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§ 265-202        General Definitions

The following terms shall have the following meanings when used within this ordinance, unless otherwise specified in this ordinance. 

ACCESS DRIVES – Privately owned driveways that serve one or more retail, personal service, office, or industrial uses; or that serve development including townhouses, multifamily dwellings, or more than four dwelling units; or drives serving mobilehome lots in mobilehome parks or uses in a Major Traditional Neighborhood Development. 

ACCESSORY BUILDING OR USE – A building or structure which houses a use subordinate and incidental to principal use located on the same lot or premises.

ACTIVE OPEN SPACE – Land legally accessible to residents or patrons of a Traditional Neighborhood Development that is improved for active use for authorized entertainment events, trails, recreational fields, courts, and playgrounds.

ALLEY – a narrow service way providing secondary access to all of the abutting properties on a particular block.

ANIMATED SIGN – Any sign that uses movement or change of lighting to depict action or create a special effect or scene. The term “animated sign” expressly includes multi-color electronic message center signs, video screens, television screens, plasma screens and holographic displays, but does not include single-color electronic message center signs.

ANTENNA HEIGHT – The vertical distance measured from the base of the antenna support structure at grade to the highest point of the structure. L+ the support structure is on a sloped grade then the average between the highest and lowest grades shall be used in calculating the antenna height

ANTENNA SITE – A tract or parcel of land that contains the antenna, its support structure. necessary building(s), and parking and may include other uses associated with and ancillary to the intended use of the antenna.

ANTENNA SUPPORT STRUCTURE – Any pole, telescoping mast, tower, tripod, or any other structure that supports a device used in the transmitting or receiving of radio, television, telephone communications, or any other telecommunications system signal.

APPLICANT – A landowner or developer, as hereinafter defined, who has filed an application for development including his heirs, successors and assigns.

APPLICATION FOR DEVELOPMENT – Every application, whether preliminary, tentative or final, required to be filed and approved prior to start of construction or development including but not limited to an application for a building permit, for the approval of a subdivision plat or plan or for the approval of a development plan.

AWNING – A roof like structure typically made of cloth, metal, or other material attached to a frame that extends from and is supported by a building. Awnings are typically erected over a window, doorway, or building front and they may be raised or retracted to a position adjacent to the building.

BASE ZONING DISTRICT – Exclusive zoning districts or classifications depicted on the Zoning Map where application of provisions is uniform for each class of uses or structures, within each such district except where modified by an Overlay Zoning District. 

BASEMENT – That portion or space of a building, the floor of which lies upon the footer of the structure, extending from the floor to the ceiling, housed by the foundation walls of the building such that fifty percent or more of the cumulative area of the foundation walls lies below the grade of adjacent ground.

BILLBOARD – A sign, upon which advertising matter of any character is printed, posted or lettered, which is erected upon a property bearing no establishment or principal building.

BLOCK – Property abutting on one side of a street and lying between the two nearest intersecting or intercepting streets or railroad right-of-way, waterway, unsubdivided area or other definite barrier.

BOX SIGN (ALSO KNOWN AS CABINET SIGNS) – A sign with text or symbols printed on a plastic or acrylic sheet that is mounted on a cabinet or box that houses the lighting source and equipment.

BUILDING – A structure having a roof supported by columns or walls, for housing, shelter or enclosure of persons, animals, chattels or commercial activities.

BUILDING FAÇADE – The wall or walls of a building, the extensions of which intersect the front lot line at an interior angle of less than 135 degrees.

BUILDING HEIGHT or HEIGHT – The vertical distance measured from the average elevation of the finish grade at the front of the building to the highest point of the roof for flat roofs, to the deck line of mansard roofs and to the mean height between eaves and ridge on hip and gable roofs.

BUILDING LINE – The line of that face of the building nearest or most parallel to the front line of the lot, or a line parallel to the front line of lot at the location equal to the depth of the respective front yard required by this ordinance, whichever is greater. This face includes porches, whether enclosed or not, patios and similar construction, but excludes steps and sidewalks.

BUILDING OF HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE – any structure designated as a historic landmark by the Pennsylvania Historical Commission or any structure over 50 years old that is deemed as such by Borough Council via a study or studies commissioned by the Borough in conjunction with conditional use, planned residential development or traditional neighborhood development review processes and based upon specific criteria as set forth in this ordinance.

