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A. Purpose. The landscape and screening requirements are intended to preserve and enhance the appearance, public health, safety, and welfare of the County by fostering an aesthetically pleasing development. Proper landscape contributes to the County in many ways: enhancing its character and scenic beauty, providing clean air, reducing noise, preventing erosion of topsoil, reducing the rate of stormwater runoff, providing nesting areas for birds and habitat for other wildlife, conserving energy, and providing shade and windbreaks. These regulations are also intended to increase the compatibility of adjacent uses, and minimize the adverse impact of noise, dust, motor vehicle headlight glare or other artificial light intrusions, and other objectionable activities or impacts conducted on, or created by, adjoining or neighboring uses.
B. Applicability. The landscape and screening requirements established by this Section apply to property in the commercial, office, and industrial zoning districts. Property in the agricultural and residential zoning districts are exempt. Landscape and screening standards must be met for buffer yards, refuse storage areas, loading berths, and parking lot perimeters and interiors.
C. Enforcement of Landscape Provisions. No occupancy permit will be issued for any structure, subject to the requirements of this Section, unless all the requirements have been met. Failure to implement the landscape plan or to maintain the lot or use in substantial conformance with the landscape plan is cause for an enforcement action including the possible application of fines and penalties, as established in this Ordinance. In addition, all landscape is subject to periodic inspection.
1. If weather prohibits the installation of landscape at the time an occupancy permit is applied for, the applicant can provide the County with a letter of credit or cash in the amount required to complete landscape installation in order to receive an occupancy permit, which will be returned upon completion of required landscape.
2. Landscape materials depicted on approved landscape plans are considered required site plan elements in the same manner as buildings, parking and other improvements. As such, the owner or, if applicable, the homeowners association is responsible for the maintenance, repair and replacement of all landscape materials, and fences, steps, retaining walls, and similar landscape elements over the entire life of the development.
3. All landscape materials shall be maintained in good condition, present a healthy, neat and orderly appearance, and kept free of refuse and debris. Unless an extension is granted due to weather, any dead, unhealthy, or missing plants shall be replaced within thirty (30) days of notification by the Zoning Enforcement Officer. Fences, steps, and retaining walls and similar elements shall be maintained in good repair. The owner of the premises is responsible for the maintenance, repair, and replacement of all landscape materials, fences, steps, retaining walls and similar elements, and refuse disposal areas. Irrigation systems, when provided, shall be maintained in good operating condition.
D. Required Landscape Design Standards. Required landscape plans, as described above, shall be evaluated and approved based on the following design criteria.
1. The scale and nature of landscape materials shall be appropriate to the size of the site and related structures.
2. Plant material shall be selected for its form, texture, color, pattern of growth, and suitability to local conditions. Species shall be considered for hardiness, year-round interest, color, habitat and food source for birds and animals, and use in similar locations in other communities. Trees with inappropriate root systems for an area or those generally not recommended by landscape architects are not permitted.
3. All planting materials used shall be of good quality. The use of species native to northeastern Illinois is encouraged. Size and density of plant material, both at the time of planting and at maturity, should be considered when selecting plant material. Where appropriate, the use of drought and salt tolerant plant material is preferred.
4. All plant materials shall be free of disease and installed so that soil of sufficient volume, composition, and nutrient balance are available to sustain healthy growth.
5. Unless specified otherwise in this ordinance, trees and shrubs shall be sized as follows at planting:
a. All deciduous shade trees shall have a minimum trunk size of three (3) inches in caliper at planting.
b. Evergreens trees shall have a minimum height of eight (8) feet at planting.
c. Single stem ornamental trees shall have a minimum trunk size of three (3) inches in caliper at planting. Multiple stem ornamental trees shall have a minimum height of eight (8) feet at planting.
d. Unless otherwise specified, all large deciduous and evergreen shrubs shall have a minimum height of three (3) feet at installation, and all small deciduous and evergreen shrubs shall have a minimum height of eighteen (18) inches at installation. Large shrubs are those that reach five (5) or more feet in height at maturity. Small shrubs are those that can grow up to five (5) feet in height if left unmaintained, but are generally kept at heights of eighteen (18) to thirty (30) inches.
6. Species diversity in required plant material is required for visual interest and to reduce the risk of losing a large population of plants due to disease. Table 16.60-2: Species Diversity indicates the of diversity required based on the total quantity of species being used. (For example, if a landscape plan requires 12 trees, a minimum of three tree species is required.)
TOTAL NUMBER OF REQUIRED PLANTINGS PER EACH PLANT TYPE
MINIMUM NUMBER OF SPECIES
E. Buffer Yards. This section establishes standards for the dimensions and improvement requirements of buffer yards between land uses and/or zoning districts within the rear or interior side yard. (See Figure 16.60-5: Buffer Yard Landscape)
1. As of the effective date of this Ordinance, buffer yards are required for new commercial or industrial construction or uses that abut a property with an existing residential use in a residential zoning district or the A-2 District, unless separated by a street or alley. When new commercial construction locates next to an existing residential use, the new commercial construction shall provide the buffer yard. If a new residential use locates next to an existing commercial use, the existing commercial use is not required to provide a buffer yard and is not considered nonconforming. Agricultural buildings and uses are not required to provide buffer yards.
2. Buffer yards are required along the interior side and rear lot lines. Buffer yards may be located within required setbacks, but shall be reserved for the planting of material and installation of screening as required by this section. No parking, accessory buildings, or other structures are permitted within the buffer yard area.
