Township of Lower Providence, PA
Montgomery County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
In expansion of the statement of community development objectives in § 143-4 of this chapter, the specific intent of the SS Steep Slope Conservation District shall be to conserve and protect those areas having steep slopes, as defined herein, from inappropriate development and excessive grading, as well as to permit and encourage the use of said areas for open space purposes so as to constitute a harmonious aspect of the continuing physical development of Lower Providence Township. In implementing these principles and the general purposes of the Comprehensive Plan, the Open Space Preservation Plan and this chapter, the following specific objectives are intended to be accomplished by the adoption of the Steep Slope Conservation District:
A. 
To combine with other zoning requirements, as an overlay, certain restrictions for steep slope areas to promote the general health, safety and welfare of the residents of Lower Providence Township.
B. 
To prevent inappropriate development of steep slope areas in order to avoid potential dangers for human usage caused by erosion, stream siltation, soil failure leading to structural collapse or damage and/or unsanitary conditions and associated hazards.
C. 
To minimize danger to public health and safety by promoting safe and sanitary drainage.
D. 
To permit only those uses that are compatible with development of steep slope areas in order to avoid accelerated erosion, soil failure, accelerated seepage or other conditions which may create a danger to life and/or property.
E. 
To permit only those uses in steep slope areas that are compatible with the preservation of existing natural features, including vegetative cover, by restricting the grading of steep slope areas.
F. 
To promote the ecological balance among those natural system elements, such as wildlife, vegetation and aquatic life, that could be adversely affected by inappropriate development of steep slope areas.
G. 
To prevent development that would cause excessive erosion and a resultant reduction in the water-carrying capacity of the watercourses which flow through or around the Township, with the consequences of increased flood crests and flood hazards within the Township and to both upstream and downstream municipalities.
H. 
To protect individuals and adjacent landowners in the Township and/or other municipalities from the possible harmful effects of inappropriate grading and development on steep slope areas.
I. 
To protect those individuals who choose, despite the cited dangers, to develop or occupy land with steep slopes.
J. 
To protect the entire Township from inappropriate development of steep slope areas, which could have an effect upon subsequent expenditures for public works and disaster relief and, thus, adversely affect the economic well-being of the Township.
K. 
To promote the provisions of safe and reliable accessways, parking areas and utility systems serving development on or around steep slope areas, where more sensitive grading and siting is essential.
The SS Steep Slope Conservation District is defined and established as follows: those areas having slopes of 25% or greater as defined by a field-generated topographic survey using two-foot-interval contours and which have an elevation difference of at least six feet.
The Steep Slope Conservation District shall be deemed to be an overlay of any zoning district(s) now or hereafter enacted to regulate the use of land in Lower Providence Township.
A. 
The Steep Slope Conservation District shall have no effect on the permitted uses in the underlying zoning district, except where said uses intended to be located within the boundaries of the Steep Slope Conservation District, as defined herein, are in conflict with the permitted uses set forth in this article.
B. 
In those areas of Lower Providence Township where the Steep Slope Conservation District applies, the requirements of the Steep Slope Conservation District shall supersede the requirements of the underlying zoning district(s).
C. 
Should the Steep Slope Conservation District boundaries be revised as a result of legislative or administrative actions or judicial decision, the zoning requirements applicable to the area in question shall revert to the requirements of the underlying zoning district(s) without consideration of this article.
D. 
Should the zoning classification(s) of any parcel or any part thereof on which the Steep Slope Conservation District is an overlay be changed as a result of legislative or administrative actions or judicial decision, such change(s) in classification shall have not effect on the boundaries of the Steep Slope Conservation District, unless an amendment to said boundaries was included as part of the proceedings from which the subsequent change(s) originated.
The following uses shall be permitted in the Steep Slope Conservation District without the submission of an erosion and sediment control plan:
A. 
Wildlife sanctuaries, woodland preserves, arboretums and passive recreation areas, including parks but excluding enclosed structures.
B. 
Game farms or hunting preserves for the protection and propagation of wildlife, but excluding enclosed structures.
C. 
Forestry and reforestation in accordance with recognized soil conservation practices.
D. 
The pasture and controlled grazing of animals in accordance with recognized soil conservation practices.
E. 
Recreational uses such as parks with such activities as hiking, bicycle and bridle trails, camps and picnic areas, but excluding enclosed structures.
F. 
Outdoor plant nurseries or orchards in accordance with recognized soil conservation practices.
G. 
The cultivation and harvesting of crops in accordance with recognized soil conservation practices.
H. 
Nonstructural accessory uses, except swimming pools, necessary for the operation and maintenance of the above-permitted uses.
I. 
Similar uses to the above which are in compliance with the intent of this article.
The following uses shall be permitted by special exception from the Zoning Hearing Board, upon the submission of an erosion and sediment control plan and all other supporting plans and documentation as set forth in § 143-241 of this article.
A. 
Front, side and rear yards and required lot areas in the underlying zoning district(s).
