Chapter 18.235
LANDSCAPE REQUIREMENTS

Sections:

18.235.010    Purpose.

18.235.020    Definitions.

18.235.030    Applicability.

18.235.040    Exceptions.

18.235.050    Landscape plans.

18.235.060    Landscape requirements.

18.235.070    Existing trees.

18.235.080    Irrigation system credits.

18.235.090    Stormwater best management practice credits.

18.235.100    Enforcement.

18.235.110    General information.

18.235.120    Size and quality requirements.

18.235.130    Recommended species.

18.235.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to enhance, protect, and promote the aesthetic, ecological, and economic environment in the city of Topeka through landscaping associated with new construction. Landscaping achieves the following goals:

(a) Preserves and enhances Topeka’s urban forest;

(b) Promotes the reestablishment of vegetation in urban areas for health and urban wildlife reasons;

(c) Establishes and enhances a visual character which recognizes aesthetics and safety issues;

(d) Promotes the compatibility between land uses by reducing the visual, noise, and lighting impacts of specific development on users of the site and abutting properties;

(e) Unifies development, and enhances and defines public and private places;

(f) Promotes the use and retention of existing vegetation;

(g) Aids in energy conservation by providing shade from the sun and shelter from the wind;

(h) Mitigates the loss of natural resources; and

(i) Reduces soil erosion, and the volume and rate of discharge of stormwater runoff. (Ord. 17846 § 1, 6-11-02. Code 1995 § 48-38.00.)

18.235.020 Definitions.

The following words, terms and phrases, when used, shall have the meaning ascribed to them herein, except when the context clearly requires otherwise.

“City forester” refers to the city of Topeka forester or designated authority.

“D.B.H.” means diameter at breast height. D.B.H. is used for trees with a diameter greater than 12 inches and is measured four and one-half feet above the ground.

“Developed area” means all land area disturbed during the construction of structures, parking facilities, landscaped areas, and similar improvements.

“Developer” means the legal or beneficial owner of a lot or parcel or any land proposed for development and/or inclusion in a development, including the owner of an option, contract to purchase, or lease.

“Development” means the construction, reconstruction, conversion, structural alteration, relocation, or enlargement of any structure or parking facility, or their environs.

“Diameter caliper” means the size of a tree measured through the tree trunk. For trees less than four inches in diameter, it is measured six inches from the ground. For trees between four inches and 12 inches in diameter, it is measured 12 inches from the ground.

“Groundcover” means an evergreen, deciduous planting or ornamental grass, growing generally to less than 15 inches in height and generally spreads more in width than height. Turf grass is specifically excluded.

“Irrigation system” means a permanent underground piping and sprinkler head system designed using industry standard methods to provide uniform irrigation coverage over a landscaped area.

“Landscaped area” means any area planted with groundcover, trees, shrubs, or other plant material that meets the provisions contained herein.

“Mono-culture” means a single type of species of planting.

“Mulch” means a natural planting material such as pine straw or tree bark used to control weed growth, reduce soil erosion and reduce water loss.

“Parallel planting peninsula” means a planting island that extends out into the parking area, and is bounded on at least one side by the outer edge of the asphalt or building.

“Parking lot” means any off-street, unenclosed ground level facility used for the purpose of temporary storage of motor vehicles. Included within this definition are unenclosed carports associated with any or all development governed by this chapter. Enclosed parking facilities, such as single or multistory garages or parking facilities constructed within the confines of a larger building or structure, or parking facilities associated with residential development, are not included within this definition.

“Parking lot island” means a planting island contained completely within the confines of a parking facility.

“Parking lot planting” means a planting required due to the construction of noncovered surface parking.

“Recommended tree” means any one of the trees listed in “recommended species” of this chapter (TMC 18.235.130). These trees are well suited for the soils and climate of Topeka, Kansas.

“Shrub” means an evergreen or deciduous planting no less than 15 inches in height.

“Significant tree” means any tree with a diameter caliper of six inches or greater. (Ord. 18255 § 1, 6-1-04; Ord. 17846 § 2, 6-11-02. Code 1995 § 48-38.01.)

