The following outlines the process for building and development in the Borough of Sewickley Heights:
Many of the Forms available for downloading on the following pages address residents’ construction, renovation, earth-moving, and development activities. Due to the Borough’s Historic District status, these activities generally require the prior approval of the Borough under applicable Borough Ordinances. Larger development and construction projects such as subdivisions, new homes, additions, garages, swimming pools, and racquet courts, and smaller projects such as garden structures, patios, decks, fences, pillars, and retaining walls, all require Borough applications and approvals, as do site development activities such as driveway changes, pond installations, and septic system repairs. As noted under “Living in Sewickley Heights,” the approval process applicable to each project is tailored to the nature, size, and visibility of the project, as well as the project’s consistency with Pattern Book guidelines.
The uniqueness and charm of Sewickley Heights require a careful balance between preserving what makes this community special and permitting residents the freedom to use and enjoy their properties. These matters are taken seriously by the elected and appointed officials who volunteer their time and talents to serve on the Borough Council, the Planning Commission, the Historical Architectural Review Board (the “HARB”), the Environmental Advisory Council, the Park Commission, and the Zoning Hearing Board, and by the Borough Staff charged with enforcing the Ordinances.
Residents should take note that any construction, renovation, earth-moving, and development activities most likely will require the approval of one or more of the Borough’s governing or planning bodies. In certain cases, the prior approval of Allegheny County and/or Pennsylvania agencies also may be required. Before investing in detailed plans and costly materials, and prior to entering into time-sensitive contractual commitments, it is important that residents become familiar with the application and approval process to determine if the project requires a Certificate of Appropriateness, a Building Permit, a Zoning Permit, a Grading Permit, a Subdivision or Land Development Approval, a Zoning Variance, or some other form of approval from the Zoning Officer, the Building Code Official, the Borough Engineer, the Sewage Enforcement Officer, or one of the governing or planning bodies mentioned above.
INITIATING THE REVIEW AND APPROVAL PROCESS: STAFF CONFERENCES AND HARB REVIEW
While information on required application materials, submission deadlines, and scheduled meeting dates is available on the following pages, residents and their professional consultants are encouraged to contact the Borough Manager to schedule a free consultation with the Borough Staff. Seeking the advice of the Borough Staff at the earliest stage will ensure that residents have allowed sufficient time to prepare and submit materials for required reviews and approvals, and will help avoid expensive remedial action, time-consuming delays, and the risk of enforcement action under Borough Ordinances. Borough Staff also will advise if a particular project is exempt from review and approval, is eligible for expedited review and approval, or requires an application for variance from the Zoning Hearing Board.
After the Borough Staff conference, most projects begin with informal and preliminary meetings with the HARB, as shown in the Application Process Diagrams available on the following pages. Projects proceed through the HARB review process in phases that may include pre-design meetings, walking tours, pre-application meetings, and formal review meetings. The review process for various projects will progress in terms of phases rather than number of meetings, so residents and their professional consultants should count on more than one meeting for each phase.
Initiating the HARB review process typically will require the HARB Submission Form, the Pattern Book Checklist, and a Landscape and Site Development Plan showing the existing and proposed contours, structures, vegetation, driveway access, and similar site elements. Further along in the process and depending on the project, the HARB may require submission of a Tree Removal and Protection Plan and a Private Road, Shared Drive, or Driveway Plan.
PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT APPROVALS
Any project involving earth-movement will require some level of review and approval by the Borough Engineers, again tailored to the nature and size of the project. Residents should anticipate submitting a Stormwater Management Plan, an Erosion and Sediment Pollution Control Plan, and a Grading Plan, as required by applicable Borough Ordinances, after the HARB process has progressed to a stage where the Landscape and Site Development Plan has been finalized. If a project will require a new or modified septic system, residents should coordinate with the Borough’s Sewage Enforcement Officer to obtain the required Borough and state approvals.
Finally, if a project will involve the subdivision of property or the construction of non-residential buildings on one or more Borough lots, then, upon conclusion of the HARB review process, residents will transition to the review process for Subdivision and/or Land Development Plans before the Borough Planning Commission and the Borough Council.
Residents and their professional consultants must ensure that the Plans referenced in this section remain consistent with the HARB approvals.
ZONING PERMITS, BUILDING PERMITS, AND OCCUPANCY PERMITS
Residents may submit applications for Zoning Permits, Building Permits, and Occupancy Permits at the conclusion of the HARB review process, or as otherwise directed by the Borough Staff if another process path applies. If a project requires any of the Property Development Approvals described above, no Permits will be issued until the required Plans are approved by the Borough Engineer, the Sewage Enforcement Officer, the Planning Commission, or the Borough Council, as applicable.
Applications for Zoning Permits, Building Permits, and Occupancy Permits will be reviewed and approved by the Zoning Officer and the Building Code Official in accordance with Borough Ordinances and the Pennsylvania Construction Code, and must remain consistent with the HARB approvals.
SCHEDULE A STAFF CONFERENCE
To schedule a conference with the Borough Staff to discuss a proposed construction, renovation, earth-moving, or development project, please contact the Borough. Contact information can be found by clicking here or emailing the Borough Manager or the Borough Clerk