specifically identified in this chapter as being inundated by the one-hundred-year flood. Included would be areas identified as floodway (FW), flood-fringe (FF), approximated floodplain (FA) and alluvial soils (AS).
- LOWEST FLOOR
- The lowest floor of the lowest enclosed area (including basement). An unfinished or flood-resistant enclosure, usable solely for parking of vehicles, building access or storage, in an area other than a basement area, is not considered a building's lowest floor, provided that such enclosure is not built so as to render the structure in violation of the applicable nonelevation design requirement of this chapter.
- MANUFACTURED HOME
- A building transportable in one or more sections which is built on a permanent chassis and designed to be used with or without a permanent foundation when connected to the required utilities. The term includes park trailers, travel trailers, recreation and other similar vehicles which are placed on a site for more than 180 consecutive days.
- NEW CONSTRUCTION
- Structures for which the start of construction commenced on or after the effective date of the original floodplain management regulations adopted by the Township of Lower Providence and includes any subsequent improvements to such structures.
- ONE-HUNDRED-YEAR FLOOD
- A flood that, on the average, is likely to occur once every 100 years (i.e., that has a one-percent chance of occurring each year, although the flood may occur in any year).
- REGULATORY FLOOD ELEVATION
- The one-hundred-year-flood elevation plus a freeboard safety factor of 1 1/2 feet.
- START OF CONSTRUCTION
- Includes substantial improvement and means the date the building permit was issued, provided that the actual start of construction, repair, reconstruction, placement or other improvement was within 180 days of the permit date. The "actual start" means either the first placement of permanent construction of a structure of a site, such as the pouring of the slab or footings, the installation of piers, the construction of columns or any work beyond the stage of excavation; or the placement of a manufactured home on a foundation. Permanent construction does not include land preparation, such as clearing, grading and filling, nor does it include the installation of streets and/or walkways; nor does it include excavation for the basement, footings, piers or foundations or the erection of temporary forms; nor does it include the installation on the property of accessory buildings, such as garages or sheds not occupied as dwelling units or not part of the main structure. Time extension shall be granted only if a written request is submitted to the applicant which sets forth sufficient and reasonable cause for the Building Inspector to approve such a request.
- Any man-made object, constructed or erected, having an ascertainable stationary location on or in land or water, whether or not affixed to the land (ground improvements excepted).
- SUBSTANTIAL DAMAGE
- Damage of any origin sustained by a structure whereby the cost of restoring the structure to its before-damaged condition would equal or exceed 50% of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred.
- (2) For the purpose of this definition "substantial improvement" is considered to occur when the first alteration of any wall, ceiling, floor or other structural part of the building commences, whether or not that alteration affects the external dimensions of the structure. The term does not, however, include either:
- (a) Any project for improvement of a structure to comply with existing state or local health, sanitary or safety code specifications which are solely necessary to assure safe living conditions; or
- (b) Any alteration of a structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places or a State Inventory of Historic Places.
This chapter hereby repeals Lower Providence Township Ordinance No. 250 in its entirety. (Prior Ordinance No. 250 repealed Ordinance Nos. 172 and 174.)
Editor's Note: Said Ordinance No. 250 comprised the former Zoning Ordinance, adopted 5-8-1955.
The provisions of this chapter shall be severable and if any of the provisions hereof shall be held to be unconstitutional, invalid or illegal by a court of competent jurisdiction, such decision shall not affect the validity of any of the remaining provisions of this chapter. It is hereby declared to be the legislative intent of this chapter that the ordinance would have been enacted had such unconstitutional, invalid or illegal provision not been included herein.