Council continues landscaping ordinance amendment discussion | Local / region
Additional adjustments to the city’s Landscaping Ordinance were proposed during a two-hour working session of Aberdeen City Council this week.
The possible changes, worked out by council members after discussion with a subcommittee, were first reviewed on April 5th. However, instead of approving the first reading, the Council chose to discuss the revisions further during a working session.
Talk Monday covered a variety of nuances within the regulation. For example, a change changes when a project needs to include landscaping.
This threshold is a 1,000-square-foot building extension valued at at least $ 100,000. One of the proposed changes is to increase these amounts to 2,500 square feet and $ 200,000.
Mayor Travis Schaunaman suggested increasing the value to $ 250,000.
Another qualification for landscaping applies specifically to the construction of parking lots. Now a parking lot worth $ 100,000 would be required to include the landscaping.
One change, however, hit the amount and changed the threshold to 10,000 square feet. Schaunaman questioned the change, noting that a 10,000-square-foot parking lot could be resurfaced for about $ 30,000.
The discussion included expanding to 15,000 square feet or using cost as an additional qualifier. In the end, the council decided on parking lot projects that were both 10,000 square feet and $ 100,000 in size.
Another change distinguishes between new parking lot construction and existing parking lot extensions. The new build requires one tree and two shrubs per 2,500 square feet. Existing structures and parking lots require one tree and two shrubs per 3,500 square feet.
City Manager Joe Gaa helps with the distinction, indulging those with existing infrastructure.
City forester Aaron Kiesz said existing sites will be recognized for landscaping already in place.
Ultimately, the council recommends asking for one tree for every 3,500 square feet of new or expanded parking space. While shrubs serve an aesthetic purpose, the council has removed this as a requirement.
Commercial and commercial real estate
The landscaping requirements for commercial and industrial projects were also discussed extensively with Schaunaman and asked for allowances that would give the owner the right to choose a mix of trees along the perimeter of the property and on islands within the parking lot.
Regarding the larger parking spaces, the current ordinance mandates trees within the indoor property, although the placement of these trees can be contested, Kiesz said in a phone interview on Tuesday.
Councilor Clint Rux said the mayor’s proposal could result in some of the largest parking lots with trees just around the perimeter. This would defeat the purpose of the regulation, which aims to reduce the urban heat effect of sidewalks. However, he said he saw an advantage in allowing more flexibility for parking spaces that were less than 10,000 square feet.
Kiesz said that not all lots will have room for perimeter trees.
This led to the consideration of allowing a percentage of trees along the perimeter, with 20%, 50% and 100% suggested as options.
In the end, a recommendation was forwarded that 50% of the trees are allowed to stand along the perimeter.
The city’s current regulation treats industrial and industrial property alike, but the proposed changes would distinguish between the two, with the council agreeing that the use of industrial property is different from a commercial business. Islands in a parking lot do not work in areas where there are large numbers of trucks for loading and unloading, council members decided. This led to further discussions about allowing more boundary trees on industrial land.
Rux even suggested allowing these trees in the first 15 feet of the driveway between the road and the property.
But Mike Bockorny, CEO of Aberdeen Development Corp., said attempts had been made to plant within the right of way. Because the plots in the industrial park are designed to drain, trees planted on the driveway did not survive, he said.
The local council recommended landscaping for every 10,000 square feet of hard surface, either on an island or around the perimeter of a parking lot.
The regulation will be back on the Council’s agenda on Monday, where details of the regulation could be amended. It would be the first of two required hearings.
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