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A. Applicability

Grading permits are required prior to grading as specified below and in conformance with Section 27.9.

1. Types of Grading Permits

a. Type 1 Grading Permits

A Type 1 grading permit is required for the following:

i. A residential development on a single lot, other than those defined as Type 2 or 3.

ii. Alteration of existing stabilized slope of three to one (3:1) or greater, on a residential lot.

iii. Addition of paved areas such as concrete or asphalt, in excess of one thousand (1,000) square feet on a residential lot.

iv. Import and stockpiling of one hundred (100) cubic yards or more of earthen materials on a residential lot.

v. Clearing vegetation from a residential lot, which encompasses an area of one thousand (1,000) square feet or more.

b. Type 2 Grading Permit

A Type 2 grading permit is required for any new public or private street or roadway, a commercial, office or resort project, or any residential development consisting of more than two (2) platted lots.

c. Type 3 Grading Permit

A Type 3 grading permit is required for the following:

i. Stockpiling of earthen materials.

ii. Installation of utilities and other infrastructure for which a Type 2 grading permit is not required.

d. Type 4 Grading Permit

A Type 4 grading permit is required for the establishment of future building pads, utility installation and site improvements as needed for drainage and access prior to site plan or final plat approval.

i. A Type 4 grading permit is only applicable to sites meeting the following locational and qualifying standards:

a) Located in the economic expansion zone, as defined in Section 24.9.

b) Prior to permit issuance, the applicant must demonstrate the following, subject to review and approval by the planning and zoning administrator:

1) The ability to develop the subject area within five (5) years of permit issuance by documenting how the site meets a specific employer need and interest in southern Arizona.

2) A visual analysis to verify there will not be a materially detrimental visual impact to adjacent properties used or intended for residential purposes and public roadways.

A) The visual analysis shall include photographs and accurate computer graphic renderings depicting the proposed extent and location of grading with mitigation measures.

i) The requirement for a visual analysis may be waived by the Planning and Zoning Administrator if the character of the site, location or terrain renders such analysis unnecessary.

B) At the discretion of the Planning and Zoning Administrator, conditions to enhance the buffer yards to minimize view impacts may be applied. Enhancements include, but are not limited to, increasing the extent of ground cover, width of landscape buffers, density or type of plants for compliance with Section 27.6.C.4.b.viii.

ii. Type 4 grading permits are subject to the following:

a) No clearing, brushing, grubbing, excavating or filling shall take place within one hundred fifty (150) feet of a property used or intended for residential purposes. The distance shall be measured from the abutting edge of any property used or intended for residential purposes to the closest property line or lease line of the subject property. The limit of the property line or lease line shall include all required parking, landscaping, and setbacks of the subject property.

b) No clearing, brushing, grubbing, excavation or filling shall take place within twenty-five (25) feet from the boundaries of the future development envelope or within the required landscape buffer yard, whichever is greater; excluding any approved entry points. A minimum forty (40) foot natural desert bufferyard is required along the front property line and public roadways in accordance with Section 27.6.C.4.b.viii.

c) Native plants salvaged from the site must be immediately transplanted in permanent locations not designated for future development, such as buffer yards, environmentally sensitive lands or other areas as approved by the Planning and Zoning Administrator.

d) A temporary above-ground irrigation system must be installed and maintained for a minimum of five (5) years to establish all transplanted and mitigated plant material in accordance with all applicable regulations in Section 27.6.D.

e) Decomposed granite, or an equivalent cover as approved by the Town Engineer and the Planning and Zoning Administrator, matching the natural desert earth tones shall be utilized to cover the entire cleared or graded area in accordance with Section 27.9.C.6.

f) All pre-graded sites must be revegetated in accordance with Section 27.6.C.8 after five (5) years.

1) The applicant may submit a request in writing to the Planning and Zoning Administrator for a one-time extension. Extensions may only be granted upon submittal of a contract indicating site development within two (2) years.

