Tree and Landscape Regulations Update

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On June 14, 2016, the Board of Aldermen adopted new regulations relating to trees and landscaping (click here to view the approved regulations). The purpose of the new regulations is to establish minimum landscape standards; provide standards for the protection, preservation and replacement of trees; to reduce tree loss and damage during construction; to promote tree species diversity; and, to maintain adequate tree canopy coverage citywide. The primary components of the regulations are summarized below.

Landscape Plan Requirements

The regulations only apply to projects located on private property. Projects which require approval through the Site Plan Review, Special Development District, or Planned Unit Development processes must submit a landscape plan in conformance with the regulations. Projects that require a demolition permit are only subject to the requirements for tree protection and must submit a tree protection plan.

Landscaping Standards

Projects must provide appropriate foundation and perimeter landscaping and native plants are encouraged. Mechanical units must be screened by 100 percent opaque screening such as landscaping or a fence.

Pre-development tree removal (“Clearcutting”)

It shall be prohibited for any person to remove 19 or more caliper inches of Contributing Trees or any Landmark Tree located outside a lot’s buildable area for the purposes of preparing a lot for a development project subject to Site Plan Review, Special Development District, or Planned Unit Development approval. Any property for which a landscape/tree preservation Plan has been approved in accordance with this article and a building permit has been issued is exempt from this requirement.

New Tree Standards

All new trees must be selected from the approved tree list. No more than 33 percent of the total number of trees may come from the same genus, and at least 33 percent of the total number of trees must be native. Trees planted in or near utility easements are discouraged. One medium/large deciduous tree must be planted on site if new trees are required. The Plan Commission may waive and/or modify these requirements.

Tree Preservation & Replacement

Only projects in residential zoning districts which require approval through the Site Plan Review, or Planned Unit Development processes require tree preservation and/or replacement and there are different requirements for residential and non-residential developments. Two tree categories are defined for the purposes of determining the tree preservation and replacement requirements:

  • Contributing Tree: Any tree measuring 3 caliper inches to 19 inches that is in fair to good condition and is not an invasive species as defined by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
  • Landmark Tree: Any tree exceeding 19 inches that is in fair to good condition and is not an invasive species as defined by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

For non-residential developments (such as religious institutions and schools), Contributing and Landmark Trees that are proposed to be removed or that were removed within one year preceding the submittal of a development application to the City shall be replaced on site with new trees so that the combined caliper inches of new trees is at least equal to the number of inches being removed. If the amount of caliper inches removed cannot be replaced on site, a contribution to the City’s Forestry Fund at a rate of $250 per caliper inch deficiency is required. The Plan Commission may approve a reduction up to 20 percent of the total required inches.

For residential projects, individual trees that are removed do not require replacement. New trees are required if the lot does not meet the minimum tree canopy lot coverage for that zoning district through the preservation of Contributing and/or Landmark Trees. To encourage the preservation of existing trees, Landmark Trees preserved on site shall be calculated at 125 percent of their calculated tree canopy area. If the amount of tree canopy cover cannot be provided on site, a contribution to the City’s Forestry Fund at a rate of $0.60 per square foot deficiency is required. The Plan Commission may approve a reduction up to 20 percent of the total required square feet canopy cover.

Tree Protection Measures

Any construction, demolition, site work or similar activity which may injure existing trees requires the implementation of tree protection measures as set forth in the regulations or as determined by the City’s contracted landscape architect.

For more information, contact Anna Krane, Planner, at akrane@claytonmo.gov.