House Lifting along the New Jersey Coastline

House Lifting along the New Jersey Coastline

If you are still interested in lifting your beach house along the New Jersey coastline, thorough due diligence may save you both money and time. One important step is hiring a reputable house lifting contractor. Ideally, it would be one that has been recommended by someone that has successfully lifted their house. In New Jersey, you will be required to have a survey of your property prepared within the last year, as well as a National Flood Insurance Program Elevation Certificate prepared by a licensed surveyor. If you do not already have these documents, you will need to hire a surveyor to prepare these documents. You will also be required to hire a licensed structural engineer to evaluate the existing foundation and on-site soils to determine if the foundation is adequate to reuse or if a new foundation design is necessary. Once the house is lifted the structural engineer may also have to visually inspect the existing foundation prior to lowering the house. The structural engineer will also have to prepare a house lifting plan and may have to monitor the installation of any piles or helical piles. If the structural engineer does not prepare site plans, you may also be required to hire a licensed civil engineer to prepare any site plans necessary for local municipality review before construction. Finally, you will be required to hire a licensed architect to prepare floor plans and elevations. Ideally, a lifting contractor should already be working in coordination with a team of local professionals, but since Super Storm Sandy this has not been the case in some instances and this has affected both the cost and time it takes to lift a house.

Second, you should make sure your lifting contractor and a team of professionals, have a good understanding of the local zoning regulations and requirements for lifting structures. Although the governor of New Jersey signed the “Automatic Variance” law after Super Storm Sandy, there have been house lifting projects required to go before the local Zoning Board of Adjustment to obtain relief from variances created because of the house lift. If you own a home with an existing deck with the house instead of rebuilding the deck, you may be surprised by some zoning ordinances. Some local zoning ordinances allow decks to be within the required yard setbacks if they are a maximum height of 18-24 inches. If this is the case and you lift your house with the existing deck, you will most likely be required to go to the Zoning Board of Adjustment for relief from a variance. This would cost a homeowner both money and time, which could have been avoided with proper due diligence and planning.

In addition to knowing the zoning regulations, the lifting contractor and design professionals should have a good understanding of the FEMA regulations. Each local ordinance requires house lifting and new construction to follow the latest Flood Damage Prevention requirements, which depends on the FEMA Base Flood Elevation (BFE) for your house, the FEMA Flood Zone that your house is located within, as well as if your house is located within the Limit of Moderate Wave Action (LiMWA). If your house is in the FEMA VE Zone or a LiMWA, it will require deep pile foundations, either standard pile foundations or helical pile foundations. In addition, if you are planning on enclosing the ground floor of your house it will have to be designed with break-away walls. Flood vents are also required for any ground floor below the BFE that considered enclosed.

Hopefully, you are now aware how complicated the house lifting process is and how a lot of money and time can be wasted if the homeowner, lifting contractor and design professionals are not knowledgeable about the federal and local regulations.

Please contact D.L. Howell with any question pertaining to your local municipalities regulations.

Chester County Envirothon 2017

Chester County Envirothon 2017

On May 6th, the Chester County Conservation District held their annual Envirothon event at Hibernia Park.  For those not familiar with, the event consists of several Chester County high school and middle school Envirothon teams testing their knowledge in several environmental topics; including forestry, aquatics, soils, and wildlife.  The teams spend many hours before and after school preparing for the competition in hopes of earning a spot in the state competition to compete for a state championship.  Each state champion will then compete in the North American Environthon which this year is being held in July at Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland.
Throughout the day, the competition was intense but eventually Oxford High School was crowned High School champions and West Fallowfield Christian A came out on top of the middle school competition.
D.L. Howell and HowellKline have sponsored and volunteered at the event for numerous years and this year was no different.  This year’s all-star volunteer team consisted of Amanda Albano, Justin Brewer, Joe Russella, and Matt Wayman.

Bush Collision Center Expansion

Bush Collision Center Expansion

Construction begins on the new Bush Collision Center on Matlack Street in West Chester. DLH assisted the applicant through the land development process in West Goshen Township, Chester County. The development plan proposed a retrofit of the former Bell Atlantic facility including the rehabilitation of several existing garage bays, modification to the existing front building façade and expansion of the rear building to make room for an expanded collision center.

The project stormwater design was complicated by an existing undersized stormwater facility, shallow rock and limited area for expansion. DLH worked with the Township Engineer to implement a modification to the existing stormwater system that provided adequate rate control and water quality benefits.
Approval of the project and proposed upgrades will allow for a more aesthetically pleasing site via improvements to an outdated lighting design and added landscaping materials.
To date, the framework for the new front entry has begun, footers have been poured and existing asphalt has been removed. Proposed improvements to the existing stormwater basin have also begun.

Royal Farms Receives Approval in Concord Township Delaware County

Royal Farms Receives Approval in Concord Township Delaware County

Royal Farms received Conditional Use and Final Land Development Approval for their newest store in Concord Township Delaware County. The store is located between northbound and southbound Route 202 at their intersection with Smithbridge Road. The current site is vacant but was formerly a small manufacturing building and dwelling therefore the project is classified as redevelopment. Royal Farms chose this location because it is one of the busiest intersections between Naamans Road in Delaware and Baltimore Pike. One of the conditions of approval is significant PADOT improvements to the intersection including; signalization, widening and new turning lanes. These improvements will not only help with traffic but will provide the site with better access and visibility.

DL Howell worked closely with Royal Farms and the design team which consisted of; Riley Riper Hollin and Colagreco Attorneys at Law, McMahon & Associates Traffic Consultants, Ratcliffe Architects, and Orsatti & Stuart Landscape Architects. The challenges associated with approval of this project included; Historical assessment, PADOT Highway Occupancy Permit Plans, Concord Township, Utility Coordination, and Conservation District and NPDES permitting. This is the fifth store approved for development in Delaware County and Royal Farms has plans to open several more. DL Howell looks forward to the opportunity of being chosen again as their Civil Engineer.

Site Lighting

Site Lighting

An aspect often overlooked when doing Land Development is outdoor site lighting. It can be an afterthought when thinking about all the other permits and approvals required to develop a piece of land. But site lighting plays a pivotal part in the safety, security, and character of the property long after construction has ended.

Townships apply various regulations and standards to a lighting design for a property. First and foremost, the goal of outdoor lighting is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of current and future residents. Lighting requirements will vary per the use of the property. For example, an industrial use such as a warehouse will not be lit at the same intensity as a rural residential street. To regulate this, townships measure light intensity using footcandles. Footcandle is a unit of illuminance stated in lumens per square foot. So, an industrial complex may require an average maintained footcandle requirement of 4, while a local street may only need an average footcandle of 0.8.

Additional regulations are often put on mounting heights of lights. For a residential use, maximum mounting heights of lights are usually around 20′. However, for a shopping center, the mounting height may be much higher. This permits fewer lights to be needed in a large parking lot to achieve the average footcandle requirement. It would be quite a burden to have one hundred 20′ high lights scattered throughout a Walmart parking lot.

To limit glare and light pollution, lights may also need backlight shields and fixtures that utilize the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) “full-cutoff” criteria. “Full-cutoff” means that no light output will be emitted above 90 degrees at the top of the light fixture. This helps prevent the “skyglow” that is often noticed in industrial areas. Backlight shields can regulate where a certain fixture is focusing its light output and protect neighboring properties from receiving unwanted light glare.

Every township’s lighting standards are different, please contact D.L. Howell with any questions pertaining to your local municipalities regulations.