This article is intended to enhance the compatibility of adjacent land uses, provide an orderly transition between developments of varying intensity, and encourage development consistent with the community’s character. This article establishes minimum buffering requirements and applicable standards.
A. The provisions of this article shall apply as follows.
1. New land uses and structures approved or established.
2. Existing land uses and structures that are altered or modified, and:
a. Expand the size of the use or structure.
b. Change the type of use or structure.
c. Change the intensity or density of the use or structure.
B. Specific exemptions from these requirements are:
1. Minor repairs and routine maintenance to existing structures or properties.
2. Any alteration, modification, or establishment of a use or structure that is otherwise exempted.
C. Visual and aesthetic compatibility between land uses shall be maintained by using an acceptable visual buffer, which shall include screening fences/walls, landscape screen, and earthen berms.
D. Compatibility buffers shall be required for all structures and uses meeting the above applicability criteria, which are of higher intensity (subject use/lot) than those of a lower intensity adjacent property (trigger use/lot). Requirements shall apply based on the following scenarios.
1. Case 1: Agricultural and single-family residential uses shall have no buffer requirement.
2. Case 2: Screening fence/wall or landscape screen REQUIRED
a. Subject: Multi-family residential and non-residential uses; AND lots zoned B-1, C-1, or I-1
b. Trigger: Single-family residential uses; AND lots zoned R-1 or R-2
3. Case 3: Screening fence/wall or landscape screen REQUIRED
a. Subject: Lots zoned B-1, C-1, or I-1
b. Trigger: Lots zoned R-3
4. Case 4: Screening fence/wall or landscape screen REQUIRED
a. Subject: Lots zoned I-1
b. Trigger: Lots zoned B-1 or C-1
5. Case 5: Earthen berms MAY BE USED as a visual buffer
a. Subject: Subject lots ten (10) acres or larger; OR five (5) acres or larger AND zoned I-1
b. Trigger: Any trigger under Cases 1-4
6. Case scenarios shall apply to PDO overlay zoning, according to the base zoning district (i.e. applied as if no PDO existed).
E. When deemed necessary to enhance land use compatibility, the Planning Commission or City Council may impose a visual buffer requirement as a condition of approval for any zoning action.
F. The Planning Commission or City Council may defer any visual buffer requirement for any subject structure or use if the trigger lot is vacant at the time of approval. All such deferments shall expire within one-hundred and
eighty (180) days after a building permit is issued on the vacant trigger lot. Failure to install a visual buffer by the deferment expiration date may be subject to enforcement.
9.3. General Provisions
The following general provisions shall apply to all subject lots per Section 09.02.D.
A. All offstreet parking facilities and outdoor storage areas shall have a screening fence/wall installed around the perimeter on all sides facing a trigger lot line, designed per applicable standards.
B. Visual buffers shall only be required along subject lot lines shared with trigger lots; provided subject lot lines shall be buffered along the full length, not just the shared length.
C. The following provisions shall apply to visual buffer requirements along street frontages.
1. Alleys shall be treated as property lines. Visual buffers shall be required along alley frontage of all subject lots where the opposite frontage has a trigger use or zoning.
2. Visual buffers shall be provided along local street and collector street frontage of a subject lot only when the opposite frontage has a single-family residential trigger use or zoning.
3. In no case shall a visual buffer be required for a subject lot along the frontage of an arterial street, state highway, US highway, or interstate highway.
D. Visual buffers shall not be required along natural barriers that are at least fifty (50) feet wide, such as rivers and wooded areas.
E. No visual buffer shall be allowed to cross a driveway or obstruct the sight triangle of a street, alley, or driveway intersection.
F. All visual buffers shall be installed according to the approved development site plan and found in good condition when inspected for occupancy. When inspecting planted vegetation during winter months, a temporary certificate of occupancy may be issued with an expiration deadline no later than six (6) months from the inspection date. If landscaping is found to be non-compliant or unhealthy at that time, the temporary certificate may be revoked by the Zoning Administrator or Building Inspector.
9.4. Visual Buffer Design Standards
A. Screening fences and walls shall meet applicable provisions of the building code with regard to design, construction materials and methods, and foundations. In addition, the following shall apply.
1. Design and construction shall minimize the visual impact of subject uses and structures from outside of that lot. The vertical faces of each horizontal section between posts/columns shall have a minimum ten percent (10%) open space, with consistent spacing between vertical pickets/slats.
2. Construction materials and colors shall complement the architecture of the primary structure on the lot and adjacent structures.
a. Fence posts and rails shall be sufficient strength to support the horizontal rails and vertical facing materials. Pickets/slats shall be wood, metal, vinyl/PVC, or composite materials.
b. Walls shall be constructed of masonry such as concrete panels, brick, stone, or cinder blocks. Aesthetic finishes such as stucco may be used, as appropriate to the environment.
c. Alternate materials may be used provided they are comparably durable and the finished look approximates that of a required material.
3. Along lot lines, shall be between six (6) feet and eight (8) feet in height. Perimeter screening around offstreet parking, loading, and outdoor storage areas, when not located on lot line, shall measure between three (3) feet and four (4) feet in height. Height shall be measured from the adjacent ground elevation to the top of the vertical face.
4. Reasonable modifications to these standards may be allowed to avoid hazards to animals or people; preserve safe traffic operations; or minimize negative impacts to surrounding properties.
B. Landscape screens shall be planted with a variety of trees, bushes, or shrubs, which shall be designed to meet standards within thirty-six (36) months of occupancy. In addition, the following shall apply.
1. Shall have a height of at least six (6) feet above grade along the entire length. No six (6) linear foot segment shall contain more than thirty percent (30%) open space or offer a direct view through the screen at any point higher than two (2) feet above grade.
