Endangered Plants in Pennsylvania

Endangered Plants in Pennsylvania

All developers are aware of the dreaded bog turtles.  However, there may be some that are unaware of endangered plants located in our area.  The serpentine barrens are distinctive terrains located in our area that are underlain by the rock serpentinite.  These barren areas consist of sparse, grassy vegetation with scattered trees.  In addition, they consist of uncommon plants in Pennsylvania.

A Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory (PNDI) will have to be conducted if your project requires it.  You may be subject to a hit from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) if your project is located within or near this terrain.  The DCNR will then issue a list of the potential plants that could exist on the property which include the Serpentine Aster, Annual Fimbry, etc.  If so, the next step would be to hire a biologist to survey the property to determine whether the listed plant species exist on the property.  This may sound like an issue that can easily be resolved; however, the plants can only be identified during their flowering times.  The flowering times range from about a five-month period all the way down to a two-month period.  Some species have flowering times during the months of August and September which could cause significant delays in construction.

The DCNR will issue a clearance letter if they determine that the plant species of concern do not exist on the property.  If they are identified on the property within the proposed ground disturbance area, then the DCNR will simply remove them from the property prior to construction.  If they are identified on the property outside of the ground disturbance area, then the DCNR will ask the property owner to be involved in a habitat management plan to protect the plants.

Please contact D.L Howell to determine whether a PNDI will need to be performed for your property and we’ll be glad to assist you.

Understanding Stream Designations

Understanding Stream Designations

If you look at a Post-Construction Stormwater Management Plan or Erosion Control Plan prepared by our office, you will notice a “Receiving Surface Waters” note on the plan. This note may say “Unnamed Tributary (UNT) to East Branch Big Elk Creek in the Big Elk Creek Watershed: A High Quality-Trout Stocking (HQ-TSF) Water Course.” Someone may read this note and wonder why this watercourse is classified as “High Quality-Trout Stocking”. First off, all Waters of the Commonwealth are protected for multiple uses that include water supply, recreation, and fish consumption, and aquatic life. The marine life designations include CWF (Cold Water Fishes), WWF (Warm Water Fishes), MF (Migratory Fishes) or TSF (Trout Stocking Fishes).

These designations are defined as follows:
• WWF and CWF – The watercourse is designated for maintenance and/or breeding of a fish species that is indigenous to either a cold or warm water habitat.
• MF – The watercourse is designated as passage, maintenance and breeding of a fish species which move through flowing waters to complete their life cycle.
• TSF – The watercourse is designated as maintenance of stocked trout and maintenance and breeding of fish that are indigenous to a warm water habitat.

In addition to the above designations, waters will be designated as “Special Protection” if additional protection against degradation is required. These designations include High-Quality Waters (HQ) and Exceptional Value Waters (EV). There are conditions that must be satisfied for a stream to be classified as “Special Protection”.

For a stream to be designated as HQ, the stream’s chemistry must meet the proper standards. Many parameters, that include pH, iron, temperature, etc., must be tested to ensure that the levels necessary to support the breeding of fish are met, for at least 99% of the time for a minimum of one year. Biology is also a condition considered for designating a stream as HQ.
For a stream to be designated as EV, one of the qualifiers for HQ must be met along with another condition from a completely separate list. This condition would pertain to being located in a National wildlife refuge, State game propagation or designated State Park, along with other conditions. A full list of the EV and HQ conditions can be found in Chapter 93.4b of the PA Code.

One thing that we don’t typically add to our plans is whether a stream is impaired. This would mean that the stream does not meet the water quality standards associated with their designated and existing uses. If a stream is designated with an impairment, PADEP will specify the source and cause for it being impaired. Some sources/causes include agriculture/nutrients and urban runoff-storm sewers/siltation. For additional information on stream impairments, please refer to the 2016 PA Integrated WQ Monitoring and Assessment Report.

Considering a new deck? Check with your municipality first!

Considering a new deck? Check with your municipality first!

