Model Agricultural Protect Ordinance

Resource Ordinance 2:

Conservation of Prime Agricultural Land (Class I & II Soils)

COMMENT – Prime Agricultural Lands are resources that municipalities should take provisionsto be protected. Municipalities should establish strong goals to protect these resources. The following model ordinance regulations are suggested as a separate ordinance that may be desirable in order to protect Wetlands, bogs or marshes that are threatened by human activity such as clearing or logging activities or development.

Ordinance No.____________

AN ORDINANCE OF [MUNICIPALITY]; PROVIDING FOR PRIME AGRICULTURAL LAND (CLASS I & II SOILS) CONSERVATION; PROVIDING FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS ORDINANCE; AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE.

Whereas, the [Municipality] has prepared a comprehensive plan;

Whereas, the goals, policies and objectives of the comprehensive plan provide that the character, location and magnitude of development should be carefully reviewed to determine the impact of proposed development; and

Whereas, the [Municipality] desires to conserve Prime Agricultural Land (Class I & II Soils) that could be otherwise threatened by the occurrence of new development; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT ENACTED AND ORDAINED by the [Governing Body] of [Municipality] as follows.

SECTION 1:The Resource – Conservation of Prime Agricultural Land Ordinance of [Municipality] is hereby adopted.

A. Purpose

This section is intended to protect natural resources identified as Resources – Prime Agricultural Land (Class I & II Soils) due to their natural characteristics, such as moisture content, depth, texture, biochemical features, drainage, adequate sunlight, protection from the wind, etc. makes this soil the highest quality, or designated as Class I by the United States Department of Agriculture, for producing food, feed, forage, fiber, and oilseed crops.

B. Applicability

All persons engaging in land development or land use activities shall minimize any threat to Prime Agricultural Land (Class I & II Soils) due to their natural characteristics, such as moisture content, depth, texture, biochemical features, drainage, adequate sunlight, protection from the wind, etc. makes this soil the highest quality, or designated as Class I by the United States Department of Agriculture, for producing food, feed, forage, fiber, and oilseed crops.

C. Conservation of Prime Agriculture Land (Class I & II Soils)

1. In a subdivision where permanent open space is to be retained, the applicant shall, whenever possible and in conjunction with other applicable ordinances, include in such open space those agriculturally suited soils (Class I or II soils) whose acreage, configuration, and location offer future opportunity for agricultural use.

2. Areas Identified as prime agricultural land. Class I soils, by the Union County Soil Conservation District or the National Resource Conservation Service should not be altered, re-graded, filled, or built upon.

3. In areas whereas Class I Soils be so altered, re-graded, filled or built upon, such activities shall require mitigation by means of permanently protecting Class I Soils in another location off the proposed development site.

D. Protection of Prime Agricultural Land (Class I & II Soils) from site disturbances.

1. When digging trenches, excavation, alteration or any kind of construction, all disturbance to neighboring environmentally sensitive areas, and on site environmentally sensitive area shall be minimized.

2. If disturbance must occur, remediation of disturbance must occur as quickly as possible and be reduced to a minimum.

3. Where disturbances occur on a site that may impact environmentally sensitive land, natural or man-made buffers should be used for the protection of resources.

E. Protection of Top Soil

1. No top soil shall be removed from a site unless a sufficient amount is retained to provide at least four (4) inches of top soil cover over all of the site’s exposed earth surface.

2. Top soil removed by grading operations shall be redistributed and permanently stabilized as quickly as possible following the completion of a project or project phase in accordance with an approved Erosion and Sedimentation Control Plan.

3. Where disturbances occur on a site that may impact the condition of existing top soil, natural or man-made buffers should be used for the protection of resources.

SECTION 2: SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS

A. Applicability

Prior to commencing any site disturbance for any purpose other than construction of a single-family home or related accessory uses, unless there exists on the site environmentally sensitive lands or resources as designated in this ordinance, a resource plan as described in Section 999.42, below, shall be submitted to and approved by the Municipality Planning Commission & Union County Planning Commission.

B. Resource Plan

A resource plan shall include the following information. When any of this information already has been prepared as part of an application under the County Subdivision and Land development Ordinance, or the Conservation Ordinance, then it shall be duplicated and inserted into the pertinent section(s) of the Resource plan.