    Cross References: Definitions generally, TMC 1.10.020.

18.235.030 Applicability.

All requirements set forth in this chapter are applicable as follows:

(a) Any construction within the O&I-1, O&I-2, O&I-3, C-1, C-2, C-3, C-4, M-S, I-1, I-2, X-1, X-2, X-3, U-1, and D-2, and all planned unit development districts for the above listed use groups; parking lots in the D-1 zoning district. Multifamily dwelling developments (buildings composed of four or more dwelling units), churches or other religious or institutional uses in any zoning district and all developments constructed under the provision of a conditional use permit, in any zoning district, are also subject to this chapter.

(b) An alteration to an existing structure which increases or decreases the amount of gross floor area of such structure by more than 50 percent or an alteration to a parking lot which increases or decreases the gross area of the parking lot by more than 50 percent shall be required to comply with all landscaping provisions contained in this chapter.

(c) The addition to a building or parking lot where the addition is adjacent to a residential use or a residential zone and a parking lot buffer is required in accordance with buffer requirements in TMC 18.235.060.

(d) The provisions of this chapter shall apply to all legal nonconforming uses as established and defined in TMC 18.50.040. (Ord. 20062 § 37, 4-18-17.)

18.235.040 Exceptions.

(a) Nothing contained herein shall affect in any way the rights of, or exercise by, any public utility of its present and future acquired rights to clear trees and other growth from lands used by the public utility. The utility shall cooperate and coordinate with the city of Topeka forester when clearing or pruning in the right-of-way.

(b) Nothing contained herein shall reduce required lines of sight and traffic visibility standards adopted by the city of Topeka.

(c) All pervious surface areas of public and private parks, playgrounds, playing fields, and other outdoor recreation facilities shall be excluded from the calculation of base points as required by this chapter. (Ord. 17846 § 4, 6-11-02. Code 1995 § 48-38.03.)

18.235.050 Landscape plans.

(a) Requirements Generally. Landscape plans shall be submitted at the time of application for a building permit, and also at the time of application for planned unit developments and conditional use permits. All landscaping plans shall include the following information:

(1) North point and scale.

(2) The dimensions drawn to scale of the developed area.

(3) Topographic information and final grading adequate to identify and properly specify planting for areas needing slope protection.

(4) The location, size, and surface of materials for all structures and parking areas.

(5) The location, size, and type of all utilities and structures with notation, where appropriate, as to any safety hazards to avoid during installation of landscaping.

(6) The location, size, type, and quantity of all proposed landscaping materials, along with common and botanical names of all plant species. The size, grading, and condition shall be specified according to American Nursery and Landscape Association standards.

(7) The location, size, and common name of all existing plant materials to be retained on the site. Procedures for preserving existing trees during construction shall be submitted and followed accordingly.

(8) Sizes of plant material shall be drawn to scale and shown at 60 percent to 70 percent of mature size, and shall be specified on the plan by a common name or appropriate key.

(9) Location of watering sources shall be specified if an irrigation system is not provided.

(10) The location of all trees, 12-inch D.B.H. proposed for removal.

(11) All screening required by this chapter.

(12) Landscape plans shall be submitted on a separate drawing sheet(s) of a standard size (preferable 24 inches by 36 inches) and drawn to a standard scale.

(13) Landscape plans shall demonstrate that all planting requirements have been met using the point system format illustrated in Template 1.

(14) If the developed area is required to buffer, the landscape plan shall depict the buffer area.

(15) Plants outside of the construction area need not be shown on the landscape plan.

(16) Alternate plans which meet the spirit and intent of this chapter may be submitted to the planning director for approval.

(17) Landscape plans shall be drawn by an architect, landscape architect, engineer, or other professional in the landscape or horticultural fields.

(18) Significant trees located within public right-of-way which abuts the developed area shall be shown on the landscape plan.