BUILDING, COMPLETELY ENCLOSED: A building designed and constructed so that all exterior walls shall be solid from the ground to the roof line, containing no openings except for windows and doors which are designed so that they may be closed and any other small openings required for the ventilation system.

BUILD-TO LINE – The required location of any building on a building line relative to and paralleling the lot line adjoining a specified street and measured in the number of feet from said lot line. 

CANOPY – A roof like structure typically permanent in construction that covers a doorway or entryway that extends from and is supported by the building. A canopy may include a freestanding or projecting cover above an outdoor service area, such as an automobile service station.

CHANGEABLE COPY SIGN, MANUAL – A sign with removable panels or letters which may be changed, removed and replaced from time to time without altering or reconstructing the sign structure itself, including a sign on which message copy is changed through the use of electronic switching of lamps or other illuminated devices.

CHANNEL LETTER – A fabricated or formed three-dimensional letter, number or symbol.

CLEAR SIGHT TRIANGLE – An area of unobstructed vision at a street intersection defined by lines of sight between points at a given distance from the intersection of two street right of way lines adjoining a subject parcel.

COMMON OPEN SPACE –  A parcel or parcels of land or an area of water, or a combination of land and water, within a development site designed and intended for the use and enjoyment of the residents of a planned residential development, not including streets, off-street parking areas, and areas set aside for public facilities.  Common open space shall be substantially free of structures, but may contain such improvements in the development plan as finally approved and are appropriate to the recreation.

CONDITIONAL USE – A use permitted in a particular zoning district pursuant to the provisions of Article VI of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.

CONSTRUCTION COSTS – Costs as determined by the Borough Engineer including labor and material costs based on prevailing wage rates and material costs.

CONSTRUCTION SIGN – Any sign identifying individuals or companies involved in design, construction, demolition, financing, or development when placed upon the premises where construction or development is ongoing.

DEVELOPER – Any landowner, agent of such landowner, or tenant with the permission of such landowner, who makes or causes to be made a subdivision of land or land development.

DIRECTIONAL SIGN – A sign used to convey directions and other information for the convenience of the public. Included are signs designating restrooms, address numbers, hours of operation, entrances to buildings, help wanted, public telephone, etc. Also included are signs on private property designed to direct pedestrians or vehicular traffic, such as “entrance” or “exit.”

DIRECTORY SIGN – A wall or freestanding sign on a multi-tenant development site that is used to convey directions or tenant information to pedestrians and motorists who have entered the site.

DISTINCTIVE MATERIALS/DESIGN SIGN – Custom-made signs that use only indirect lighting and do not include a raceway or visible electrical housing and that are constructed primarily of the following materials and methods:

  1. ceramic tile—painted or sandblasted;
  2. wood—carved or sandblasted;
  3. metal—formed, etched, cast, or engraved;
  4. brick or stone with recessed or raised lettering.

ELECTRONIC MESSAGE CENTER – A sign or component of a sign that uses changing lights of a single color, consisting of a red or amber hue, to form a message or series of messages that are electronically programmed or modified by electronic processes.

ESTABLISHMENT – A place that comprises an economic unit, generally at a single physical location, where business is conducted or services or industrial operations performed.

FAMILY – One or more persons related by blood, marriage, adoption or foster care, or a group of not more than five unrelated individuals living together in a manner similar to persons related by blood, marriage, adoption or foster care, who maintain and occupy one dwelling, including individuals with handicaps that are defined and protected by  the Fair Housing Act of 1998 or its successor legislation who live in one dwelling properly licensed and operated by a nonprofit entity.  The preceding number of unrelated persons shall be in addition to caregivers of an individual or individuals residing within a dwelling, gratuitous guests, or domestic servants provided that the primary purpose of residence is as caregivers or servants and that gratuitous guests reside in the dwelling on a temporary basis.  However, in no instance shall a family include transient residents other than gratuitous guests.   

FENCE – A structure, partition, wall or other objects other than living vegetation, intended or utilized to circumscribe, designate, delineate, define or in some manner enclose an area or some feature or element thereon.

