[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of the Township of Franconia 9-12-1988 by Ord. No. 147. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Franconia Township Grading Ordinance."
The purpose of this chapter is to provide minimum standards to safeguard persons, to protect property and to promote the public welfare by regulating and controlling the grading, excavation and removal or destruction of topsoil, trees or other vegetative cover or land within the Township of Franconia.
Words in the singular include the plural, and words in the plural include the singular. The present tense includes the future. The word "building" shall be deemed to include the word "structure."
Unless otherwise expressly stated, the following words shall, for the purpose of this section, have the meanings herein stated:
- A plan prepared by a Pennsylvania-licensed professional engineer
or professional land surveyor which depicts by standard land surveying
techniques, in accordance with the standards of the Pennsylvania Society
of Land Surveyors, the true location of all structures, driveways,
walkways, utilities and other improvements or natural features present
on the property on the day of the survey. Such plan shall also depict
the contours of the land, including elevation contours, at a minimum
one-foot increment, and such spot elevations as may be needed to illustrate
thoroughly the vertical difference between buildings, driveways, utilities
and other improvements or natural features.[Added 11-13-2001 by Ord. No. 308]
- An excavation; the difference between a point on the original
ground and a designated point of lower elevation on the final grade;
also the material removed in excavation.[Amended 11-13-2001 by Ord. No. 308]
- The removal of surface materials by the action of natural elements.
- Any act by which earth, sand, gravel, rock or any other similar material is dug into, cut, quarried, uncovered, removed, displaced, relocated or bulldozed and shall include the conditions resulting therefrom, excluding normal agricultural activity.
- Any act by which earth, sand, gravel, rock or any other material is deposited, placed, pushed, dumped, pulled, transported or moved to a new location above the natural surface of the ground or on top of the stripped surface and shall include the conditions resulting therefrom; the difference in elevation between a point on the original ground and a designated point of high elevation in the final grade; the material used to make a fill.
- That area defined in the Township Zoning Ordinance as the Floodplain Conservation District; the floodplain definition contained therein is made a part of this chapter by reference. 
- The elevation of the existing ground surface at the location of any proposed excavation or fill.
- LAND DEVELOPMENT
- Any of the following activities:[Amended 3-8-1999 by Ord. No. 271]
- (1) The improvement of one lot or two or more contiguous lots, tracts or parcels of land for any purpose involving:
- (a) A group of two or more residential or nonresidential buildings, whether proposed initially or cumulatively, or a single nonresidential building on a lot or lots, regardless of the number of occupants or tenure; or
- (b) The division or allocation of land or space, whether initially or cumulatively, between or among two or more existing or prospective occupants by means of or for the purpose of streets, common areas, leaseholds, condominiums, building groups or other features.
- (c) A subdivision of land.
- (2) A land development shall not include the following:
- (a) The conversion of an existing single-family detached dwelling or single-family semidetached dwelling into not more than three residential units, unless such units are intended to be a condominium.
- (b) The addition of an accessory building, including farm buildings, on a lot or lots subordinate to an existing principal building.
- QUALIFYING SITE
- Any lot, tract or parcel or series of lots, tracts or parcels of land joined together where grading work is continuous and performed at the same time.
- The surface water discharge or rate of discharge of a given watershed after a fall of rain or snow that does not enter the soil but runs off the surface of the land.
- RUNOFF FROM A FULLY DEVELOPED AREA UPSTREAM
- The surface water runoff that can be reasonably anticipated upon maximum development of that area of the watershed located upstream from the subject tract, as permitted by prevailing zoning or the Township Comprehensive Plan, whichever is greater.
- The process by which mineral or organic matter is accumulated or deposited by moving wind, water or gravity. Once this matter is deposited (or remains suspended in water), it is usually referred to as "sediment."
- The face of an embankment or cut section; any ground whose surface makes any angle with the plane of the horizon. Slopes are usually expressed in a percentage based upon vertical difference in feet per 100 feet of horizontal distance or the relationship of the horizontal distance to the vertical distance.
- SOIL STABILIZATION
- Chemical, physical or structural treatment of a mass of soil to increase or maintain its stability or otherwise improve its engineering properties.