3. All plantings in the buffer yard shall meet the following standards:
a. The buffer yard planting area shall be a minimum of five (5) feet in width in addition to the area provided for the required fence or wall.
b. Shade trees shall be planted on an average of one (1) tree for every twenty-five (25) linear feet of yard length. As part of the landscape plan approval, trees may be spaced at various intervals based on specific site requirements or design scheme, but the total number of trees planted shall be no less than the amount required by a linear planting spaced twenty-five (25) feet apart.
c. An opaque masonry wall (stone, stucco or brick), solid fence, or dense evergreen hedge, at least six (6) feet in height, is required along one hundred percent (100%) of the yard length. The fence may be located on the inside of the landscape plantings (adjacent to the non-residential use) or may be located on the outside of the landscape plantings (adjacent to the existing residential use in a residential zoning district or the A-2 District).
d. Shrubs shall be planted on an average of one (1) shrub for every three (3) feet of yard length. As part of the landscape plan approval, shrubs may be spaced at various intervals based on specific site requirements or design scheme, but the total number of shrubs planted will be no less than the amount required by a linear planting spaced three (3) feet apart.
F. Screening Requirements.
1. Refuse Disposal Dumpsters and Refuse Storage Areas. All refuse containers shall be fully enclosed on three (3) sides by an opaque masonry wall (stone, stucco or brick) or wall of the principal structure six (6) feet in height, or a solid fence, and the enclosure shall be gated. The materials used for screening, including the enclosure, shall complement the architecture of the principal structure. An extension of an exterior principal structure wall may be used as one of the screening walls for a refuse container, provided that such wall meets the minimum six (6) foot height requirement and is of the same building materials as the principal building. Such wall may not be the gated enclosure.
2. Loading Berths. Where feasible, loading berths should be located and oriented so as not be visible from the street and adjacent properties, while still allowing access to the use it is serving. In addition, loading berths in all zoning districts shall be screened from view, unless such screening is determined unnecessary by the Zoning Enforcement Officer. Such screening shall consist of an opaque masonry wall (stone, stucco or brick), a solid fence, or dense evergreen hedge, at least six (6) feet in height.
G. Parking Lot Landscape.
a. Interior parking lot landscape is required for new or expanded parking facilities that consist of fifteen (15) or more paved spaces. This Section applies whether the parking facilities are required to be paved by this Ordinance or have been paved voluntarily.
b. Perimeter parking lot landscape is required for new or expanded parking facilities within ten (10') feet of a right-of-way that consist of fifteen (15) or more paved spaces. This Section applies whether the parking facilities are required to be paved by this Ordinance or have been paved voluntarily.
c. For existing parking lots in the commercial, office, and industrial zoning districts that currently do not comply with the required parking lot landscape standards, such landscape is required when a new principal building is constructed or an existing building or use is expanded to the extent that the parking lot is required to be expanded by fifty percent (50%) or more.
d. Nothing in this Section prevents the applicant’s voluntary installation of additional landscape.
2. Parking Lot Perimeter Landscape. Parking lot perimeter landscape provides for the enhancement and screening of parking lots by requiring a scheme of pedestrian walls and/or landscape along public streets. The landscape treatment shall run the full length of the parking lot and be located between the property line and the edge of the parking lot. Landscape areas outside of shrub and tree masses shall be planted in live groundcover. (See Figure 16.60-6: Parking Lot Perimeter Landscape.) The landscape area shall be improved as follows:
a. The perimeter parking lot landscape area shall be at least five (5) feet in width, as measured from the back of curb or wheelstop.
b. One (1) shrub, measuring a minimum of eighteen (18) inches at planting and a minimum of three (3) feet at maturity, shall be planted for every three (3) feet of landscape area length, spaced linearly to adequately screen vehicle bumpers. Alternatively, a low pedestrian wall, the height of which provides effective screening to a maximum height of three (3) feet, may be used instead of shrubs.
c. All perimeter parking lot landscape areas shall be protected through curbing or alternate designs to prevent damage to landscape from vehicles. Protection designs that allow water to infiltrate into landscape are encouraged.
3. Parking Lot Interior Landscape. (See Figure 16.60-7: Interior Parking Lot Landscape)
a. Amount of Landscape. A minimum of one (1) parking lot island shall be provided per every row of twenty (20) parking spaces, whether a single row or double row of stalls. As part of the landscape plan approval, parking lot island locations may be varied based on specific site requirements or design scheme. All rows of parking spaces shall be terminated by a parking lot island or landscape area.
b. Size and Planting of Parking Lot Islands. Parking lot islands shall be the same width and depth as a parking stall. Double rows of parking shall provide parking lot islands that are the same width and depth as the double parking stall. A minimum of one (1) shade tree is required for every parking lot island. If the island extends the width of a double row, then two (2) shade trees are required. As an alternative to intermediate landscape islands within rows of more than twenty (20) parking stalls, linear planting strips that separate double rows of parking stalls and that serve as stormwater swales are permitted. However, all rows of parking spaces shall be terminated by a parking lot island or landscape area.
c. Type of Landscape Material. Shade trees shall be the primary plant materials used in parking lot islands and landscape areas. Ornamental trees, shrubs, hedges, and other plant materials may supplement the shade tree plantings but cannot create visibility concerns for automobiles and pedestrians.
d. Groundcover. A minimum of seventy-five percent (75%) of every parking lot island shall be planted in live groundcover, perennials, or ornamental grasses.
e. Curbing. All parking lot islands shall be protected through curbing or alternate designs to prevent damage to landscape from vehicles. Protection designs that allow water to infiltrate into landscape are encouraged.
(Ord. O-201803-ZBA-10-08, passed 3-19-2018; Ord. O-201808-10-033, passed 8-21-2018)