Township of Lower Merion, PA
Montgomery County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Amended 2-16-1988 by Ord. No. 3078]
This article sets forth the application requirements and review procedures for requesting approval of proposed subdivisions and land developments. The form of the various plans referred to in this article and the information required to be furnished with such plans shall be as specified in Article IV.
[Amended 2-16-1988 by Ord. No. 3078]
A. 
When required. A tentative sketch plan shall be required when the proposed development equals or exceeds eight dwelling units or five acres of land or when the plan includes nonresidential development. When a tract is proposed for development within an Open Space Preservation District, applicants shall submit two sketch plans. In all other cases, a tentative sketch plan shall be considered optional.
[Amended 2-15-1989 by Ord. No. 3137; 12-19-1990 by Ord. No. 3222]
B. 
Plan submittal. Prior to formal application for approval of a plan, a developer, if so required by Subsection A above, shall submit a tentative sketch plan or if not so required may, at his option, submit a tentative sketch or alternate tentative sketches showing streets and lots or other proposed improvements for informal discussion with the Township staff and Township Planning Commission. Six copies of any tentative sketch plan shall be submitted, and such plans shall comply with the requirements of Article IV.
C. 
Plan review.
(1) 
The Director of Building and Planning, the Township Engineer, the Land Development Committee and the Montgomery County Planning Commission shall review the plans and shall submit their comments and recommendations to the Township Planning Commission. The Historical Commission or the Board of Historical Architectural Review, pursuant to Chapter 88, shall also review the plans and shall submit their comments where the property is located in an Historic Resource Overlay District and/or a local historic district. Where applicable, the Environmental Advisory Council will also submit its comments.
[Amended 3-15-2000 by Ord. No. 3560; 1-19-2002 by Ord. No. 3631]
(2) 
The Township Planning Commission shall discuss the sketch plans with the applicant and shall convey its reactions and recommendations to the applicant.
(3) 
Tentative sketch plans shall be subject to approval or disapproval by the Board of Commissioners only if submission of tentative sketch plans is required under Subsection A above. Board action shall take place in accordance with time limitations set forth in § 135-10G. In all other cases, tentative sketch plans shall not be subject to approval or disapproval by the Board of Commissioners as such plan submissions are optional and are for the benefit of the applicant.
[Amended 2-16-1988 by Ord. No. 3078; 1-19-2002 by Ord. No. 3630; 1-19-2002 by Ord. No. 3631]
A. 
Initial applications. All formal applications for approval of a preliminary subdivision or land development plan or tentative sketch plan required by § 135-7 above shall be made by the developer filing an application form, to be supplied by the Building and Planning Department, with the Director of Building and Planning. The application shall be accompanied by all required plans and documents and all required filing fees. Copies of all plans and documents shall also be submitted in a digital format suitable to the Township.
[Amended 10-17-2012 by Ord. No. 3985]
B. 
Amendments and corrections to applications. All amendments to applications and all corrections or revisions shall be submitted in writing by the developer to the Director of Building and Planning. The nature and reason for the changes shall be set forth and, if required, the developer's proposal for rescheduling the Township Planning Commission review.
[Amended 2-16-1988 by Ord. No. 3078; 1-19-2002 by Ord. No. 3631]
A. 
Initial application. The Director of Building and Planning shall have seven days from the date of submission of an application to check the plans and documents to determine if on their face they are in proper form and contain all information required by this chapter. If defective, the application may be returned to the applicant with a statement of rejection, within the seven-day period; otherwise, it shall be deemed accepted for filing as of the date of submission. Acceptance for filing shall not, however, constitute a waiver of any deficiencies or irregularities. The applicant may appeal a decision by the Director of Building and Planning under this section to the Board of Commissioners.
B. 
Amendments or corrections to an application. The Director of Building and Planning shall have seven days from the date of submission to examine amended or corrected applications to determine whether such amended or corrected applications result in a substantial amendment to the plan or in the filing of a plan so changed as to be considered a new plan. If the Director of Building and Planning determines that the amended or corrected application constitutes a substantial amendment, he shall so inform the applicant that the Township shall consider the ninety-day review procedure to have been restarted as of the date of the filing of the substantial amendment. If the Director of Building and Planning determines that the amended or corrected application constitutes a new plan, he shall so inform the applicant and shall inform the applicant that a new application and new fees are required. The applicant may appeal a decision by the Director of Building and Planning under this section to the Board of Commissioners.
