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(A) Purpose and intent. The purpose and intent of these regulations is to maintain a sense of openness associated with rural areas within newly constructed developments and the county in general, preserve and protect significant and sensitive natural and cultural resources, and provide active and passive recreational opportunities approximate to the citizens of the county.
(B) Plan of development submittal requirements. Plans of development shall identify the location and type of common open space and the type of proposed recreational uses and facilities. Justification of the recreational uses proposed should be provided and compliance with these regulations shall be demonstrated.
(C) General requirements.
(1) Open space required. All development shall include open space areas as part of the plan of development. Open space shall generally mean all areas not utilized for buildings, roads and parking, loading areas, or accessory structures. Areas qualifying as open space include, but are not limited to, natural undisturbed areas, lands for the continuation of agricultural activities, landscaped areas, ponds and lakes, wetlands, dedicated wildlife preserves, buffer areas, and ancillary recreational amenities such as playlots, playgrounds, swimming pools, tennis courts, and golf courses.
(a) An effective open space system should tie together a number of diverse recreational activity areas with adequate pedestrian pathways and auto/bicycle access for those it is intended to serve. As many homes as possible should have direct access to the open space of a development.
(b) Active recreation should be visibly close but shall not interfere with the privacy of adjacent residents. These areas should be designed to accommodate the recreational needs of the project’s intended age groups.
(c) Wherever feasible, the common open space shall connect into existing county parks, recreation lands, historic sites, or lands proposed for park, recreation, or conservation in the Comprehensive Plan, or lands in adjacent developments that are set aside, or proposed to be set aside, for common open space.
(D) Preservation open space and recreational open space. As a landscape feature and asset, permanently protected open space is encouraged in all developments, even when not required. The objectives of open space preservation is to provide the opportunity and space for active and passive recreation in all areas of human activity and residence, to protect and enhance the county’s natural amenities such as wooded areas, waterbodies, streams, greenbelts, and to reinforce the rural environment of the county through the protection of traditional agricultural activities.
(1) Historic and natural resources. Sites containing historic resources and natural amenities shall be preserved so as to protect such amenities for present and future county residents. Historic resources and natural amenities as identified in the resource inventory are areas of unique character. This may include, but is not limited to, bodies of water, streams, wetlands, unique vistas, and landscape features, farms, historic structures, and landmarks.
(2) Using resources as amenities. Land developments in the county shall be designed to preserve and utilize these features as amenities. The plan of development shall utilize these amenities for design themes, preserving their heritage and enhancing their significance. The following standards shall apply:
(a) Utilize the uniqueness of the existing bodies of water, unique landscape features, historic structures and landmarks, and farms within the plan as amenities;
(b) Provide landscaping as required, integrated with existing vegetation or prevailing landscaping themes; and
(c) When appropriate, the development of historical markers or displays is encouraged.
(F) Pedestrian spaces.
(1) Intent. Pedestrian spaces shall be designed to promote free and safe movement of pedestrians and bicycles into, in between, and through proposed and existing facilities and to provide pleasant pedestrian spaces at building entrances and development centers.
(2) Standards for pedestrian spaces. The following standards shall apply.
(a) Pedestrian and bicycle access shall be provided from public roadways, parking lots, and adjacent land uses where appropriate.
(b) The layout of pedestrian walkways shall be consistent with the overall design.
(c) Plantings along pathways shall provide shade, orientation, and views.
(d) Benches and sitting areas shall be provided along pathways where appropriate and particularly where they can incorporate or provide views of a significant landscape feature, recreational facility, or interesting site design of the project.
(e) Adequate bicycle parking for development sites shall be provided as necessary.
(f) Building entrances, plazas, exterior malls, and village centers shall receive detailed pedestrian scale landscape architectural treatments. Plantings shall include shade trees, evergreen and ornamental trees, and shrubs. The planting design shall provide visual variety and interest, spatial enclosure and separation from parking areas, and protection from sun and wind. Sitting areas with benches or seat walls shall be provided.
(G) Recreational facilities.
(1) Bike/hike paths. Bike/hike paths should be used to connect open spaces between recreational facilities and between residential buildings and other uses. Vehicular conflicts with open space pathways are discouraged. Depending on use and location, bike/hike paths shall be asphalt, concrete, gravel, soil, cement, stabilized earth, or wood planking and be of a width suitable for the projected use.
