Borough of Bellefonte, PA
Centre County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
The intent of this article is to provide landscaping requirements which:
A. 
Enhance and promote the image of the community.
B. 
Protect the public health, safety and welfare by:
(1) 
Screening and buffering incompatible land uses.
(2) 
Minimizing noise, air, water, dust and visual pollution.
(3) 
Preserving property values and the character of neighborhoods.
(4) 
Reducing the heat and glare absorbed and radiated by development.
(5) 
Helping control soil erosion.
(6) 
Increasing traffic safety.
C. 
Increase the variety of plant materials used in landscape plans.
D. 
Improve the aesthetics of the site through seasonal diversity of plantings.
A. 
Required buffers shall be reserved solely for open space and landscaping. No proposed building addition, structure, parking area or any other type of physical land improvement shall be located in a required buffer, provided that driveways or roads may cross required buffers if necessary to provide access to the building site. Sidewalks, bikeways and pedestrian paths may also be located within required buffers.
B. 
All selected trees and shrubs must be listed on the official municipal plant list.
C. 
All landscaping, trees and planting materials adjacent to parking areas, loading areas or driveways shall be properly protected by barriers, curbs or other means from damage by vehicles. In addition, the tree or shrub shall be planted a minimum of three feet from any curb.
D. 
Plant materials with seasonal diversity should be selected and distributed throughout the site.
E. 
Unless otherwise regulated by this chapter, any vacant portion of a lot not in use shall be planted with such vegetation as grass, ground cover, trees and shrubs, except for gardens left vacant in nongrowing seasons.
In the event that one or more of the sections of this article is applicable and there is a conflict among them, the more restrictive section requirement shall apply.
When a site or land development plan requires the installation of landscaping subject to the requirements of this article, a landscaping plan shall be submitted along with the site or land development plan. The landscaping plan shall show the following:
A. 
The location of all buffer yards and planting areas shall be graphically depicted.
B. 
The plan must graphically depict the distribution, mature height and spread of all required plant materials.
C. 
The plan must show a table which identifies the required and proposed number of each plant species being provided for each type of buffer, screen or other use (i.e., the number of plants within each flexible buffer yard, corridor overlay buffer, parking lot, general site). The table shall also identify the botanical and common name of each plant, the mature height and spread, and the symbol used for the plant.
D. 
The plan must identify the specific size and species of materials, both vegetative and fencing, which will be used for screening of trash collection and storage areas.
A. 
The owner or his agent shall be responsible for the maintenance, repair and replacement of all landscaping materials and screening fences or walls to maintain conformance with the landscaping requirements.
B. 
Any plant material that is 25% dead or more shall be considered dead and must be replaced.
C. 
Replacements shall be made during the first spring or fall planting season following the death of the plants.
D. 
Replacements shall be of the same size and type (canopy, understory, shrub) of plant as shown on the plan.
E. 
All parking lots and buffer yards shall be kept free of litter and trash.
All landscape material planted shall meet or exceed the following standards at the time of planting:
A. 
All canopy trees shall reach a minimum height of 20 feet at maturity and shall have a caliper of at least two inches at planting. Canopy trees are to be planted such that the majority of the canopy is located on the site of the applicant's land development.
B. 
All evergreen trees shall reach a minimum height of 20 feet at maturity and shall be a minimum of six feet tall at planting.
C. 
All understory trees shall reach a minimum height of 10 feet at maturity and shall have a caliper of 1 1/2 inches at planting.
D. 
All deciduous or evergreen shrubs used for general or parking lot landscaping must be a minimum of two gallons at planting.
E. 
Where the plantings identified in Subsections A through D, immediately above, would result in an inappropriate or impractical design due to underground utilities, overhead wires or other factors, the following substitutions may be made:
(1) 
Two understory trees (one-and-one-half-inch caliper) may be substituted for one canopy tree.
(2) 
Two evergreen trees may be substituted for one canopy tree.
