Chapter 17.56


17.56.010    Purpose and intent.

17.56.020    General provisions – Fencing.

17.56.030    Electric fences.

17.56.040    Landscaping development standards.

17.56.050    Landscape plans/approval.

17.56.060    General landscape requirements – All zoning districts.

17.56.070    Commercial and industrial zones.

17.56.080    Performance surety.

17.56.090    Maintenance requirements.

17.56.100    Landscaping of parking areas.

17.56.110    Screening requirements.

17.56.120    Clearview triangle.

17.56.130    Existing vegetation.

17.56.010 Purpose and intent.

The use of fencing and screening reduces visual, noise and lighting impacts on adjacent properties and provides visual separation and physical buffers between land uses. It also serves to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community by eliminating dangerous conditions and preserving property values. [Ord. 21-20 § 20, 2020].

17.56.020 General provisions – Fencing.

Fences not over six feet high are exempt from the requirements for a building permit, but do require a placement permit prior to construction or erection of any fence or fences in order to verify compliance with all applicable fence regulations. The location shall be based upon a scalable site plan provided by the applicant and shall show all existing structures on the property, all existing easements and property lines, and all new fence proposals. The location shall be binding upon the applicant for all purposes and requirements of the West Richland Municipal Code. The location placement permit shall not require payment of any permit fees. In order to obtain a building permit for a fence over seven feet in height, the applicant shall submit the necessary application form and fees, along with engineered construction plans and engineering data indicating the fence’s ability to withstand the windloads expected in the city. Otherwise, fences are permitted as follows:

A. Fences.

1. Repealed by Ord. 39-20.

2. Fences located within the required front yard shall not exceed a height of three feet where fences would provide less than 50 percent visibility. Fences providing at least 50 percent visibility shall not exceed a height of four feet within the required front yard. Examples of fences that could meet the 50 percent visibility include spaced rail fences, spaced picket fences, and chain-link fences.

3. Corner lots may construct a fence beyond the front yard setback to the maximum height at the property line or two feet from the back of sidewalk, whichever is greater; provided, that all sight distance requirements are met.

4. No fence shall exceed a total height of seven feet above existing or finished grade in a residential zone.

5. Wire mesh fences constructed in conjunction with public playgrounds, public utilities and other public installations up to the street right-of-way line. Such fences may be any height necessary for safety and security. Said fences must be approved by the city engineer to ensure they are installed in accordance with WRMC 12.08.060, Visibility.

B. Repealed by Ord. 39-20.

C. Other Provisions.

1. Fence height shall be measured along the fence line to grade, i.e., top of fence to grade upon which the fence is proposed.

2. Fences shall be constructed and maintained in accordance with the requirements of WRMC 12.08.060, Visibility.

3. Fences shall not be constructed within the land patents accepted in Ordinance 10-20 that are shown as a “planned roadway” on the adopted local roadway plan.

4. No fence shall form a sight obstruction per WRMC 12.08.060, Visibility, and WRMC 12.50.010, Vegetation obstructions.

5. Fences up to seven feet high may be built up to the street right-of-way line and adjacent to arterial streets on lots having access to other streets when provisions for such fencing are included in approved subdivision plats. Said lots are adjacent to a limited access roadway per Chapter 12.01 WRMC, Functional Classification of Public Streets. When fences are constructed under this provision, the following requirements shall apply:

a. The adjacent strip of land between the fence and the back of curb or roadway shall be improved by the property owner concurrent with installation of fencing;

b. The property owner shall provide and maintain a treatment for the strip of land between the fence and the back of curb or roadway consisting of a minimum treatment with grass, decorative rock, bark, wood or any combination of such or similar materials in a manner that will minimize disturbance by natural elements or pedestrians;

c. No vehicular access is allowed through any such fence. [Ord. 39-20 § 4, 2020; Ord. 21-20 § 20, 2020].

17.56.030 Electric fences.

A. Electric fences are permitted in the city only in areas zoned to allow large domestic grazing animals, and only for the purpose of containing large domestic grazing animals. For the purpose of this section, large domestic grazing animals are defined as cattle, horses, sheep, goats and llamas.

