May 31, 2011 at 9:55 am #162518
so there is no ‘commercial site plan review’ in Idaho, Heather? just curious..May 31, 2011 at 10:58 am #162517
I also think ‘revenue’ the typical war-cry of the Sarah Palin types, “The Revenoo-ers!!” is pretty unlikely, altho I agreed with thought at first..At absolultley NO time in my four years as a zoning administrator did revenue EVER come into the calculations – it is extremely hard to get convictions, you have to go through the court battle, it can’t be done by simple ticketing, like the cops do – on and on and on..it is much easier for the municipality to tack a couple of cents onto your property taxes..If it could be shown the city had suddenly processed hundreds of zoning complaints, and was taking everyone to court to get the fine..but no, it just doesn’t work.
the article is what you always want – publicity..much cheaper and easier..and a warning to all the other commercial properties to check their site plans..and it was most likely in response to a complaint, probably from someone on the Citiy Council who lives next door to the church.
.The issue of whether commercial site plans that require minimal tree coverage are a good way to regulate certain aspects of city life is the real point…..May 31, 2011 at 2:34 pm #162516
It’s a long story, Jordan, that started, in recent history, with the locked doors of the Triangle Shirtwaiste Factory in Manhattan, where hundreds of young women jumped out of windows to their deaths in front of thousands of traumatized citizens..
And it is a long path from there, with many twists and turns..
‘Commercial Site Plan Review’ as this church was probably subject to, details lighting, parking, sometimes architectural requirements, paving, drainage requirements, sidewalk requirements….and yes, planting…The society as a whole has recently attempted to replace BMP’s wi th the past practice of hooking into the public storm system and shooting it all out to the river..
Do you t hink it is good for the society to have storm water collection systems, Jordan? All these elements are connected..And being constantly revised, reconsidered, refined..Yes, pruning of lagerstromia may go too far..But it seems like people have completely lost the history as well as the sense of communal responsibility, that is behind these things..
Tree requirements result in commercial plans that hopefully do not bring down the property values of adjacent properties – you really are not isolated from your neighbor, as much as you may want to be..
So that is just a few elements of required site plans, and really none of the history at all..Is it all news to you?May 31, 2011 at 3:23 pm #162515
However, over-regulation by over-zealous ‘officials’ like this makes your municipality look like a Soviet-style Politburo and can actually discourage development or improvements, (much the way it has with the ADA). Numerical quantification of vegetation or cover can also be hindrance to good design. Very often, the planting lists are woefully inadequate or just plain WRONG (Honestly, who keeps pure red maples as an acceptable street tree for planting in the narrow strip between curb and sidewalk?) When a board/community quantifies, very often, they just get that…no more. It prevents creative design by mandating “you must have 35 junipers here or else” and stifles innovation.
I.E. – I had an innovative planting design for a large commercial shopping center that utilized non-standard plants and natives in order to stabilize slopes, ensure survivability, lessen maintenance, and eliminate irrigation. And it would have looked great. However, because of the “regulations” and an ignorant ‘urban forester’, what ended up having to be installed was the standard cookie-cutter landscape of non-natives, high maintenance ornamentals, lawn grass that had to be mowed despite being on a 3 to 1 slope, and trees that were marginal for the site…and a very expensive irrigation system. Of course, there were plant losses because of the harsh conditions and the trees that were allowed to be planted because of the ‘list’.
The same thing happens with architectural standards. Rather than approving a particular design, when you quantify “you must have 65% brick on this facade” is how you end up with hideous buildings that look like 1960’s public housing. It is far better to have an individual review to asses appropriateness for a site…and have it required that an LA stamp the plans for commercial development. Don’t tie out hands!May 31, 2011 at 4:02 pm #162514
I think, Jason, that despite your unfortunate experience, Jason, the rule in the US tends towards no regulation and no enforcement, way more often than the overzealous nazi types – we don’t have many of them in the planning departments..
all zoning ordinances are subject to public comment and review all the time – I am sure you go to all the meetings and let them know what a better alternative would be?