(b) Certificate of Landscape Plan Approval and Appeal. If the planning director or designee determines following review of the landscape plan that the plan meets the provisions of this chapter then the planning director or designee shall issue a landscape plan certificate of approval.

A developer who is aggrieved by the administration of this chapter may file an appeal with the metro board of zoning appeals in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 2.120 TMC, Board of Zoning Appeals.

Template 1.

Square footage of developed area: _______________________

Base points required: ____________ (See Table 1)

Parking lot points required: ____________ (1.5 points per parking space)

Total points required: _______________

Existing tree credits claimed: _______________

Irrigation credits claimed: _____________

Total points obtained: ________________

Residential buffer yard required? _____________ yes _____________ no

Parking lot buffer required? _____________ yes _____________ no

(Ord. 18255 § 3, 6-1-04; Ord. 17846 § 5, 6-11-02. Code 1995 § 48-38.04.)

    Cross References: Planning department, TMC 2.25.090; board of zoning appeals, Chapter 2.120 TMC.

18.235.060 Landscape requirements.

(a) Performance Objectives. All required landscape plans shall emphasize plantings along visible street frontages and required buffer yards, including mitigation or screening of parking lots adjacent to public streets. Unless constrained by existing conditions, sites with a single street frontage shall apply 50 percent or more of the total required landscape points to landscape setbacks along street frontages. The minimum percentage of the total required landscape points along street frontages shall increase by 10 percentage points for each additional street frontage. Berms may be used with or in place of shrubs for screening where appropriate.

(b) Planting Requirements/Point System. The developer may use any combination of plantings to obtain the necessary number of points required for the developed area. Different developed areas will lend themselves to different types of plantings. This chapter encourages creativity and diversity in landscaping. In no case shall a monoculture of plantings be allowed. A variation of plantings, at least three different species, is required.

Each landscape plan must equal or exceed a minimum number of base points in order to obtain approval. The number of points required depends on the size of the developed area (see Table 1). In order to obtain points, the plantings must be placed on the developed property and not on the public right-of-way, without the approval of the planning director in consultation with the public works department.

Table 1. Number of Points Required for the Site

Square Footage of the Developed Area

Number of Points Required for Sites Classified I-1, I-2, X-2, and X-3

Number of Points Required for Sites Classified C-1, C-2, C-3, C-4, U-1, X-1, O&I-1, O&I-2, O&I-3, M-S, and for Multiple-Family Residential Development, Churches, Schools, and Other Institutional Uses in Any Zoning District

0 – 10,000

33 (+1.5 per parking space)

40 (+1.5 per parking space)

Greater than 10,000

33 points plus one point for each additional 300 square feet of developed area (+1.5 per parking space)

40 points plus 1.2 points for each additional 300 square feet of developed area (+1.5 per parking space)

Except for industrial uses in I and X-2 districts, all designated outdoor storage, loading, or display areas, including, but not limited to, car lots, lumber yards, warehouses, home improvement centers, and loading docks, will require an additional one point per 600 square feet.

When only a portion of a large lot is developed (e.g., only one acre of a 10-acre lot), only the developed area shall be considered when determining the number of points required.

Table 2. Point Values for Various Plantings 

Type of Plant Material

Minimum Size

Point Value

Large tree

2.0 inches – 2.5 inches caliper

11 per tree

Medium tree

1.25 inches – 1.5 inches caliper

8 per tree

Understory tree

Single trunk: 1.25 inches – 1.5 inches caliper

5 per tree

 

Multiple trunk: 6 feet – 8 feet in height

5 per tree

Coniferous tree

4 feet – 5 feet initial height at planting

8 per tree

Shrub

2 gallon (established) minimum

1 per shrub

Ornamental grasses

2 gallon (established) minimum

1 per plant

Groundcover

Per square foot of landscaped area. Sufficient quantity of plants to cover the entire landscape area within 3 growing seasons.

0.10 per square foot

Landscape berm

30 inches minimum height with a sufficient quantity of trees, shrubs or plants to equal 1 point per 10 square feet.