B. Electric fences shall be constructed of single-strand smooth wire. Electric fences shall not be constructed of barbed wire or twisted or serrated wire.

C. Electric fences shall be posted with permanent signs a minimum of 36 square inches in area at intervals of 15 feet stating that the fence is electrified.

D. Electric fences and related appliances, equipment and materials used in connection therewith shall be listed or labeled by a qualified testing agency, carry the Underwriters Laboratories “U.L. Approved” seal and shall be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications and in compliance with the National Electrical Code, and shall not be modified in any manner from their original manufactured condition.

E. Electric fences shall be set back at least six inches from a second and more substantial fence which runs along a property line which is parallel with and adjacent to public rights-of-way or public facilities; provided, that the second and more substantial fence, as provided for herein, may not be constructed of barbed wire or twisted or serrated wire, or any material which will easily catch or entangle clothing; and provided further, however, that the construction and location of all fences shall comply with all applicable laws, including zoning laws.

F. Electric fences shall be set back at least 36 inches from any nonsubstantial fence. A “nonsubstantial fence” is defined as any fence less than seven feet in height, or any fence of open construction such as a picket fence, split-rail or rail fence, wire fence, wire mesh or metal fabric. [Ord. 21-20 § 20, 2020].

17.56.040 Landscaping development standards.

A. The landscape development standards contained in this chapter shall be administered by the director. The director shall be responsible for reviewing and approving planting specifications in the implementation of this chapter. The director is authorized to make modifications when reviewing site plans based on topographical conditions or other factors unique to the site.

B. Credit may be given against the requirements of this chapter for certain existing trees that are preserved in accordance with the provisions of this chapter for preservation and protection of existing trees.

C. Ornamental trees at least six feet in height may be substituted for no more than 30 percent of the required deciduous trees.

D. All required plant materials shall be compatible with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Hardiness Zone for West Richland and shall not have characteristics detrimental to the public welfare such as susceptibility to disease and wind damage or a tendency to interfere with utilities or public rights-of-way.

E. No tree shall be planted where the soil quality is too poor to ensure growth. An adequate sized hole shall be excavated with the unsuitable soil removed and replaced with suitable soil.

F. Irrigation systems, root barriers and other mechanical devices may be required to assure planting viability. [Ord. 21-20 § 20, 2020].

17.56.050 Landscape plans/approval.

A. A plan of the proposed landscaping and screening shall be provided, which may be incorporated into plans submitted for preliminary plat, site plan or building permit review. Landscaping plans shall be approved by the community development director prior to issuance of development permits. Preliminary landscape plans with general descriptions of types, locations, and quantities of required landscape elements will be sufficient for applications for conditional use permits, subdivisions and planned developments; provided, however, that final landscape plans shall be approved by the director prior to notice of decision. Director approval is not required for landscaping of public improvement projects planned in accordance with the comprehensive plan; provided, however, such projects are subject to the requirements of the West Richland Municipal Code and all other applicable review and approval processes.

B. Landscaping Plans – General.

1. All landscaping plans shall be submitted to the community development department and shall be prepared at a scale as required by the director. All landscaping plans shall be consistent with the provisions of this chapter. Plans shall include a north arrow with graphic and numeric scales.

2. Unless otherwise approved by the director, landscaping plans shall be prepared by a certified landscape architect, Washington-State-certified nursery professional, Washington-State-certified landscaper or other qualified person with experience in landscape design.

3. Landscaping plans are not required for single-family residential development or on lots of 10,000 square feet or less.