2. Exemptions

The following activities are exempted from acquiring a grading permit:

a. Utility and other infrastructure installation confined to the Town of Oro Valley right-of-way and requiring a right-of-way permit. However, a grading plan pursuant to Section 27.9.C.4.a shall accompany the right-of-way permit application. The Town may waive the requirements for the grading plan should staff determine that the scope of the grading activity does not warrant such a plan;

b. The clearing, brushing or grubbing for activities exempted in this subsection;

c. Stockpiling of less than one hundred (100) cubic yards of uncompacted earth material;

d. Resurfacing or maintenance of an existing paved surface;

e. New pavement of less than one thousand (1,000) square feet;

f. Individual sewage disposal system with a Pima County Department of Environmental Quality permit;

g. Excavation below finished grade for a basement, foundation, wall or swimming pool authorized by a building permit or zoning construction permit;

h. Excavation below existing grade for any story of a structure as long as the finished grade immediately outside the structure meets all other cut and fill limitations;

i. Exploratory excavation under the direction of a soil engineer or engineering geologist provided all excavation is properly backfilled. Whenever possible, such exploratory excavation and testing shall be conducted only in areas which have been previously disturbed;

j. Archaeological exploration conducted under state permit by a qualified archaeologist;

k. Removal of selected individual plants for storage and replanting;

l. Grading for the maintenance of an existing private access, road, or driveway; provided, that it either existed prior to adoption of, or was established in conformance with, this section.

B. Grading Permits/Procedures

1. Permit Application and Review

a. The grading permit application, grading plan, and other required materials must be submitted for review to the Town for review and approval.

b. Grading plans and other required materials will be reviewed for consistency with the applicable regulations, standards, and any conditions imposed upon rezoning, development plan or subdivision plat approval.

c. Type 2 grading plans, as required in Section 22.10.B.2 and related submittals, will be reviewed concurrent with the final plat or development plan submitted after Planning and Zoning Commission approval.

d. At the discretion of the Town Engineer and the Planning and Zoning Administrator, grading assurances may be required in the form of assurance or other security acceptable to the Town. In the event that grading is not completed as approved, the assurances may be applied to:

i. Eliminate potential hazardous conditions; or

ii. Mitigate the effects of dust, drainage, erosion, visual scars or hazardous conditions in a manner acceptable to the Town.

e. Once approved, a grading permit will be issued. The grading permit may be issued with additional conditions as deemed necessary by the Town.

2. Permit Issuance and Expiration

a. Upon issuance of a grading permit, a copy of the permit and approved plan shall be kept in a conspicuous and accessible location on the site.

i. Type 2 grading permits as required in Section 22.10.A.1.c may not be issued by the Town until the Town Council has approved the final plat or development plan and the necessary assurances have been posted.

b. A grading permit shall be null and void if the authorized work has not been completed within one hundred eighty (180) days of permit issuance, except for a Type 2 grading permit. A Type 2 grading permit shall be null and void if the authorized work has not been completed within twelve (12) months of permit issuance.

3. Changes to Grading Permits

a. Hazardous Conditions

If drainage problems, flood hazards or other hazards occur, the Town may require that engineering modifications be submitted in a report and the grading design be modified. Modifications shall be implemented in a timely manner as approved by the Town Engineer and Planning and Zoning Administrator to prevent further hazards from occurring.

b. Nonhazardous Conditions

If unanticipated nonhazardous conditions are encountered during grading, which are beyond the scope of the grading permit, the permit holder may request engineering modifications in a report to be reviewed and approved by the Town.

c. Upon approval of the modifications, a revised permit will be issued by the Town.

4. Permit Extensions

a. Upon written request by the permit holder, the Town may grant a single extension up to one hundred eighty (180) days. Requests must be submitted prior to the date of expiration. Consideration will be given to extension requests when quantifiable evidence is submitted.