FLASHING SIGN – Any illuminated sign that contains an intermittent or flashing light source or that changes light intensity in sudden transitory bursts.

FORESTRY – The management of forests and timberlands when practiced in accordance with accepted silvicultural principles, through developing, cultivating, harvesting, transporting and selling trees for commercial purposes, which does not involve any land development.

FREESTANDING SIGN – Any sign on a frame, pole or other support structure that is not attached to any building, excluding monument signs. 

GLARE – Excessive brightness in the field of view that causes loss in visual performance or annoyance, so as to jeopardize health, safety or welfare.

GROSS FLOOR AREA – The sum of the gross horizontal area of the several floors of a building, measured between the exterior faces of walls.

HALF STORY – A story that is entirely housed within a hip, gable, mansard, or similar type of roof structure.

IMMINENT DEVELOPMENT – Construction of principal structure where associated land development, land development applications or building permit applications are filed within eighteen months of a particular point in time as established by reference in this ordinance including but not limited to application for a Traditional Neighborhood Development or conditional use. 

IMPERVIOUS SURFACE COVERAGE – The percentage of a lot covered by impervious surfaces, defined as surfaces with a coefficient of runoff greater than 0.85, including all buildings, roofed areas, parking areas, driveways, streets, sidewalks and areas paved in concrete and asphalt and any other areas determined by the Municipal Engineer to be impervious within the meaning of this definition.

INDIRECT LIGHTING – Illumination from a light source not contained within a sign or awning, or halo or silhouette lighting that is not visible or exposed on the face of the sign.

INFILL – The development of new residential or nonresidential uses on scattered, vacant sites in a built-up area.

LANDOWNER – The legal or beneficial owner or owners of land including the holder of an option or contract to purchase (whether or not such option or contract is subject to any condition), a lessee if he is authorized under the lease to exercise the rights of the landowner, or other person having a proprietary interest in land.

LOT – A designated parcel, tract or area of land established by a plat or otherwise as permitted by law and to be used, developed or built upon as a unit.

LOT AREA – The area of a lot calculated within the lot lines, excluding areas that lie within streets.

LOT COVERAGE – The portion of a lot covered by buildings.

LOT FRONTAGE – the length of one front lot line measured in feet.

LOT FRONTAGE or FRONTAGE – the length of one front lot line measured in feet.

LOT LINE, FRONT – in the case of a corner lot, a line separating the narrowest frontage of the lots from an adjacent street; and in the case of an interior lot, a line separating the lot from the street or place; and in the case of a double frontage lot, the lines separating each frontage comprising the double frontage lot from the respective adjacent streets.

LOT LINE, REAR – a lot line most directly opposite of the front lot line that borders adjacent lot lines or an alley on an interior lot or a street in the case of a corner lot.

LOT LINE, SIDE – those lot lines other than side and rear lot lines as defined in this part.

LOT WIDTH – The dimensions of a lot, measured between side lot lines on the building line.

LOT, CORNER – A lot at the junction of and having frontage on two or more intersecting streets, excepting double frontage lots.

LOT, DOUBLE FRONTAGE – A lot that bears two or more sets of opposite or nonintersecting lines that each adjoin streets, excepting alleys, where the lot does not lie at the intersection of such streets; or where said lines intersect at an interior angle of 135 degrees or greater, and when abutting a curved street possess tangents to the curve at its points of beginning within the lot or at the point of intersection of the remaining lot lines with the street line where the intersection at an interior angle is 135 degrees or greater.

LOT, INTERIOR- A lot bearing one lot line adjoining a street which is not otherwise defined as a double frontage lot or a corner lot.

Low Level Planting or Shrub –   Consists of shrubs and similar plant species that are greater than 2 feet in height at planting.

MEDIATION – A voluntary negotiating process in which parties in a dispute mutually select a neutral mediator to assist them in jointly exploring and settling their differences, culminating in a written agreement which the parties themselves create and consider acceptable.

MENU BOARD SIGN – A sign displaying goods or services available through a drive-up window or available through a drive-in or drive-through establishment.

