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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"The impact of local landscape ordinances has been significant and will be more so in time to come." — Gary Robinette, Local Landscape Ordinances, Agora Communications, Plano, Texas, 1992 14 Landscape Architect and Specifier News o rd i n a n c e s Landscape Law Written landscape and tree laws can be traced as far back as 1217 to the time of King John. Contemporary municipal landscape regulations were derived from private development landscaping covenants back in the day when entire subdivsions were first being built for residential, commercial or civic functions. There are three forms of landscape regulations that are often part of zoning law. (1) The most common form is the municipal landscape ordinance. These regulations convert raw land to suburban development. These "suburbanizing" regulations are clearly the most common across the nation. Likely 95% of all the landscape codes currently enacted fall into this category. (2) Land development regulations (LDRs) contain enhanced clearing, landscape and tree preservation standards and address drainage, stormwater management, soil erosion, water quality and habitat preservation. This style is likely less than 4% of all landscape laws that have been enacted. Many are found in Florida, the result of 1970s growth management legislation, as well as the State Comprehensive Planning Act 1972 (FS 186.001) and the Local Government Comprehensive Planning and Land Development Act 1985. (FS 163.3161) (3) Urban landscaping regulations (ULRs), perhaps only 1% of landscape laws, lead to green parking lots, connected walkways, courtyards, green walls and planted rooftops. Evolving Code Technology During the 1960s, local zoning law recognized open space as an issue related to maintaining a required percentage of a building site as land that could not be built upon. Historically this space was to suppress fire. Open space was seen as an urban elixir for sunshine, clean air and outside space for human use, such as gardening, recreation and exercise. Open space around buildings was always about the art of building well, at least back to the time of Tacitus, circa 117 A.D. Building setback lines and side and rear lot buffers were established to allow for open space on each development site. Planted buffers first recognized in the late 1940s under California law became a major component of these early landscape laws. Buffers were developed for open space, privacy and public safety. The 1970s introduced zoning specific parts of private property for landscaping. Street yard buffers came into wide use. In some communities street tree plantings areas on public land supplemented the street yard buffers. Common buffers spaced trees and shrubs for each 100 lf. Screened plant buffers were especially used for service areas. Most importantly, landscape design had at last been recognized as an important aspect of local zoning law. Vehicular use areas (VUA) came into the codes in the 1980s to improve parking lots by requiring a minimum about of interior plantings and shade trees, street wall plantings and shade trees to reduce building energy usage. A new emphasis was given to irrigation design and sprinkler technology, and xeriscape became popular in Florida and the arid West. Development of Landscape Codes by Buck Abbey, ASLA, The Green Laws Organization, New Orleans, Louisiana LASN associate editor for ordinances, "Buck" Abbey, ASLA, The Green Laws Organization New Orleans, Louisiana Above Contemporary municipal landscape codes date to the late 1950s. They began as private land covenants at Sea Pines Plantation in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. This is the Liberty oak in Harbor Town, just north of Plantation Drive. PHOTO: CREATIVE COMMONS ATTRIBUTION-SHARE ALIKE 3.0 (Continued on page 88)