§ 157.101  LANDSCAPING AND BUFFERING.
   (A)   Purpose and intent. The regulations established herein are intended to maintain the vegetated environment of the county, thereby preserving the county’s rural qualities and incorporating vegetation in the form of landscaping and buffering within plans of development.
   (B)   Plan of development submittal requirements. Every plan of development shall include a landscape plan. This plan shall include the following.
      (1)   Existing vegetation. Location and identification by size and name all mature or significant trees in open areas on the site. In wooded areas the average size, and predominant species of trees shall be shown.
      (2)   Buffering details. Location, dimensions, and area of all proposed buffer areas including areas proposed to be fenced, walled, or screened through the use of architectural or any other landscape method.
      (3)   Landscaping details. Location, size, type, and name of all new landscaping materials, as well as materials to be retained on site.
      (4)   Vegetation protection. Details and notes pertaining to the methods to be utilized to protect trees and plant materials to remain on site from damage, both during and after development of the site.
      (5)   Maintenance notations. Appropriate notations regarding responsibility for the perpetuation and maintenance of all landscape plant materials or other landscape features to be preserved or installed on the site.
      (6)   Waiver of submittal requirements. The plan-approving authority may waive all or a part of the submittal requirements if an application can be thoroughly and responsibly evaluated despite the absence of waived submittal data.
   (C)   General requirements.
      (1)   Maximize the value of vegetated material. Trees, shrubs, ground cover, and other landscaping shall be located so as to utilize effectively the natural capacities of plant materials to intercept and absorb airborne and runoff-related pollutants and to reduce runoff volume, velocity, and peak flow increases caused by development.
      (2)   Existing trees to be preserved. Existing viable and mature trees shall be preserved and protected as a part of the overall landscaping plan.
      (3)   Landscaping to suit the site. Landscape materials and designs shall be appropriate for the specific characteristics of the site.
      (4)   Landscaping to buffer development impacts. Landscaping of buffer areas shall be designed to reduce, as much as possible, the impacts of development on adjacent natural areas, the scenic rural character of the county, and on adjacent landowners who might be adversely impacted by the proposed development.
      (5)   Preserve existing natural buffers. In all cases, the preservation of natural buffers is encouraged.
      (6)   Design of buffers. Plant material screens and structural elements used as buffers shall be designed in a staggered or undulating manner to create a more natural looking buffer.
      (7)   Landscaping areas devoid of trees. All land development areas devoid of major trees, including the areas along the roads of the development where natural woods are not present, and where due to construction, the entire right-of-way is cleared, the following provisions shall apply.
         (a)   Trees shall be planted along both sides of all streets as approved by the plan-approving authority.
         (b)   Trees shall be planted at 40- to 50-foot intervals.
      (8)   Buffering objectionable site features. Objectionable features including dumpsters, outside storage areas, and large parking areas (ten vehicles or greater) as well as loading areas shall be visually buffered by landscaping and structural elements.
   (D)   Landscape preservation. The preservation of existing vegetation on a development site has distinct advantages since this vegetation is well established and tolerant of existing conditions, and can be readily employed to fulfill the intent and purpose of this section. Incorporating natural features into plan of development proposals not only improves the quality of the project, but also reduces construction problems and increases the value of the development. Soil erosion and sedimentation control costs are reduced. The existing vegetation holds soil in place and breaks the impact of falling rain. Forest soils are porous and function like a sponge soaking up stormwater. The value of homes is increased when trees are retained and the resultant appearance is one of an established community. The following provisions are intended to facilitate the preservation and beneficial use of existing vegetation during development.
      (1)   Construction footprint. The construction footprint shall not exceed 60% of the site.
      (2)   Which trees shall be preserved. In determining which trees and shrubs shall be preserved during the development process, consideration shall be given to preserving those which exhibit some or all of the following characteristics:
         (a)   Are significant trees;
         (b)   Can tolerate environmental changes caused by development;
         (c)   Are disease and insect resistant;
         (d)   Exist in natural groupings including islands of trees; and
         (e)   Do not conflict with necessary utility, structure, parking area, and roadway placements.
      (3)   Protecting trees during construction. Trees which are to be preserved on-site shall be protected before, during, and after the development process utilizing accepted practices. At a minimum, the most recent edition of the Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook shall be utilized.
      (4)   Protecting woodland groups. In woodland areas, groups of trees shall be selected for preservation rather than single trees wherever possible.
      (5)   Tree clearing limits marked and approved.
         (a)   The Land Use Administrator shall approve the marked limits of clearing in the field prior to the commencement of land-disturbing activities to ensure that the limits of clearing as marked conform to the plans approved as part of the plan of development approval process.
         (b)   Trees to be saved shall be marked by red ribbon.
         (c)   Trees to be removed shall be marked by blue ribbon.
         (d)   In heavily wooded areas, the Land Use Administrator may give permission to mark large groups of trees to be removed or saved with appropriately colored ribbon along the perimeter of the area.
      (6)   Areas of development sites to remain undisturbed. Natural vegetation existing on slopes of 25% or greater, in wetlands, within 100 feet of a perennial watercourse or wetland, or any other feature of a resource protection area shall be left undisturbed as a buffer area during development, provided however that:
         (a)   Access paths and view corridors or sight lines may be cleared along waterways, lakes, or wetlands. In general, trees larger than ten inches d.b.h. shall not be removed; and
         (b)   Where natural vegetation is removed, it shall be replaced with other vegetation equally effective in retarding erosion and preserving natural appearance.
