[Amended 4-23-2003; 8-12-2009; 1-23-2013]
The requirements of this section are intended to enhance the appearance, environment, and general welfare of Frederick County by providing minimum landscaping standards and encouraging tree preservation for developments. The provisions of this section shall apply to all site plan and subdivision design plan applications, including the revision or expansion of any site or development.
Residential developments. Residential developments which require a master development plan, subdivision design plan or site plan shall provide at least one of the three types of landscaping identified below.
Street tree landscaping. Street tree landscaping shall require one street tree for every 40 feet of street frontage in a residential development, with the exception of frontage on roads which require a road efficiency buffer. Street trees shall be planted no more than 20 feet from rights-of-way. Planting street trees on the property lines of building lots should be avoided. Two or more street trees shall be planted on each building lot. The Zoning Administrator may allow fewer than two street trees for an individual building lot if topographical features, utilities, easements, or the width of the lot makes it impractical to do so. All street trees shall comply with the requirements of § 165-203.01B, with the exception that street trees must be at least two-and-one-half-inch caliper at the time of planting.
Ornamental landscaping shall be provided for residential developments based on the following index and matrix:
Ornamental trees and shrubs shall comply with the requirements of § 165-203.01B. The Zoning Administrator may allow some of the required ornamental trees and ornamental shrubs to be planted in areas of common open space so long as the intent of this section is met.
Tree preservation landscaping. An area with a tree canopy coverage, of at least 25% of the entire site area, shall be preserved within dedicated open space. In no case shall individual building lots be located within the open space. Canopy coverage shall be calculated from the cumulative total of existing tree canopies. Preserved trees shall be clustered together to maintain a contiguous canopy; and shall be protected from construction activity. These areas of open space may be counted towards the total required open space, as specified in § 165-402.07. Residential developments which are not required to have open space by § 165-402.07 are not exempt from creating open space for the required canopy coverage. The calculation of tree canopy shall be based on either the individual tree standards of the "Manual of Woody Landscape Plants," written by Michael A. Dirr, or through a comprehensive analysis of existing tree drip lines, conducted by a Virginia certified engineer, land surveyor, or landscape architect.
Plant selection, planting procedure, and maintenance.
Plant selection. Based on the type of landscaping, required trees and shrubs shall be selected from the table of acceptable trees and shrubs shown below.
Planting procedure. All required trees and shrubs shall meet the specifications and procedures established by the American Nursery and Landscape Association.
All trees shall be planted no closer than three feet to the edge of sidewalks, curb or other pavement.
Deciduous trees shall be a minimum of one-and-one-quarter-inch caliper at the time of planting.
Only single-stem trees shall be planted as street trees.
Evergreen trees shall be a minimum of four feet in height at the time of planting. Shrubs shall be a minimum three-gallon container at the time of planting. In addition to the three-gallon container requirement, parking lot headlight screening shrubs shall be a minimum of 36 inches in height at time of planting (unless topography allows a reduction to maintain 36 inches from pavement to top of shrub), and buffer shrubs shall be a minimum of 18 inches in height at time of planting. Spacing of parking lot screening shrubs shall be four feet on center.
Trees shall not be planted within easements for water, sewer, electric, or gas.
Measurement of size. Caliper is measured six inches above the ground up to and including four-inch caliper size and 12 inches above the ground for larger sizes. Diameter at breast height (dbh) will be measured at the height of 54 inches from the base of the trunk or as otherwise allowed in the Guide for Plant Appraisal.
Maintenance. The owner, developer, and/or builder who is responsible for planting required landscaping shall be responsible for maintaining it in a state of good health for one year after planting. After one year, from the date occupancy is approved, the individual property owner and/or homeowner's association shall become responsible for maintenance. As long as the intent of this section is met, the Zoning Administrator may waive the requirement for landscaping on individual building lots when a hazard or nuisance exists.