(3) 
One evergreen tree may be substituted for five shrubs.
A. 
Where an existing hedgerow or forested area is located within a proposed buffer yard, the use of existing vegetation is encouraged to the extent that a suitable buffer will be provided. One existing canopy tree of at least four-inch caliper may be substituted for one new tree. The existing tree must be listed on the municipality's official plant list or approved substitution list.
B. 
Existing understory trees and shrubs may be substituted for new understory trees or shrubs. The existing trees and shrubs must be listed on the municipality's official plant list.
C. 
In an area where the canopy trees will not allow for the planting and growth of understory trees, four shrubs could be planted in lieu of each required understory tree.
D. 
Prior to plan approval, the plan for tree substitution must be verified by the Zoning Officer.
Existing site vegetative tree growth of four-inch trunk diameter or larger is encouraged.
Lots separated by a bona fide drainageway, creekway or stream channel may not substitute such condition for a portion of any corresponding buffer yard width.
All trash collection and storage areas shall be screened from all adjoining properties and streets with vegetative materials and/or fences of at least eight feet in height at the time of installation.
No tree, shrub, fence, wall or similar item shall be installed in the sight triangle of any corner, street intersection or accessway intersecting a public right-of-way that would cause an obstruction to visibility.
A. 
Purpose. Flexible buffer yards are intended to aid the municipality in protecting community character by separating incompatible uses either within the same zoning district and/or between adjacent zoning districts. The purpose of the flexible buffer yard requirements is to alleviate problems which could be encountered by a single standard. The requirements of this article can reasonably accommodate the characteristics of each site and the range of land uses.
B. 
Procedure. The following procedure shall be used to determine the type of buffer yard required between two uses located on separate but abutting parcels:
(1) 
Step one. Identify the land use classification of the proposed use and of all existing uses located on separate adjoining lots by referring to the Land Use Intensity Classification Chart as follows:
Land Use Intensity Classification Chart
Group I
Agricultural
Single-family detached residential use(s)
Nonagricultural residential lot
Stormwater detention basin
Group II
Public/private recreational areas
Townhouses, multifamily housing, duplexes
Churches and other places of worship
Schools
Group III
All uses not identified in Group I or II. If there is a question as to which group a use should be classified under, the municipal Zoning Officer shall determine the group based on the most comparable land use to the use listed in the application for a zoning permit. The use group of vacant land adjacent to the site is determined by identifying the least-intensive use permitted within the applicable zoning district.
(2) 
Step two. Determine the buffer yard required between uses by referring to the following Buffer Yard Table 1.
(a) 
The table set forth below displays the range of buffer yard requirements associated with the site use from the use groups found on the Land Use Intensity Classification Chart at Subsection B(1) above. The letters "A" through "D" denote the planting plan buffer option set forth in Buffer Yard Table 2. The letter "N" means that no buffer yard is required.
Buffer Yard Table 1
Land Use Intensity Classification of Proposed Development
Land Use Intensity Classification of Adjacent Lot(s)
Group I
Group II
Group III
Group I
N
N
N
Group II
B
A
C
Group III
D
C
A
(3) 
Step three. Determine the specific buffer yard to be used based on the options for each buffer yard in the following table (Buffer Yard Table 2).
(a) 
Table 2 below displays the range of buffer yard requirements associated with each buffer yard and shows the minimum planting units required per every 100 linear feet of distance along a site's perimeter. Areas less than 100 linear feet and/or fractions thereof are to be landscaped with the corresponding ratio by 100 linear feet, rounded up to the nearest whole plant.
