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Miramar, Florida Landscape Code

Buck Abbey, ASLA, The Green Laws Organization, New Orleans





The Miramar Land Development Code (2001), Chapter 8 (Development Standards), and Chapter 9 (Landscaping Requirements and Tree Conservation Standards) are examples of a community protecting, preserving and rebuilding nature in the city through landscape codes.


''The Miramar motto is "beauty and progress.''
- Landscape and Tree Standards Assist with Both

Coded Up
Miramar (pop. 122,041) is a 31-square mile city of 122,000 residents in southeast Florida. Miramar, named after a Havana, Cuba district, is in Broward County, just west of the Atlantic, and north of Miami-Dade. The city was incorporated in 1955 with a population of just 200.

From the beginning Miramar was conceived as a planned city with controlled growth. It adopted a comprehensive plan in 1972, long before other cities responded to the Florida Growth Management Act (1972), and three years ahead of the passage of the Local Government Comprehensive Planning Act (1975). The 1972 Act required adopting land development codes for orderly growth, and to reduce the impact to land and native resources of the Sunshine State.

Site Design Regulations
Miramar is considered by many as a leader in the creation of effective land use controls. The Miramar Land Development Code (2001), Chapter 8 (Development Standards), and Chapter 9 (Landscaping Requirements and Tree Conservation Standards) are examples of a community protecting, preserving and rebuilding nature in the city through landscape codes.

Chapter 8 provides site development standards for the community. Fifteen sections of the code pertain to site development and design. Standards concern subdivision layout, outdoor lighting, wetland preservation and surface water management. Parking is also addressed in this section, as is the establishment of a Community Appearance Board and special standards for design of a special overlay district along Miramar Parkway, a major east-west city street.

The Community Appearance Board is typical of many in South Florida. A community assigns such a board the task of assisting with planning to add beauty to the community, while enhancing the health, safety and welfare of residents. This goal is accomplished through a deliberate search for good design in all elements of the city. The board comprises architects, landscape architects, planners and select city officials. Their training and skill allow them to review preliminary plans for buildings, landscapes and developments with an eye toward creating a special visual character based around well understood local design themes.

 




Chapter 9 of the Miramar Land Development Code sets standards for post construction landscaping, tree preservation and landscape installation and maintenance. The landscape code created performance, pro forma, proscriptive and prescriptive standards for buffers, parking areas, street trees, pedestrian zones, common areas, access ways, play lots, monument signs and screening.



Landscape Standards
Chapter 9 of the development code sets standards for post construction landscaping, tree preservation and landscape installation and maintenance.

This landscape code created performance, pro forma, proscriptive and prescriptive standards for buffers, parking areas, street trees, pedestrian zones, common areas, access ways, play lots, monument signs and screening. The landscape code uses six simple landscape tables where requirements are established by zoning district. All zoning districts from residential to industrial have specific landscaping requirements.

The code is weighted toward trees and reflects the input of the local arborist community. Excellent specifications are found in this code for all types of landscape plants.

Several types of plans are required prior to the issuance of permits. They include site plans, landscape plans, tree survey plans, and dripline encroachment plans. The city site plan checklist documents exactly what is required on the landscape plan.

The Parkway overlay district has been fashioned as a scenic corridor to create a greenbelt through the city. A signature planting design scheme of layered plantings has been created for this important city roadway. The plant palette contains a unique collection of street trees, shrubs and perimeter buffer trees. Size and spacing specification are provided. Recommended species are shown in several plant material tables.

Tree Protection
Tree protection and conservation is a major segment of Chapter 9 of the LDC. Rather than have many exacting specifications for trees the code relies upon restrictive pro forma standards, commonly accepted standards of the arboricultural industry. Among these standards are restrictions on clearing, removal, root damage, and barricading.

Land clearing, wetland and tree removal permits are required. Any trees removed without authority are replaced or mitigated with fines. Tree bonds are required for any tree subject to construction damage or impact.

Landscape credits are offered to induce the preservation of existing trees and natural landscape on private property. A mechanism such as this can be used to set aside habitat preservation areas (HPAs) within the city.

Like many communities in Florida this community has developed a community tree trust fund plants, planting materials and cash from penalties and fees.

Surprisingly, this well-crafted code that was adopted in 2004 has not been upgraded to meet the landscape best management practices (LBMPs) standards that are outlined in the Florida Friendly Landscaping program. These sustainability standards are being incorporated into landscape regulations across the state. Miramar would do well to craft sustainability standards for water, turf grass, vegetation, soil enrichment and chemical control, since it is clear that landscapes created are highly maintenance intensive.

Miramar would do well to update their landscape code to become a leader in landscape sustainability in Florida.

Readers may contact the author via email at lsugreenlaws@aol.com, or call Abbey associates Landscape Architecture at 225.766.0922.







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October 15, 2019, 5:04 am PDT

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