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(A) Retaining walls shall be allowed in all districts, provided they meet the following criteria:
(1) All retaining walls shall be constructed of permanent, low-maintenance construction materials, concrete, masonry, stone and the like. Wood timber walls shall not be permitted.
(2) All retaining walls, excluding tree wells (see Figure 1) over 16 inches in height shall have a textured finish. Unacceptable finishes include, but are not limited to raw concrete, exposed concrete masonry block and stucco. Granting the following exceptions to this regulation is authorized by city staff (all other exceptions are to be decided by the City Commission):
(a) Where a retaining wall that is attached to the primary structure of a single family residence or residential duplex, the Zoning Administrator may determine that it have a stucco finish if the primary structure also has a stucco finish and if the stucco finish on both the primary structure and the retaining wall have the same texture stucco finish; or
(b) Where a retaining wall at a non-residential site is designed in a manner that the general public, patrons, customers, or persons on adjacent or nearby properties (in their present or future states of development) are precluded from observing the retaining wall, the Development Review Committee (DRC) may determine that the retaining wall shall not finish as otherwise required by this section.
(3) Acceptable finishes include, but are not limited to the following: patterned concrete; rock-salted concrete; split-faces or ribbed concrete masonry; stone; brick; or tile.
(4) Variation in design and materials is encouraged. The final determination of the compatibility of a retaining wall shall be made by the City Commission, except as stated in the exceptions set forth in subsection (2) of this section.
(5) The maximum height of a retaining wall shall be four feet. Height shall be considered to be the height of the exposed vertical face of the wall. Railing will be as required at the discretion of the Public Safety Department.
(6) The maximum height of a retaining wall within ten feet of a property line shall be three feet.
(7) No retaining wall shall be constructed nearer than five feet to a property line.
(8) A terraced or stepped series of retaining walls is acceptable, provided that all other requirements are met. All terraced walls shall have a minimum separation of six feet measured from face of wall to face of wall and the grade between two retaining walls shall have a maximum horizontal/ vertical side slope of 6:1.
(9) The exposed surfaces of all retaining walls shall be screened by landscaping. The Zoning Administrator may authorize an exception to this regulation for residential or the DRC may authorize an exception to this regulation for non-residential and development, where the retaining wall will not reasonably be visible to the general public, patrons, customers, or persons on adjacent properties (in their present or future states of development). All other exceptions are to be decided by the City Commission. At a minimum, each wall shall provide a landscaped strip/planter at least three feet in width at the top and base of each retaining wall. The landscape strip shall contain the following landscaping treatment:
(a) A continuous hedge at least two feet in height immediately upon planting. Hedges shall be of an evergreen species and shall be planted and maintained so as to form a continuous, solid, visual screen within one year of planting. Individual plants shall be spaced a maximum of 30 inches on center. Acceptable species shall include, but are not limited to, the following:
Wax Leaf Ligustrum
Juniperus chinensis "Pfitzerana"
(b) With the approval of the City Commission, other forms of landscaped treatment may be substituted for the hedge requirement. Such landscape treatment may include, but not be limited to, the establishment of climbing or trailing vines on the exposed face of the retaining wall. Vines shall be planted a maximum of five feet on center and shall have a minimum height of two feet fanned on wall upon planting. Acceptable species shall include, but are not limited to, the following:
Bigleaf Confederate Jasmine
(c) All required landscape areas shall be irrigated. Xeriscape and water- conserving irrigation methods are encouraged.
(d) Retained and preserved existing vegetation may be used to count against landscaping requirements, if approved by the City Commission.
(10) All retaining walls must provide for on-site access to all grade levels for the use of landscape maintenance equipment.
(11) The owner, tenant or agent of a property shall be jointly and severally responsible for the maintenance of all retaining walls on the property.
(12) Unless specific variances are granted, site plan approval may be withheld and no building permits shall be issued on lands where violation of this section are determined to exist, until appropriate remedial action is agreed to by the city and completed by the owner of the land. A certificate of occupancy shall not be issued by the Building Official for any construction until all applicable remedies have been accomplished.
(13) The Building official will conduct periodic inspection to assure compliance with the requirements of this section. Notice of noncompliance may be given by the Building Official by certified mail, with a reinspection to be made 30 days after the first notice. Continued violation after 30 days will be referred to the Code Enforcement Board.
(Ord. 241, passed 11-27-85; Am. Ord. 874, passed 3-19-98)
(B) The City Commission may waive various provisions of this section if the general intent and purpose of the ordinance is maintained. Cases where a variance may be appropriate include, but are not limited to, the following:
(1) The preservation of existing trees is hindered by the retaining wall requirements; or
(2) There is an unusual site size, location or configuration, causing undue hardship to site development.
(Ord. 542, passed 4-18-91)
[See hard copy of the Code for Figure.]