(a)    Side and Rear Buffer Yard Establishment. When a continuous physical screen is
required by this Zoning Code to prevent visual access from one use to another, then a buffer yard will be required as identified in the "Landscape Requirements Matrix" in Subsection (c) below. Once a buffer yard has been approved by the City and established by the owner, it may not be used, disturbed or altered unless it complies with the regulations of this section.
      (1)    Where vegetative and/or topographic conditions that provide a natural screening and buffer exists prior to development of properties in question, every effort shall be made to retain such conditions. In such cases, additional screening may not be required, provided that provision is made for maintenance of such areas.
      (2)    The requirement for a wall, fence or greenbelt may be waived if equivalent screening is provided by existing or planned parks, parkways, recreation areas or by topography or their natural conditions.
      (3)    The space between such fence, wall or planting screen and the lot line of the adjoining premises in any residential district shall be landscaped with grass, hardy shrubs, or evergreen ground cover and maintained in good condition.
      (4)    Required buffer strips shall consist of maintained living vegetative material such as trees, shrubs, ornamental plants; earth mounding or fencing made of wood that results in one hundred percent (100%) opacity to a minimum height of six feet (6') at the time of installation to effectively shield the view from these respective adjacent parcels.
   (b)    Right-of-way, Easements, and Setbacks.
      (1)    Required landscaping may be placed wholly or partially in the right-of way, utility or other easements, providing all landscaping requirements can be fulfilled and written approval is granted by the holder of the easements and/or right-of-way.
      (2)    Street trees shall be placed within the tree lawn, unless restricted due to underground utility locations. Shrubs shall not be permitted in tree lawns. Trees placed under or within 20-feet of overhead utility wires shall be limited to "small trees" as approved by the Waterville Tree Commission.
      (3)    In no case, however, shall landscaping (including annuals, perennials, and grasses) and buffer yards be established so as to block the sight distance at street or drive intersections. Ground cover and trees with at least eight feet of limbless trunk may be permitted within the sight distance triangle. In the case of a street intersection, the sight triangle shall consist of the area between points 20 feet along both intersecting streets from their respective edge of pavements.
   (c)    Landscaping for Vehicular Use Areas. Landscaping within parking areas, whether ground cover or upright plant material, is necessary not only to reduce the generation of heat and water runoff, but also to break up, visually, the expanse of paved areas. The use of parking islands or peninsulas strategically placed throughout the parking lot is required to landscape parking lot interiors. The use of shade trees in these landscape areas is encouraged. All off-street parking areas, access drives or other vehicle use areas shall be landscaped with plantings of grass, shrubs or trees according to the following minimum requirements:
      (1)   Amount of landscaping required.
         A.    Landscaping for any outdoor parking area containing six or more spaces shall be provided around its perimeter as indicated in the "Landscape Requirements Matrix.
         B.    Vehicular use areas containing more than 6,000 square feet of area or 20 or more vehicular parking spaces, whichever is less, shall provide interior landscaping of the peninsular or island types of uncompacted, well-drained soil as well as perimeter landscaping. An area equal to five percent (5%) of the total area devoted to parking space and parking lanes shall be landscaped and permeable.
      (2)    Perimeter Landscaping Requirements.
         A.    Parking lots shall have a perimeter buffer of a minimum of five feet with a vertical six-inch concrete curb on the parking lot side.
         B.    The perimeter buffer shall contain elements such as mounding, trees, ground cover and shrubs that will achieve an effective, continuous screen of a height of at least three feet at maturity. Mounding shall not exceed a 3 to 1 slope.
         C.    Perimeter landscaping shall also contain deciduous trees.
      (3)    Interior Landscape Requirements.
         A.    Minimum area. The minimum landscape area permitted shall be 112 square feet, with a minimum inside dimension width of seven feet.
         B.    Maximum contiguous area. In order to encourage the required landscape areas to be properly dispersed, no individual landscape area shall be larger than 350 square feet in size in vehicular use areas less than 30,000 square feet and no  individual area shall be larger than 1,500 square feet in size in vehicular areas over 30,000 square feet. Individual landscape areas larger than that indicated above shall be permitted as long as the additional area is in excess of the required minimum total for the vehicular use area.
      (4)    Minimum Tree Specifications.
         A.    Two trees shall be installed for every 5,000 square feet of total ground covered by structures and pavement.
         B.    To retain visibility, deciduous trees shall have a clear trunk of at least five feet above the ground. The remaining area shall be landscaped with hardwood  mulch, shrubs, and/or ground cover, not to exceed two feet in height.
         C.    Trees shall be planted at least four feet from the edge of pavement where vehicles overhang.
         D.    Permitted trees to fulfill this requirement include those listed in the list of "Recommended Trees". Grouped ornamental and evergreen trees cannot be used to fulfill this requirement. The required number of trees may be placed in any landscaped area of sufficient size to support a mature tree specimen and shall meet the requirements defined in subsection (d) below.
      (5)   Vehicle overhang. Parked vehicles may hang over the interior landscaped area no more than two (2) feet. Concrete or other wheel stops shall be provided to ensure no greater overhang or penetration into the landscaped area.
      (6)    Grass or ground cover.  Grass or ground cover shall be planted on all portions of the property not occupied by structures, vehicular use areas or other plant material.  Any form of mulch shall only define a landscaped area and shall not be permitted to be installed in lieu of grass or ground cover.
   (d)    Landscaping for Service Structures and Outside Storage. Service structures and outside storage areas shall be screened in all zoning districts. Service structures shall include but not be limited to: loading docks, propane tanks, dumpsters, electrical transformers, utility vaults and other equipment or elements providing service to a building or a site.  Structures may be grouped together; however, screening height shall be based upon the tallest of the structures.
      (1)    Location of Screening.  A continuous planting of evergreen, fence, wall or earthen mound must enclose any service structure on all sides, unless such structure must be frequently moved or accessed, in which case screening material shall be established on three sides and shall be at least one foot taller than the height of the enclosed structure, but shall not be required to exceed ten feet in height in any case. If the fourth side is visible from the public right-of-way, it shall be gated and screened. Gates, fencing or walls shall be maintained at a height of not less than four (4) feet and shall be constructed of similar materials to match or blend with the principal building in appearance and color.  Plant material used to screen a service structure shall be an evergreen species that retains its needles throughout the year. Deciduous plant material cannot be used to fulfill this screening requirement. The height of the evergreen plant material at installation must be equal to, or greater than, two-thirds of the height of the service structure(s) or outside storage material and meet the height and one hundred percent (100%) opacity requirement within four years.
       (2)    Whenever a service structure is located next to a building, wall, or vehicular use area, the building, wall, or vehicular use screening material may fulfill the screening requirement for that side of the service structure if the building, wall, or screening material is of sufficient height to meet the height requirements set out in this section.
      (3)    Whenever service structures are screened by plant material, such material may count toward the fulfillment of required interior or perimeter landscaping. No interior landscaping shall be required within an area screened for service structures.
      (4)    Protection of Screening.  Whenever screening material is placed around any trash disposal unit or waste collection unit which is emptied or removed mechanically on a regular basis, a barrier shall be provided which will prevent damage to the screening when the container is moved or emptied. 
(Ord. 26-05.  Passed 1-23-06.)