Contacts
 






Keyword Site Search







Land Development Codes (LDRs)

By Buck Abbey, ASLA, Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture, Louisiana State University




This beautiful landscape is Mount Rainier, an active volcano that rises to 14,410 feet in Pierce County, Wash., 54 miles southeast of Seattle. The prominent natural landscapes in the county (and state) have attributed to the adoption of design standards and guidelines to control land development.

Zeager Bros
Toro
Professional Trade Publications
Sidewalk Sleever Teak Warehouse
Valmont Backyard X-Scapes
Boulderscape blank

"The board of county commissioners finds the health, safety and welfare of its citizens can best be protected by land use regulations..." --Brevard County, Florida Board of County Commissioners, 20092009

We have seen that land development regulations build modern American cities. Landscape codes contained within them protect, preserve and rebuild nature in new developing suburbs and within redevelopment areas within older parts of the city. There are several interesting land development codes across the U.S. that provide a picture of the structure of such
development rules.

Land development codes (LDRs) are written to implement comprehensive plans. Current land development codes consist of public policy on planning procedures, zoning, building standards, development standards and subdivision regulations. Community infrastructure, such as roads, drains and utilities are also important features of LDRs. In addition, and more important to landscape architects, land development codes include landscape regulations. These may be postconstruction landscaping requirements regarding trees, land clearing controls, open space and environment preservation strategies. Protection is provided for sensitive lands--floodplains, wetlands, forests and wildlife habitat. Protection is also included in many LDRs for historic, scenic and cultural resources.

Some emerging issues of land development regulations are sustainability, green building and urban forest canopy development policies. The latter results from the debate on global warming and the role trees play in carbon sequestration and oxygen production.

The LDRs referenced below are based upon traditional zoning, performance-based zoning and form-based coding theory. They offer insight into how varied land development regulations can be.




Pierce County's well thought-out design standards cover landscaping, architecture, parking and circulation, site drainage, vegetation retention, open space, rural pathways, noise barriers and lot development. These impressive medians and highway tree buffers are in Tacoma, Wash.


Some LDCs of Merit

Pierce County, Wash.

Pierce County, Wash. has adopted design standards and guidelines as a means of controlling land development in this state. In a very graphic manner, these regulations are presented to control the development of land through well thought-out design standards for landscaping, architecture, parking and circulation, site drainage, vegetation retention, open space, rural path ways, noise barriers and lot development.

The principles illustrated in the individual design standards chapter of this LDR are intended to implement the goals, objectives, and policies of the Pierce County Comprehensive Plan by encouraging development that is compatible with and complementary of good design. Additional information concerning land development in the Pacific Northwest can be found at www.mrsc.org.




An upstate New York homeowner along State Route 30 in the Hamlet of Mayfield has taken tree conservation to a new level.


Howard, County, Md.

Howard, County, Md. adopted their land development regulations in 1961. They have been amended five times with the most recent being the 5th Edition, December 2009.

In addition, the code provides several design manuals meant to ensure land use is consistent with transportation, water and sewer elements of the general plan, zoning regulations and zoning map. Maryland's acclaimed Forest Conservation Act, Code of Maryland Regulations, Title 08, Department of Natural Resources, Subtitle 19, is an integral aspect of this code.

The Howard County Landscape Manual is the technical resource used to establish minimum standards of performance for preparing landscape plans for compliance with the LDRs. The manual can be accessed at www.howardcountymd.gov/DPZ/dpzpublicationsreports.htm#landscape.

A supplement to Howard County's LDRs is the Green Neighborhoods Program, created through Council Bill No. 47-2007, to promote the development of more environmentally sustainable residential neighborhoods in Howard County. A green building design manual document published in 2008 is a point-based system that covers several areas of sustainable design. Green technologies include innovative design process; compact/connected development; environmental preservation; site landscape improvements; water conservation; energy efficiency; beneficial green materials; waste management and maintenance education. Howard is predicting the future direction of LDRs in the United States.