Existing tree credits. If the intent of § 165-203.01 is satisfied, including species type and location, existing trees that are preserved may be counted towards the total number of required trees for residential developments. Commercial and industrial developments may utilize existing tree credits when calculating the required number of parking lot trees, as required in § 165-202.01D(13), if the preserved trees are shown on an approved site plan and serve the intent of interior and perimeter landscaping. The following table shows the credit given for each preserved tree, based on the tree's caliper:
Enforcement procedures. The Zoning Administrator may require a bond with surety or other acceptable guaranties to insure the completion of required improvements. Such guaranties shall be in the estimated amount of the required improvements. Such guaranties shall be for a period of completion set by the Zoning Administrator with consultation with the applicant. Such guaranties shall be released when the required improvements have been completed.
It is the intent of the regulations of this section to encourage proper design of a site in order to protect adjacent existing uses and to protect proposed uses within the site. Certain types of uses must be buffered from other types in order to ensure a desirable living environment. Additionally, appropriate distances must be maintained between commercial, industrial and residential uses and roads.
Distance buffers. Distance buffers are based on the nature of an activity and its proximity to an activity of a different nature. They are linear distances measured from property lines inward. Part of the buffer must be inactive and part may be active. The inactive portion begins at the adjoining property line, as shown in the example diagrams.
Inactive distance buffer. This portion of a buffer area permits no activity except the necessary utility functions provided by transmission lines, underground conduits, stormwater management, sidewalks, trails, etc.
Active distance buffer. This portion of a buffer area may not be encroached by a building or other principal structure or activity. However, accessory activities, such as parking, are permitted in this area.
[Amended 8-12-2009; 12-11-2019]
Wherever proposed developments are adjacent to or within 1,000 feet of the boundaries of existing uses, the Board of Supervisors may require increased or additional distance buffers to separate different uses to achieve the intentions of this section.
Editor's Note: The diagrams detailing example buffers and screening are included as attachments to this chapter.
Screening. Screening is designed to work with distance buffers to lessen the impact of noise or visual interaction between adjacent activities. There are two levels of screening: landscape screening and full screening. The higher the level of screening provided, the lower the level of distance buffer required. The example diagrams show how this works.
[Amended 8-12-2009; 9-26-2012; 12-11-2019]
Landscape screening. A landscape screen consists of a totally landscaped area at least 10 feet in depth; plantings are encouraged to be spaced appropriately within the inactive buffer. Within the area, there shall be a minimum landscaping density of three plants per 10 linear feet. The buffer shall consist of a combination of 1/3 deciduous trees, 1/3 evergreen trees and 1/3 shrubs. Deciduous trees shall be planted at a minimum of one-and-one-quarter-inch caliper, evergreen trees shall be a minimum of four feet in height, and shrubs shall be 18 inches in height at time of planting.
Full screen. A full screen provides all the elements of a landscape screen and also includes a six-foot-high, opaque hedge, fence, wall, mound, berm, or an additional two rows of evergreen trees that are six feet tall at time of planting. A fifty-foot strip of mature woodlands may be allowed as a full screen.
Wherever proposed developments are adjacent to existing uses, the Board of Supervisors may require additional landscaping, landscaped areas, or landscaped easements to separate different uses and to achieve the intentions of this section.
Editor's Note: The diagrams detailing example buffers and screening are included as attachments to this chapter.
Residential separation buffers. Residential separation buffers shall be established to adequately buffer different housing types from dissimilar housing types within adjacent separate developments. The requirements for residential separation buffers are as follows:
[Amended 5-11-1994; 10-27-1999; 12-10-2008; 9-26-2012; 1-23-2013]
When placed adjacent to one another, developments with different housing types shall provide the following residential separation buffers:
Buffers shall be placed between the lot line of the proposed housing type and the lot line of the existing adjoining use or development. When placed on individual lots, the buffer shall be located within a permanent landscape easement and shall be maintained by the homeowners' association.
