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Jun 12

Landscaping and Buffering

Posted on June 12, 2018 at 2:39 PM by Vivienne Uccello

Landscaping & Buffering

Purpose

Unlike most cities, Manhattan currently has very few landscaping or screening requirements. Some developers choose to landscape; some do not. To bring the same positive result to all development in the city, the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) project is introducing new landscaping and buffering requirements.

The objectives of the proposed standards include preservation of existing vegetation and topsoil, protection of water quality and wildlife habitat, reduction of heat generated from paved surfaces, buffering of incompatible land uses and screening negative site elements, and enhancement of the overall appearance and natural beauty of the community. The benefits of landscaping and landscaped open spaces include energy conservation, increased property values, and an enhanced aesthetic quality throughout the City.

Requirements and Applicability

The new regulations govern land clearing, tree preservation credits, plant material standards, equipment screening, development landscaping and buffering, and landscape maintenance. The new rules will generally apply to all new development in the city, but the landscaping requirements will only apply to new multi-family, commercial, and mixed-use development.

Landscaping

The regulations apply to three different parts of a site: building foundation, streetscape, and parking lots. The following table and example site plan explain the requirements and locations.

type

planting requirements

foundation

combinations of

  • shrubs
  • ornamental grasses
  • perennials

streetscape

  • one tree every 40 feet and
  • shrubs/ornamental grasses in between

parking lots

  • shade trees (no parking space can be further than 70 feet from one, and
  • shrubs/turf grass/mulch/rock in landscape island, and
  • minimum 3-foot-tall hedge along frontages to block headlight glare

Buffering

A bufferyard is a visual barrier and a physical separation between uses or zoning districts that are next to each other. The purpose is to protect one land use from a second land use that the first one finds is in some way objectionable.

Typically, the protected use or district is residential and the “offending” use or district is commercial or industrial. The greater disparity between the activities or characteristics of the two, the greater the need for buffering. For example, a type-C buffer (shown in the table and illustrations below) would be used between industrial and residential, whereas the lesser type-B buffer would screen commercial uses from residential. An office use might only require a type-A buffer because it’s not as intensive in terms of noise and traffic generation as a retail use.

type

width

required plantings per 100 feet

overstory tree

evergreen

shrub

A

15 feet

3

4

30

B

20 feet

4

5

35

C

25 feet

6

6

40