A. 
One of the following plans, as appropriate, shall be filed with the application:
(1) 
Preliminary subdivision plan. The preliminary subdivision plan is to be filed whenever approval is sought to subdivide a parcel of land, unless a lot line change plan may properly be used. Five initial copies are required and plan requirements are set forth in § 135-17 of this chapter. The conservation plan overlay is required for parcels of land of five acres or more.
(2) 
Preliminary lot line change plan. The preliminary lot line change plan is to be filed whenever approval is sought to shift lot lines or to merge lots (subject to the exemption provided to merged lots by § 135-35E hereof). Five initial copies are required, and plan requirements are set forth in § 135-18 of this chapter.
[Amended 1-15-1997 by Ord. No. 3439]
(3) 
Preliminary land development plan. The preliminary land development plan is to be filed whenever land development approval is sought. Five initial copies are required, and plan requirements are set forth in § 135-19 of this chapter. The conservation plan overlay is required for parcels of land of five acres or more.
(4) 
Declaration plan. See § 135-44 for requirements.
B. 
Information dissemination. When an application is accepted for filing, the Director of Building and Planning shall forward complete sets of the application, including plans and all appropriate documentation, to the Montgomery County Planning Commission, the Chairman of the Township Planning Commission, the Township Engineer and the Chairman of the Land Development Committee.
[Amended 2-16-1988 by Ord. No. 3078; 1-19-2002 by Ord. No. 3631]
C. 
Submission and review by Township staff.
[Amended 2-16-1988 by Ord. No. 3078]
(1) 
Review by the Director of Building and Planning. The Director of Building and Planning shall review the application documents to determine if they are in compliance with this chapter, Chapter 135, Subdivision and Land Development, and Chapter 155, Zoning, the Township planning objectives and accepted planning standards. He shall prepare a written report stating his findings and recommendations.
[Amended 1-19-2002 by Ord. No. 3631]
(2) 
Review by the Township Engineer. The Township Engineer shall review the application documents to determine if they are in compliance with this chapter and with Chapter 121, Stormwater Management and Erosion Control, and Chapter 149, Watercourses, applicable state and federal statutes and regulations, other applicable Township ordinances, Township standards and good engineering practices. He shall prepare a written report stating his findings and recommendations.
(3) 
Review by the Land Development Committee. The Land Development Committee shall review the application documents and reports prepared by Township officials or otherwise submitted. The Land Development Committee shall thereafter forward the documents and reports to the Township Planning Commission along with the recommendation of the Committee relative to the approval or disapproval of the application.
(4) 
The preliminary subdivision plan, complying with all applicable requirements, shall be filed with the Director of Building and Planning for approval within 12 months from the date of the approval of the tentative sketch plan. Failure to comply with the time limitation herein provided shall make the approval of the tentative sketch plan null and void unless an extension of time is granted in accordance with this section. The twelve-month period may be extended by the Board of Commissioners upon application by the applicant filed in writing within said twelve-month period upon demonstration of the following:
[Added 6-19-1991 by Ord. No. 3243; 1-19-2002 by Ord. No. 3631]
(a) 
That one or more conditions existent at the time of tentative sketch plan approval have changed.
(b) 
That such change of circumstances was beyond the applicant's control and has prevented submission of the preliminary plan within the twelve-month period.
(c) 
That such circumstances have been overcome or will be overcome in the foreseeable future.
D. 
Submission of plan revisions. When any modifications to the preliminary plans are requested by the Land Development Committee and/or the Township Engineer, any revised plans shall be submitted to the Building and Planning Department not later than noon, 17 days prior to the date of the first hearing before the Township Planning Commission, or at noon 18 days prior thereto when the 17th day falls on a holiday; provided, however, that if said modifications result in a substantially different plan, a new formal application process shall be required which shall follow all of the procedures and time requirements set forth herein.
[Added 2-16-1988 by Ord. No. 3078[1] ; amended 1-19-2002 by Ord. No. 3630; 2-20-2002 by Ord. No. 3634]
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also provided for the redesignation of former Subsections D through I as new Subsections E through J.
E. 