MOBILEHOME – A transportable, single family dwelling intended for permanent occupancy, contained in one unit, or in two or more units designed to be joined into one integral unit capable of again being separated for repeated towing, which arrives at a site complete and ready for occupancy except for minor and incidental unpacking and assembly operations, and constructed so that it may be used without a permanent foundation.

MOBILE HOME LOT – A parcel of land in a mobile home park, improved with the necessary utility connections and other appurtenances necessary for the erections thereon of a single mobile home.

MONUMENT SIGN – A freestanding sign where the base of the sign structure is on the ground or no more than 12 inches above the ground adjacent to the sign. Typically constructed of brick, wood, stone, or metal, monument signs have a base that is at least 80% of the width of the top of the sign structure.

NAICS CODE – The North American Industrial Classification Code, 2007, as published by the White House Office of Management and Budget, that  includes classification codes and definitions by establishment. 

Net Site Area – The site area after deducting planned street rights of way, environmentally sensitive areas, and land area required for nonresidential uses. 

NOISE LEVEL – airborne sound levels expressed in dB or decibel and obtained by the use of certain frequency-dependent weighting networks, as specified in the reference standards and indicated by proper notation; where A-weighting is employed, and the sound level is indicated as dB(A).

NONCONFORMING LOT – A lot the area or dimension of which was lawful prior to the adoption or amendment of this ordinance, but which fails to conform to the requirements of the zoning district in which it is located by reasons of such adoption or amendment.

NONCONFORMING STRUCTURE – A structure or part of a structure manifestly not designed to comply with the applicable use or extent of use provisions of this ordinance or amendment heretofore or hereafter enacted, where such structure lawfully existed prior to the enactment of such ordinance or amendment or prior to the application of such ordinance or amendment to its location by reason of annexation. Such nonconforming structures include, but are not limited to, nonconforming signs and parking lots.

NONCONFORMING USE – A use, whether of land or of a structure, that does not comply with the applicable use provisions in this Zoning Ordinance or amendment heretofore or hereafter enacted, where such use was lawfully in existence prior to the enactment of this ordinance or amendment, or prior to the application of the ordinance or amendment to its location by reason of annexation.

NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION – A social service, charitable or educational entity that holds current tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service, derives more than 50% of its operating funds from charitable donations or public donations and can demonstrate that such funds are used to achieve the objects and purposes of the organization as stated in its articles of incorporation as a tax-exempt organization.

NUISANCE – A use, structure or activity of personal property which creates a danger to the health, safety and welfare of persons in the immediate environment.

OBSOLETE SIGN –A sign which serves to draw attention to or commercially advertise for an establishment which is no longer actively operating and which has not actively operated for a period of more than 180 days. 

OFFICE PARK – A group of commercial establishments, primarily comprised of professional offices, warehousing and distribution, manufacturing facilities, which is planned, developed, owned and managed as a unit related in its location, size, including independently owned and managed outparcels which are accessed solely through the access drive or drives serving the core of the center, which includes less than 20,000 square feet of exclusively retail uses, including but not limited to restaurants, small professional offices, and commercial schools, and indoor commercial recreation establishments

OUTPARCEL – A parcel of land, located on the perimeter of a shopping center that is subordinate to the larger parcel for access, parking and drainage purposes. 

OVERLAY ZONING DISTRICT – A zoning district classification, the extents of which are described in the Zoning Ordinance and/or depicted on the Zoning Map, that modifies the standards of the Base Zoning District within but not limited to areas of relatively steep slope or grade, floodplains, transitional areas, the Allegheny River, areas where innovation and the promotion of flexibility, economy and ingenuity are encouraged, and areas surrounding and including public buildings and public grounds.

PASSIVE OPEN SPACE –   Open space preserved in perpetuity with limited disturbance permitted to vegetation and slopes thereon.  Limited disturbance may include timber harvesting according to accepted silvicultural practices for purposes of maintaining a healthy forest, replanting and revegetation, and installation of storm water best management practices. 

PIN-MOUNTED CHANNEL LETTER SIGN – A wall sign mounted directly on the face of a building wall as individual letters, numbers, or symbols without a raceway or background other than the background provided by the building to which the sign is affixed. In order to qualify for the sign area ratios established for pin-mounted channel letter signs, pin-mounted channel letter signs must not be illuminated or be illuminated only by indirect lighting, halo lighting, or silhouette lighting. Pin-mounted channel letter signs with other forms of illumination are subject to raceway-mounted channel letter sign area ratios.

