§ 154-14.01  Aesthetic Overlay District (AO).
   (A)   Purpose.
      (1)   The Aesthetic Overlay District is an overlay to the underlying zoning district which may be used in combination with any zoning district provided in this zoning code. The purpose of the Aesthetic Overlay District is to enhance the community’s image and attractiveness through creation of visually pleasing and inviting entryways of the city as well as providing community focal points or areas where the design of the physical improvements and landscape enhances the community’s appearance.
(Ord. O2009-54, passed 10-21-2009)
      (2)   This purpose is to be accomplished by:
         (a)   Creating review procedures that establish the authority to review, recommend and approve proposed physical design elements within the viewshed and the general location of major transportation corridors that are prominent entry points to the city;
         (b)   Focusing on community design principles that result in creative, imaginative solutions, that establish high quality design for specific areas of the city;
         (c)   Providing for site development that utilizes the unique characteristics of the site (such as location, surroundings, topography or natural resources) and creates areas which are visually attractive to both the occupants, tenants and the general public;
         (d)   Minimizing conflicts between automobiles, pedestrians and bicycles; creating parking and loading/unloading areas which are attractive and unobtrusive; and maintaining efficient vehicular circulation;
         (e)   Providing safe and convenient access between and within all development in the district; and
         (f)   Providing landscaping which visually enhances both on-site and off-site development.
('80 Code, App. A, § 113)  (Ord. 583, passed 9-16-1952; Ord. 2663, passed 7-20-1994; Ord. O2009-54, passed 10-21-2009)
   (B)   Applicability.
      (1)   The Aesthetic Overlay District does not modify uses permitted in existing zones, but that the district be superimposed over existing zones with each use conforming to the development standards required by the underlying zoning district. The provisions and regulations of the Aesthetic Overlay District are in addition to all other provisions and regulations of the zoning code that apply to the underlying zoning as determined on the official zoning map of the city. Should provisions of the Aesthetic Overlay District conflict with other provisions of the zoning code or the General Plan, the more restrictive provisions shall apply.
      (2)   The Aesthetic Overlay District may be used in combination with any zoning district provided in the zoning code.
('80 Code, App. A, § 113)  (Ord. 583, passed 9-16-1952; Ord. 2663, passed 7-20-1994; Ord. O2009-54, passed 10-21-2009)
   (C)   Design review procedure.  The project design plan shall be submitted and approved by the Design and Historic Review Commission (DHRC) prior to the issuance of any construction or development permits (see § 154-03.08).
(Ord. O2009-54, passed 10-21-2009)
   (D)   Property development standards.
      (1)   Walls and fences.
         (a)   Any decorative or screening walls or fences must be either a masonry design or a well-foliaged plant wall.
         (b)   Chain link fencing, with or without slats, is not an acceptable screening or fencing material for areas visible from a public street. Razor wire, concertina wire or similar material shall not be used in areas visible from a public street.
         (c)   Walls located on a property line shall provide a minimum five foot wide landscaping strip located along said walls. Landscaping within this strip shall meet the requirements stated in Article 20 of this chapter.
      (2)   Landscaping.
         (a)   All landscaped areas, whether required or provided voluntarily, shall meet the requirements stated in Article 20 of this chapter.
         (b)   All landscape materials shall be allowed to grow to their natural height and shape appropriate for that plant.
         (c)   Automatic irrigation (maximizing drip irrigation) is required for all landscaped areas.
         (d)   Buildings shall be located so that the building does not abut paved parking areas or drive aisles. A minimum five foot wide landscape strip shall be provided between parking areas or drive aisles and the building. This landscape strip shall not be included in the calculation of interior parking lot landscaping required in Article 16 of this chapter. Twenty-five percent of the square footage of the landscape strip requirement may be used for pedestrian sidewalks. This landscape strip requirement shall be waived for areas adjacent to the building that are designed as access to loading dock(s) and delivery areas and that are screened from view from public streets.
         (e)   Accessible pedestrian route(s) shall be provided between public street sidewalks and accessible entrances to buildings on site.
      (3)   Signs.
         (a)   Project identification signs shall be placed on monuments, building facades or on low profile walls.
            1.   Monument signs.  To encourage design flexibility, the maximum height of the sign may be lowered in order to decrease required setback from the street. No signs shall be permitted within visibility sight triangles. Low profile signs may be setback from the property line as follows:
 
Over 6 feet in height
12-foot setback
4 feet to 6 feet
6-foot setback
4 feet or less
2-foot setback
 
            2.   Pedestal sign; and
            3.   Signs shall be fully integrated with the design of the building and the site development, reflecting the architecture and the building materials. The means of integrating signs with the architecture of the building shall be achieved through replication of architectural embellishments, colors, building materials, texture and other elements found in the building design.
         (b)   Window signs shall not exceed two square feet in area per tenant space and are limited to business identification, hours of operation, address and emergency information.
         (c)   Window signs are prohibited above the ground level floor of the building.
         (d)   Lettering or icons located on canopies or awnings shall not exceed 5% of the total square footage of the canopy or awning located on the particular facade on which the canopy or awning is attached.
