This memo analyzes the legal authority for municipalities to adopt riparian buffer ordinances and considers what municipalities must do to ensure such ordinances are legally valid and defensible.
Pennsylvania's Title 25 "Environmental Protection", Part I "Department of Environmental Protection", Subpart C "Protection of Natural Resources", Article II "Water Resources", Chapter 102 "Erosion and Sediment Control and Stormwater Management" contains riparian buffer requirements for EV and HQ streams. These provisions were published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on August 21, 2010 [40 Pa.B. 4861].
This excerpt from the EPA's website (as of 2011) provides model ordinance language to protect riparian buffers.
This model document, developed by CBF's Pennsylvania office, is intended to assist PA municipalities in adopting riparian buffer ordinances. The model reflects CBF's preferred vision of a local ordinance with comments, suggestions and options inserted throughout the document in italics.
An annotated model ordinance designed to protect riparian buffers and their associated water resources. It provides for two zones of protection.
Pennsylvania municipalities may ensure the protection and restoration of riparian buffers with their land use regulations. Local governments can adapt the Model Riparian Buffer Protection Overlay District to their particular circumstances. The model is accompanied by a letter from attorney Fronefield Crawford, Jr. attesting to the model’s legal defensibility and reasonableness vis-à-vis private property rights.
The purpose of this 68-page Public Policy Research Series paper is to support the efforts of local governments in Georgia that have made policy decisions to develop riparian buffer programs. It includes a model ordinance.
The LVPC encourages the restoration of riparian buffers on lands that border rivers and streams whether they are privately owned or owned by local government via non-regulatory and regulatory means. The guide links scientific findings to proposed regulations and illustrates various riparian buffer concepts. The model regulations are designed as a section in a zoning ordinance.
This New Jersey model ordinance for protecting riparian buffers includes sections on permitted and prohibited uses in buffer zones, performance standards, etc.
(print edition of the ConservationTools.org guide) Riparian buffers - forested or otherwise vegetated lands bordering water bodies - deliver tremendous water quality and other public benefits. Pennsylvania municipalities may ensure the protection and restoration of riparian buffers with their land use regulations.