When age-restricted multifamily housing adjoins other housing types, the evergreen element of the residential separation buffer shall be planted at a height of six feet.
When existing mature woodlands are located within the entire buffer area (total distance if active and inactive buffer), preservation of that woodland will be allowed to substitute for the required plant material.
Housing types contained within a mixed-use development as outlined in the Comprehensive Plan or developments that contain a mixture of housing types but approved with the same master development plan shall not require residential separation buffers between housing types contained within the same development. The Zoning Administrator may require residential separation buffers when a Master Development Plan is revised and the housing types are modified after construction has already commenced within the development. Residential separation buffers shall be required when different housing types are placed adjacent to a mixed-use or master planned development or if the development abuts different housing types within a separate development.
The Board of Supervisors may waive, reduce and/or modify the residential separation buffer requirements (distance or landscaping) if the topography of the lot providing the buffer yard and the lot being protected is such that the required buffer yard would not be effective.
The Board of Supervisors may waive, reduce and/or modify the residential separation buffer requirements (distance or landscaping) when utility conflicts preclude the installation of the buffer and would result in unnecessary or otherwise unreasonable hardship to the developer.
Zoning district buffers. Buffers shall be placed on land to be developed when it adjoins land in certain different zoning districts.
Whenever land is to be developed in the B1, B2, B3, OM, M1 or M2 Zoning District that is adjacent to a state road with a right-of-way with a designated functional classification of interstate, arterial or collector as approved by the Virginia Department of Transportation, zoning district buffers shall not be required along the road.
The Board of Supervisors may grant a waiver to reduce the required buffer distance requirements between land primarily used for residential purposes and the B-1 (Neighborhood, Business) or B-2 (Business, General) Zoning District with the consent of the adjacent (affected) property owners. Should a waiver be granted by the Board of Supervisors, the distance requirements of § 165-203.02D(1)(a) may be reduced, provided that the full screening requirements of this section are met.
[Amended 3-9-2005; 11-12-2014]
Editor's Note: Former Subsection D(4), concerning land to be developed in the B3, OM, M1 or M2 Zoning District, as amended, and (5), concerning land to be developed in the MS Zoning District, added 9-12-2001, was repealed 11-12-2014, which ordinance also renumbered Subsection D(6) through (11) as Subsection D(4) through (9), respectively.
The Zoning Administrator may waive any or all of the requirements for the zoning district buffers on a particular site plan when all uses shown on the site plan are allowed in the zoning district in which the development is occurring and in the adjoining zoning districts.
The Zoning Administrator may waive, reduce and/or modify buffer yard requirements (distance and landscaping) if, in his opinion, the topography of the lot providing the buffer yard and the lot being protected is such that the required yard would not be effective. The buffer may also be modified to maintain highway sight distances.
Land proposed to be developed in the B3, OM, M1 or M2 Zoning District may be permitted to have a reduced buffer distance that is consistent with the required side or rear building setback line, provided that the following requirements are met:
[Added 3-13-1996; amended 8-12-2009; 12-11-2019]
The property to be developed with a reduced buffer distance is part of an approved master planned industrial park.
There are no primary or accessory uses within the reduced buffer distance area, including driveways, access drives, outdoor storage areas, parking areas, staging areas, loading areas and outdoor dumpster areas. All-weather surface fire lanes necessary to meet the requirements of Chapter 90, Fire Prevention, of the Code of Frederick County, Virginia, shall be exempt from this performance standard.
A full screen is required to be created within the reduced buffer distance area which shall be comprised of a continuous earth berm that is six feet higher in elevation than the highest elevation within the reduced buffer distance area and a double row of evergreen trees that are a minimum of six feet in height and planted a maximum of eight feet from center to center.
