Friday, April 24, 2009

Draft Code: Buffer Corridor Standards

The first sections of new Code language will be reviewed by the Planning Commission at their upcoming meeting next week.

There are a variety of issues that will be covered, therefore each section of Code is being posted as a separate blog entry. This first one deals with language relating to buffer corridor standards.

This new Code language will be part of the Design Standards Chapter; how/where it will fit within the revised Chapter still needs to be determined. The existing language referring to the buffers (21.40.040) will be removed.

XXX.XX.XX1 Landscape Buffer Required. A landscaped buffer shall be required along all minor arterial roads for a width of at least 25 feet abutting all standard residential subdivisions and PRDs. The purpose of the landscape buffer is to minimize the impact of the roads on adjacent residential uses; encourage tree preservation and planting; and to create visually attractive corridors along these roadways. The Landscape Buffer shall be established as a separate tract on the face of the plat. The provisions in this section apply to all residential subdivisions and Planned Residential Developments (PRDs), excluding Short Subdivisions.

XXX.XX.XX2 Landscape Buffer Design.
The landscape buffer may incorporate either natural vegetation, applicant proposed vegetation or a combination of both. The purpose of the following requirements is to provide a “complete” buffer which contains overstory, understory and groundcover vegetation.
(1) The Landscape Buffer shall include the following landscaping:
a) trees planted 30 ft on center along the entire length of the edge closest to the arterial road, and no closer than 10 ft from this edge of the buffer to avoid conflicts with the required utility easement.
(b) shrubs and bushes, to provide 100% ground cover of the buffer area within 2 years; drought-tolerant, low-maintenance varieties are strongly preferred.
(c) sufficient shrubs and bushes to provide a continuous four-foot high visual screen of the arterial road from within the land division. The plantings must not restrict site distance at intersections.
(d) in addition to the street trees identified in (a), throughout the entire buffer area a mix of deciduous and coniferous trees, of a species determined suitable by the City of Oak Harbor, shall be provided at planting density of at least one trees for every 400 square feet of the buffer area.
(e) all required plantings in the buffer shall avoid conflicts with public utilities and the species shall be selected to avoid root damage to sidewalks, streets and curbing.

(2) Those areas of the landscape buffer where suitable natural vegetation of understory and ground cover and healthy stands of trees not prone to wind throw or blow down after adjacent areas have been cleared, may be retained as substitute for the required landscaping in (1) provided:
(a) street trees are planted as per (1)(a);
(b) evergreen ground cover is present as per (1)(b);
(c) screening is present as per (1)(c); and,
(d) the minimum number of trees are present as per (1)(d).
(e) trees which pose a safety hazard from wind throw or blow down must be removed.

XXX.XX.XX3 Landscape Buffer Protection. To protect their function, define management responsibilities, and protect the health of the landscape buffers, the following language shall be placed on face of the plat:
(1) Tracts ______, are set aside as landscape buffers. No vehicular access to the adjacent roadway is permitted to protect, vegetation and planting areas for their environmental and aesthetic value to the community, and.
(2)Maintenance of Tracts ________ shall be the responsibility of the home owners association and not the City of Oak Harbor. If the association disbands, maintenance responsibility for Tracts ________ defaults to the individual lot owners within the boundaries of the originally approved residential subdivision or planned residential development. If the landscape buffer is not maintained, the City of Oak Harbor may choose to impose a fee structure or invoice the property owners within the boundaries of the originally approved residential plat to maintain landscape buffers.
(3)All vegetation shall be maintained to preserve the health of the buffer plantings, and to maintain the landscaping in a manner that conforms to the original landscape and maintenance plans associated with the residential plat approval, including replacement of dead or diseased plantings.
(4) Trees deemed to be a hazard by a professional arborist certified in the State of Washington may be removed, subject to approval by the City of Oak Harbor. Removed trees must be replaced. The City reserves the right to exempt the requirement for an Arborist assessment if in the City’s opinion the tree is obviously a hazard, diseased, or dead.
(5) No dumping of vegetation or debris is allowed in Tracts _______.
(6)No structures are allowed in Tracts ________.

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