Landscape Architect & Specifier News

AUG 2013

LASN is a photographically oriented, professional journal featuring topics of concern and state-of-the-art projects designed or influenced by registered Landscape Architects.

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ordinances In the Heart of Texas "To promote sustainable growth of Elgin, through coordinated and cooperative leadership in order to attract businesses, encourage lifelong learning and maintain the shared belief in Elgin's core values." —"Envision Elgin" www.elgintx.com/planningreview.asp The existing natural landscape character, especially native oak, elm and pecan trees, shall be preserved to the extent reasonable and feasible.—Elgin, Texas Landscape Ordinance, Jan. 8, 2013 by Buck Abbey, ASLA, The Green Laws Organization, New Orleans, Louisiana 16 way that complements community values. During the latter months of last year, discussions took place in Elgin to revise the city landscape code. The city realizes it stands in the direct path of an expanding Austin, which is creeping into Bastrop County. The city fathers knew a revised landscape code would help the city grow and develop in a responsible way to protect hometown values in this historic community. Editor's note: Texas state law requires municipalities that adopt zoning regulations to do so "in accordance with a comprehensive plan" (Texas Local Government Code §211.004). Elgin's recently adopted landscape regulations add new language to a slightly out-of-date, resourceconsumptive landscape code contained within Chapter 11 of the Code of Ordinances, the Zoning Ordinance. The final ordinance was enacted January 8, 2013. Landscape Code Going Green LASN associate editor for ordinances, "Buck" Abbey, ASLA, The Green Laws Organization New Orleans, Louisiana Elgin, Texas (pop. 8,135) has been a creative community that has always embraced growth and change. Elgin, about 19 miles east of Austin, was founded in 1872 as a railroad town. By the time the community incorporated in 1901, two railroads connected the community to other agriculture communities in four directions. This community holds two titles, the Sausage Capital of Texas, and the Brick Capital of the Southwest, but it is also infected with some of the same planning fever and desire for good growth as is found in Austin. During some recent planning activity associated with a program referred to as "Envision Elgin," the community took a turn toward sustainability. Fueled by a Sustainable Places project grant, the city has taken a big step toward developing one of the few sustainability based landscape codes in the nation. Purpose of the Code The Capital Area Texas Sustainability (CATS) Consortium, through a grant from HUD and regional partnerships of local governments, is developing a new approach to planning in central Texas through the Sustainable Places Project. The project is examining several growth scenarios for Austin, Dripping Springs, Elgin, Hutto, and Lockhart, and developing analytical tools to identify the long-term effects of the various scenarios on municipal budgets and community health. CATS will use this analysis to develop plans that align housing, jobs, and transportation options in a As a result of involvement with CATS, Elgin is striking out in a new code writing direction for landscape design. This is best seen in the purpose statement of their landscape code. The most important aspect any landscape code is the "purpose statement" and the "authority clause." These two parts of a code give power and direction to write a code that results in better community planning. In addition to the preservation of local heritage and increased aesthetics, the new Elgin landscape code promotes sustainable design and environmental Landscape Architect and Specifier News (Continued on page 96)

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