Spring Creek Canyon Zoning

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: 

  • Identification of natural features
  • Phase I Cultural Resource Assessments 
  • Disturbance analysis
  • Suitable uses for primary zone 
  • Stormwater control strategies
  • Higher design standards for construction – LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design), an internationally-recognized green building certification program 
  • Restoration formulation 
  • 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

UPDATE APRIL 2, 2019 – Report on April 1 Benner Township Meeting

By Annie Seeley Murrell

Repost from Benner Township Residents Facebook page

The meeting tonight touched on a few concerns about the proposed zoning, mostly regarding the Spring Creek Canyon Overlay. 

In the newly proposed draft ordinance, the overlay is completely removed. 

Tonight it was mentioned that a portion of it might be put back in, but Zone 2 would likely to be removed, leaving only 1,000 feet from either side of the center of Spring Creek protected. 

This is not enough. 

The Overlay was developed with a great deal of consideration and local expertise and serves a variety of important purposes, including maintaining the health of Spring Creek so that it remains one of the most popular fishing destinations in the country.

Please urge the supervisors to leave the Spring Creek Canyon Overlay in its original form to ensure the continued protection of one of our region’s most valuable natural resources. 

Please notify those who fish and recreate in this area that there is a possibility of the Overlay being altered or removed and this could have a negative impact on the fish and wildlife there. 

Share your thoughts at the next Benner Twp. Supervisors meeting and/or submit a letter to the Township to be sure your voice is heard.

Three Key Maps

April 15, 2009 Master Plan for Spring Creek Canyon Conservation
October 29, 2009 Spring Creek Canyon Conservation Overlay Zoning Map
March 26, 2019 DRAFT Revision to Overlay Zoning, reducing protected land area to 1,000-foot buffers on each side of Spring Creek.

Documents related to 2009-2019 Benner Township Board of Supervisors’ efforts to first adopt and now repeal Spring Creek Canyon Conservation Overlay Zoning Ordinance (Section 250 of Benner Township Zoning Ordinance)

2009 Spring Creek Canyon Conservation Strategy Documents

2010 Benner Township Spring Creek Canyon Conservation Ordinance

2010-2011 – Legislation re: land conveyance and press releases re: public use

2018-2019 Draft Ordinance Revisions

Citizen Journalism

2018 Meeting Minutes, Compiled

Letters to Benner Township Re Proposed Changes