City Landscape and Tree Protection LDC Text Amendments

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The City has maintained a tree ordinance since 1891 and passed its most recent version in 2006. This past summer City staff convened a working group to review the current landscape and tree protection ordinance. The group of local individuals was comprised of a certified arborist, a tree service company, members of the Amelia Tree Conservancy, a neighborhood architectural review member from Amelia Park, and a member of the Planning Advisory Board. The effort was initiated by staff as part of its 2014 efforts to implement the Comprehensive Plan goals into its Land Development Code and to address issues identified over the past eight (8) years in working with the ordinance.

Specifically, the Comprehensive Plan directs changes revolving around use of drought tolerant and native landscaping, low impact development strategies, improving ground and surface water quality, and enhanced buffer requirements. The group worked collaboratively with staff and a master’s student in landscape architecture from the University of Florida to draft changes consistent with the direction of the Comprehensive Plan and in keeping with current trends and methods for landscape installation. They met in an advertised open workshop setting five (5) times between April and July. During these meetings the working group reviewed the existing LDC requirements along with the Comprehensive Plan. Then, the group researched example communities including Savannah, GA, Tallahassee, FL, St. Simons, GA, Davie, FL, Palm Coast, FL, and Bradenton, FL to see how their codes have shaped those jurisdictions. The group also allowed time at each meeting for public input on any potential changes.

In the end, the working group along with staff found that the existing code is working fairly well and is achieving the community’s desired goals for retention of a healthy native canopy throughout the City. Therefore, proposed revisions to the code are not vastly different from our current landscape and tree protection ordinance. The overall function of the ordinance has not changed; it has simply been tweaked to obtain enhanced landscape design strategies and to provide for improved protection of the City’s native, healthy trees

Revisions were originally presented to the Planning Advisory Board (PAB) for review in October 2014. The board directed staff to consider the proposed amendments impact on non-residential properties. Staff consulted with a local architect and engineer to determine impacts and found that the 2014 proposed revisions would create a hardship for commercially zoned vacant properties. Therefore, staff proposes that the existing requirements remain in place and drafted program to encourage retention of the healthiest and largest trees on site. The proposed revisions were provided to the PAB at their May 2015 meeting.

The board will consider changes formally at their September 9, 2015 meeting. Following the Septembber PAB meeting the board directed that staff collect public comment and provide updated revisions at their October 14, 2015 regular meeting.

Staff received written comments from several local non-profit groups as well as citizens. All comments received as of October 9, 2015 are provided in the following link.

The updated draft document for all of the tree and landscape revisions are contained here:

(Updated on October 9, 2015 at 5pm)

(These changes have been prepared in a strike-thru and underline format.)

Public Hearing

The Planning Advisory Board (PAB) will hold a public hearing to consider the proposed amendments on Wednesday,September 9, 2015 at 5 pm in Chambers at City Hall. If you have any comments or input you would like to provide in advance of the meeting please Email Kelly.

All comments received by Friday, September 4, 2015 will be compiled and provided to the PAB as part of the agenda packet for this hearing.