Friday, December 09, 2011

TOP STORY >> Cabot developers will see new rules

Leader staff writer

Two members of the Cabot Planning Commission proposed an ordinance this week that would require commercial developers to not only landscape their projects but meet standards set by the city.

Currently, developers are required to landscape but that could be as little as planting a bush and a tree somewhere on the perimeter.

The proposed ordinance, requires at a minimum, a 10-foot wide landscaped area consisting of one tree and 10 shrubs every 50 feet along public streets and parking lots with 20 or more parking spaces must have five feet of landscaping for every 100 feet of parking space.

The proposed ordinance also requires screening dumpsters with fencing or evergreen landscaping.

The proposal also is specific about the types of trees, shrubs and grass acceptable for landscaping and requires owners to maintain what they plant or be cited in district court where they could be fined.

James Reid and Dennis Hyland, who drafted the proposed ordinance, excluded the Bradford pear from the list of approved trees.

The commission also cut honeysuckle, dwarf bamboo and pampas grass from the approved list. Honeysuckle and bamboo are invasive, they said.

And pampas grass might be good as a screen, but it also obscures the view of intersections.

The list of approved trees includes loblolly pine, pin oak, sawtooth oak, sugar hackberry, willow oak, American holly, ash, crepe myrtle and river birch.

Approved grass includes zoysia, Bermuda, centipede and St. Augustine.

The proposal includes height requirements to keep landscaping from blocking the view at street and driveway intersections.

Residential developments and duplexes on a single lot are excluded from the proposed landscaping ordinance. But duplex developments and apartment complexes would be included.

Hyland said during the Tuesday night planning commission meeting that Cabot has several parking lots with no interior landscaping.

But he also said that requiring developers to plant is not enough so the proposal also requires the maintenance of the plants to keep them from dying.

The commission will review the proposed ordinance at least one more time before sending it to the city council’s public works committee.

That committee will have to send it to the full city council before it can be approved as city law.