(2) Play lots. Play lots shall be a minimum of 2,000 square feet for toddlers and up to 5,000 square feet for older children. They are primarily used by preschool age children. Facilities include swings, slides, play sculptures, and benches for parents. One play lot for the first 50 dwellings and one additional play lot for each of the next 100 dwellings shall be provided.
(3) Playgrounds. Playgrounds are designed for a variety of uses and the equipment selected should reflect anticipated patronage. Sandboxes and play sculptures should be provided for young children and basketball courts/backboards and tennis courts for active participants of all ages. The size of areas reserved for playgrounds shall be two acres for 50 to 150 dwelling units with an acre added for each additional 100 dwelling units.
(4) Tennis courts. One tennis court shall be provided for each 100 dwelling units.
(5) Swimming pools. A swimming pool complex shall be provided in any development containing 200-plus dwelling units. A series of smaller pools relating to individual housing groups should be considered instead of a centrally located, large pool. Wading pools should be provided where the anticipated child population indicates that they will be used.
(6) Community buildings. In developments of over 150 dwelling units, consideration shall be given toward a recreation center/community multipurpose building. Such facilities should be within walking or easy biking distance of the majority of residents it is intended to serve.
(7) Other amenities. Jogging trails and exercise stations, benches and sitting areas, and community garden plots are other amenities which may warrant consideration.
(8) Waiving provisions. The provision of recreational facilities may be waived in whole or in part by the plan-approving authority given the nature of the development and the demographic profile of its anticipated residents.
(H) Completion of improvements prior to the issuance of a certificate of occupancy. Recreational and open space facilities and improvements shall be completed and available for use prior to the issuance of any certificates of occupancy for dwelling units in the development. The plan-approving authority may, however, approve a phased development schedule for recreational facilities which generally corresponds to the overall phasing of the development itself.
(I) Ownership and maintenance of common open space.
(1) Ownership methods. The type of ownership of land dedicated for open space purposes shall be selected by the owner or developer, subject to the approval of the plan-approving authority. Common open space areas shall be owned permanently, preserved, and maintained by any of the following mechanisms or combinations thereof.
(a) Dedication of common open space to an appropriate public agency, if there is a public agency willing to accept the dedication.
(b) Common ownership of the open space by a property owners’ or homeowners’ association or a similar entity approved by the authority which assumes full responsibility for its maintenance.
(c) Deed-restricted private ownership which shall prevent development and/or subsequent subdivision of the common open space land and provide for the maintenance responsibility of the deed restriction.
(2) May not be dissolved. Ownership organizations shall not be dissolved and shall not dispose of any open space, by sale or otherwise, except to an organization conceived and established to own and maintain common open space for the benefit of the development.
(3) Property owners’ association. If the open space is owned and maintained by a homeowner or condominium association, the developer shall submit a declaration of covenants and restrictions that will govern the association, with the application for the preliminary approval. The provisions shall include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:
(a) The homeowners’ association must be established before the homes are sold;
(b) Membership must be mandatory for each home buyer and any successive buyer;
(c) The open space restrictions must be permanent, not just for a period of years;
(d) The association must be responsible for liability insurance, local taxes, and the maintenance of recreational and other facilities;
(e) Homeowners must pay their annual pro rata share of the cost; the assessment levied by the association may become a lien on the property if provided for in the master deed establishing the homeowners’ association; and
(f) The association must be able to adjust the assessment to meet changed needs.
(4) County acceptance or acquisition of common open space.
(a) Any lands offered to the county shall be located and of a size that will best suit the purposes for which the lands are intended, and be conveyed by deed at the time final approval is granted subject to approval by the plan-approving authority (and the Board of Supervisors where lands are offered to the county).
(b) Where a proposed park, public waterway, and/or waterfront access site, playground, school, refuse container site, public safety facility, or other public facility or public use as shown on the Comprehensive Plan is located in whole or in part on land within a development, the land shall be dedicated or reserved for purchase by the county or other appropriate agency.
(c) Land reserved for public purchase shall be shown on recorded plats as lots by means of dashed lines and numbers on the preliminary and final plats and may be sold as such without filing an amended plat. If public action to acquire the land has not been initiated within 18 months of recording the final plat, the owners of said lots may obtain permits for the development given the county’s relinquishment of rights to purchase.
(Ord. passed 11-9-1995) Penalty, see § 157.999