5. Inspections

a. Prior to commencement of grading or stockpiling, the permit holder shall request an inspection of the site where said activity is to occur to be graded or earthen material to be stockpiled and vegetation to be salvaged shall be clearly identified. Any fencing required to protect natural areas or native plants shall be installed and certification of the building pad elevation by a registered land surveyor or civil engineer shall be presented to the inspector at this time.

b. All grading which requires a Type 2 grading permit per subsection A.1.b of this section will also be inspected for the following:

i. Aggregate base course (ABC) material prior to paving and during compaction testing of the same; and

ii. Paving of public and private streets and compaction/material testing of the same; and

iii. Open water lines and all other utility trenches and backfill materials prior to burial of trench; and

iv. Any grading activity in addition to what was approved on the grading plans; and

v. Stockpiling areas on or off site; and

vi. Any specific grading activities or areas identified by the Town at the pre-construction meeting (held between staff and the contractor at the time of permit issuance) or during the course of construction activities; and

vii. Any on-site and off-site compaction testing or asphalt coring.

c. Upon completion of grading activity, the permit holder shall request a final grading inspection to verify that all requirements of the approved grading plan and permit have been satisfied. A similar inspection upon removal of stockpiled material shall also be requested.

i. The final grading inspection is required prior to the release of assurances for civil work or finalization of the project.

ii. Whenever grading work requiring Town inspection is concealed by additional work without first having been inspected, the Town may require, by written notice, that such work is:

a) Exposed, for inspection by the Town, at no cost to the Town; or

b) Certified by the project civil engineer as being in conformance with approved plans and applicable regulations via regular inspection observation notes.

iii. Where conditions of a grading permit or grading plan include the establishment of vegetation or other final site grading work that extends beyond the expiration of the grading permit, the permit holder shall request inspections per subsection B.5.c of this section.

6. Incomplete Final Grading; Occupancy for Type 1 Grading Permits As Defined in Section 22.10.A.1.a

a. In the event that the final grading cannot be completed in its entirety, an assurance, in a form acceptable to the Town, may be posted to allow inspection and occupancy of the residence. This assurance shall be in an amount equivalent to one hundred twenty percent (120%) of the cost to complete the work as shown on the approved grading plan and/or in compliance with this Code. A cashier’s check made payable to the Town is an acceptable form of assurance for this purpose.

b. The determination of the cost of the remaining work shall be by bids acquired by the permittee. The building official shall make the final judgment as to the adequacy of the assurance amount.

c. If the balance of the work has not been completed within one hundred twenty (120) days of the date of the certificate of occupancy, the Town may use the assurance to complete the work.

d. When an assurance is to be posted as a temporary substitute for a final grading inspection, it will still be necessary to have adequate drainage away from the structure. In addition, temporary or permanent means of preventing silting onto public rights-of-way will be required.

C. Grading Exceptions

1. Scope: An exception from a provision of this section may be applied for, and may be granted by the Town Council, when the intent of this section can be met by other means and when strict application of these provisions could require unnecessary disturbance to the land, would create a hazard to adjacent property, would be materially detrimental to persons residing in the vicinity or would be materially detrimental to the public welfare in general.

2. Findings: Applications for grading exceptions shall address each of the following findings:

a. The exception meets the intent and purposes of this code;

b. Granting the exception constitutes the minimum to allow the proposed improvement;

c. The conditions on the property are unique such that strict adherence to this section would cause an unnecessary hardship which substantially limits the preservation and enjoyment of property rights;

d. The exception imposes conditions so as not to constitute a granting of special privilege; and

e. That the exception will not be materially detrimental to persons residing in the vicinity, to adjacent property, to the neighborhood or the public welfare in general.

3. Conditions: At the Town Council’s discretion, conditions may be imposed on the exception that will:

a. Assure that the intent and purpose of this chapter are met; and

b. Provide adequately for the protection of surrounding property owners and residents; and

c. Provide mitigation of scarring and restore the site to a natural appearance in terms of contours and vegetation, where possible.

4. Application: The request for exceptions shall be made on a form provided by the Town. Hearing fees shall be required.

5. Notice: The Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a duly noticed public hearing on the exception request and notice of the hearing will be mailed to all property owners within six hundred (600) feet of the grading site prior to such hearing.

a. If any portion of a subdivision falls within the required notification area, the entire subdivision (as defined by subdivision name or unit number) may be required to be notified if the impacts of the proposal would have impacts affecting the entire subdivision or neighborhood, as determined by the Planning and Zoning Administrator.