0.25 per 3 lineal feet

Turf berm

30 inches minimum height. 3-foot minimum length, not to exceed 10% of total point requirements.

0.25 per 3 lineal feet

(c) Parking Lot Requirements. All street-level parking lots shall be landscaped in accordance with the following requirements:

(1) In addition to the number of base points required, one and one-half additional points are required for each parking space proposed. These additional points may be achieved by planting parking lot trees and/or parking lot shrubs. For example, a 10,000-square-foot developed area with 10 parking spaces requires 33 base points plus one and one-half points per parking space. The total point requirement for this developed area is 48 (33 base points plus 15 parking lot points).

(2) On parking lots with less than 24 parking spaces, parking lot trees/shrubs may be spaced around the perimeter of the lot as desired to provide a uniform and attractive design.

(3) On lots with more than 24 parking spaces, landscaping shall be provided on parking lot islands and/or parking lot peninsulas within the confines of the developed parking lot at a ratio of one landscaped island or peninsula per 24 parking spaces. These plantings shall be located to minimize and break the expanse of asphalt and concrete. Each parking lot island or peninsula shall be equivalent in size to one parking space. Parking lot islands shall contain shade-producing trees where possible.

(d) Buffers and Buffer Zones. A developed area may be required to buffer certain portions of the development as provided for herein. If a developed area is required to buffer, the more stringent buffer requirements contained herein shall apply. Accumulation of minimum required landscaping points shall not reduce the requirements for any landscaped buffer as specified herein.

(1) Residential Zone Buffer. On any commercial, industrial, institutional, PUD, conditional use permit, or multifamily development (three or more units), adjacent to a residential zoning district, a landscaped buffer along the property line(s) of the developing property is required. The buffer shall run the entire length of the abutting lot line(s). The type of buffer may consist of any combination of the following:

(i) A solid opaque fence not less that six feet in height, and a six-foot-wide buffer of landscaped plantings located on the outside of the fence, not to exceed six-foot spacing between plants.

(ii) A landscaped buffer no less than six feet in width, planted with a series of evergreen plantings which will grow to at least six feet in height and spaced in a manner to provide an impervious visual barrier, not to exceed six-foot spacing between plants.

(iii) A landscaped berm at least 30 inches in height continuing the entire length of the abutting property line. A landscape credit for a landscaped berm may be claimed (per Table 1) in order to meet the screening requirements for the developing property. Such berm must be planted with trees, shrubs and/or plants in order to satisfy buffer requirements. A berm planted exclusively in turf grass is not considered by itself sufficient to satisfy buffer requirements as required by this chapter.

(iv) Natural, undisturbed forest at least 20 feet in width that provides a nearly impervious visual barrier due to the dense nature of the plants and/or trees. If this option is chosen, the planning director shall determine whether the barrier is satisfactory through a site inspection prior to plan approval. Protective measures shall be provided during construction to ensure the area is protected from damage due to construction.

(2) Parking Lot Buffer. All parking areas and associated driveways shall be buffered with landscaping and set back as follows:

(i) An area not less than four feet in width shall be located between a parking lot and an adjacent property line of a nonresidential zoning district. For sites classified I-1, I-2, X-2, or X-3, such buffering shall not be required where an equivalent buffer exists on the adjoining property.

(ii) A landscaped setback not less than 20 feet shall be located between all parking lots and any public street right-of-way for lots platted on or after June 11, 2002, except when surface parking is placed to the side or rear of the building in which case the width of the parking area, as measured by a line parallel with the street right-of-way, is no more than one-half of the frontage on the street right-of-way and the development meets the front yard building setbacks in TMC 18.230.030. A landscape setback of not less than five feet shall be required from public street right-of-way for all other lots.

(e) Landscape for Industrial Uses. For industrial uses in I and X-2 districts, unimproved areas and outdoor storage areas will not be applied toward the generation of required points provided the purpose and performance objectives of this chapter, including the creation of landscape buffers and proper screening of parking and storage areas, are met. (Ord. 20150 § 4, 10-23-18.)

