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§ 600-818.  Riparian Buffer Overlay District. [Added 10-26-2015 by Ord. No. 57-2015]
   A.   Applicability. This section is intended to modify the location of certain development in relation to watercourses and impoundments but not to modify the overall density of such development. The regulatory provisions apply to development and redevelopment of property located within the riparian buffer setback, and make recommendations for the maintenance of any other properties within the riparian buffer setback, to protect both water resources and property from stormwater damage, flash flooding, erosion and sedimentation, and pollution.
   B.   Creation of riparian buffer setbacks.
      (1)   A riparian buffer setback is an area extending alongside and adjacent to watercourses and impoundments which must be designed, managed and maintained as a riparian buffer to protect stability of banks and edges, improve water quality, reduce the effects of erosion, flash flooding and contaminated runoff, and to act as a transitional zone between upland and aquatic habitat.
      (2)   The following riparian buffer setbacks are required within the following zoning districts:
         (a)   R-1: 35 feet.
         (b)   R-1 A: 35 feet.
         (c)   R-2: 25 feet.
         (d)   R-3: 15 feet.
         (e)   R-PO: 25 feet.
         (f)   C-C: 15 feet.
         (g)   C-R: 15 feet.
         (h)   C-H: 25 feet.
         (i)   M-C: 35 feet.
         (j)   H-M: 35 feet.
         (k)   P: 35 feet.
   C.   Regulations that apply to areas that contain riparian buffer setbacks.
      (1)   The regulations in this section shall apply to all lots, regardless of size, that include watercourses and impoundments. In lots which qualify for development in the Riverfront Redevelopment Overlay District, those optional regulations shall take precedence.
      (2)   Areas within the riparian buffer setback along watercourses and impoundments must be used as a riparian buffer; they must be properly graded and stabilized, and managed as open space with permanent vegetation consisting of at least 20% shrub or tree cover.
      (3)   Development. Development shall be designed to preserve the integrity and function of any existing riparian buffer. All areas within the riparian buffer setback shall be designed and managed as a riparian buffer, except as specifically provided in this section. In an application for development, the applicant shall design the development without encroaching upon the riparian buffer setback, in accordance with the following limitations:
         (a)   The principal building and use shall not be located on the area of the lot within the riparian buffer setback;
         (b)   Other structures, accessory uses and equipment shall also, to the extent feasible, not be located on or extend into the riparian buffer setback;
         (c)   Other impervious coverage shall not extend into the riparian buffer setback, unless the City Engineer finds that:
            [1]   Constraints unique to the property prevent the reasonable development of the property without encroaching upon the riparian buffer setback; and
            [2]   The development plan minimizes the encroachment and provides compensating mitigation to reduce the impacts of the encroachment into the riparian buffer setback.
      (4)   Redevelopment. For the purposes of this section, "redevelopment" shall mean any physical improvement that involves earthmoving, removal, or addition of impervious surfaces to a lot which contains preexisting development within the overlay district. In an application for development of property, the applicant shall design the land development plan in a manner that maintains and restores riparian buffer functions to areas in the riparian buffer setback to the extent feasible, including the following:
         (a)   No new buildings or structures shall be added in the portion of the lot located within the riparian buffer setback;
         (b)   Restoration and improvement of existing buildings and structures located within the riparian buffer setback shall not be expanded beyond their existing footprint;
         (c)   Accessory uses and equipment should be located or relocated, to the extent feasible, so as not to encroach upon the riparian buffer setback;
         (d)   Impervious coverage shall not be added in the riparian buffer setback, and, except for access roads and necessary parking areas, redevelopment plans shall, to the extent feasible, remove existing impervious surfaces from the riparian buffer setback and grade and revegetate the riparian buffer setback area as a riparian buffer.
      (5)   Application information. In order to determine compliance with the applicable riparian buffer setback requirements, an application for land development shall include the following information with respect to the portion of the lot within a riparian buffer setback:
         (a)   Maps  and  schematic  plans  identifying  the  location  of  watercourses  and impoundments on and adjacent to the property under development;
         (b)   Location, dimensions and footprint of any proposed or existing building or structure, equipment and impervious coverage;
         (c)   Slopes and grading plan;
         (d)   A planting plan that includes plant species, locations and coverage of shrubs and trees;
         (e)   A riparian buffer maintenance plan providing for the maintenance of permanent vegetation, stable slopes and grading, and integrity of the riparian buffer.
   D.   Permitted land disturbances in riparian buffer setback.
      (1)   The area within the riparian buffer setback established in this section for each zoning district shall be managed as a riparian buffer.
      (2)   The following land disturbances shall be permitted without limitation when located within a riparian buffer setback:
         (a)   Implementation of an approved riparian buffer maintenance plan, which may include vegetation and open space management and which provides for the maintenance of permanent vegetation, watercourse and impoundment banks, edges and water quality.
         (b)   Activities regulated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, such as permitted stream or wetland crossings or other obstructions and encroachments, in accordance with a valid permit.
         (c)   Installation of pervious-surfaced trails along or providing access to a watercourse or impoundment, or an impervious-surfaced trail providing access when required or authorized by federal, state or local regulations.
         (d)   Gardening and exterior yard maintenance, not including mowing or tilling, unless done in accordance with an approved riparian buffer maintenance plan.
   E.   Maintenance and protection of riparian setback areas. All owners of property that includes a riparian buffer setback are encouraged to develop and implement a riparian buffer maintenance plan and are encouraged to use best management practices within the riparian buffer setback area to maximize the functions and benefits for their property and downstream properties to restore the functions of the riparian buffer area over time. Such practices include, without limitation:
      (1)   Proper grading to reduce erosion of banks.
      (2)   Mulching of exposed soils.
      (3)   Establishing permanent vegetative cover including shrubs and trees.
      (4)   The use of native plants adapted to the edge of waterway habitat.
      (5)   Removal of invasive plants.
      (6)   Limiting mowing and restoring the natural habitat.
      (7)   Protection and stabilization of banks and impoundment edges.
      (8)   Water quality protection, including regular cleanup and spill prevention.
      (9)   Reduction of  runoff  volumes and velocity to prevent downstream damages and flooding.
         (a)   Installation of rain barrels and other rain water harvesting.
         (b)   Encouraging rain water infiltration with rain gardens or terraces.
      (10)   Voluntary removal of obstructions, unused equipment, and accessory uses.
      (11)   Removal of impervious surface cover.
      (12)   Use of porous paving materials.
      (13)   Responsible storage of fuels and chemicals and other potential pollutants.
   F.   Boundary  determination.  The  applicant  is  responsible  for  the  measurement  of  the applicable riparian buffer setback established in § 600-818B along any watercourses or impoundments located on the lot, and delineation of such riparian buffer setbacks on any plans for land development. Measurement is from the edge of bank at the time of a permit application. The Zoning Administrator, in consultation with the City Engineer, shall be responsible for reviewing the location of the riparian buffer setback, as applicable to any specific permit or approval. An applicant shall provide all plans, maps, and other information that may be necessary to make such a determination.
   G.   Violations and penalties. Any person who or partnership or corporation that has violated or permitted the violation of the provisions of this section shall be subject to zoning enforcement remedies as described in § 600-201.