C. Plan Requirements. Landscape design plans should include the following:

1. Landscaping plans shall identify the locations, species and size of all existing trees six inches or more in diameter (measured at four and one-half feet above ground level) and any such trees proposed to be removed;

2. Natural features or vegetation left in natural state and protective measures for retained vegetation including the means of providing water to and protection of the root system during the construction period;

3. Quantity, size, location and type of material to be planted including trees by caliper inch measured four and one-half feet above grade. All plant material listed shall be keyed to plan(s) and defined by botanical and common name. By separate plan or overlay show plants to scale at mature size;

4. Existing or proposed structures, fences, curbing, pavers and hardscapes, and other impervious surfaces, including parking lots;

5. The location, type, size and height of existing or proposed fencing or structural screening and buffer plantings required by this title;

6. The location of outdoor storage areas and trash receptacles and the type and size of screening;

7. Natural or manmade features and water bodies;

8. An irrigation plan that displays full coverage for planted areas;

9. Grading plan showing existing and proposed contours shown by contour lines, spot elevations, sections or other means; and

10. Name, address and qualifications of person, firm or organization that prepared the landscape plans.

D. No permits are required for normal maintenance or for the replacement of dead or diseased plants. [Ord. 21-20 § 20, 2020].

17.56.060 General landscape requirements – All zoning districts.

A. Coverage. All planting areas should have plant materials that provide at least 75 percent coverage within four years after the time of planting.

B. Irrigation.

1. To the extent practicable, all landscaping which needs regular watering should have a permanent irrigation system;

2. All irrigation systems shall be equipped with an approved means of providing premises isolation;

3. All irrigation systems should be equipped with a controller capable of programming (timers should be set to reduce evaporation);

4. Irrigation systems shall be designed and operated to minimize runoff and overspray to nonirrigated areas;

5. Irrigation requirements for remodels on lots less than 7,500 square feet may receive special consideration and exceptions as approved by the director.

C. Landscape Materials.

1. New landscaping materials should include species native to the southeastern region of Washington State or noninvasive species adapted to the climatic conditions of the southeastern region of Washington State.

2. Deciduous trees should have a caliper of at least one and three-quarters inches at the time of planting measured from the diameter at breast height (DBH) or four and one-half feet from top of root ball. Caliper of all the trees may be averaged, but no individual tree should have a caliper of less than one and one-half inches.

3. Evergreen trees should be at least six feet in height measured from treetop to the ground at the time of planting.

4. All plant materials should meet standards as found in the latest addition of American Standard for Nursery Stock, published by AmericanHort.1

5. Shrubs should be:

a. Equivalent to two-gallon size at time of planting;

b. At least 18 to 24 inches in height at time of planting;

c. Maintained at a height not exceeding four feet for parking lot landscaping.

6. Ground covers should be planted and spaced to result in total coverage of the required ground cover planting area within four years as follows:

a. Rooted cuttings, 12 inches on center; or

b. Four-inch pots at 18 to 24 inches on center; or

c. One-gallon or greater sized containers at 24 to 30 inches on center; provided, however, that spacing up to 60 inches may be allowed for larger initial planting sizes or species better suited for wider spacing; or

d. In landscaping areas not intended to serve as a full screen, grass may be used as ground cover; provided, that the grass area should:

i. Constitute no more than seventy percent of such landscape areas; and

ii. Be at least five feet wide at the smallest dimension.

7. All fences shall be placed on the inward side of any required perimeter landscaping.

8. Required street landscaping may be placed within the city street rights-of-way subject to (a) the permit requirements of Chapter 12.49 WRMC and (b) approval of the city engineer ensuring planting is current with infrastructure design or adequate space is available to replant the required landscaping should subsequent street improvements require the removal of landscaping within the rights-of-way.

D. Landscape Installation. All landscaping shall be installed in a sound workmanlike manner and according to accepted planting procedures for the type of plant materials called for in this chapter or any approved planting plan. Landscaped areas shall be protected from vehicular and pedestrian encroachment during and after construction. The director or designee may inspect all completed landscaping and no certificates of occupancy or similar authorization will be issued unless the landscaping meets the requirements herein provided or performance assurance is provided pursuant to this chapter. [Ord. 21-20 § 20, 2020].

17.56.070 Commercial and industrial zones.

A. Landscaping within commercial and industrial zones should enhance the aesthetic and environmental quality of these zones within the city; minimize the impact of lighting, noise and views of parking areas; serve to visually break up large building facades; provide a transition between buildings and parking or transportation corridors; and provide a buffer when situated where sites are adjoining residential zoning districts, public parks, and schools.