PLANNING COMMISSION – The Planning Commission of Tarentum Borough as established by ordinance of the Borough with membership duly appointed by Tarentum Borough Council.

PORCH – An open roofed or enclosed exterior appendage to a main or accessory structure, projecting from the front, side, or rear walls of the structure.  For purposes of this chapter, porches shall include structures and home additions commonly referred to as sun porches, sunrooms, decks, and similar structures or construction, excluding stoops or slabs that extend less than an additional four feet beyond the structure of the porch.  

PORTABLE SIGN – Any sign not permanently attached to the ground, a building or other structure that is not readily movable. Any sign attached to a sign structure that has wheels will be considered a portable sign, as well as any sign attached to a frame or other sign structure that is not permanently attached to the ground or a building.

PROJECTING SIGN – Any sign that is attached to a building or other structure and extends beyond the line of the building or structure or beyond the surface of that portion of the building or structure to which it is attached by more than 18 inches.

PUBLIC HEARING – A formal meeting held pursuant to public notice by the Borough Council, intended to inform and obtain public comment, prior to taking action in accordance with the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code. Editor’s Note: See 53 P.S. § 10101 et seq.

PUBLIC MEETING – A forum held pursuant to notice under the Act of July 3, 1986 (P.L. 388, No. 84), known as the “Sunshine Act.” Editor’s Note: See 65 P.S. § 271 et seq.

PUBLIC NOTICE -Notice published once each week for two successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality. Such notice shall state the time and place of the hearing and the particular nature of the matter to be considered at the hearing. The first publication shall not be more than 30 days and the second publication shall not be less than seven days from the date of the hearing.

RACEWAY – A mounting bar or similar device that is used to attach channel letters to a building. Raceways often conceal the electrical components of channel letter signs.

RACEWAY-MOUNTED CHANNEL LETTER SIGNS – A wall sign mounted on a raceway as individual letters, numbers, or symbols. Also includes channel letter signs mounted on a background other than the building wall. In order to qualify as a raceway-mounted channel letter sign, the raceway must be painted or otherwise designed to match or blend in with the color of the wall to which it is attached.

 ROOF SIGN – Any sign erected, constructed, and maintained above the parapet on a building with a flat roof or above the fascia board on a building with a pitched roof.

SCREENED BOX SIGNS WITH RAISED (PUSH-THROUGH) OR RECESSED LETTERS – A box sign with opaque (screened) background and lighting that highlights only the individual letters, symbols, or logos and on which the letters, symbols, or logos are raised or recessed onto a different plane than the sign background, thereby giving a clearly distinguishable “dimensional” effect to the sign.

SHADE TREE – Consists of trees of a deciduous nature with a minimum height of 6 feet at planting and a caliper of 1½ inches at planting which will bear an ultimate height exceeding 25 feet.   

SHOPPING CENTER – A group of commercial establishments which is planned, developed, owned and managed as a unit related in its location, size, including independently owned and managed outparcels which are accessed solely through the access drive or drives serving the core of the center, which includes at least 20,000 square feet of exclusively retail uses, including but not limited to restaurants, small professional offices, and commercial schools, and indoor commercial recreation establishments.

SIGN – For purposes of this Chapter, a sign shall be considered as any writing (including letter, word, or numeral); pictorial representation (including illustration or decoration); emblem (including device, symbol trademark, banner or pennant); or any other figure of similar character, that: (a) is a structure or any part thereof, or is attached to, painted on, or in any other manner represented on a building or other structure and (b) is used to announce, direct attention to, or advertise.

SIGN AREA – The area, in square feet, the calculation of which is set forth in this Article. 

SIGN COPY –  Those letters, numerals, figures, symbols, logos and graphic elements comprising the content or message of a sign, exclusive of numerals identifying a street address only.

Site area – The entire area of land involved in a TND, including open space, proposed street rights of way, public lands, and proposed lots.

STAND-ALONE LOT – A lot bearing principal nonresidential uses that lies outside of an office park or shopping center.