- The division or redivision of a lot, tract or parcel of land
by any means into two or more lots, tracts, parcels or other divisions
of land, including changes in existing lot lines, for the purpose,
whether immediate or future, of lease, partition by the court for
distribution to heirs or devisees, transfer of ownership or building
or lot development; provided, however, that the subdivision by lease
of land for agricultural purposes into parcels of more than 10 acres
not involving any new street or easement of access or any residential
dwelling shall be exempted.[Amended 3-8-1999 by Ord. No. 271]
- A low-lying stretch of land which gathers or carries surface water runoff.
- Surface soils and subsurface solids which presumably are fertile solid and soil material, ordinarily rich in organic matter or humus debris. Topsoil is usually found in the uppermost soil layer called the "A horizon."
- A permanent stream, intermittent stream, river, brook, creek, channel, ditch, swale or culvert for water, whether natural or man-made.
No person shall commence or perform any grading, excavation, fill, topsoil removal or removal of vegetative cover or installation of a paved area or impervious surface within the Township of Franconia without first having obtained a grading permit from the Township Zoning Officer. A separate grading permit shall be required for each site or lot. One permit may cover both an excavation and any fill made on the same site. A grading permit will be required for all commercial, institutional and industrial uses. A grading permit shall also be required for residential uses, unless covered by the exclusions noted below. Conditions (as deemed necessary by the Township Zoning Officer and/or Engineer) may be attached to permits issued.
A grading permit will not be required in the following situations, but in all other respects the provisions of this chapter shall apply:
Any farming purposes.
Every applicant for a grading permit shall file a written application with the Township Zoning Officer, which shall be forwarded to the Township Engineer for review. Such application shall:
Describe the land on which the proposed work is to be done by lot, block, tract or street address or similar description which will readily identify and definitely locate the proposed work.
Be accompanied by plans and specifications prepared by a Pennsylvania-registered professional engineer or professional land surveyor, including a contour map showing the present contours of the land and the proposed grading with other improvements to the property, including, but not limited to, structures, driveways, walkways and utilities. The plan shall show contours at vertical intervals of one foot with sufficient details to show the course, structure and capacity of all drainage facilities and the method of drainage of the adjacent or contiguous territory. In areas included within relatively level tracts, contours or spot elevations may be shown at lesser intervals as may be necessary for study as determined by the Township Engineer. In no case shall the contour interval exceed 100 feet horizontally. Permanent and recoverable benchmarks to which contour elevations refer shall be noted. A plot plan shall show the location of existing and proposed grading, buildings, driveways, walkways, utilities, boundaries, lot lines and sufficient dimensions and other data to show the location of all work; description of the type and classification of the soil; details and location of any proposed drainage structures and pipes, walls and cribbing, floodplains, watercourses, existing and proposed drainage structures; nature of fill material; and such other information as the Township Engineer may require to carry out the purposes of this chapter. All plans shall be dated and bear the name of the person who prepared the same with professional seal and signature, the applicant and the owner of the land. Five copies shall be submitted.
[Amended 11-13-2001 by Ord. No. 308]
Include a plan to be approved by the Township Engineer for minimizing erosion and sedimentation in conformity with the requirements of this chapter, Montgomery County Conservation District standards and specifications and State Department of Environmental Protection regulations. If the lot or property is part of an approved land development plan for which the Montgomery County Conservation District has issued an adequacy letter for erosion and sediment control or a NPDES general permit for construction activities, the approved erosion and sediment control plan shall be part of the grading plan by reference.
[Amended 11-13-2001 by Ord. No. 308]
State the reason for which the grading is proposed.
A stormwater and watershed management plan shall be provided in accordance with the requirements of Article X for all regulated activities over 5,000 square feet (1,000 square feet in the Neshaminy Watershed) including post-construction stormwater management facilities with an operations and management plan.
[Added 8-18-2014 by Ord. No. 377]
The Township Engineer may waive the requirements for any or all plans and specifications listed above if he finds that the work contemplated will conform to the provisions of this chapter.
Before issuing a grading permit, the Township Zoning Officer shall collect a permit fee as set forth in a resolution adopted and amended as required by the Board of Supervisors.
Each applicant shall be required to execute an appropriate agreement to provide escrow funds and to be responsible for additional billings in excess of such funds for the payment of:
Professional services: the services of the Township Engineer and/or Solicitor provided in these rules and regulations; in addition, all costs for other engineering, legal and professional certifications as deemed necessary.