My wife and I are currently in the market for a new deck. We live in a development that has a Homeowner’s Association (HOA) and we are required to submit an application to them for approval. Once approved, we are then directed to submit an application to the Township for approval. All of the deck builders that we have met with are willing to take care of the application process to obtain the necessary approvals from the Township. Seems like a pretty straightforward process, doesn’t it?

Well depending on the municipality you live in, it could get complicated. There are some municipalities that consider a deck as being an impervious surface. You read that right, some municipalities consider a deck as being a surface that does not allow fluid to pass through it. This is because the stormwater management ordinance defines an impervious surface as a surface that has been compacted or covered with a layer of material so that it prevents or is resistant to infiltration of water; including but not limited to… outdoor decks. At least one municipality will consider wood decks less than 200 S.F. in area as being pervious and then one-half of the area exceeding 200 S.F. as being impervious. The threshold for requiring stormwater management usually varies between 500 S.F. and 1,000 S.F. in impervious surfaces. Therefore, you may have to provide stormwater management for your new deck depending on the size. Please keep in mind that if you recently acquired a permit for a building addition or any other improvement that was under the stormwater threshold, then the Township would add your proposed deck area to those improvements when deciding whether stormwater management is required.

Luckily for myself, my Township does not define a deck as being an impervious surface, so I don’t have to worry about it. If you aren’t so lucky or if you are unsure of the process, please contact D.L Howell & Associates and we would be happy to guide you through it.

John Rock Receives Final Approval

John Rock Receives Final Approval

John Rock, Inc. received final approval from the Sadsbury Township Board of Supervisors to construct an 88,000 S.F. building. John Rock is one of the five largest pallet manufacturing plants in the United States. They are located just off the Route 30 bypass in West Caln Township and have been there since 2004. D.L Howell & Associates, Inc. assisted them through the Land Development process to obtain all the required approvals to expand their business onto the adjacent property which is located just over the Township line. DL Howell worked closely with John Rock, Inc., D. Howe & Sons Construction Co., Orsatti & Stuart Associates, Inc., and Gawthrop Greenwood, PC to secure the various approvals. These approvals were obtained from Sadsbury Township (for a Lot Line Change, Land Development, and Zoning Variance), West Caln Township for a Grading Permit, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) due to its proximity to the Chester County Airport and the Chester County Conservation District. Construction is slated to begin very soon and is expected to be completed by November of this year. DL Howell is very appreciative to have had the opportunity to assist “America’s Premier Pallet Manufacturer” in expanding their business.

Oh poo, do I need a Manure Management Plan?

Oh poo, do I need a Manure Management Plan?

Yes, you do if you own a farm in Pennsylvania that applies manure or agricultural process wastewater to the land. If you don’t mechanically apply the manure yourself, it is still required if your farm contains pastures or Animal Concentration Areas (ACAs).

A pasture is defined as an area of land used for grazing animals while maintaining dense vegetation during the growing season. An ACA, aka Animal Heavy Use Area, is defined as an area of land used for grazing animals that do not maintain dense vegetation. These areas would include barnyards, feedlots, loafing areas and exercise lots. It is very important that you properly differentiate the two because the ACA requires that you fill out additional forms as part of the Manure Management Plan (MMP) and requires that you propose a method to divert clean water around the ACA. In addition, you may have to implement a Best Management Practice (BMP) downstream of the ACA to prevent pollution of nearby streams.

A Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) is required in lieu of the MMP if the animal density on your farm is substantial. The density calculation takes into account the maximum number, type, and weight of all animals that are on the property for any given year. Due to its complexity, an NMP will have to be prepared by a Certified Nutrient Management Specialist.

The MMP will have to be submitted to your local County Conservation District for approval and will have to be kept at the farm at all times in case a representative from the county or state visits. Unlike the NMP, a certified specialist is not required to prepare an MMP, which means that you can do it yourself. If you don’t have time or prefer not to prepare it yourself, feel free to contact DL Howell. We will gladly prepare a Manure Management Plan so that your farm complies with the state’s regulations.