    Cross References: Planning department, TMC 2.25.090; public works department, TMC 2.25.110.

18.235.070 Existing trees.

(a) Credits for Existing Trees. In order to encourage the preservation of existing trees, credits up to 50 percent of required base points may be given in the event existing trees are preserved.

For each existing significant tree with a diameter caliper between six inches and 12 inches that is preserved on the landscape plan, a credit of 15 base points will be applied. For each existing significant tree with a D.B.H. between 12 inches and 24 inches, a credit of 20 base points will be applied. For each existing significant tree with a D.B.H. over 24 inches, a credit of 25 base points will be applied. Any significant tree that dies during construction, or because of construction, must be replaced with a tree or trees of a similar species, or a species approved by the city forester, to equal or exceed the point value of the lost tree.

(b) Additional Points Required for Removal of Existing Significant Trees. Any existing significant trees removed from the site shall require additional base points above those calculated for the square footage of the developed area. For trees removed between six inches and 12 inches diameter caliper, an additional 15 base points shall be required. For trees removed between 12 inches and 24 inches D.B.H., an additional 20 base points shall be required. For any trees removed that are larger than 25 inches D.B.H., an additional 25 base points shall be required. If the planning director, in consultation with the city forester, determines that removal of any aforementioned significant trees will not be detrimental to the overall appearance of the development, some or all of these additional point requirements may be waived.

(c) Trees for which a developer wishes to receive credit must be within the developed area, and incorporated into an overall landscape design. (Ord. 18255 § 5, 6-1-04; Ord. 17846 § 7, 6-11-02. Code 1995 § 48-38.06.)

    Cross References: Planning department, TMC 2.25.090; city forester, Chapter 12.65 TMC.

18.235.080 Irrigation system credits.

In order to sustain the benefits of landscaped areas as required by this chapter, credits may be authorized if the developer provides an industry standard irrigation system. Credits may be authorized as follows:

(a) A maximum of 20 percent of the total irrigated area may be deducted from the calculation of base points if the developer installs an industry standard, permanent, underground irrigation system. Such deduction may be authorized only from the square footage of the area covered by the irrigation system.

(b) If an underground irrigation system is claimed for credit against the base point formula, installation and operation plans of the irrigation system must be submitted to the planning director for approval.

(c) Credits authorized for irrigation systems shall not reduce the requirements for residential zone buffers or parking lot buffers as established by this chapter. (Ord. 18255 § 6, 6-1-04; Ord. 17846 § 8, 6-11-02. Code 1995 § 48-38.07.)

    Cross References: Planning department, TMC 2.25.090.

18.235.090 Stormwater best management practice credits.

Credits may be authorized up to 20 percent when stormwater best management practices are incorporated into the landscape plan, subject to the approval of the water pollution control division, city of Topeka. Such practices shall adhere to recognized principles of stormwater drainage engineering and consist of but are not limited to:

(a) Bioretention systems.

(b) Open vegetated channels.

(c) Filter strip.

(d) Dry and wet swales.

(e) Detention systems.

(f) Retention/wetland systems.

(g) Stream buffers.

A point value of credit for stormwater best management practices shall be established by separate resolution of the city of Topeka. (Ord. 18255 § 7, 6-1-04; Ord. 17846 § 9, 6-11-02. Code 1995 § 48-38.08.)

18.235.100 Enforcement.

Enforcement of these regulations shall be subject to the authority granted to the city of Topeka zoning administrator as established in TMC 18.50.120.

The owner is responsible for all maintenance and upkeep of planted materials trees in perpetuity within his/her development. Failure by the developer and/or owner to comply with the applicable provisions of the article on landscape requirements shall cause the developer and/or owner to be ineligible for any additional building permits. No additional building permits shall issue until the developer and/or owner has complied with this chapter or made arrangements satisfactory to the planning director for compliance.