Material and facilities tests: the actual cost of all drainage, water and/or material tests.
Inspection: all costs of the Township Inspector at the current hourly rate while engaged on the project.
Dedication: legal fees, advertising and other costs involved in the dedication of public improvements to the township.
The applicant shall guarantee for a period of 18 months all improvement work required. Any poor or inferior materials and/or workmanship as determined by the Township Engineer shall be promptly remedied. When notified to do so by the Township Engineer, the applicant shall secure the guaranty as herein required by providing a maintenance bond or the deposit of funds in escrow in an amount equal to 15% of the total grading project costs.
Every grading permit shall expire by limitation and become null and void if the work authorized by such permit has not been commenced within six months or is not completed within one year from the date of issue; provided, however, that the Zoning Officer may, if the permit holder presents satisfactory evidence that unusual difficulties have prevented work being started or completed within the specified time limits, grant reasonable extensions of time, provided that the application for extension of time is made before the date of expiration of the permit.
The Township Zoning Officer shall deny a grading permit upon recommendation of the Township Engineer where, in their opinion, the work as proposed by the applicant may endanger any property or any street or alley or fails to meet township standards. In determining whether the proposed work is likely to endanger any property or streets or alleys or create hazardous conditions, the Township Engineer/Zoning Officer shall give due consideration to possible saturation by rains, earth movements, runoff of surface waters and subsurface conditions such as the stratification and faulting of rock and the nature and type of the soil or rock.
The Board of Supervisors shall promptly consider appeals from the provisions of this section or from the determinations of the Township Engineer and/or Zoning Officer, and the Board shall make determinations of alternative methods, standards or materials when, in its opinion, strict compliance with the provisions of this chapter is not necessary. Any applicant or permit holder shall have the right to appeal to any court of competent jurisdiction from any decision or determination of the Board of Supervisors.
The Township Engineer and/or Zoning Officer shall have the right to revoke or suspend any grading permit based on noncompliance with the standards, rules and regulations required herein.
Measures used to control erosion and reduce sedimentation shall, as a minimum, meet the standards and specifications of the Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Franconia Township Land Development and Subdivision Ordinance and the State Department of Environmental Protection standards. The Township Engineer, or other official as designated, shall ensure compliance with the appropriate specifications.
[Amended 11-13-2001 by Ord. No. 308]
Plans for erosion and sediment control shall be submitted in support of the grading permit application.
Plans for greater than five acres are to be reviewed by the Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District. After payment of the appropriate fee to the township, the plans will be submitted to the Conservation District. Plans which require this review will not be given final approval until comments and/or recommendations are received, subject to a time limitation of 30 calendar days from the date of submission by the township to the Conservation District.
[Added 3-8-1999 by Ord. No. 271]
No topsoil shall be removed from the site or used as spoil. Topsoil should be removed from the areas of construction and stored separately. Upon completion of the construction, the topsoil should be redistributed on the site uniformly. All areas of the site shall be stabilized by seeding or planting on slopes of less than 10% and shall be stabilized by sodding on slopes 10% or more and planted in ground cover on slopes 20% or more, provided that riprap shall be utilized for banks exceeding 25%.
In order to provide more suitable sites for building and other uses, to improve surface drainage and to control erosion, the following requirements shall be met:
All lots, tracts or parcels shall be graded to provide proper drainage away from buildings and directed toward proper disposal without unwanted ponding, except where approved by the Board of Supervisors (such as for retention basins) on the recommendation of the Township Engineer.
All drainage provisions shall be of such design to adequately handle the surface runoff and carry it to the nearest suitable outlet such as a curb street, storm drain or natural watercourse. Where drainage swales are used to collect or divert surface waters away from buildings, they shall be sodded or planted as required and shall be of such slope, shape and size as to conform to the requirements of the Township Engineer.
Concentration of surface water runoff shall only be permitted in swales or watercourses or approved retention basins.
Excavation and fills.
Cut and fill slopes shall not be steeper than five to one unless authorized by the Township Engineer. Slopes greater than three to one shall require slope protection, appropriate vegetation or structural retaining devices.
Adequate provisions shall be made to prevent surface water from damaging the cut face of an excavation or the sloping surfaces of fills.