2. Shall be provided along subject lot lines within a depth of ten (10) feet. No other uses except approved driveways and signs shall be allowed in a required landscape screening area.
3. Plant selection shall consider drought tolerance, species nativity, mature growth, and other such characteristics. Vegetation shall not overhang the public right-of-way such that it obstructs vehicular, pedestrian, or bicycle traffic or restricts access to any property.
C. Earthen berms used per Section 09.02.D.6 shall be designed to avoid flooding and other storm water drainage impacts both on- and off-premise. In addition, the following shall apply.
1. Shall be at least thirty (30) feet in width at the base and at least four (4) feet in height, as measured perpendicular to grade level at any point along its length.
2. Side slopes shall have a gradient no steeper than three to one (3:1) and shall be sodded to prevent erosion. Bank stabilization materials and devices shall be used as necessary.
3. The top of berms shall be planted with landscaping meeting the standards of Section 09.04.B, except that the minimum height shall be three (3) feet at mature growth height.
9.5. Supplemental Landscape Buffer Provisions
To encourage compatible aesthetics and character, supplemental landscape provisions shall be provided in addition to other compatibility provisions as follows.
A. All paved offstreet parking areas shall include curbed landscaped islands equivalent to at least ten percent (10%) and in addition to the area occupied by required parking stalls, driveways, and drive aisles. Such islands shall:
1. Be distributed throughout parking areas such that no single island exceeds twenty-five percent (25%) of the requirement.
2. Shall meet all other provisions applicable to landscape screens, with the exception of Section 09.04.B.1and 2, which are related to screening height, density, and location.
B. In addition, street trees shall be planted in required yards along street frontages as follows:
1. Shall only apply:
a. Along all street frontages of lots zoned R-1, R-2, or R-3 having a primary use other than single-family residential.
b. Along arterial street and highway frontages of lots zoned B-1, C-1, or I-1.
2. Street trees shall meet the following standards:
a. Species shall be selected according to the considerations in Section 09.04.B.3.
b. Shall have expected mature growth height and width between twenty (20) and thirty (30) feet.
c. Shall have a minimum three (3) inch caliper diameter at the time of planting.
d. Shall be spaced at thirty (30) feet on-center.
e. Shall be placed no closer than eight (8) feet from any underground utilities or paving; and shall not be placed beneath overhead utility lines.
C. The provisions of Section 09.03.F shall apply to all plantings required by this section, with regard to inspection of planted materials.
9.6. Visual & Landscape Buffer Plans
A. A buffer and landscape plan shall be submitted with the development site plan. Such plans shall be designed by an appropriately credentialed professional.
1. Screening fences/walls must be designed by a licensed architect or engineer only when required by the building code or other applicable regulations.
2. All landscaped areas must be designed by a licensed landscape architect or certified landscape designer, including those located on berms.
3. Earthen berms shall be designed by a licensed engineer or landscape architect.
B. Such plans shall include sufficient detail and information to determine compliance with buffer requirements. At a minimum, this shall include:
1. Fences/Walls: Location, type, height, and materials.
2. Landscaped Areas: Location, planting specifications and details, mature size, and plant identification (common and botanical names).
3. Berms: Location, dimensions, cross-section, and materials (list and quantities).
9.7. Visual & Landscape Buffer Maintenance
It shall be the responsibility of the property owner to maintain all buffers and plantings in good condition. Any required buffers determined by the Zoning Administrator, Building Inspector, or City Engineer to be in poor condition, substandard, or non-compliant with the approval, these regulations, or any applicable City code, may be subject to code enforcement action.
9.8. Height Compatibility Standards
To enhance height compatibility, the following provisions shall apply to structures exempted from zoning district maximum height restrictions per Section 04.06.M, and any building that exceeds the maximum height its zoning district by virtue of any other allowance provided by these regulations.
A. These standards shall not apply to integrated or attached structures per Section 04.06.M.
B. All other structures that exceed, or are proposed to exceed applicable maximum height restrictions, shall be subject to the following height compatibility standards.
1. No structure in the I-1 zoning district shall exceed three (3) times the maximum height restriction; no structure in any other zoning district shall exceed two (2) times the maximum height restriction.
2. A height compatibility setback adjustment shall be required in order to mitigate the negative aesthetic impacts of substantial height differential between adjacent properties.
3. No structure shall be allowed to exceed the applicable zoning district maximum height without also being setback from every lot line the adjusted setback distance for height compatibility. This shall apply regardless of the means by which the height exception is approved or allowed.
C. The height compatibility setback shall be calculated as follows:
(A) Proposed structure height
(B) Zoning district maximum height
(C) Height compatibility multiplier = (A) ÷ (B); Round to nearest hundredth, down < 0.05, up ≥ 0.05 Check against exempt restrictions: 3 or less for I-1 zoning; 2 or less for other zoning districts
(D) Zoning district maximum required setback (any yard or use)
(E) Height compatibility setback = (C) X (D); Round to nearest foot, down < 0.5, up ≥ 0.5
Example Height Compatibility Setback Calculation
Scenario: The owner of a property zoned B-1 submits an application for a 50-foot flag pole.
(A) Proposed structure height = 50 feet
(B) Zoning district maximum height = 35 feet (non-residential structures)
(C) 50 ÷ 35 = 1.428; Rounded up, height compatibility multiplier = 1.43
1.43 is less than 2 times the maximum height for B-1 zoning
(D) Zoning district maximum required setback = 35 feet (front yard setback)
(E) 1.43 X 35 = 50.05; Rounded down, height compatibility setback requirement = 50 feet
The flag pole must be built at least 50 feet away from all property lot lines.