Notice, closing of record, submission of additional plans and building/driveway location plans.
[Amended 2-16-1988 by Ord. No. 3078]
(1) 
Notice. When a subdivision or land development application is to be reviewed by the Township Planning Commission, notice of the date and time of the hearing shall be posted by the applicant on each street frontage of the property involved for at least 14 consecutive days immediately prior to and including the day of the Township Planning Commission hearing. Such notice shall be clearly visible to the public, shall be on forms provided by the Building and Planning Department and shall contain, in legible print, all the information therein required. No subdivision or land development plan shall be considered until proper posting has occurred. Posted notices shall be promptly removed after the date of the Township Planning Commission hearing.
[Amended 1-19-2002 by Ord. No. 3630]
(2) 
Closing of file. The application record shall be closed at noon 17 days before the Township Planning Commission hearing, or at noon 18 days prior thereto when the 17th day falls on a holiday, to allow the Township staff and the public sufficient time to examine and study the plans and all appropriate documentation. No changes or amendments to the application shall be received after this date unless the applicant shall apply for a rescheduling of the hearing before the Township Planning Commission and make suitable provision for an extension of the review time; provided, however, that nothing herein shall preclude any individual from giving testimony or comments with respect to the application at a public meeting open for discussion with respect thereto.
[Amended 2-20-2002 by Ord. No. 3634]
(3) 
Submission of additional copies of plans. Prior to the date set forth in Subsection E(2) above, the applicant shall submit such additional copies of the plans, together with all appropriate documentation, so that the Township shall have at least 12 full sets of plans and all appropriate documentation.
(4) 
Plans required by the Planning Commission in accordance with Subsection F(2) herein shall also adhere to the procedures set forth in Subsection E(1), (2) and (3) of this section.
F. 
Planning Commission review.
(1) 
The date set for review shall be given to the applicant after consultation with the Director of Building and Planning. Should the Township Planning Commission request any modifications to the preliminary plans as a result of the first hearing, any revised plans, together with all appropriate documentation, shall be submitted to the Building and Planning Department not later than 17 days prior to the next Township Planning Commission meeting or at noon 18 days prior thereto when the 17th day falls on a holiday, at which the plans will be reviewed again. After review by the Township Planning Commission, the Commission shall transmit the plan to the Board of Commissioners, with its recommendations and those of the Land Development Committee.
[Amended 2-16-1988 by Ord. No. 3078; 1-19-2002 by Ord. No. 3630; 2-20-2002 by Ord. No. 3634]
(2) 
Building and driveway locations are a concern of the Planning Commission in the preservation of natural features. If these locations are not known at the time of application, the Planning Commission may approve the preliminary plan subject to the applicant submitting at a future time a plan showing building and driveway locations. Such a plan must be submitted and approved before application for a building permit.
(3) 
If the Planning Commission deems that the proposed improvements, including building and driveway locations, are necessary to determine whether the proposed subdivision or land development is in compliance with this chapter, the Commission will require this information before recommending approval of the preliminary plan.
G. 
Action by Board of Commissioners. The Board of Commissioners shall act upon the plan application not later than 90 days following the date of the regular meeting of the Planning Commission next following the date on which the application is deemed accepted for filing under § 135-9 of this chapter, provided that should the next regular meeting of the Planning Commission occur more than 30 days following the date the application is deemed accepted for filing, said ninety-day period shall be measured from the 30th day following the day the application has been deemed accepted for filing. The decision of the Board of Commissioners shall be in writing and shall be communicated to the applicant personally or mailed to him at his last known address not later than 15 days following the decision or not later than the last day of the aforesaid ninety-day period, whichever day shall first occur.
H. 
Certification and distribution of copies. After the plan has been approved by the Board of Commissioners, copies with all conditions of approval noted thereon, duly certified by the Township Secretary, shall be distributed as follows:
(1) 
One copy will be sent to the Montgomery County Planning Commission.
(2) 
One copy will be given to the developer.
(3) 
One copy will be retained in the subdivision file of the Township.
(4) 
One copy will be retained by the Director of Building and Planning.
[Amended 1-19-2002 by Ord. No. 3631]
(5) 
One copy will be retained by the Township Engineer.
(6) 
One copy will be given to the Montgomery County Recorder of Deeds.