Just out of curiosity, I looked up Idaho site plan review, compared to Southampton NY site plan review..In idaho, you give them $25 a copy of your site boundaries survey, and you are on your way..In Southampton, it is a book, several public meetings, etc., etc..
So our country has availed itself of many alternatives..
L’etat, c’est moi, in a democracy, Jason..Planning actually gives plenty of LA’s work, for their entire lives, those those professionals you disparage stand a good chance of being LA’s..May 31, 2011 at 4:58 pm #162513
Hmmmm. I actually did some commercial landscape design in the state of Idaho and had to meet planting standards fifteen years ago. I don’t remember the specifics, but they included shade trees, a certain % of evergreen & deciduous shrubs of a fair size and a high density.May 31, 2011 at 5:23 pm #162512
probably depends on the community, Andrew – I just picked up the first form that came up googling Idaho site Plan Review..Idaho has some cities doesn’t it? It’s all flyover land to me…May 31, 2011 at 5:28 pm #162511
I think you misunderstood what I was getting at. It’s not that there should not be some type of regulation, its they TYPE of regulation in that the QUANTIFICATION and inflexibility of plant lists are wrong way to approach this. And besides, shouldn’t LAs in a planning office make better use of their time and OUR money than counting little circles on a plan? You know, actually do some planning? Other factors such as design relevance, safety concerns, maintenance issues and the merits of the design. I’ve been in front of numerous municpal boards explaining just this idea for a variance application, especially with buildings with almost a perfect record of success. I was also suggesting that these regulations could be relaxed if the requirement of having LAs design and stamp the planting plans for submittal rather than allowing PEs or Architects to stamp them would ensure higher quality design and plant choices, freeing the rest of us to try new designs and acheive our design intent. How do you think you end up with the same 5 plants being used everywhere, the PE picks something off of a plant list and just plants a zillion of them. We’ve all seen it: ratty ‘blue rug’ junipers in parking lot islands with red maples plopped in (whose leaves are scalded and the bark split wide open), tall grasses conveniently placed at the corners of vehecular intersections creating dangerous blind corners (contractor: “well, they were small when we put them in!”), and fescue…fescue…fescue.May 31, 2011 at 5:59 pm #162510Pat S. RosendParticipant
In many areas Crape Myrtles are Shrubs and not trees. The inspectors should know better. Shame.May 31, 2011 at 6:52 pm #162509
ever been to Vancouver? check out their ordinance..landscape ordinance I mean..very beautiful city..interesting ordinance – graphic based..
nothing is perfect..sorry your experience is so bad. And LA’s do a l ot of things in planning o ffices, for the $35,000 a year they m ake – I am sure you know that! I think the long-range planners are way more useless than the site planners..personally.
but it is a balance..and our democracy has led to many different variations…and endless ability to change..May 31, 2011 at 8:05 pm #162508Mark LerchParticipant
Good article. It is good to see that there are professionals not more concerned with job preservation than actually doing their jobs. Topping trees is an archaic form of arboriculture that is no longer recommended by any of the professional arboricultural associations. I worked in a county where it was illegal to do so but the initial penalty was a slap on the wrist, a letter from the code enforcement officer. A letter is insufficient in the case of topping where once the tree is damaged in this way it will never be the same again. It becomes a maintenance issue because the epicormic growth that ensues will be even more aggressive and poorly attached than the initial structural branches that were removed. Cheers to the Forester that took the stand to teach the community about the importance of following ordinances that are based in reason.May 31, 2011 at 9:18 pm #162507mark fosterParticipant
Gotta love a site where pruning invokes such passion.
So, who’s going to tell the Brits, French, and Dutch they are wrong (see pollard, coppice). Maybe the church is Anglican or reformist… Ha!May 31, 2011 at 10:17 pm #162506
“It’s all flyover land to me…”
Thank goodness for that.May 31, 2011 at 10:22 pm #162505
I hope that this story is getting enough attention that the whole story comes out. I have to believe that this was a condition attached to a permit that they violated.
I’d like to think that I can cut down any tree in my yard as long as it is not in a wetland buffer. … even in Massachusetts.May 31, 2011 at 10:55 pm #162504
Anglican…Now thats a good one. We are a boring lot, ain’t we?
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