         (e)   The following sign types are prohibited in the Aesthetic Overlay District:
            1.   Animated signs;
            2.   Portable signs;
            3.   Revolving signs;
            4.   Flashing signs;
            5.   Banner signs;
            6.   Swinging signs;
            7.   Under-canopy signs;
            8.   Roof-mounted signs;
            9.   Internally-lit awning and canopy signs; and
            10.   Pole mounted signs.
      (4)   Utilities.  All utilities shall be placed underground. In the event an above ground electrical transformer is located outdoors on any site within the Aesthetic Overlay District, it shall be screened from view with a landscaping and not located within any setback area. If the transformer cannot be screened, it shall be located in an underground vault. Exceptions to this requirement are as follows:
         (a)   Transformers, pedestal-mounted terminal boxes, meter cabinets and concealed ducts may be placed above ground, if they are used solely in connection with the underground transmission or distribution lines;
         (b)   Poles supporting street lights;
         (c)   If topography, soil or other physical conditions prevent underground installation of utilities unreasonable or impractical, the Design and Historic Review Commission may waive the requirement; and
         (d)   The remodeling of existing structures, where the cost of remodeling is less than 50% of the replacement cost of the existing structure as determined for building permit fees shall be exempt.
      (5)   Parking structures.
         (a)   Parking lot landscaping shall be designed to include tree varieties to provide shaded parking at growth maturity for a minimum of 30% of the required parking stalls.
         (b)   A bike rack shall be provided for each building on site.
      (6)   Lighting.  Minimum standards for lighting for properties located within the Aesthetic Overlay District are as follows.
         (a)   Aisles, passageways and recesses related to and within the building complex shall be illuminated with an intensity of a minimum of one maintained footcandle at the ground level and at seven feet vertical between sunset and sunrise.
         (b)   Open parking lots shall be illuminated with a minimum of one maintained footcandle of light on the parking surface and at seven feet vertical between sunset and sunrise.
         (c)   All exterior entrances shall be illuminated with a minimum of five maintained footcandles at ground level and at seven feet vertical between the hours of sunset and sunrise, with a minimum 15-foot radius from the center point of the entrance.
         (d)   Closed and covered parking structures and carports shall be illuminated with a minimum of five maintained footcandles at ground level and at seven feet vertical between the hours of sunset and sunrise; during daylight hours, the area shall be illuminated with a minimum of ten footcandles.
         (e)   Greenway trails, pathways, linear parks, multi-use trails and similar facilities shall be illuminated with a minimum of one-half maintained footcandle at ground level and at seven feet vertical between sunset and sunrise.
         (f)   Lighting devices shall be protected by weather and vandal-resistant covers.
('80 Code, App. A, § 113)  (Ord. 583, passed 9-16-1952; Ord. 2663, passed 7-20-1994; Ord. O2001-94, passed 11-20-2001; Ord. O2003-38, passed 8-20-2003; Ord. O2009-54, passed 10-21-2009)  Penalty, see § 154-999
   (E)   Aesthetic Overlay District Design guidelines.  The Aesthetic Overlay District Design guidelines upon adoption by the City Council, shall be used in conjunction with this chapter to provide guidance for the property owners, tenants and design professionals in the preparation of a project design plan.
('80 Code, App. A, § 113)  (Ord. 583, passed 9-16-1952; Ord. 2663, passed 7-20-1994)
   (F)   Building permits based upon approved project design.  Within one year of approval of a project design by the Design and Historic Review Commission, a building permit may be granted for a site based upon the project design approved by the Design and Historic Review Commission. If more than one year has elapsed since approval of the project design for that location, such design plan shall be resubmitted to the Design and Historic Review Commission to accept or modify the design previously approved, prior to issuance of a building permit.
('80 Code, App. A, § 113)  (Ord. 583, passed 9-16-1952; Ord. 2663, passed 7-20-1994; Ord. O2009-54, passed 10-21-2009)
   (G)   Amendments to approved project design.  Any substantial amendment or modification to an approved project design shall be reviewed by the Design and Historic Review Commission.
('80 Code, App. A, § 113)  (Ord. 583, passed 9-16-1952; Ord. 2663, passed 7-20-1994; Ord. O2009-54, passed 10-21-2009)
   (H)   Minor project design plan changes within the Aesthetic Overlay.
      (1)   The Zoning Administrator, or his or her designee, shall have the authority to review modifications to an approved project design only for minor changes that do not substantially change the visual appearance of the project as approved by the Design and Historic Review Commission. The Design and Historic Review Commission will be advised of any administrative decisions pursuant to this section.
      (2)   Minor project design changes include, but are not limited to:
         (a)   Slight color palette changes;
         (b)   Exterior wall or fencing alterations;
         (c)   Slight materials change; and
         (d)   Insignificant signage material or color changes.
('80 Code, App. A, § 113)  (Ord. 583, passed 9-16-1952; Ord. 2663, passed 7-20-1994; Ord. O2008-31, passed 8-6-2008; Ord. O2009-54, passed 10-21-2009; Ord. O2010-32, passed 7-7-2010)