I. 
Effect of approval.
(1) 
Approval of the preliminary plan by the Board of Commissioners shall have the effect of adding the streets shown thereon to the Township plan of streets and alleys. To change, relocate or remove a street from an approved preliminary plan, a new plan must be submitted by the owners of the land over which the street was laid out and be approved by the Board of Commissioners.
(2) 
Upon approval of the preliminary plan by the Board of Commissioners, the streets shown thereon shall constitute easements over the property for the purpose of construction.
(3) 
Approval shall confer upon the applicant the following rights for a five-year period from the date of such approval:
[Amended 2-19-1986 by Ord. No. 3004]
(a) 
The general terms and conditions under which the approval was granted will not be changed.
(b) 
No subsequent change or amendment in the zoning, subdivision or other governing ordinance or plan shall be applied to affect adversely the right of the applicant to commence and to complete the development in accordance with the terms of the approval.
(c) 
If final approval is required by § 135-13, said applicant may submit, on or before the expiration date, the whole or parts of said preliminary plan for final approval.
(4) 
Where final approval is preceded by preliminary approval, the five-year period shall be counted from the date of the preliminary approval.
[Added 2-19-1986 by Ord. No. 3004]
(5) 
Where the landowner has substantially completed the required improvements as depicted upon the final plat within the five-year limit, or any extension thereof as may be granted by the Board of Commissioners, amendments to municipal ordinances enacted subsequent to the date of the filing of the preliminary plan shall not modify or revoke any aspect of the approved final plat pertaining to zoning classification, density, lot, building, street or utility location.
[Added 2-19-1986 by Ord. No. 3004]
(6) 
In the case of a preliminary plat calling for the installation of improvements beyond the five-year period, the applicant shall file a schedule with the preliminary plat delineating all proposed sections as well as deadlines within which applications for final plat approval of each section are intended to be filed.
[Added 2-19-1986 by Ord. No. 3004]
(a) 
The applicant shall update said schedule annually on or before the anniversary of preliminary plat approval until final plat approval of the final section has been granted.
(b) 
Any modification in the aforesaid schedule shall be subject to the approval of the Board of Commissioners in its discretion.
(c) 
Each section in any residential subdivision or land development, except for the last section, shall contain a minimum of 25% of the total number of dwelling units depicted on the preliminary plan, unless a lesser percentage is approved by the Board of Commissioners.
(7) 
Provided that the applicant has not defaulted with regard to or violated any of the conditions of the preliminary plat and approval, including compliance with the applicant's schedule of submission of final plats for the various sections required by § 135-10I(6), then the protections afforded by substantially completing the improvements depicted upon the final plat within five years as stated in § 135-10I(6) shall apply. For any section or sections, beyond the initial section, in which the required improvements have not been substantially completed within the five-year period, the aforesaid protections shall apply for an additional term or terms of three years from the date of final plat approval for each section. Failure of the applicant to adhere to the aforesaid schedule of submission of final plats for the various sections shall subject any such section to any and all changes in zoning, subdivision and other governing ordinances enacted by the Township subsequent to the date of the initial preliminary plat submission.
[Added 2-19-1986 by Ord. No. 3004]
J. 
Disapproval.
(1) 
If the Board of Commissioners shall disapprove the plan, the reasons therefor will be set forth in writing.
(2) 
The applicant may resubmit the preliminary plan for approval, in which case he shall do so in accordance with the requirements, including additional fees, of this chapter, after modifying the plan to conform to requirements of the disapproval report and/or letter.
Additional plans which may be required include an improvement construction plan, a final plan and a construction record plan.
A. 
When required. An improvement construction plan is required whenever an improvement, as defined herein, but not including buildings, is shown on an approved plan to be constructed or installed. See § 135-21 for plan requirements.
(1) 
Three copies of the improvement construction plan shall be filed with the Director of Planning, accompanied by an application for approval. These will be reviewed by the Land Development Committee, and one will be returned to the applicant for preparation of final plans.
(2) 
Eight copies of the final improvement construction plan shall be submitted to the Director of Planning.
(3) 
The sanitary sewer plans and drainage plans will also be reviewed by the Department of Public Works. Improvement construction plans will be acted upon finally by the Land Development Committee.