Buffer Yard Table 2
Buffer Yard
Required Width
(feet)
Canopy Tree
Understory Tree, Evergreen Tree
Deciduous or Evergreen Shrub
A
30
6
2
25
3
4
15
2
6
B
30
1
4
5
25
2
5
8
15
2
6
9
C
30
2
5
9
25
2
7
12
15
1
8
15
12
1
4
8 with fence/wall
D
30
2
6
12
25
2
7
17
15
2
8
26
12
1
3
18 with fence/wall
(b) 
The installation of a fence or berm shall satisfy a portion of the buffer yard requirements of Buffer C and D as identified above if the fence consists of at least 50% fence material distributed evenly, not less than four feet nor more than six feet in height. A perimeter wall shall also satisfy a portion of the buffer yard requirements of Buffer C and D as identified above if the wall is not less than four feet nor more than six feet in height. When landscaping is being provided to buffer against a different use group than is on the site, the required plant material must be evenly distributed within each one-hundred-foot section of the buffer area. The even distribution of plantings is intended to screen objectionable views. When landscaping is being provided to buffer against the same use group as exists on the site, the required plant material may be grouped or unevenly distributed within each one-hundred-foot section of the buffer area.
(4) 
Step four. Determine the planting stock to be used as landscape materials for the buffer yard in question by referring to the municipality's official plant list.
C. 
Placement of buffer yard width. The landscaped buffer yard area shall be established along the length of, and contiguous to, any lot line or demarcation of land use, such as a leasable area. The width of the area determined from Buffer Yard Table 2 of this article shall be measured at right angles to the lot line of the applicant's land development.
A. 
All parking lots shall meet the location requirements stipulated in Article XIX, Off-Street Parking and Loading, of this chapter. All raised yards surrounding the parking lot shall be bordered by a curb six inches high along the sides of the yard area abutting the parking lot, including spaces and aisles. Where the yards are not raised, separate stops shall be provided at the end of each parking space abutting the yards. Where walkways terminate at curbs, ramps shall be provided. Parking setback areas shall be planted with grass or similar vegetative material and may include shrubs, fences or walls.
B. 
Planting areas shall be installed at the end of all parking bays abutting an aisle or driveway. The planting areas shall be bordered by a curb six inches high wherever it abuts a space or aisle and shall be at least 9.5 feet wide and extend the length of the parking space and/or bay. Each planting area shall be planted with a combination of suitable ground covers, grass and/or mulch and a minimum of one canopy tree.
C. 
Utility poles and light standards are permitted within the planting areas, provided they are separated from the spaces and aisles as detailed in Article XIX, Off-Street Parking and Loading, of this chapter. Utility poles and light standards are also permitted within the parking lot, provided the pole is surrounded on all sides by a six-inch concrete curb. The back of the curb must be a minimum of three feet away from the edge of the pole. No poles are permitted within a required parking space or drive aisle.
D. 
When parking bays incorporate more than 10 parking spaces in a continuous row, a raised island shall be incorporated within the parking bay for every 10 parking spaces. The raised island shall be bordered by a curb six inches high minimum wherever it abuts a space or aisle and shall be 9.5 feet wide and extend the length of the parking space and/or bay. Each raised island shall be planted with a combination of suitable ground covers and/or grass and a minimum of one canopy tree. No islands are required in parking lots that are less than 60 feet in width as long as perimeter planting is used around the entire parking lot with the exception of where the parking lot abuts the building. Wherever a building adjoins a parking lot perimeter, islands shall be required.
E. 
In order to provide flexibility in design, reduce heat, glare and visual expansiveness, the following option may be considered in conjunction with interior landscaped islands: provision of a continuous landscaped strip between every four bays of parking in lots that contain eight or more bays in one area. The strip shall be a minimum of 15 feet wide and shall include a vehicle overhang of 2 1/2 feet when parking spaces are adjacent to the strip. The stall length with the overhang strip may be reduced to 16 feet. The strip shall contain a landscaped area of 10 feet minimum width and shall be planted with shade trees at a ratio of at least one tree for every 45 feet of the strip length, inclusive of driveway widths. These trees shall be planted no less than 25 feet nor greater than 50 feet apart. A combination of suitable ground covers and/or grass shall cover the remainder of the strip. If the landscaped strip provides direct access to a building entrance, a minimum five-foot-wide sidewalk shall also be included in the strip. In this event, the landscaped strip will be required to be 20 feet in width, with the sidewalk in the middle of the strip. The required trees can then be planted alternately on each side of the sidewalk at the required distance.