STEEP SLOPES – Areas of existing topography where, in over a one-hundred-foot horizontal distance, or where the difference in elevation is over 20 feet, the slope equals or exceeds 25% from the top to bottom of the break in grade, excluding manmade slopes designed and constructed in accordance with all applicable ordinances and laws. 

STORY – The portion of a building, other than the basement, included between the surface of any floor and the surface of the floor next above it, or if there is no floor above, then the space between any floor and the ceiling next above it.

STREET – A public or private right-of-way which affords means of access to abutting property. A street may be designated as a highway, thoroughfare, parkway, boulevard, road, avenue, lane, drive, place, or other appropriate name, but shall not include alleys.

STRUCTURE – Anything constructed or erected, the use of which requires location on the ground, or attachment to something having location on the ground.

TEMPORARY OUTDOOR ACTIVITY – Any activity conducted outdoors or within or about tents or other such contrivances within any special, commercial or residential districts in the municipality, including but not limited to carnivals, outdoor displays of merchandise, vehicles or manufactured products, promotions, amusements, gatherings of people and similar activities. (All “temporary outdoor activity” shall be considered temporary uses.)

TEMPORARY SIGN – Any sign, banner, pennant, valance, or advertising display that by intent is not permanent, constructed of cloth, canvas, lightweight fabric, cardboard, wallboard, or other lightweight materials with or without frames, intended to be displayed for a short period of time only.

TEMPORARY STRUCTURE – Any structure without a permanent foundation or footings which is intended to be removed after expiration of a designated time period authorized for its installation.

TEMPORARY USE – Any activity of limited duration, other than a household garage sale, established for a period of at least one (1) day, or portion thereof, and for no more than twenty one (21) days, with the intent to discontinue the use after the expiration of that time period, whether or not a temporary structure is required.

TRADITIONAL LOT – Any nonconforming lot bearing 10,000 square feet or less of lot area or any such lot as authorized in the respective zoning district through the cluster option as set forth in Section 265-503, Cluster Option Model.

UNDERSTORY TREE – Trees at least 4 feet in height at planting, with a minimum caliper of 1½ inches, the ultimate height of which will not exceed 25 feet.

USE – The specific purposes for which land or a building is designed, arranged, intended, or for which it is occupied or may be occupied or maintained. The term “permitted use” or its equivalent shall not be deemed to include any nonconforming use. The term “conditional use” shall be deemed to include only the uses which are specifically cited in the ordinance to be allowed or denied by the Tarentum Borough Council after recommendation by the Tarentum Planning Commission, pursuant to express standards and criteria set forth in this ordinance.

VARIANCE – A modification of the literal provisions of this ordinance which the Zoning Hearing Board is permitted to grant when strict enforcement of said provisions would cause undue hardship owing to circumstances unique to the individual property on which the variance is sought.

WALL SIGN – A single-faced sign attached generally flush or parallel to the wall of a building.

WINDOW SIGN – A sign posted, painted, placed, or affixed in or on the interior side of a window and exposed to public view. A sign that is interior to the building that faces a window exposed to public view that is located within 2 feet of the window face is a window sign for the purposes of calculating the total area of all window signs. Merchandise used in a window display will not be considered a window sign.

YARD – A space on the same lot with a principal building, open, unoccupied and unobstructed by structures, except as otherwise provided in this ordinance.

YARD, FRONT – A yard extending across the full width of the lot, the depth of which is the least distance between the front lot line and the corresponding building line.

YARD, REAR – A yard extending across the full width of the lot, the depth of which is the least distance between the rear lot line and the corresponding building line.

YARD, SIDE – A yard located in the least distance between the side lot line and the corresponding building line, bounded by front yard, or from the front lot line where no front yard is required, to the rear yard. 

ZONING HEARING BOARD or BOARD – The Zoning Hearing Board of Tarentum Borough, appointed by resolution in accordance with the procedures set forth in this ordinance. 

ZONING MAP – The map adopted as part of this ordinance and amended by ordinance of the Borough in accordance with all applicable procedures which sets forth the boundaries of the zoning districts established by this ordinance in relation to property lines, rights of way, and natural features indicated thereon.