Spring Creek Canyon Overlay Repeal – Update

Next Public Comment Opportunity

Monday, April 1, 2019 at 7 p.m. at Benner Township Supervisors Meeting, 1224 Buffalo Run Road, Bellefonte PA.

Summary of What’s Happening

Excerpted from David Roberts’ reporting

Nittany Valley’s Spring Creek is under threat once again. 

Benner Township Supervisors are rapidly proceeding to remove the existing Benner Township Spring Creek Canyon Conservation Overlay Ordinance (Section 250) by rewriting the local zoning regulations.

Most people know that Spring Creek is an aquatic gem within our valley – an Exceptional Class A native trout stream full of fresh water springs and cool, shady basins. 

Spring Creek has been running through our valley for over a million years….yet Spring Creek is surprisingly fragile and could be lost as a world class cold water stream. 

In the past, Spring Creek endured sewage, overdevelopment, pollution, thermal degradation, and several major chemical spills including contamination with kepone – an insecticide similar to DDT. 

However the people of Nittany Valley recognized the importance of our beautiful stream and rallied together to protect and conserve Spring Creek. Many studies were conducted to help in the development of plans using a scientific basis for conservation strategies. 

In 2008, the Spring Creek Canyon Master Plan was developed for Benner Township by a broad group of people, organizations, and stakeholders to determine scientifically how to best protect and conserve Spring Creek Canyon.

The existing zoning ordinance for Benner, adopted in 2010, is actually quite good. (Copy posted below for review/download)

Current provisions of the Spring Creek Canyon Conservation Overlay Ordinance ensure: 

  1. Identification of natural features

  2. Phase I Cultural Resource Assessments 

  3. Disturbance analysis
  4. Suitable uses for primary zone 

  5. Stormwater control strategies

  6. Higher design standards for construction – LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design), an internationally-recognized green building certification program 

  7. Restoration formulation 

  8. Forestry canopy plan. 

What will the proposed revisions do?

The current proposed amendments being put forward by Benner Township supervisors would eliminate or drastically reduce many protections for the Spring Creek watershed, including: 

  • Remove controls on activities and potential pollution runoff from the University Park Airport;
  • Reduce or remove riparian buffer requirements
  • Remove Spring Creek Canyon Conservation Overlay zones;
  • Remove clear and detailed standards that control the spread of impervious surfaces;
  • Remove requirement for safety barriers around swimming pools for the prevention of child drowning;
  • Remove certain recognized building performance standards;
  • Remove outdoor light pollution standards;
  • Eliminate the entire Environmental Protection section (Article 5)

For more information, see Benner Township Residents Facebook page

Benner Township Residents on Facebook

Collection of documents related to 2018-2019 Benner Township Board of Supervisors’ efforts to repeal Spring Creek Canyon Conservation Overlay Zoning Ordinance (Section 250 of Benner Township Zoning Ordinance)

Existing Ordinance

Draft Revisions

Citizen Journalism

2018 Meeting Minutes, Compiled

Letters to Benner Township Re Proposed Changes