B. Tree Classifications.

1. Class I trees are small trees: heights up to 25 feet, for planting strips three feet to five feet wide, including cherry trees, dogwoods, lilac, plums, and certain maples (paperbark and Japanese). Evergreens of a similar size are also included.

2. Class II trees are medium trees: 25 feet to 50 feet height range, for planting strips five feet to eight feet wide, including ash trees, certain beech trees (Dawyck purple and tricolor), birch, ginkgo, certain lindens (Redmond and Chancellor), certain maples (Armstrong and October glory) and yellowwood. Evergreens of a similar size are also included.

3. Class III trees are large trees: 50 feet to 70 feet in height, for planting strips eight feet to 15 feet wide, including certain lindens (sentry and little leaf), certain maples (Cleveland, crimson king, emerald queen, sugar), sweet gum, and hackberry. Evergreens of a similar size are also included.

4. Class IV trees are very large trees: 70 feet or more in height for planting strips 15 feet or more wide, including certain lindens (American and silver), the tulip tree, and beech trees. Evergreens of a similar size are also included.

C. Landscaping – Street Frontages.

1. A continuous area of landscaping along the street right-of-way may be required.

2. The length of landscaping areas should be the entire frontage of property along the street right-of-way, except driveway entrances and building entrances. In no event, however, should the length of the landscaping area be less than 50 percent of the length of the property line along the street right-of-way. In those circumstances where access, building location, utilities, or other factors restrict the ability to meet the minimum 50 percent standard, the applicant shall be required to provide the landscaping elsewhere on the property.

3. The landscaping area should consist of trees, shrubs, and ground cover as follows:

a. Trees spaced no more than 40 feet on center:

i. Tree spacing will be based on tree class (I through IV).

Class I spacing:

20' on center

Class II spacing:

25' on center

Class III spacing:

30' on center

Class IV spacing:

40' on center

ii. Trees shall not be located closer than three feet to the curb of the public right-of-way or parking lot.

b. Shrubs not exceeding a height of four feet spaced with at least an average of one shrub for each 50 square feet of planting area.

c. Ground cover pursuant to the general landscape material requirements set forth in this chapter.

d. In no case shall sight-obscuring landscaping be located within the clearview triangle area.

D. Perimeter Landscaping.

1. Landscape buffers shall be required along those commercial development perimeter property lines located abutting or facing residential zoning districts, public parks or schools, except along street frontage as required above. Consideration shall be given to terrain (slope) when applying these requirements and developing plans.

2. Perimeter landscape buffers, when required, should be at least 10 feet in width; except where abutting a public park, then such landscaping strip should be increased to 20 feet in width.

3. The perimeter landscaping area (buffer) should generally consist of a mix of evergreen plantings, deciduous trees, shrubs, ground cover, and fencing.

a. No more than 60 percent of the trees shall be deciduous;

b. Trees should be planted at intervals no greater than 30 feet on center.

E. Perimeter Landscape Screening.

1. Perimeter landscape screening should achieve 100 percent sight obstruction of outdoor storage areas and waste dumpsters, and 80 percent sight obstruction of parking lots, when viewed from abutting or facing residentially zoned property or public parks or schools.

2. Perimeter landscape screening should also provide visual relief of outside lighting, buildings, or other parts of the development that might cause a nuisance characteristic to the abutting or facing residential zoning district, public parks or schools.

F. Facade Buffer – Foundation Planting.

1. Landscaping along the perimeter of buildings facing the public right-of-way, except alleys, may be required for any building set back more than 15 feet from the front property line to create a softening effect by reducing the amount of visual, straight line architecture. Landscaping within 10 feet of the building foundation, including any landscaping required elsewhere by this chapter, shall satisfy this requirement.

a. The facade buffer or foundation planting area should be at least five feet in width (average) and should occupy at least 50 percent of the perimeter of the building facade facing the public right-of-way.

b. The plantings should include ground cover and shrubs.