F. 
In the event an existing parking lot is being enlarged or revised, these regulations will apply only to the new section of the parking lot.
A. 
In the HC District, the off-street parking located within the front yard setback area shall be provided with a twelve-foot-wide buffer yard between the parking lot and property line fronting any street right-of-way.
B. 
The planting shall provide shade and a view-restrictive screen for parking areas. For evening uses, the screen is intended to function to block headlight glare affecting vehicles off site. Headlights of parked vehicles must be obscured from the public right-of-way.
C. 
One of the following options shall be used for the perimeter planting:
(1) 
A minimum ten-foot-wide landscaped strip shall be planted with a minimum of one canopy tree or evergreen tree and 15 shrubs per 35 linear feet of frontage along the parking area (excluding driveway openings).
(2) 
A berm/earth mound, the top of which is at least two feet higher than the elevation of the adjacent parking lot pavement. The slope of the berm shall not exceed 25% (4:1) for lawn areas. Berms planted with ground covers and shrubs may be steeper. However, no slope shall exceed 50% (2:1). Berms shall be graded to appear as naturalistic forms not causing any soil erosion problems and planted with a minimum of one canopy tree and 10 shrubs per 35 linear feet of frontage along the parking area (excluding driveway openings).
(3) 
A six-foot-wide landscaped embankment strip and a minimum three-foot grade drop from the required yard area into any adjacent parking lot pavement. The resulting embankment shall be planted with a minimum of one canopy tree and 10 shrubs per 35 linear feet of frontage along the parking area (excluding driveway openings). At least 50% of the required shrubs shall be planted in the top half of the grade drop area.
(4) 
A minimum of a five-foot-wide landscaped strip with a minimum three-foot-high brick, stone or finished concrete material wall to screen any parking lot. The wall shall be located adjacent to, but entirely outside, the minimum five-foot-wide landscaping strip. The strip shall be planted with a minimum of one canopy tree and five shrubs per 35 linear foot of frontage along the parking area (excluding driveway openings).
D. 
No tree, fence, wall or similar item shall be installed in the sight triangle of any corner, street intersection or accessway intersecting a public right-of-way that would cause an obstruction to visibility.
Invasive species, as detailed below, shall not be permitted as a component in a landscape plan, except for those species that are existing on the site and are proposed for incorporation into the site landscaping.
A. 
Characteristics of invasive species. Invasive plants displace naturally occurring vegetation and, in the process, upset nature's balance and diversity. Invasive plants share the following characteristics:
(1) 
Rapid growth and prolific reproductive capabilities.
(2) 
Highly successful seed dispersal, germination and colonization processes.
(3) 
Rampant spreading that takes over native species.
(4) 
Costly to control.
B. 
Prohibited species. In general, aggressive, nonnative plants have no enemies or controls to limit their spread. Those listed below shall not be permitted as a component of a land development plan, except for those species that are existing on the site and are proposed for incorporation into the site landscaping.
(1) 
Trees (botanic name; common name).
(a) 
Acer platanoides; Norway maple.
(b) 
Acer pseudoplatanus; Sycamore maple.
(c) 
Ailanthus altissima; Tree-of-heaven.
(d) 
Elaeagnus angustifolia; Russian olive.
(e) 
Populus alba; White poplar.
(f) 
Ulmus pumila; Siberian elm.
(g) 
Viburnum lantana; Wayfaring tree.
(2) 
Shrubs and vines (botanic name; common name).
(a) 
Berberis thunbergii; Japanese barberry.
(b) 
Elaeagnus umbellate; Autumn olive.
(c) 
Euonymus alatus; Winged euonymus.
(d) 
Ligustrum vulgare; European privet.
(e) 
Lonicera japonica; Japanese honeysuckle.