(4) 
In the event that there are to be changes in the contour of any land proposed to be subdivided, developed or changed in use by grading, excavating or the removal or destruction of the natural topsoil, trees or other vegetative covering thereon, the developer shall comply with Chapter 121, Stormwater Management and Erosion Control, of this Code.
(5) 
Whenever the storm drainage area above a contemplated storm drainage improvement contains an area of 1/2 of one square mile or more and whenever there are any proposed improvements in or near a stream or floodplain, a permit must be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Water Quality Management, Division of Dams and Encroachments, before an improvement construction permit will be issued by the Township. Whenever an improvement or new street or driveway access is contemplated within the right-of-way of a state highway, a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation permit must be obtained before an improvement construction permit will be issued by the Township.
B. 
Approval. Upon approval of the improvement construction plan by the Land Development Committee, the Township Engineer will so certify thereon, and the Township Secretary will issue an improvement construction permit authorizing the construction of the improvements. The copies with the certification of approval thereon shall be distributed as follows:
(1) 
One copy will be returned to the registered engineer or surveyor who prepared the plan.
(2) 
One copy and the permit will be given to the applicant.
(3) 
One copy will be retained in the subdivision file of the Township.
(4) 
Two copies will be retained by the Township Engineer.
(5) 
One copy will be used by the Township Inspector.
(6) 
One copy will be forwarded to the Philadelphia Suburban Water Company.
(7) 
One copy will be forwarded to the Philadelphia Electric Company.
C. 
Disapproval. If the Land Development Committee shall disapprove the plan, the reasons therefor will be set forth in writing and will be given to the developer, who may, within 30 days thereafter, appeal to the Planning Commission. The appeal will be considered by the Commission, and its recommendation will be forwarded to the Board of Commissioners, whose decision will be final.
D. 
Effect of approval. The permit will become void if work is not commenced within six months, provided that a single extension of six months may be granted by the Township Engineer upon written request.
E. 
Completion certificate. After satisfactory completion of the work, the guaranty will be released, the completion certificate on the permit will be endorsed by the Township Secretary, and the Township Engineer will endorse the plan accordingly.
A. 
When required. When all conditions of approval required by the preliminary plan approval have been obtained as required by this chapter, the developer will prepare a final plan showing all lot lines, improvements and other features of the subdivision or land development and shall submit the same to the Building and Planning Department for confirmation of compliance with such conditions and approval. If there are no conditions of approval, the preliminary plan may be submitted as the final plan. Upon obtaining the approval of the Building and Planning Department or the Board of Commissioners, the developer will record the final plan, with evidence of such approval, in the office for the recording of deeds for Montgomery County.
[Amended 5-16-2007 by Ord. No. 3816]
B. 
Submission and approval.
(1) 
The final plan, complying with all applicable requirements, shall be filed with the Director of Planning for a final approval within 12 months from the date of the approval of the preliminary plan. Failure to comply with the time limitation herein provided shall make the approval of the preliminary sketch plan null and void unless an extension of time is granted in accordance with this section. The twelve-month period may be extended by the Board of Commissioners upon application by the applicant, filed in writing, within said twelve-month period upon demonstration of the following;
[Amended 5-15-1985 by Ord. No. 2071; 6-19-1991 by Ord. No. 3243]
(a) 
That one or more conditions existent at the time of preliminary plan approval have changed.
(b) 
That such change of circumstances was beyond the applicant's control and has prevented submission of the final plan within the twelve-month period.
(c) 
That such circumstances have been overcome or will be overcome in the foreseeable future.
(2) 
Six paper prints of the plan of the size as specified by the Recorder of Deeds of Montgomery County shall be submitted to the Township Engineer.
[Amended 10-17-2012 by Ord. No. 3985]
(3) 
All final plans must conform with final approval and must be recorded with the office of the Recorder of Deeds of Montgomery County within 90 days after final approval.
(4) 
Approval of final plans shall not be deemed to constitute acceptance by the Township of any streets or other public improvements which are offered for dedication.
Construction record plans of all street improvements shall be filed at the completion of construction and before any dedication for public use. These shall be printed on reproducible Mylar and shall be filed with the Director of Public Works. Such plans shall be filed prior to release of the guaranty and issuance of the completion certificate by the Township Engineer as set forth in § 135-12E of this article.