[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of Smithfield 3-4-1986; amended 9-1-1987; 8-13-1996 (Ch. 16, Art. VII, of the 1985 Code of Ordinances). Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
The objective of this chapter is to improve the appearance of certain setback and yard areas and off-street vehicular parking areas and open-lot sales and service areas in the Town and to protect and preserve the appearance, character and value of the surrounding neighborhoods and thereby promote the general welfare by providing for installation and maintenance of landscaping for screening and aesthetic qualities.
In construing the provisions hereof and each and every word, term, phrase or part thereof, the following definitions shall apply:
- A raised form of earth to provide screening or to improve aesthetic character.
- Encroachment is defined as any protrusion of a vehicle outside of a parking space, display area or accessway into a landscaped area.
- ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS OFFICER
- The Town Engineer or other Town employee designated by the Town Manager.
- Landscaping shall consist of any of the following or combination thereof: material such as, but not limited to, grass, ground covers, shrubs, vines, hedges, or trees; and nonliving durable material commonly used in landscaping, such as, but not limited to, rocks, pebbles, sand, walls or fences, but excluding paving.
- Shrubs required by this chapter shall be self-supporting, woody, evergreen species, as normally grown in Rhode Island.
- STREET TREES
- Any tree planted in the buffer abutting a street.
- Trees shall be defined as self-supporting woody plants of species which normally grow to an overall height of a minimum of 15 feet in Rhode Island.
- Vines are plants which normally require support to reach mature form.
All areas used for the display or parking of any and all types of vehicles, vehicle storage, boats, general storage, or heavy construction equipment, whether such vehicles, boats, pallets, barrels, or other equipment are self-propelled or not, and all land upon which vehicles traverse the property as a function of the primary use, hereinafter referred to as "other vehicular uses," including but not limited to activities of a drive-in nature such as, but not limited to, filling stations, grocery and dairy stores, banks, restaurants, industrial areas, commercial areas, and the like, shall conform to the minimum landscaping requirements hereinafter provided, save and except areas used for parking or other vehicular uses under, on or within buildings, and parking areas serving single- and two-family uses as normally such residential areas are voluntarily landscaped.
Certificate required. The Smithfield Environmental Affairs Officer shall inspect all landscaping, and no certificates of occupancy or similar authorization will be issued unless the landscaping meets the requirements herein provided and a certificate of completion has been issued by the Environmental Affairs Officer.
Bonds. If the weather prohibits the installation of the required plant material at the time of occupancy, the applicant may, at his option, post a cash bond equal to 100% of the estimated value for the installation of the required plant material including all plants, bedding material and loaming and seeding. The cash bond or other guarantee for the full amount acceptable to the Environmental Affairs Officer shall be supported by an estimate by a landscape contractor of the cost of installing such landscaping and a letter expressing the intent of the contractor to install the required plants. If the required landscaping is not installed within six months, the bond shall be forfeited to the Town to use for the planting of the required materials.
The owner, tenant and their agent, if any, ("responsible party," hereinafter) shall be jointly and severally responsible for the maintenance of all landscaping which shall be maintained in good condition so as to present a healthy, neat and orderly appearance and shall be kept free from refuse and debris. The landscape plan shall include proposed supply of water and how the plant material is to be maintained.
Upon written notice from the Environmental Affairs Officer, the responsible party shall repair or replace any landscape materials not in conformance with this chapter within the next available planting season for the applicable plant material following notification. If the cited deficiencies are not corrected, the Town may perform the necessary work to restore the planting materials to reasonable condition in accordance with the approved landscape plan. The responsible party shall reimburse the Town for these costs within 30 days of completion of the work.
Species. All trees, shrubs, and hedges must be species that are hardy in Plant Hardiness Zone 5 (five), as defined by the American Standards for Nursery Stock.
Size. All plant material installed to meet the requirements of this chapter shall comply with the minimum size requirements below at the time of planting (height measured from finished landscape grade; caliper measuring six inches from top of root ball).
Street trees. Height: 10 feet; caliper: 2 1/2 inches.
Canopy trees. Height: eight feet; caliper: 2 1/2 inches.
Evergreen trees. Height: eight feet; full branching.
Ornamental trees. Height: six feet.
Shrubs. Height: two feet.
Hedges. Planted and maintained to form a continuous, solid visual screen at least two feet in height within one year after planting.
Vines. Height: 30 inches immediately after planting and may be used in conjunction with fences, screens, or walls to meet physical barrier requirements as specified.
Ground covers. Ground covers used in lieu of grass in whole or part shall be planted in such a manner as to present a finished appearance and reasonably complete coverage within three months after planting.
Lawn grass. Grass areas shall be planted in species normally grown as permanent lawns in Rhode Island. Grass areas may be sodded, plugged, spragged or seeded except that solid sod shall be used in swales or other areas subject to erosion, and providing that the areas where other than solid sod or grass seed is used, nursegrass seed shall be sown for immediate effect and protection until coverage is otherwise achieved.