C. Inventory

1. Property Base Map. A base map of the applicant’s property shall meet the requirements for preliminary plan approval, as set forth in the County Subdivision and Land development Ordinance, with respect to: sheet size, scale, property acreage calculations, delineations of courses and distances of property boundaries, dedicated street rights-of-way, and easements.

2. Boundary and Adjoining Property Conditions. The following information shall be indicated on the property base map: names of adjoining property owners; residential and institutional structures within one hundred (100) feet of applicant’s property boundaries; and existing zoning and minimum setback requirements applicable to the applicant’s property and adjoining properties. A smaller scale map, drawn as an inset on the base maps sheet, may be used to present information on adjoining property conditions as set forth in the Union County Subdivision and Land Development Plan.

3. Existing Natural Areas. The following information shall be shown on the property base map:

a. Location and delineation of ponds, streams, wetlands, and natural drainage swales, not only in the subjects property, but also on immediately adjoining properties, and confirmed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, when required by those regulatory agencies.

b. High Quality & Exceptional Value Surface and Subsurface waters, floodplains and floodways, based upon available information, published or more detailed data obtained by the applicant for his property by professional consultants.

c. Topography, the contour line intervals of which shall be not more than two (2) feet for land with average natural slope of four (4%) percent or less, and not more than five (5) feet for land with average natural slope exceeding four (4%) percent. Location and elevation to which contour elevations refer shall be identified; where reasonably feasible, this shall be a known, established benchmark. Slopes exceeding fifteen (15%) percent or more, shall be a known, established benchmark and shall be clearly indicated.

d. Soil series, types, and phases, as mapped by the Union County Conservation District or the National Resource Conservation Service, and accompanying data tabulated for each soil, including: its name, depth, to seasonal high water table, agricultural capability class, erodability, and hydrologic group, and clear denotation of all Class I soils.

e. Vegetative cover conditions on the property according to general cover type, e.g., cultivated land, permanent grass land, oil field, hedgerow, woodlands, etc. And proper denotation of endangered plant and animal species as contained in the Natural Areas Inventory of Union County, Pennsylvania of 1993 and the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Index (PNDI).

f. All greenways, recreational sites and historical and cultural sites on the subjects’ property as designated by Union County.

g. All Scenic Vista’s and other natural resource areas on the subjects’ property and on surrounding parcels are to be clearly designated.

D. Impact Assessment

All applicants shall assess the on-site and off-site impacts of their proposed activities and improvements on existing environmentally sensitive areas. The assessment shall include the following:

1. Delineation of the location and tabulation of the acreage of resources which would be disturbed. Such features shall, at a minimum, include those cited in this Ordinance.

2. Delineation of the location and tabulation of the acreage of all resources on the applicants property and surrounding property.

3. Delineation of the location and dimensions of all improvements proposed by the applicant, including tabulations of gross square foot coverage of any proposed impervious surfaces.

4. Grading plans which clearly show all proposed alterations to the property’s existing topography.

5. Consideration of all reasonable alternatives to minimize disturbances to resources. The applicant shall furnish evidence that such alternatives were considered if, in the judgement of Union County, such information is required to determine if the applicant has complied with the intent of Article III.

SECTION 3: ADMINISTRATION

Resource Plan as Part of a Subdivision or Land Development Application or Conditional

Use Permit Application

A resource plan submitted as a part of a subdivision or land development application shall be reviewed according to the provision of the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance or Municipal Ordinances as applicable. Site inspections, performance and maintenance guarantees, application fees, violations, and penalties shall govern such an application.

Resource Plan Unrelated to a Subdivision or Land Development Application.

A. Plan Review

1. Applicants for activities defined in Section 999.4 But not related to a subdivision or land development shall submit a natural resource area plan in accordance with Section 999.4 The resource plan shall be issued or denied by the Planning Commission within ninety (90) days following the filing of a complete and properly prepared permit application and natural resource area plan, subject to approval by the Planning Commission in accordance with the following procedure.

2. Referrals shall be made within ten (10) days of filing of a complete and properly prepared resource plan.

3. Commission Review – In reviewing the resource plan, the Commission shall take into consideration the comments and recommendations of the County Engineer and the Union County Conservation District. The Commission may recommend to the applicant that revisions be made to the plan to meet the standards set forth in this Ordinance.

