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Falls Enacts Zoning Ordinance Updates

Just as the Lorax speaks for the trees in the Dr. Seuss classic children’s story, so too do the Falls Township Board of Supervisors.

The governing body, in an effort to update its outdated zoning ordinances, on Tuesday adopted revised regulations for various sections related to earth disturbance, regulation and placement of PODS and dumpsters, rights of way, and set tree protection standards.

Township attorney Lauren Gallagher said the earth disturbance update was a “complete rewrite” aimed at ensuring compliance with state regulations and requiring access to easements.

The ordinance related to PODS, or Portable On Demand Storage units, is a new one for the township’s books. It requires a permit and provides for a limited duration of use.

Supervisors Chairman Bob Harvie said PODS are commonly used during home renovations, in the event of fire, or a relocation. The ordinance was needed, he said because “our ordinance says nothing about them right now,” meaning that without the regulation the township could not restrict where they can be located or duration of use.

The goal of the tree protection ordinance is to ensure that all permits for earth disturbance, demolition, building, subdivision, land development or zoning change application “shall respect existing trees as a natural resource,” according to the ordinance, which takes effect within five days of Tuesday’s adoption. The regulation requires that applicants “preserve the healthy trees” onsite “whenever possible.”

The ordinance aims to maintain existing trees and increase the overall tree canopy and understory on public and private property.

The provision strictly prohibits clear cutting of trees. It also requires that all applications include a tree survey plan denoting each tree to be saved, lost or destroyed, the location of tree protection fences and the proposed tree replacement schedule. Any tree lost or destroyed within five years prior to an application submission must be replaced.

For the past few years, Falls Township staff and attorneys have combed through a three-ring binder containing the township’s zoning ordinance to determine which areas are most in need of updating.

“It really has been a few years of work,” Harvie said, adding that township staff and professionals have gone through “every one page by page and look for any inconsistency.”

The ordinance changes are meant to “clean up inconsistencies,” Gallagher said.

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