B. 
Sealed public water supply wells, with the approval of the Township Engineer and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
C. 
Sanitary or storm sewers.
D. 
Underground utility transmission lines.
E. 
On-site sewage disposal systems, when constructed in compliance with the Act 208 amendments to Act 537, the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See 35 P.S. § 750.1 et seq.
The following uses shall be prohibited within the boundaries of the Steep Slope Conservation District:
A. 
Freestanding structures, buildings and retaining walls.
B. 
Roads, access driveways and parking facilities.
C. 
Clearing or excavation of the land, except when related to an activity approved either by special exception, as set forth in § 143-239 of this article, or by variance.
D. 
Swimming pools.
E. 
Dumps, junkyards or other outdoor storage of vehicles and materials.
For any use by special exception or by variance in the Steep Slope Conservation District, excepting uses existing as of the date of enactment of this article, an application to the Zoning Hearing Board shall be filed with the Zoning Officer in accordance with the following:
A. 
For a use other than those permitted in § 143-238, an application seeking approval by special exception or variance shall be forwarded to the Zoning Hearing Board along with the required studies or information and the findings of the Zoning Officer.
B. 
The application required by Subsection A herein shall be accompanied by a plan(s) prepared in accordance with the preliminary plan requirements of the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance of Lower Providence Township and by an erosion and sediment control plan prepared in accordance with the requirements of the Lower Providence Township Stormwater and Erosion Control Ordinance and as may be amended.
A. 
Procedures for consideration of a special exception or variance. All applications for approval by special exception or variance shall be considered in accordance with the following procedures:
(1) 
The Zoning Hearing Board shall hold a public hearing, giving public notice in accordance with Article XI hereof.
(2) 
In addition to submission of the application and plans to the Zoning Hearing Board as required in accordance with § 143-241A and B herein, the applicant shall submit the same material to the Office of the Montgomery County Conservation District for review, at least 30 days prior to the public hearing.
(3) 
Township staff shall request, at least 30 days prior to the public hearing, the review and recommendations of the Lower Providence Township Planning Commission.
(4) 
Township staff may request the review and recommendations of technical agencies or appropriate planning agencies to assist in determining the environmental impact of the proposed use(s). Any such review shall be requested at least 30 days prior to the public hearing.
(5) 
In rendering a decision, the Zoning Hearing Board may impose special measures or conditions as deemed reasonably necessary and appropriate for the proposed use(s) to conform to the intent of this article.
B. 
Standards for approval of uses by special exception. In considering a use as a special exception, the Zoning Hearing Board shall consider the following:
(1) 
That the use is one which is permitted by special exception in § 143-239 herein.
(2) 
The relationship of the proposed use to the specific objectives set forth in § 143-235 of this article.
(3) 
The design standards set forth in the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance of Lower Providence Township.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 123, Subdivision and Development of Land.
(4) 
The erosion and sediment control plan submitted with the application, drawn in accordance with the requirements of the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance of Lower Providence Township.
(5) 
Abutting property shall not be adversely affected by runoff or erosion from the proposed use.
(6) 
The general welfare, safety and public interest of Lower Providence Township or adjacent municipalities shall not be adversely affected.
(7) 
Any use permitted by special exception shall provide evidence that:
(a) 
Proposed buildings or structures are of sound engineering design and that footings are designed to extend to stable soil and/or bedrock as required by the Township Building Code.[2]
[2]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 67, Building Construction.
(b) 
Proposed vehicular facilities, including roads, drives and/or parking areas, shall be so designed that land clearing and/or grading will not cause accelerated erosion. Both vertical and horizontal alignments of vehicular facilities shall be so designed that hazardous circulation conditions shall not be created.
(c) 
Proposed on-lot sewage disposal facilities shall be properly designed and installed in conformance with all pertinent health regulations.
(d) 
Proposed nonagricultural displacement of soil shall be for causes consistent with the intent of this article and shall be executed in a manner that will not cause excessive erosion or other unstable conditions.
(e) 
Surface runoff of water will not create unstable conditions, including erosion, and that appropriate stormwater drainage facilities or systems will be constructed as deemed necessary.
C. 
Standards for approval of uses by variance. In considering a use by variance, the Zoning Hearing Board shall consider the following:
(1) 
The applicant's compliance with the burdens of proof required by Section 910.2 of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, and as may be amended.[3]
[3]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10910.2.
(2) 
Compliance with the standards of Subsection B(2) through (7) herein.
Following the adoption of this article, any use or structure which is situated within the boundaries of the Steep Slope Conservation District and which does not conform to the permitted uses specified in § 143-238 of this article shall become a nonconforming use or structure, regardless of its conformance to the district in which it is located without consideration of this article. The expansion or continuance of said nonconforming use or structure shall be governed by the requirements of Article IX of this chapter. However, the Zoning Hearing Board shall also ensure that the standards contained in § 143-242 of this article are applied to the expansion or continuance of said nonconforming use or structure.