6. Review

The Planning and Zoning Commission will review and provide recommendation to the Town Council on all applications for grading exceptions at scheduled public hearings. When reviewing requests for grading exceptions, the Planning and Zoning Commission and Town Council shall consider each of the findings and address them in their deliberations. To grant an exception the Town Council shall find that the request addresses the concerns of each finding and is in substantial compliance with the findings as a whole.

7. The decision of the Town Council on a grading exception shall be final.

((O)17-05, 06/07/17; (O)12-11, 09/05/12; 6/11 supplement, 06/11)

D. Grading Permit Authorization, Liability, Enforcement and Penalties

1. Authorization to Proceed with Work

a. The issuance of a grading permit shall constitute an authorization to do only that work that is described or illustrated on the application for the permit, or on the site plans and specifications as approved by the Town. The issuance of a permit, or the approval of drawings and specifications, shall not be construed to be a permit for, nor the approval of, any violation of, or deviation from, the provisions of this or any other Town ordinance, code or regulation. A permit issued shall become invalid if, in the work completed, a violation of this section or deviation therefrom ensued. When such violation occurs, the permit shall be deemed to be canceled and the ground shall be restored to the condition it was in prior to start of the grading work.

b. The issuance of a permit, based upon drawings and specifications, shall not prevent the Town from thereafter requiring the correction of errors in said drawings and specifications, or from stopping unlawful construction operations being carried on thereunder.

c. The Town may require grading operations and project designs be modified if weather-generated problems occur that were not considered at the time the grading permit was issued.

2. Liability

Neither the issuance of a permit under the provisions of this ordinance, nor the compliance with provisions hereof, or with any conditions imposed in the permit issued hereunder, shall relieve any person from responsibility for damage to other persons or property, nor impose any liability upon the Town for damage to other persons or property.

3. Enforcement

a. The enforcement of this section and conditions of the grading permit shall be in accordance with this section.

b. If the Town makes a determination that noncompliance with the conditions of the grading permit, or any condition imposed by rezoning, plat or plan approval exists, the Town may issue a stop-work order and/or citation. Further, the Town shall hold in abeyance, by written notice, all Town review of other submittals related to the subject project and the issuance of Town permits for any aspect of it until remedial actions have received the written approval of the Town.

4. Stop-Work Orders

a. Whenever the Town determines that grading does not comply with this section or the grading permit conditions, or that the soil or conditions are not as stated on the permit, the Town may order the work stopped by written notice served on any person engaged in doing or causing such work to be done, and/or issue a citation.

b. Any such person shall immediately stop such work until written authorization is granted by the Town to proceed with the work.

5. Citations

If deemed necessary and appropriate, citations for grading violations may be issued. The Planning and Zoning Administrator will issue the citation. The Town Engineer shall co-sign citations issued for grading violations occurring within Town right-of-way.

6. Penalties

a. Failure to obtain a grading permit: Unless exempted by this section prior to commencement of grading shall be a violation of this ordinance. However, the Town may issue an exception permit if the Town finds that an emergency existed that made it impossible first to obtain a permit. Notification must be provided to the Town within seventy-two (72) hours of occurrence.

b. Violations: A violation of this ordinance may result in issuance by the Town of a stop-work order and/or a citation and penalties in accordance with subsection D.6.c of this section. Payment of fine shall not relieve any person from complying with the requirements of this section.

c. Penalties: Failure to comply with the approved grading plan, conditions of the grading permit, and/or grading not in compliance with this section shall cause immediate revocation of all permits. At the Town’s discretion, a permit may be issued for the purposes of getting the illegally graded site into compliance with this section, for the purposes of reestablishing the grades approved on the grading plan, and for replacing and maintaining protected native plant materials or public property destroyed as a result of the illegal grading operation. New permits for continuing the project shall not be issued until the required fines are paid to the Town.