After all plantings are completed, the developer will schedule an inspection of the plantings with the planning department and landscaping installer. If all plantings are in good condition and properly meet the requirements of the landscape plan as required by this chapter, the planning department will issue a landscape certificate of completion to the developer and building official. No certificate of occupancy shall be issued if the landscape certificate of completion has not been issued. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if building construction is completed outside of the growing season, a temporary certificate of occupancy may be issued with the condition attached that the landscape certificate of completion must be issued prior to the end of the next growing season. Failure to obtain the landscape certificate of completion by the end of that growing season shall be sufficient grounds for revocation of the conditional certificate of occupancy.

If plantings are subsequently determined by the planning director to be damaged, in poor condition, diseased, or dead, the planning director may issue notice to the real property owner of record requiring maintenance and/or the replacement of plantings in order to bring the developed area into compliance with the approved landscape plan. If the required maintenance or replacement is not accomplished within one growing season which is considered to begin March 1st and end November 15th, the planning director on behalf of the city shall cause the required maintenance or replacement of plantings to be accomplished and cost thereof shall be assessed against the real property as a service assessment. (Ord. 18255 § 8, 6-1-04; Ord. 17846 § 10, 6-11-02. Code 1995 § 48-38.09.)

    Cross References: Planning department, TMC 2.25.090.

18.235.110 General information.

(a) Trees Located Within the Public Right-of-Way.

(1) The removal of significant trees within the public right-of-way is prohibited without written permission of the city forester.

(2) Any significant tree located within a public right-of-way which abuts the developed area shall be shown on the landscape plan. Significant trees within the right-of-way which abut the developed area may be used as existing tree credits with the approval of the planning director.

(3) The developer must notify the city of Topeka forester immediately if any significant tree located within a public right-of-way is damaged during construction of the development project. Upon inspection, the city forester may require that the damaged tree be removed and replaced by the developer. The replacement tree shall be a similar species with a minimum caliper of two and one-half inches. Care and maintenance of the replacement tree shall be the responsibility of the developer or property owner for a period of three years. (Ord. 17846 § 11, 6-11-02. Code 1995 § 48-38.10.)

    Cross References: Planning department, TMC 2.25.090; city forester, Chapter 12.65 TMC.

18.235.120 Size and quality requirements.

(a) Any large tree planted to meet minimum requirements of this chapter shall have at least a two-inch to two-and-one-half-inch diameter caliper. Any medium tree, understory tree, or coniferous tree planted to meet minimum requirements of this chapter shall have a diameter caliper of one and one-quarter inches to one and one-half inches, except that multistemmed understory trees shall be between six and eight feet in height. Deviations from the recommended tree list may be approved through a written request to the city forester.

(b) All trees planted to meet the minimum requirements of this chapter shall be in a healthy condition at the time of planting.

(c) Shrubs planted to meet the minimum requirements of this chapter shall be a minimum of an established two-gallon container.

(d) Grass shall be planted in such a manner as to completely cover all exposed soil after one full growing season.

(e) No bare ground shall be left exposed. Grass or other groundcover or mulch, such as pine straw or tree bark, shall cover all bare ground.

(f) Irrigation is not required but is recommended.

(g) Any planting that dies shall be replaced within one full growing season. (Ord. 18255 § 9, 6-1-04; Ord. 17846 § 12, 6-11-02. Code 1995 § 48-38.11.)

    Cross References: City forester, Chapter 12.65 TMC.

18.235.130 Recommended species.

The planning department with the advice of the city forester shall maintain a list of recommended trees, shrubs, perennials, ornamental grasses, and groundcover for fulfillment of the provisions of this chapter. Generally, these trees, shrubs, perennials, ornamental grasses, and groundcover are suitable for the city of Topeka’s environment. The city forester shall determine the suitability of all species and cultivars thereof. Substitutions or additions to the list of recommended species shall only be made with the approval of the city forester. Additionally, the city forester shall determine the point values for plantings not listed. (Ord. 18255 § 10, 6-1-04; Ord. 17846 § 13, 6-11-02. Code 1995 § 48-38.12.)

    Cross References: Planning department, TMC 2.25.090; city forester, Chapter 12.65 TMC.