   (E)   Site landscaping standards. The following standards apply to all development except single-family dwellings built on individual lots.
      (1)   Landscape areas adjacent to buildings. A landscape area which is a minimum of ten-feet wide shall be provided adjacent to buildings. This area shall contain a number of trees and shrubs equal to at least one ornamental tree or five shrubs per 200 square feet of planting area provided.
      (2)   Landscape areas along rights-of-way.
         (a)   The landscape area along rights-of-way shall be designed to maintain continuous natural corridors along existing and proposed rights-of-way. This landscaped area shall be a minimum of 30 feet in depth from the edge of the right-of-way to off-street parking areas.
         (b)   The 30-foot buffer area between the right-of-way and an on-site parking area may be selectively thinned if fully wooded or shall be planted with shade trees 40 to 50 feet apart along the right-of-way if void of vegetation.
      (3)   Landscape areas within parking lots. Five percent of the interior of any parking, loading, or other vehicular use area shall be landscaped. The location of such landscaping is at the option of the developer; provided, however, the following standards shall apply.
         (a)   Shade trees within parking areas shall be provided at a minimum rate of one tree per ten parking spaces. Shrubs shall be planted at a rate of two shrubs per ten parking spaces.
         (b)   No more than ten parking spaces shall be permitted in a continuous row without being interrupted by a landscaped island of not less than six feet in width. Such landscape island shall be planted with one shade tree.
         (c)   Each parking row shall terminate in a landscape island of not less than ten feet in width. Such landscaped island shall be planted with one shade tree.
         (d)   Parked vehicles may overhang a landscaped median strip no more than three feet, provided curbing or other wheel stops are installed to ensure no greater overhang or penetration of the median strip.
         (e)   Landscaped islands and median strips shall be planted in grass or any year-round ground cover and/or mulched.
      (4)   Exemption from division (E)(3) above. The provisions of division (E)(3) above shall not be applicable in the following situations:
         (a)   Where any off-street parking, loading, or other vehicular use area will be entirely screened from the public view and from abutting property by a building or structure; or
         (b)   Where the total parking area contains less than ten parking spaces.
   (F)   Buffer areas.
      (1)   Function. The function of buffer areas is to provide visual and noise barriers between adjacent land uses, or between a land use and a public road which block out both visual nuisances, such as glare from lights, and shield the source of noise from view, thereby reducing its perceived impacts. Additionally, buffers may serve as a protective or safety barrier, by blocking physical passage. The provision of buffer areas enables land uses of varying intensities to be approximate to each other, thereby accommodating the needs and values of both the developer and adjacent landowners.
      (2)   Buffer design. The design of buffer areas shall utilize distance, vegetative material, and structural elements such as fences, privacy walls, berms, or other approved elements. One or more of these features shall be required depending on adjacent existing or proposed uses.
   (G)   Standards relating to plant materials selected for installation.
      (1)   Plant selection. Plants selected for use must be shown to be tolerant to the climatic conditions of the county. It is recommended that predominately indigenous plant species be used which would enable newly installed plants to blend in with natural vegetated conditions. Foliage type, light conditions, rate of growth, ultimate size, and primary uses shall also be considered when selecting plant species.
      (2)   Size standards. All landscaping required within this section shall conform with the following minimum size standards.
 
Minimum Plant Size at Planting
Plant Material Type
Minimum Size
Minimum Branch Spread
Trees (Deciduous):
Flowering/ornamental; multi-stem 8 ft. height
4 ft.
Flowering/ornamental; single-stem
8 ft. height and 1-1/4" caliper
4 ft.
Shade
12 ft. height and 2" caliper
4 ft.
Trees (Evergreen):
Evergreen
4 ft. height and 1-1/4" caliper
N/A
Shrubs:
Deciduous
24" height or spread
N/A
Evergreen
18" height or spread
N/A
 
      (3)   Quality standards. All plant materials installed on a site shall be of high quality and in excellent condition at planting. The Land Use Administrator may withhold the release of required guarantees until plants which are deemed to be undersized, inappropriate, in poor condition, or improperly planted are satisfactorily replaced or repositioned.
   (H)   Maintenance of landscaping and buffering. The property owner, or his or her successors, shall be responsible for the perpetuation and maintenance of all landscaping, fencing, and buffering materials required by this chapter as shown on an approved landscape plan. Failure to maintain such landscaping, fencing, and buffering shall be deemed a violation of this chapter.
      (1)   Vegetation maintenance. All plant material required by this chapter or as shown on the plan shall be tended and maintained in a healthy growing condition, replaced when necessary, and kept free of refuse, litter, and debris.
      (2)   Buffer maintenance. All fences, walls, and buffering required by this chapter or shown on the plan shall be maintained in good repair and kept free of refuse, litter, and debris.
      (3)   Replacement vegetation to conform to approved plan. All landscaping material shown on the plan which may subsequently be replaced on the site shall conform with the original approved landscape plan with respect to size and characteristics of the plantings. In meeting the terms of this section, the replacement of mature trees on site shall require the installation of trees of a similar species.
(Ord. passed 11-9-1995)  Penalty, see § 157.999