Planting procedures. All trees and shrubs shall be installed in a sound manner following accepted professional planting procedures. At a minimum all trees planted shall have rootballs adequate to enclose the entire root system, all trees shall be mulched and staked, and all plants shall be watered at time of installation.
Required street tree landscaping adjacent to public rights-of-way. On the site of an off-street parking area or other vehicular use area, serving a commercial, industrial, institutional, or multifamily use, where such site is adjacent to a public right-of-way, there shall be provided landscaping between such area and such right-of-way, as follows:
Landscape area. A continuous landscape area 10 feet in width, not including any sidewalk, shall be located between the parking lot and the property line. If road improvements are necessary across the frontage of the property, a continuous landscape strip with an average width of 10 feet may be provided to meet the requirements of this section. If a parking lot is built adjacent to an existing parking lot which has landscape area narrower than 10 feet in width, the width of the existing landscape area may be continued, provided that it is at least four feet wide.
Number of trees. One tree for each 40 feet of frontage shall be planted in the landscape strip. Trees may be evenly spaced or grouped. Groups of trees shall be spaced no further apart than 50 feet.
Screening adjacent to public street. All parking lots adjacent to the public street must be screened intermittently through the planting of shrubs, hedges, or the creation of berms equivalent to at least 1/2 of the street frontage. No plant material or berm shall obstruct the sight distance of motorists entering or leaving the site.
Species. All trees planted to meet the requirements of this section shall be street trees as identified in Subsection D(2) of this section.
Ground cover, in general. All property other than the required landscaped strip lying between the right-of-way and off-street parking area, other vehicular use area, or sidewalks shall be landscaped with at least a grass or other ground cover.
Perimeter landscaping relating to abutting properties. Perimeter parking lot landscaping shall include all landscape areas outside the perimeter of the paved area of the lot excluding any landscape area required adjacent to a public street.
Screen Type 1 - Screening between similar land uses. An open screen between relatively similar land uses is required for Screen Type 1. Open screening shall provide an attractive separation between the land uses. Screen Type 1 shall be a landscape strip width of four feet and consist of one of the tree alternative planting programs described below.
Screen Type 2 - Screening between dissimilar land uses. A semi-opaque screen between land uses which are dissimilar in character shall be provided by Screen Type 2. Semi-opaque screening shall be a landscape strip width of four feet, should partially block views from the adjoining land uses and create a separation between the adjoining land uses, and consist of one of the tree alternative planting programs described below.
Screen Type 3 - Screening between residential and nonresidential land uses. An opaque screen between incompatible land uses shall be provided by Screen Type 3. Opaque screening shall be a buffer strip width of 14 feet, should block views between adjoining land uses, and create a definite spatial separation, and consist of one of the tree alternative planting programs described below.
The provisions of this subsection shall not be applicable in the following situations:
Where a proposed parking area or other vehicular use area abuts an existing hedge, wall or other durable landscape barrier on an abutting property, said existing barrier may be used to satisfy the landscape barrier requirements of this subsection provided that said existing barrier meets all applicable standards of this chapter and protection against vehicular encroachment is provided for hedges.
Interior landscaping. Interior landscaping shall be installed where there are a minimum of 18 parking spaces required and designed to control traffic, provide shade, screen views into and within vehicular use areas, and separate the parking, circulation and service areas, in accordance with the following provisions:
Landscaped islands or medians shall be provided to separate parking bays from internal access drives. They shall have a minimum width of eight feet from back of curb to back of curb and constructed with curbing and include proper drainage.
Landscaped areas shall be provided throughout the parking area in the amount of 150 square feet for each 10 parking spaces, subject to the following:
A minimum of two canopy or ornamental trees shall be provided for every 12 parking spaces.
A minimum of 50% of each landscaped area, at time of planting, shall be planted with grass, ground cover, shrubs, or other living vegetation with the balance in mulch or other approved media.
Vehicles shall not be permitted to extend into landscaped areas. Landscaped areas shall be protected from encroachment by the use of curbing, wheel stops, or similar means.
Building perimeter landscaping. Parking areas and driveways shall be separated from the exterior wall of a building, exclusive of pedestrian entrance ways or loading areas, by a landscaped planting area of at least four feet in width on the three sides with the most public exposure. Where the proposed building is surrounded on all four sides by public parking serving the building, all four sides shall require a landscaped planting area. A minimum of 50% of this landscaped area, at time of planting, shall be planted with a combination of grass, ground cover, shrubs, trees, or other living vegetation.
Sight distance for landscaping. When an accessway intersects a public right-of-way or when the subject property abuts the intersection of two or more public rights-of-way, all landscaping within the triangular areas described below shall provide unobstructed cross-visibility at a level between three feet and six feet or in accordance with the latest edition of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), whichever standards are greater, provided however, trees having limbs and foliage trimmed in such a manner that no limbs or foliage extend into the cross-visibility area shall be allowed, provided they are so located so as not to create a traffic hazard. Landscaping, except required grass or ground cover, shall not be located closer than three feet from the edge of any accessway pavement. The triangular areas above referred to are:
The areas of property on both sides of an accessway formed by the intersection of each side of the accessway and the public right-of-way line with two sides of each triangle being 10 feet in length from the point of intersection and the third side being a line connecting the ends of the two other sides.