(f) 
Lonicera maackii; Amur honeysuckle.
(g) 
Lonicera morrowii; Morrow's honeysuckle.
(h) 
Lonicera tatarica; Tartarian honeysuckle.
(i) 
Lonicera x-bella; Hybrid honeysuckle.
(j) 
Lythrum salicaria; Purple loosestrife (herbaceous).
(k) 
Morus alba; White mulberry.
(l) 
Morus rubra; Red mulberry.
(m) 
Phylostachys aubea; Bamboo.
(n) 
Rhamnus cathartica; Common buckthorn.
(o) 
Rhamnus frangula; Glossy buckthorn.
(p) 
Rosa multiflora; Multiflora rose.
(q) 
Viburnum opulus; European highbush cranberry.
Native plants appropriately selected for the site conditions provide a beautiful, hardy, low-maintenance landscape while benefiting the environment. Once established, native plants save time and money by eliminating or significantly reducing the need for fertilizers, pesticides, water and maintenance equipment.
A. 
In addition to a wide variety of plant species native to Central Pennsylvania, the following native plant list is well suited to the climate of the Nittany Valley Region and should be considered for use in an approved landscaping plan.
(1) 
Trees (botanic name; common name).
(a) 
Acer spp.; Maple species.
(b) 
Amelanchier spp.; Serviceberry species.
(c) 
Alnus rugosa; Hazel alder.
(d) 
Carpinus caroliniana; American hornbeam.
(e) 
Carya spp.; Hickory species.
(f) 
Celtis occidentalis; Common hackberry.
(g) 
Cercis canadensis; Eastern redbud.
(h) 
Cornus alternifolia; Pagoda dogwood.
(i) 
Cornus florida; Flowering dogwood.
(j) 
Fagus grandifolia; American beech.
(k) 
Fraxinus spp.; White, black and green ash.
(l) 
Juniperus virginiana; Eastern red cedar.
(m) 
Liriodendron tulipifera; Tuliptree.
(n) 
Nyssa sylvatica; Black tupelo.
(o) 
Ostrya virginiana; American hophornbeam.
(p) 
Pinus strobus; Eastern white pine.
(q) 
Pinus resinosa; Red pine.
(r) 
Platanus occidentalis; American planetree.
(s) 
Populus spp.; Aspen species.
(t) 
Prunus spp.; Pin and black cherry; chokeberry.
(u) 
Quercus spp; Black, white, northern red, scarlet, pin and chestnut oak.
(v) 
Rhus spp.; Sumac species.
(w) 
Salix discolor nigra; Pussy and black willow.
(x) 
Sassafras albidum; Common sassafras.
(y) 
Tilia americana; American basswood (linden).
(z) 
Tsuga canadensis; Canada hemlock.
(2) 
Shrubs (botanic name; common name).
(a) 
Alnus serrulata; Common alder.
(b) 
Aronia spp.; Red, black and purplefruit chokeberry.
(c) 
Comptonia peregrine; Sweetfern.
(d) 
Cornus spp.; Dogwood species.
(e) 
Corylus spp.; Filbert species.
(f) 
Hydrangea arborescens; Smooth hydrangea.
(g) 
Hypericum prolificum; Shrubby St. Johnswort.
(h) 
Ilex verticillata; Common winterberry holly.
(i) 
Kalmia latifolia; Mountain laurel.
(j) 
Lindera benzoin; Common spicebush.
(k) 
Rhododendron arborescens; Sweet azalea.
(l) 
Rhododendron nudiflorum; Pinxterbloom azalea.
(m) 
Rhododendron roseum; Roseshell azalea.
(n) 
Rubus spp.; Blackberry, raspberry and thimbleberry.
(o) 
Sambucus spp.; Elder species.
(p) 
Vaccinium spp.; Lowbush and Highbush blueberry; Deerberry.
(q) 
Viburnum spp.; Mapleleaf, Hobblebush and Cranberrybush viburnum.