Proposed developments required to provide buffers and screening as determined by § 165-203.02D(1)(b) of this chapter may be permitted to establish a common shared buffer and screening easement with the adjoining property. The common shared buffer and screening easement shall include all components of a full screen which shall be clearly indicated on a site design plan. A legal agreement signed by all appropriate property owners shall be provided to the Department of Planning and Development and shall be maintained with the approved site design plan. This agreement shall describe the location of the required buffer within each property, the number and type of the plantings to be provided and a statement regarding the maintenance responsibility for this easement. The required buffer distance may be reduced by 50% for a common shared buffer easement if existing vegetation achieves the functions of a full screen.
When a flex-tech development is split by a zoning district line, the Zoning Administrator may allow for a reduction of the distance buffer and the relocation of the screening requirements. Such modifications shall be allowed at the Zoning Administrator's discretion, provided that all of the following conditions are met:
[Added 2-11-1998; amended 9-26-2012]
The zoning district boundary line for which the modification is requested is internal to the land contained within the master development plan.
The required landscape screen is relocated to the perimeter of the flex-tech development. This relocated landscape screen shall contain the same plantings that would have been required had the screen been placed along the zoning district boundary line.
Whenever land is to be developed in the B1, B2, B3, OM, M1 or M2 Zoning District that is adjacent to a railroad right-of-way that has property zoned B1, B2, B3, OM, M1 or M2 on the opposite side, zoning district buffers shall not be required. In the event that residential uses are located on the opposite side of the railroad right-of-way, a zoning district buffer as required by § 165-203.02D shall be provided. In the event that a zoning district buffer is required, the width of the railroad right-of-way may be counted towards the required zoning district buffer distance.
The Board of Supervisors may grant a waiver that modifies or eliminates a required zoning district buffer between land being developed in the B1, B2, B3, OM, M1 or M2 Zoning Districts that is adjacent to land primarily used for residential purposes in the RA Rural Areas Zoning District, provided that:
Road efficiency buffers. The purpose of these requirements is to provide protection for residential structures from any street classified as a collector road or higher while still providing an attractive view of the residential neighborhoods from major roadways. It is not the intent of these regulations to provide uniform linear strips of completely opaque screening but to provide an attractive view of residential neighborhoods from major streets and ensure adequate buffering for the residential neighborhood from the street.
[Amended 9-13-1995; 5-8-2002; 9-26-2012; 1-23-2013]
All residential structures shall be separated from interstate, limited access, primary, major arterial, minor arterial or major collector roads, as designated by the Virginia Department of Transportation or the Frederick County Comprehensive Plan, by the following road efficiency buffers:
All road efficiency buffers shall begin at the edge of the road right-of-way, with the inactive portion abutting the road right-of-way. All required elements of the full-distance buffer or the reduced-distance buffer shall be located within the inactive portion of the road efficiency buffer. Maintenance of the road efficiency buffer shall be in accordance with § 165-203.01B(3). The inactive portion of the road efficiency buffer is permitted to count towards the required percentage of common open space; however, no portion of a residential lot shall be located within the inactive portion of the road efficiency buffer. The active portion of the road efficiency buffer may be permitted to be located within a residential lot, provided that the primary structure is not located within the buffer area. Accessory structures may be located within the active portion of the road efficiency buffer, provided that the structures meet all applicable setback requirements. Access roads serving as the primary means of vehicular travel to residential subdivisions are permitted to traverse road efficiency buffers.
All road efficiency buffers shall contain landscaping evergreen trees intended to reach a minimum height of 20 feet at maturity.
The Zoning Administrator may allow alternative landscaping near entrance drives to ensure safe sight distances.
The Zoning Administrator may waive, reduce and/or modify the road efficiency buffer yard requirements if in his opinion the topography of the lot providing the buffer yard and the lot being protected is such that the required buffer yard would not be effective.
When existing mature woodland, when supplemented by new vegetation if needed, is located within the entire buffer area and meets the intent of this section, preservation of that woodland will be allowed to substitute for the required plant material and the opaque screening.