The area of property located at the corner formed by the intersection of two or more public rights-of-way with two sides of the triangular area being 30 feet in length along the abutting public right-of-way lines, measured from their point of intersection, and the third side being a line connecting the ends of the other two lines.
Accessways. The maximum width of a residential accessway through the perimeter landscaped strip to an off-street parking or other vehicular use area shall be 20 feet for two-way vehicular movement and 10 feet for one-way vehicular movement. For commercial, office and industrial uses, the maximum width for accessways shall be not less than thirty-six-foot pavement width and no more than fifty-foot pavement width.
Where, due to unusual configuration of land the responsible party is unable to comply with the provisions of this chapter, application may be made to the Environmental Affairs Officer for relief from the standards enunciated herein. Said application shall be in writing, executed and sworn to by the responsible party. The applicant shall, in the application clearly and in detail state what adjustment of requirements are being requested and the reasons such adjustments are warranted, and shall accompany the application with whatever supplementary data, such as sketches, surveys and statistical information, as the Environmental Affairs Officer deems necessary to substantiate the adjustment. The Environmental Affairs Officer may approve, modify or deny the requested adjustment, but shall approve or modify only if he determines that approval of any adjustment would not be contrary to the public interest and would be in keeping with and would preserve the intent of this chapter and that literal enforcement of the above standards would be impracticable.
Within 15 days after the decision of the Environmental Affairs Officer, but not thereafter, the applicant may appeal said decision to the Smithfield Zoning Board of Review, otherwise it shall become final. The appeal shall state in brief, concise language the grounds and reasons for reversal of the ruling made by the Environmental Affairs Officer. The Smithfield Zoning Board of Review may affirm, modify or reverse the ruling of the Environmental Affairs Officer.
The provisions of this chapter shall apply to the extent practical to new off-street parking uses or other vehicular uses, as well as where more than 50% of the existing off-street parking or other vehicular uses are being expanded or where the principal use of the property has been changed to the extent that additional parking is required. The provisions of this chapter shall be subject to other applicable regulations where such regulations are more restrictive and are not otherwise inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter.
The Environmental Affairs Officer shall have the authority to issue a certificate of completion to the owner or to the contractor or subcontractor which shall indicate those portions of the construction and development which have been completed according to the requirements of this chapter. A certificate of completion shall not authorize occupancy or partial occupancy of the building or premises.
Trees. Existing trees preserved on site may be used to satisfy the requirements for parking lot landscaping, perimeter landscaping, and street plantings required by this chapter. Any existing trees used to meet the requirements stated herein should generally satisfy the purpose and intent of this chapter as determined by the Environmental Affairs Officer and be protected from construction activity. Such protection procedures shall be illustrated in the landscape plan.
Exceptional trees. A tree of exceptional size, canopy, historic value, or age to be preserved may be credited toward an amount equal to two to four required trees for the purposes of this chapter, depending upon its value, as determined and approved by the Environmental Affairs Officer.
A landscape plan shall be submitted and approved by the Environmental Affairs Officer prior to the issuance of any building permit for property which is included under the provisions of this chapter; this provision shall not apply to properties whose principal use is for single- or two-family dwellings. Prior to granting approval of the landscape plan, the Environmental Affairs Officer shall obtain comments from such other agencies as said Officer may deem advisable. The landscape plan shall be drawn to scale, including the actual size of the mature plants and trees shown to scale on the plan, dimensions and distances, and clearly delineate the existing and proposed parking spaces, or other vehicular use areas, access aisles, driveways, sprinklers, or water outlet locations, and the location, size, and description of all other landscape materials, the location and size of buildings if any to be served, and shall designate by name and location the plant material to be installed or, if existing, to be used in accordance with the requirements hereof. No building or paving permit shall be issued for such building or paving unless such landscape plan complies with the provision hereof, and no certificate of use and occupancy shall be issued until the landscaping is complete, and it shall be unlawful to occupy the premises unless the landscaping is installed in accordance with the approved landscape plan and the requirements hereof.
If the Environmental Affairs Officer determines that the magnitude of the project requires the assistance of a second review from a licensed RI landscape architect who has submitted the plans for review, the Environmental Affairs Officer shall notify the owner and/or applicant in advance of this process and give him/her an hourly estimate of the cost to review the plans, and a not-to-exceed amount of the total cost of review.
In instances where healthy plant material exists on the site prior to its development, the Environmental Affairs Officer may in whole or in part, for purposes of off-street parking or other vehicular use areas, adjust the application of the above-mentioned standards to allow credit for such plant material if such an adjustment is in keeping with and will preserve the intent of this chapter.
This article shall be enforced by the Environmental Affairs Officer.