4. Commission Action – Within ninety (90) days of the filing of the complete application and fee the Commission shall act in writing, for approval or disapproval of the plan. Failure of the resource plan to comply with the standards set forth in this Ordinance shall be grounds for disapproval of the plan.

5. All approved plans must be officially signed and dated by the Planning Commission and the applicant prior to commencing any site disturbance. The applicant’s signature shall constitute a written certification that all work shall be performed in accordance with the plan.

B. Inspections.

1. No site disturbance work shall proceed to a subsequent phase, as detailed in Subsection 2, below, until inspected and approved by the Planning Director or his designee, who shall then file a report thereon with the Commission.

2. The times of inspection shall be as follows:

a. Upon completion of rough grading, but prior to placing top soil, installing permanent drainage or other site improvements, or establishing ground covers.

b. Upon completion of final grading, landscape improvements, and other mitigation of work undertaken in accordance with the approved environmentally sensitive area plan.

c. The Planning Director, or his designee, may make random inspections as deemed necessary and appropriate.

3. The Planning Director shall have discretion to modify or waive the applicable inspection schedule. The reasons for such modifications or waivers shall be noted in a report to the Municipality.

4. The applicant shall notify the Planning Director at least twenty-four (24) hours prior to completion of each phase identified in Section 999.52B to schedule the required inspection. Upon receiving such notice, the Planning Director shall inspect the work within forty-eight (48) hours, and immediately notify the permittee in writing of its acceptability, or in what respect there has been a failure to comply. Any portion of the work which does not comply shall be corrected promptly by the permittee as per this Ordinance; no work on subsequent phases shall proceed until such corrections are completed in accordance with the requirements of this Ordinance.

C. Fees.

The applicant shall pay an application fee for County review of the environmentally sensitive area plan in accordance with a schedule of fees established by resolution adopted by the Board of Commissioners.

D. Violations and Penalties.

1. If, at any time during inspections, the Planning Director determines that the site work does not conform to the approved plan, a written notice to comply shall be given to the permittee as stipulated in Section 999.52.B.4 above. Such notice shall set forth the nature of corrections shall be made. Upon failure to comply within the time specified, the permittee shall be considered in violation of this Ordinance, and the Planning Director shall issue a cease and desist order on all work on the site until corrections are made.

2. If corrections are not undertaken within the time specified, or the applicant violates the cease and desist order: (a) penalties shall be imposed as per Section 999.52.D.3 below; and/or (b) the work shall be completed by the Township and the costs charged to the violator.

3. Anyone violating the terms of Subsection 999.52.D above, shall be guilty of a summary offense, and, upon conviction, shall be subject to a fine or penalty of not more than Three Hundred ($300.00) dollars for each and every violation. Each day that the violation continues after proper notification shall be a separate offense. In addition thereto, the County may institute injunctive, mandamus, or any other appropriate action or proceeding at law or equity for the enforcement of this Ordinance or to correct violations of this ordinance, and any court of competent jurisdiction shall have the right to issue restraining orders, temporary or permanent injunctions, or mandamus or other appropriate forms of remedy or relief.

E. Appeals

Appeal from any action or decision of the Planning Director, or from other administrative actions of the Planning Commission shall be to the Board of Commissioners. Appeal from an action of the Board of Commissioners shall be to the Court of Common Pleas of Union County.

SECTION 4: RESOURCE AMENDMENTS

A. Major modifications of any approved resource plan, as determined by the County, shall be submitted to the Planning Director and reprocessed in the same manner as the original plan. All development and land disturbance activities shall be suspended pending the approval of modified plans.

B. Field modifications of a minor nature may be approved by the Planning Director in the form of written authorization.

SECTION 5:WAIVERS

The provisions of these regulations are intended as the minimum standards for the protection of the public health, safety and welfare. The County Commissioners reserve the right, upon recommendation of the Commission, to modify or to extend these regulations in individual cases as may be necessary in the public interest. The procedure for waivers shall be in accordance with Section 110 of the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance.

SECTION 6: If any section or specific provision or standard of these regulations that now exists or may exist in the future is found by a court to be invalid for any reason, the decision of the court shall not affect the validity of any other section, provision, or standard of these regulations except the provision in question. The other portions of the regulations not affected by the decision of the court shall remain in full force and effect.

SECTION 7: This Ordinance shall be effective upon its adoption in accordance with applicable law.

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