Cut and fills shall not endanger adjoining property.
Fill shall be placed and compacted so as to minimize sliding or erosion of the soil. The Township Engineer may require testing by a professional geotechnical engineer.
Fill shall not encroach on natural watercourses or constructed channels.
Fill placed adjacent to natural watercourses or constructed channels shall have suitable protection against erosion during periods of flooding.
Grading shall not be done in such a way so as to divert water onto the property of another landowner without the express written consent of the affected landowner.
During grading operations, necessary measures for dust control shall be exercised.
Grading equipment shall not be allowed to cross live streams. Provision will be made for the installation of culverts or bridges in accordance with and subject to requirements of the Bureau of Dams and Waterways of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Whenever a fill is to be made of materials other than clean soil or earth, the grading permit shall be subject to the following additional limitations and requirements:
The fill shall be completed within a reasonable length of time, said time limit to be determined by the Township Engineer and to be specified on the grading permit.
Clean soil or earth shall be placed over the top and exposed surfaces of the fill to a depth of not less than four inches and sufficient to conceal all materials other than clean soil or earth within the fill. Where the nature of the fill requires, the Township Engineer may require clean soil or earth to be placed over the top and exposed surfaces of the fill to a depth sufficient to conceal all materials at the end of each day's operations. Escrow funds may be required to ensure compliance with this coverage requirement.
Extent of grading area. Fine grading, seeding and mulching shall be required for all lot areas up to 60,000 square feet, less wetland and woodland areas, and to areas disturbed for lot areas in excess of 60,000 square feet.
Retention basins will be provided as required by the Township Engineer, and the applicant shall retain ownership and maintenance responsibility unless a waiver of such owner's responsibility is granted in writing by the Board of Supervisors.
Inspections. Inspections will be conducted by the Building Inspector and/or the Township Engineer to ensure compliance with these design standards and other provisions of this chapter. The applicant shall be responsible for providing at least 24 hours' notification for necessary inspections, including the initiation of work, the provision of necessary drainage facilities and the final acceptance of the work. Five working days from the submission of required as-builts to the issuance of foundation and/or building permits shall be provided for necessary plan review and notification by the Township Engineer to the Township Building Inspector.
[Amended 11-13-2001 by Ord. No. 308]
As-builts shall be required at the completion of the work to provide the Township Inspector with proof of compliance of grading, building, driveways, utilities, and other proposed improvements as shown on the grading permit plan. In the event the grading permit contains buildings, a foundation as-built shall be additionally required five working days prior to the issuance of any building permit to insure compliance with the grading permit plan.
[Added 11-13-2001 by Ord. No. 308]
In order to maintain the supply of natural vegetation, prevent erosion of the topsoil on the side and surrounding properties, foster the retention of groundwater supply and generally attempt to maintain the ecological balance in the township, the following requirements shall be met:
Every existing tree with a trunk eight inches or more in caliper [measured at one foot above existing ground line] which is destroyed because of street alignment, building placement, parking area location, grading or otherwise shall be replaced with one new tree of a type specified by the township with a trunk of not less than two inches in caliper measured at one foot above ground line.
Such new trees shall not be placed on the lot as street trees or in place of trees required as screening.
At the discretion of the township, a number of trees not greater in number than those destroyed may be planted on lands owned by the township in order to maintain the proper ecological balance of the township. The township shall assess the developer the cost of these trees, but the township will bear the cost of planting.
When written notice of a violation of any of the provisions of this chapter has been served by the Township Zoning Officer or any other person designated by him, such violation shall be discontinued immediately.
[Amended 6-10-1996 by Ord. No. 237]
Any person who violates or permits a violation of this chapter shall, upon being liable therefor in a civil enforcement proceeding commenced by the township, pay a fine not exceeding $600 plus all court costs, including reasonable attorney's fees incurred by the township. No judgment shall be imposed until the date of the determination of violation by the District Justice. If the defendant neither pays nor timely appeals the judgment, the township may enforce the judgment pursuant to the applicable Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure.
In case any work is performed by any person in violation of any of the provisions of this chapter, the proper official of this township, in addition to other remedies, may institute in the name of the township any appropriate action or proceeding at law or in equity, whether by legal process or otherwise, to prevent such unlawful work and to restrain and abate such violations.