Model Greenway and Trail Ordinance

Resource Protection Ordinance 8:

Dedication or Reservation of Greenways and Trails

Ordinance No.___________


Whereas, Union County has prepared a plan which delineates proposed greenways and trails for conservation, walking, biking, equestrian activities, and shared uses throughout the County;

Whereas, one or more of the proposed greenways and/or trails delineated on the County plan traverses [Municipality];

Whereas, [Municipality] has incorporated the proposed greenways and trails delineated on the County plan into its adopted open space and recreation plan, and has reserved land for greenways and trails on its official map or the Union County Greenway Plan; and

Whereas, [Municipality] recognizes that greenways and trails must be continuous throughout their length;

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

SECTION 1:The Resource – Dedication or Reservation of Greenways and Trails Ordinance of [Municipality] is adopted.

A. Purpose

The establishment of greenways provides an important means for the conservation of environmentally sensitive lands and natural resources areas and for the preservation of vegetation and wildlife habitat. The establishment of greenways which are available for public use also provide a variety of recreational and educational benefits. Trails for walking, hiking, biking, and equestrian use, whether located within greenways or in more urban locations, are important facilities for recreation as well as for non-motorized transportation. The establishment of greenways and trails improves the quality of life and with help to make the municipality and the County economically competitive with other areas. Both greenways and trails must occupy continuous, linear land corridors and cannot be effectively contained within individual parcels of land. The purpose of this Section is therefore to provide that land which is delineated as a greenway or trail in an adopted plan or on an official map be dedicated or reserved for such use when land is subdivided or otherwise developed.

B. Dedication or Reservation of Proposed Trails and Greenways.

The [Governing Body or Planning Commission may require as a condition of final plan approval the dedication and/or improvement of trails and the dedication or reservation of greenways which traverse a proposed subdivision or land development. The land and improvements required by this Section may be credited against the requirements of this ordinance for the provision of open space, recreational facilities, and open space amenities in residential and non-residential subdivisions and land developments, provided:

1. That the land offered for dedication, reservation and/or improvement is designated as a trail or greenway on an adopted plan or official map of Union County.

2. That land offered for public dedication is approved by the [Governing Body of the Municipality] or by the Board of County Commissioners if the offer is to the County.

3. That land for greenways and trails not publicly dedicated is deeded to a conservation organization or land trust or privately reserved for such use provided there is an agreement which is acceptable to the Municipal Solicitor which ensures the maintenance of land and facilities and which provides for public use at reasonable times.

4. The minimum right of way width of an easement containing a trail which crosses private land is twenty (20) feet for a multi-purpose trail and ten (10) feet for a single purpose trail.

5. Where the development of land offered for dedication or reservation as a greenway would be restricted by other provisions of this ordinance or of the zoning ordinance, such as limitations on the development of steep slopes, landslide prone areas, floodplain, or wetlands, only fifty (50%) percent of the dedicated or reserved land shall be credited against the open space requirements applicable to the property.

6. All buildings, primary uses, accessory uses, and parking lots shall be set back at least one hundred (100) feet from the closest bank of a designated stream and greenway.

7. All existing vegetation within fifty (50) feet of the setback area shall be preserved and, where necessary to provide adequate screening unless supplemental additional landscaping is needed.

C. Limits on Requirement

The [Municipality] shall not require the dedication or reservation of land for greenways or trails which exceeds the requirements of this ordinance for the provision of open space in residential and nonresidential developments which are applicable to the property being developed.


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.


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 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 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 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.


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.


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.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: