Model Endangered Species Ordinance

Resource Ordinance 6:

Endangered Species Protection

COMMENTState, Federal and County-wide Endangered Trees, vegetation and wildlife are natural resources that many municipalities take provisions to be protected. Municipalities should establish strong goals to protect these resources and if possible conduct an secondary inventory that follows the Union County Natural Areas Inventory of significant or endangered species within a particular municipality. The following model regulations are suggested as a separate ordinance may be desirable in order to protect endangered or threatened vegetation or wildlife habitats that are threatened or endangered by human activity, such as clearing or logging activities or development.

Ordinance No.____________

AN ORDINANCE OF [MUNICIPALITY]; PROVIDING FOR ENDANGERED OR THREATENED VEGETATION AND WILDLIFE PROTECTION; PROVIDING FOR PURPOSES OF THE ORDINANCE; PROVIDING FOR APPLICABILITY; PROVIDING FOR SIGNIFICANT TREES, VEGETATION AND WILDLIFE HABITATS; PROVIDING FOR EXEMPTIONS; PROVIDING FOR PROTECTION AND REPLACEMENT STANDARDS; PROVIDING FOR SEVERABILITY; 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 protect endangered or threatened vegetation and wildlife habitats that could otherwise be 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 – Threatened or Endangered Species Protection Ordinance of [Municipality] is hereby adopted.

A. Purpose

This section is intended to protect threatened or endangered vegetation or wildlife habitats as listed in the Union County Natural Resource Inventory, significant trees or vegetation, greenway buffers, and resources that perform beneficial air quality or microclimatic functions, resources anchoring vegetation to reduce erosion and sedimentation, that could be threatened during and as a result of new development or human activities.

B. Applicability.

All persons engaging in land development activities shall minimize any threat to threatened or endangered vegetation or wildlife habitats as listed in the Union County Natural Resource Inventory, significant trees or vegetation, greenway buffers, natural resource areas that perform beneficial air quality or microclimatic functions, natural resource areas anchoring vegetation to reduce erosion and sedimentation, to the greatest extent possible.

C. Significant Trees and Vegetationor Wildlife Habitat Areas.

1. Disturbance or removal of vegetation occupying environmentally sensitive areas shall be undertaken only when necessary and on a limited selective basis to minimize the adverse impacts of such actions. Environmentally sensitive areas include areas containing vegetation performing important soil stabilizing functions or endangered plant species and endangered animal habitats identified in the Natural Areas Inventory of Union County, Pennsylvania, 1993, floodplain, stream and pond banks, sloped lands, highly erodible soils, NRCS hydric soils and vegetation areas acting as natural buffering strips along watercourses.

2. All existing significant trees and vegetation on the subject property shall be clearly identified on a landscaping plan, which shall be submitted with a preliminary plate or land development plan.

3. Existing specimens of significant vegetation or wildlife habitat species which are considered desirable species in [Municipality] or which are threatened or endangered, regardless of size or diameter, or species considered desirable in the Union County Natural Areas Inventory.

4. Existing significant trees and vegetation and identified wildlife habitats located on the site of any proposed development shall be preserved.

5. Whereas the preservation of significant vegetation causes unjust hardship upon the landowner and where any significant trees or vegetation can be removed, it shall either be transplanted, if the applicant demonstrates that transplanting is feasible, or replaced with comparable trees or vegetation.

6. Protection barriers shall be erected around all significant trees, vegetation, and wildlife habitats in areas of the site where land alteration and construction activities are proposed. Barriers shall be designed to prevent the compaction or disturbance or roots within the “drip line” of any tree. Barriers shall remain in place until land alteration and construction activities are completed.

7. Logging of areas of ten (10) acres or more should be conducted in a manner so as to prevent damage to streams, wetlands, lakes and ponds, and neighboring properties. No clear cutting shall be permitted within one hundred (100) feet of a stream bank or in a floodplain area, whichever is greater, except for select purposes that are considered generally accepted silviculture practices and according to an approved woodland management plan.

D. Exceptions

The protection standards set forth in Subsection B above and E below shall not apply to:

1. The removal of dead or naturally fallen trees or vegetation, and/ or trees or vegetation that the Municipality finds to be a threat to the public health, safety, or welfare.

2. The limited removal of trees or vegetation necessary to obtain clear visibility at driveways, intersections, or for the purpose of performing field survey work.

3. The removal of trees or vegetation on land zoned or lawfully used for:

a. Agricultural activities, including tree farms and forestry management practices.

b. Single-family or two family dwelling units.

c. Commercial garden centers, greenhouses or nurseries.

d. Utilities or public works projects.

E. Protection Relocation and Replacement Standards.

1. All land development, including earthmoving activities, shall be designed to minimize the removal of significant trees and vegetation and the disturbance of wildlife habitats, through the use of clustering, transferable development rights, relocation of endangered or threatened wildlife replacement of damaged species, or other measures which are approved by the [Governing Body or Planning Commission — whichever is responsible for land development approvals].

2. All existing significant trees and vegetation on the subject property shall be clearly identified on a landscaping plan which shall be submitted with a preliminary plate or land development plan.

3. All known wildlife habitats of threatened or endangered species shall be clearly identified on a plan submitted with a preliminary plate or land development plan.

4. Existing significant trees and vegetation and identified wildlife habitat located on the site of any proposed development shall be preserved, unless the applicant demonstrates that no practical alternatives exist and that removal is necessary to allow building foundations, accessory structures, required parking areas, driveways, sidewalks, utilities, or other improvements if the applicant claims that “no practical alternatives” exist, an alternative development plan utilizing other means is necessary.

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 resources 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 resource plan in accordance with Section _____ 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 resource 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 natural resource area 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 _____ 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 _____ 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 _____ 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 _____ 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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