Howard, County, Md. adopted land development regulations in 1961 and have since amended them five times. The most recent version debuted December 2009. The revitalized Baltimore Inner Harbor (pictured) is one of its success stories. The code provides several design manuals meant to ensure land use is consistent with transportation, water and sewer elements of the general plan, zoning regulations and zoning map.


North Miami

The city of North Miami, Florida adopted an on-line version of land development regulations in April 2009. This ordinance was created under the provisions of the Local Government Comprehensive Planning and Land Development Regulation Act. The LDRs eliminated obsolete elements of the old zoning code and address the challenges of the city's built out environment, focusing on in-fill development and redevelopment standards; updated sign standards, parking standards, fence and wall standards and a set of comprehensive definitions. These LDRs are based upon new urbanism and the SmartCode. This makes these LDRs unusual since form-based codes are very recent ideas of urban design. You may visit these regs at www.northmiamifl.gov/cityhall/ecity/news.asp?news_id=299&offset=&more=True




North Miami adopted an online version of land development regulations (LDRs) in April 2009. The LDRs eliminated obsolete elements of the zoning code and addressed the challenges of the city's built out environment, focusing on in-fill development and redevelopment standards; updated sign standards, parking standards, fence and wall standards and a set of comprehensive definitions. These LDRs are unusual, since form-based codes are very recent ideas of
urban design.


Hudson County, N.J.

The Hudson County, New Jersey land development regulations are very special. They have been written to promote smart growth and sustainability for this suburban New York City community. The authority for this code is derived from the New Jersey County Planning Act, and as amended and supplemented with associated documents. The Appendix to the code--Specially Guidelines for Low Impact Development, Green Infrastructure, Storm Water BMPs and Design Guidelines for Municipalities--is of special merit. There are 18 green infrastructure techniques encouraged in this county that range from on-site storm water, to green parking to sustainable urban forest practices. Landscape architects would do well to fully understand how these practices add to the land development regulations of this community. See the Appendix and Smart Growth and Sustainable Development LDR's at www.hudsoncountynj.org/planning/default.asp.




Hudson County, N.J. land development regulations encourage 18 sustainable site design practices: conservation easements; land compatible design; native landscaping; redevelopment of sites; green parking; riparian buffers; forest buffers; innovative street design; protection of natural features; green roofs; urban forestry; storm water wetlands; bioretention and rain gardens; filter strips; porous pavement; infiltration trenches; grassed swales and on-lot storm water treatment.


Charleston County, S.C.

The Planning Act of 1994 mandates that all South Carolina counties must bring plans and zoning ordinances into conformity with the provisions of this act. Charleston County, working with several local governments--Charleston, Mount Pleasant, James-Seabrook-Sullivan's islands and Isle of Palms and several other communities--adopted the first comprehensive plan for the county on April 20, 1999 and adopted the county's zoning and land development regulations ordinance on November 20, 2001. This ordinance implements the goals, objectives and policies of the comprehensive plan and complements the recently adopted Green Plan that projects Charleston as one of the more sustainable communities in the South. See the Green Plan at www.charlestoncity.info/shared/docs/0/charlestongreenplanweb.pdf

The land development code comprises 12 chapters that range from development review to subdivision regulations to development standards directed toward design. The sections that pertain to landscape architecture are found in Chapter 9, Development Standards. This chapter includes regulations and design standards for parking, tree protection, landscaping, screening, buffers, architectural and landscape design standards, critical areas, historic preservation, drainage, and vision clearance. Landscape design standards include standards for parking, paving, planting, lighting, screening, buffering, storm water management and circulation planning. The intent of the landscaping design guidelines is to reduce the visibility of paved areas from adjacent properties and streets, moderate climatic effects, minimize noise and glare and enhance public safety by defining spaces to influence traffic movement. Landscaping will reduce the amount of storm water runoff and provide transition between neighboring properties.


Search Site by Story Keywords



Related Stories



June 17, 2019, 8:28 am PDT

Website problems, report a bug.
Copyright © 2019 Landscape Communications Inc.
Privacy Policy