Landscape Ordinance Modifications Accepted

Edmond City Council recently approved modifications to the municipal landscape ordinance related to zoning and non-residential developments. The changes were based on language recommended by the Urban Forestry Commission. 

Edmond’s landscape ordinance promotes beautification throughout the community, but even more so the improved ordinance will result in increased environmental, health, economic, and social benefits experienced through ecosystem services of trees and natural areas.

One new addition includes review of the anticipated impact to tree canopy cover, forested areas, and areas of the Cross Timbers ecosystem for Zoning, Specific Use Permit, and Site Plan applications. Consideration of forest resources early in the development process will encourage a proactive approach to planning around the natural elements of a site before layout decisions have been finalized.
Trees planted throughout parking areas will offer shade, contributing to such benefits as improved air quality and urban heat island mitigation. Updates to landscape requirements for excess parking spaces will emphasize the benefits of trees throughout parking areas, without creating challenges in plant placement and spacing. In addition, the allowable use of permeable pavement provides some flexibility for sites that are unable to meet required widths of landscape islands and buffers (although this does not impact any site drainage requirements).

Ordinance modifications also include a requirement for qualified professionals designing landscape plans, performing tree resource assessments, and preparing tree preservation plans. An application process has been set in place by the Urban Forestry Commission for approval of “Alternatively Qualified Professionals”. Any professional who does not meet the base qualification set forth in the Code must go through this process in order to submit plans or assessments.

Addition of a tree requirement in the Site Landscaping standards will help to conserve and enhance Edmond’s tree canopy cover into the future. Projects will also have the option to preserve natural areas and exclude them from required landscape calculations. Previously, requirements have been based on the total lot area.

Adjustments to the density requirements for plant material will provide for continuous future canopy cover, while still allowing trees to mature without suppressed growth due to insufficient spacing, particularly in the I-35 District.

The landscape code modifications continue to promote beautification and aesthetic benefits throughout Edmond, while also enhancing the environmental contributions made by trees and natural areas. In addition to meeting these goals, the improvements will also result in healthier landscapes with better growing conditions, more adequate plant spacing, and better chances at growing into healthy, mature landscapes. For more information about the landscape code modifications that will be implemented on January 1, 2018, view Landscape Ordinance.

View more topics from the Summer 2017 issue of Edmond Tree Mail