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 Input sought on revisions to landscape, tree ordinances
City seeks to simplify ordinances, allow flexibility while retaining quality development

Landscape ordinance highlights | Tree protection ordinance highlights
Submit your comments

The City's Development Services Division is rewriting the rules that require landscaping and trees on development sites. Specifically, all new commercial and multi-family projects are required to install a certain amount of trees and shrubs with irrigation.

These rules also protect or require the replacement of existing quality trees. These rules have been in place for several years and need to be updated. The City is seeking to improve these rules to address changing development patterns, address water conservation and make the ordinances easier to follow.

The City sought input from the public last May at an open house to help guide the ordinance rewrite. A technical advisory committee comprised of local development and landscape design professionals also provided input. The Planning and Zoning Commission held two workshops on the revisions.

UPDATED: Much of the input received has been included in the second-round draft landscape ordinance (PDF) and draft tree protection ordinance (PDF). Staff anticipates the City Council and Planning and Zoning Commission will hold public hearings in early 2012 to review the draft ordinance.

The City Council and Planning and Zoning Commission held a joint work session on Nov. 17 to review the proposed changes. The video of the meeting is below. We recommend downloading a copy of the presentation (PDF) because some of the images and text may be difficult to see clearly on the video.

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Highlights of landscape ordinance proposed changes

Water conservation measures

  • All plant material must be native or adapted species
  • The area surrounding required trees and shrubs cannot include sod or turf grass
  • Amended soils in landscape areas
  • Eliminate the 100 percent irrigation coverage requirement
  • Allowances for temporary irrigation and above ground systems
  • Allow alternate irrigation measures to reduce water consumption
  • Allow landscape areas to be designed to capture and infiltrate storm water

Interior parking lot landscaping

  • Commercial/Multi-Family: de-emphasize street yard tree requirement and emphasize interior landscaping
  • Industrial: emphasize perimeter trees, reduce internal landscaping
  • Modify island dimensions to match typical engineering design

Perimeter parking lot landscaping

  • Expand planting options to improve design
  • Reduce tree requirements along the site perimeter to eliminate conflicts with signage and architecture
  • Maintain current goal of screening industrial sites from public streets
  • Eliminate the 30 percent street yard landscaping and the number of required trees based on the square footage of the street yard area

Foundation treatment

  • New requirement will address aesthetics and pedestrian areas adjacent to buildings
  • Provide ultimate design flexibility
  • Based on a point system
  • Options to include trees, shrubs, hardscapes, and/or pedestrian amenities
  • Not required in Industrial zoning

Screening for ponds, equipment, dumpsters

  • Eliminate current one-size-fits-all approach
  • Earthen ponds require trees and re-vegetation
  • Structural ponds require trees, shrubs and re-vegetation; or enhanced exterior materials

Process-related changes

  • Eliminate duplication in tree protection and landscape ordinances
  • Allow small projects to use someone other than a landscape architect to prepare plans

Alternate compliance

  • Applicant provides justification indicating how the goals of the ordinance will be met
  • Specific circumstances to be identified:
    • Context-sensitive design
    • Atypical utility encumbrances
    • Creative arrangement of shade trees
    • Maximize water conservation
    • Minimize tree removal or alteration of natural features 

Expansion, redevelopment

  • Exterior fa├žade improvements would be exempted from new ordinance
  • Expansion projects would be exempted unless new parking is required or landscaping is removed
  • Redevelopment/Reconstruction must meet new landscape standards or apply for alternate compliance (i.e. context-sensitive)

Here is the complete draft landscape ordinance (PDF).

Highlights of proposed tree protection ordinance changes

The current ordinance requires projects to mitigate the removal of any tree greater than 8 inches in diameter, as measured 4.5 feet from the ground. The mitigation can be accomplished by either planting new trees, paying a fee, or a combination of both. There's no requirement to mitigate the removal of trees smaller than 8 inches.

Currently, trees measuring 8 inches to 19.99 inches are mitigated at a 1:1 ratio, that is, for every inch of tree removed, an inch of new tree must be planted. For example, if a 15-inch tree is removed, it must be replaced by, say, five 3-inch trees. If planting new trees isn't feasible, the project must pay a mitigation fee of $150 per inch for trees in the 8-19.99 inch range. Trees greater than 20 inches but smaller than a "monarch" of its species are mitigated at a 3:1 ratio, at a mitigation fee of $450 per inch.

A tree is designated a monarch tree by the City's Forestry Manager if its diameter represents 80 percent of the diameter of a species' largest and healthiest tree in the City of Round Rock. A monarch tree can only be removed with City Council authorization.

The proposed ordinance would add a new mitigation "tier" for trees greater than 20 inches but smaller than a monarch. This middle tier would mitigate at a 2:1 ration, with a mitigation fee of $300 per inch. The proposed ordinance would still require City Council authorization to remove a monarch tree, and, if approved, would be mitigated at a 3:1 ratio, at a fee of $450 per inch.

Other highlights of the proposed ordinance include:

  • Include a parking space credit for each 15-inch or larger tree saved
  • Include a species specific monarch table to eliminate ambiguity
  • Reduce monarch size of live oak species from 46 inches to 36 inches
  • Allow a 50 percent mitigation fee or a 2-year fiscal security for trees with 25-40 percent critical root zone (CRZ) encroachment

Here is the draft tree protection ordinance (PDF).

Next steps

  • Work with the City Attorney on completing the drafts
  • Seek further feedback from the public
  • Report back to the Advisory Committee
  • Planning and Zoning Commission consideration and recommendation to City Council in January-February
  • City Council consideration and adoption in February-March

Submit your comments

We are actively soliciting public input on the final round of changes to the draft amendments. Whether you are a design professional or simply a Round Rock resident interested in our development standards, we want to hear from you. Please submit your comments no later than Dec. 30.

Input on proposed landscape, tree ordinance revisions

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