2. Any building facade set back more than 15 feet from the front property line with a wall surface greater than 2,000 square feet shall include a facade buffer or foundation planting meeting the following standards:

a. Trees planted at an interval averaging 25 feet except for buildings set back less than 15 feet from the front property line.

b. Ground cover and shrubs pursuant to the general landscape material requirements set forth in this chapter.

c. A planting area with an average width of at least six feet in width which occupies at least 50 percent of the perimeter of each building facade facing the public right-of-way. [Ord. 21-20 § 20, 2020].

17.56.080 Performance surety.

A. A certificate of occupancy may be denied until the required landscaping is in place. If, however, landscaping installation is incomplete at the time of formal application for occupancy due to weather-related reasons or other unforeseeable circumstance, the city may authorize a certificate of occupancy subject to submitting a bond or other surety acceptable to the city at a value of 150 percent of the estimated cost of installation.

B. Upon completion of the landscape installation, the city shall promptly release the performance surety. If the required landscaping improvements are not made within six months of occupancy of the building, the city may use the surety to install the landscaping. [Ord. 21-20 § 20, 2020].

17.56.090 Maintenance requirements.

A. All shrubs, trees and vegetative material used in the screening or landscaping shall be perpetually maintained in a healthy, growing condition. Irrigation systems shall be kept operational. Dead, diseased or dying plant material shall be replaced immediately, and planting areas shall be maintained reasonably free of trash and weeds.

B. Fences used in screening and landscaping shall be perpetually maintained in an attractive and structurally sound condition.

C. A maintenance surety in the form of a bond, cash deposit, or other security acceptable to the city covering 20 percent of the cost of the original plant materials in place shall be required for one year following installation to ensure compliance with this code.

1. If a maintenance surety is required under this section, the property owner shall provide the city with a nonrevocable notarized agreement granting the city and its agents the right to enter the property and perform any necessary work.

2. The maintenance surety may be used by the city to perform any maintenance, and to reimburse the city for documented administrative costs associated with the maintenance activity.

3. Upon completion of the one-year maintenance period, the city shall promptly release the maintenance surety or any remaining portion thereof. [Ord. 21-20 § 20, 2020].

17.56.100 Landscaping of parking areas.

The following requirements apply to landscaping of all off-street parking and outdoor automobile sales lots in order to provide visual relief along the street frontage of off-street parking areas, and to break up continuous surfaces of parking lots within and between off-street parking areas and to locate parking lots in areas that are as visually unobtrusive as possible. Parking lot landscaping should be used to reinforce pedestrian and vehicular circulation, including parking lot entrance and exit, ends of drive aisles and defining pedestrian walkways through parking lots.

A. The standard for landscaping of parking lots with more than five spaces shall be 10 percent of the total parking area, in addition to the specific screening requirements, perimeter landscaping requirements and street tree requirements.

B. Landscaping should consist of combinations of trees, shrubs, and groundcover with careful consideration to eventual size and spread, susceptibility to disease and pests, durability, and adaptability to existing soil and climatic conditions.

C. Every parking and automobile sales lot area that abuts property in any residential district shall be separated from such property by a combination of solid wall or view-obscuring fence, and compact evergreen composition landscaping at least six feet in height.

D. No parking stall should be located more than 50 feet from a landscaped area.

E. Landscaping of parking lots and automobile sales lots which border directly on a street should include an eight-foot-wide planting area along the entire street frontage (except for driveways) between the property line and the parking area.

F. Landscaping should be proportionately distributed throughout the parking or automobile sales lot area in a manner which best fulfills the objectives of the chapter.

G. Wherever possible, landscaping should include deciduous trees in order to provide shade for up to at least 20 percent of the vehicle accommodation area.

H. Site plans shall specifically demonstrate how each of the requirements of this section is met.

I. A bond or other security acceptable to the city in an amount sufficient to secure the completion of all landscaping required in this section and its survival in a healthy condition or replacement for a minimum period of 12 months from the date of completion shall be submitted to the city. Upon completion of the landscape installation and expiration of the 12-month survival period, the city shall promptly release the performance surety.

J. All landscaping shall be installed prior to occupancy unless seasonally impractical, in which case the director may grant an extension to a specified date when such installation will be practical, subject to the bonding requirements of this chapter.

