1147.04 SPECIFIC LANDSCAPING REQUIREMENTS.
   (a)   Green Belt.
      (1)   Requirement. Green belts shall be provided along any frontage abutting a public right-of-way in a business or industrial district or if the property is to be developed for a non-residential, attached single-family or multiple-family use in a residential district. Except for necessary driveways, frontage roads, service drives or walkways, a green belt shall extend the full length of the lot line.  A green belt shall not be required in the B-3, Downtown Business District.
      (2)   Green Belt Standards.
         A.   The minimum depth of the green belt shall be as follows: 
            i.   Business Districts: equal to the zoning district's required setback along any street or twenty (20) feet, whichever is less
            ii.   Industrial Districts: twenty (20) feet
            iii.   Non-residential uses in Residential Districts: twenty-five (25) feet
            iv.   Attached single-family and multiple-family developments: twenty-five (25) feet
         B.   At a minimum, a required green belt shall be landscaped in accordance with the following:
            i.   One (1) canopy tree plus one (1) additional canopy or ornamental tree for each seventy-five (75) feet, or fraction thereof, of road frontage; and
            ii.   Six (6) shrubs per each fifty (50) feet, or fraction thereof, of road frontage.
         C.   Existing trees located within the required green belt shall be counted toward meeting the minimum requirements of this section; provided, they are indigenous to Lorain County and are in a healthy condition, as determined by the zoning administrator. Other existing trees within the required green belt may be counted toward the minimum requirements of this section if approved by the reviewing authority.
         D.   Healthy and viable existing trees within a proposed green belt shall be preserved unless their removal is shown, to the satisfaction of the reviewing authority, to be infeasible due to existing site characteristics, necessary grading, location of future site improvements or other similar conditions that make their preservation unreasonable or undesirable. Financial hardship or development expediency shall not be considered valid rationale for such tree removal.
         E.   If berms are appropriately incorporated into the green belt, the reviewing authority may reduce the required quantities of plant material by up to one-third (1/3) where it is determined that the purpose of the green belt will still be achieved.
         F.   Green belt landscaping need not be evenly spaced. Clustering of trees and planting beds is encouraged to provide a more aesthetic and natural appearance.
         G.   Landscaping shall be located so it does not obstruct the vision of drivers entering or exiting a site.
         H.   Storm water management facilities may only be located within a required green belt if the reviewing authority determines that such areas will enhance the appearance of the green belt and will not jeopardize either the survival of plant material or public safety.
   (b)   Buffers.
      (1)   Requirement. Landscaping shall be provided to buffer the negative impacts between incompatible land uses, to minimize the adverse effects of certain activities upon their surroundings and to improve the appearance of intensive uses within the community.
      (2)   Buffer Zone Standards. Buffer zones shall be required along the property line between adjacent lots as specified in Table 1147.04-1 and defined in Table 1147.04-2. A buffer zone shall be required even where the adjacent property is unimproved.
         A.   Prior to changing the use of a property to a more intense land use (for example, residential to commercial), or when a property is rezoned to a more intense district, a buffer zone meeting the applicable requirements of this section shall be installed.
         B.   All areas of the buffer zone outside of planting beds shall be planted with grass or other living ground cover or preserved in a natural wooded state. 
         C.   Storm water management facilities may be located within a required buffer zone provided they do not reduce the screening effect.
(3)   Buffer Zone Exceptions. A buffer zone shall not apply where the reviewing authority determines that existing natural conditions are such that a lot cannot reasonably accommodate a required buffer or, where existing natural conditions on the lot act as a suitable buffer. Alternatively, where the reviewing authority determines that a vegetative buffer is inappropriate for a lot, they may require the installation of a fence or wall to meet the buffer requirements. The following factors shall be considered when evaluating any request for exception:
         A.   Physical characteristics of the site and surrounding area such as topography, vegetation, water features, etc;
         B.   Views and noise levels;
         C.   Proximity or potential proximity to residential uses;
         D.   Building and parking lot placement; and
         E.   Location of outdoor storage, display, or sales areas.
   (c)   Screening.
      (1)   Requirement. Screening shall be required as follows, except as may be provided elsewhere in this chapter. Screening shall be required even where the adjacent property is unimproved.
         A.   Around all trash dumpsters in all districts.
         B.   Around designated outdoor storage areas.
         C.   Around any loading/unloading area visible from an adjoining street or parking area located on adjoining property.
         D.   Around heating and cooling units for all non-residential uses.
         E.   Around essential public services and related accessory structures.
      (2)   Screening Standards. Except as otherwise permitted by this section, a required screen shall be comprised of a solid, sight-obscuring fence or wall meeting the requirements in Section 1141.08 of this Ordinance and also the following minimum specifications:
         A.   The screen shall be at least six (6) feet in height.
         B.   The screen shall be enclosed on all sides and not contain any openings other than a gate for access which shall be closed at all times when not in use. This full enclosure requirement, however, shall not apply to screening of loading/unloading areas.
         C.   The screen shall be constructed of masonry, treated wood or other approved material determined to be durable, weather resistant, rust proof and easily maintained. Chain link, split rail, and metal fences shall not be permitted to meet the screening requirement.
         D.   When a screen wall or fence has both a finished side and an unfinished side, the finished side shall face the adjoining property or, if on the interior of the site, shall face outward toward the perimeter of the site.
         E.   If approved, the required screen may be comprised of berms or plant material, in combination with or as a substitute for a fence or wall when it is determined that the alternate solution will provide the same degree or better of opacity and screening required by this section.
      (3)   Screening Exceptions. If existing conditions are such that a lot cannot accommodate the screening standards above, the reviewing authority may modify the screening requirements based on the following factors:
         A.   Distance from existing or future residential uses;
         B.   Sight lines from parking areas, adjacent properties or roadways;
         C.   Noise levels generated by the facility to be screened; and
         D.   Physical characteristics of the site and surrounding area such as topography and vegetation that may mitigate the need for screening.
            (Ord. 4-21.  Passed 1-4-21.)