K. Landscaping – Street Frontages. Off-street parking and outdoor automobile sales areas shall provide landscaping areas along the street frontage consistent with the requirements in the underlying zoning district in which the activity will be located.

L. Landscaping Interior. The following amounts of landscaping should be provided in the internal area of parking lots and outdoor automobile sales areas. These are in addition to the landscaping required to be provided along street frontages or perimeter landscaping.

1. If the parking area contains more than five but not more than 50 spaces, the following landscaping may be required:

a. At least 30 square feet of landscaping for each parking space;

b. One class III or class IV tree per 10 parking spaces;

c. Landscaped islands planted with shade trees and shrubs or groundcover;

d. Landscaped areas should be placed at the end of each parking row and between adjoining parking lots under separate ownership or control, and as needed to fulfill the area requirements of this chapter.

2. If the parking area contains more than 50 spaces, the following landscaping may be required:

a. At least 30 square feet of landscaping for each parking space for the first 50 parking spaces, and at least 40 square feet of landscaping for each parking space in excess of 50 parking spaces;

b. One class III or class IV tree per eight parking spaces;

c. Landscaped islands planted with shade trees and shrubs or groundcover;

d. Landscaped areas should be placed at the end of each parking row and between adjoining parking lots under separate ownership or control, or as needed to fulfill the area requirements of this chapter.

3. Required interior landscaped areas should not be less than 64 square feet in area or eight feet in width.

4. No parking stall should be located more than 50 feet from a landscaped area.

5. Landscaping planted within interior parking areas shall be planted and maintained to prevent the obstruction of driver visibility of pedestrians and other vehicles.

6. Landscaping should be selected and planted so as to withstand foot traffic.

7. All landscaping areas bordering driveways and parking areas shall be protected therefrom by curbing, wheel stops, or other similar protective devices. Such protective devices shall be shown on landscape plans.

8. When off-street parking is located within a parking structure under a building or within an enclosed garage, the landscaping required in the internal area of parking lots need not be provided for the parking spaces contained within such structures. [Ord. 21-20 § 20, 2020].

17.56.110 Screening requirements.

A. At a minimum, all developments except single-family residences and duplexes shall provide a sight-obscuring fence (six feet in height minimum) or dense evergreen landscaping designed to constitute a solid planting to a minimum height of six feet in the following situations:

1. On common property lines which abut residential districts.

2. On common property lines which abut districts designated for less intensive uses.

3. On property lines in commercial or industrial districts, the director shall evaluate the need for screening between uses, and may require screening on a case-by-case basis.

4. Around the perimeter of any parking area abutting residential districts.

5. Screening of Trash Collection and Recycling Areas, Service Areas, and Loading Areas. Trash collection and recycling areas, service areas, and loading areas should be screened on all sides so that no portion of such area is visible from public streets and alleys and adjacent properties. Required screening shall include walls/fences and plantings.

6. Outdoor Service Yards and Storage Areas. Service yards and outdoor storage areas in commercial and industrial areas shall be screened from public areas, streets, alleys, and adjacent areas through the use of a combination of walls/fencing and plantings.

B. Screening requirements for loading areas for commercial and industrial uses shall be determined on a case-by-case basis by the director.

C. Blank building walls that are 40 feet or more in length and not located on a property line shall be buffered by landscaping including trees planted in front of the wall. [Ord. 21-20 § 20, 2020].

17.56.120 Clearview triangle.

All screening and landscaping established in association with land development activities shall comply with the height and location requirements for sight obstruction in WRMC 12.08.060. [Ord. 21-20 § 20, 2020].

17.56.130 Existing vegetation.

The applicant may be required to retain significant vegetation on the subject property to the maximum extent possible where such vegetation is considered equal to or better than that required by this chapter. Significant existing vegetation shall include but is not limited to:

A. Significant trees: any trees in good condition at least six inches in diameter (DBH).

B. Riparian vegetation within a critical watercourse or wetland site, subject to the city’s critical areas ordinance. [Ord. 21-20 § 20, 2020].


As of the date of the ordinance codified in this chapter, the latest version is the 2014 American Standard for Nursery Stock (ANSI Z60.1) which is available for free from AmericanHort and may be downloaded at