Broomfield Landscape Code

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The City & County of Broomfield city council voted to adopted new landscape requirements for new development and redevelopment that meets certain thresholds.

Water conservation is one of the City and County of Broomfield’s top sustainability initiatives. In Broomfield, 60-70% of the water supply is dedicated to outdoor water use each year, and much of this water is being used to irrigate high-water use turfgrass. As Broomfield grows, installing low-water plant alternatives with efficient irrigation systems in new development and redevelopment is one of the community’s biggest opportunities to improve water supply resilience in the face of a hotter and drier future. And water-wise landscapes don’t just save water, they also help us lower our water bills, drought-proof our landscape investments, and support local wildlife, pollinators, and the environment while better reflecting the landscapes around them.

Want to learn more about water-wise landscaping tools and resources for Broomfield community members? Visit https://www.broomfield.org/3627/Lawn-Replacement-Program


On January 17, 2023, City Council held a study session that introduced the “Future Broomfield” project, a coordinated and systematic approach to the continued update of development review process tools, such as zoning regulations, community wide design guidelines, and area plans updates to reflect changes in priorities. Modernizing zoning approaches with regard to environmental sustainability and landscape requirements for new development was identified as one of the action items planned for 2023.

During the May 16, 2023, City Council study session, staff presented an initial proposal to repeal and replace BMC 17-70 Residential Landscape Requirements with Chapter 17-70 Landscape Requirements. Council was supportive of this proposal .

CURRENT CHALLENGES WITH CHAPTER 17-70 BROOMFIELD MUNICIPAL CODE - RESIDENTIAL LANDSCAPE REQUIREMENTS

The primary goal of the update is to encourage water conservation practices as it relates to landscaping requirements for new development and redevelopment. Adopted in 2003, the current landscape requirements include the following issues:

  • The requirements are specific only for residential development and standards are not provided for non-residential development.

  • Requirements that the total landscaped area of a residential lot can be up to 60% turfgrass, leading to high water usage.

  • The limitation on turfgrass coverage for residential lots includes areas in the rear and side yards that may not be visible from public property and therefore creates enforcement challenges for staff.

  • Technologies that promote water conservation with regard to water smart irrigation are out-of-date.

  • Specific requirements that the landscape plans incorporate xeric or waterwise plant species are not included.

The BMC landscape code does not incorporate xeriscaping best practices which have become commonplace throughout the Front Range. “Xeriscaping” or “xeric landscaping” refers to the practice of using plants that are native or adapted to Colorado’s semi-arid climate combined with water-efficient irrigation, soil amendments, identifying hydrozones, and implementing other water-conserving practices. A common misconception is that xeriscaping is landscaping that is composed primarily of rock (sometimes erroneously called “zero-scaping”). Xeriscaping principles include:

  • Developing a landscape plan that outlines planting patterns and design;

  • Selecting native and/or drought-tolerant plants and grouping plants with similar water needs together in zones (also known as “hydrozoning”);

  • Watering efficiently with a properly designed irrigation system and irrigation schedule;

  • Creating practical and functional turf areas and reducing the amount of water-intensive cool season turfgrass wherever possible;

  • Adhering to specific soil amendments for different types of soils; i.e., clay, loam, sand, and silt, or clayey/sandy, clayey/loam, or clayey/silt that is often specific to the Colorado Front Range soil composition;

  • Specifying mulch type and depth requirements;

  • Developing and adhering to a long-term maintenance plan; and

  • Other planting strategies that help to significantly reduce outdoor water consumption.



Why limit cool season turfgrass?

Kentucky bluegrass, the most common grass species installed in Colorado, requires significant amounts of irrigation water to survive in our climate (approximately 24-26 inches per year). Other cool-season turfgrasses, such as tall fescue and perennial ryegrass, exhibit similar irrigation requirements (20-22 inches/year). By contrast, native or warm-season turfgrasses and native plants such as buffalo grass, and blue grama require only about 8-10 inches of supplemental irrigation per year, or upwards of a 50% water savings when compared to the water requirements of Kentucky bluegrass.

To ensure the City of Broomfield grows as water efficient as possible, it is important to limit cool season turfgrass to a maximum of 30% for residential front yard coverage and to limit turfgrass within landscaped areas for commercial and industrial developments.

Recognizing this opportunity, more and more communities across the Front Range are adopting water-wise landscaping codes that limit cool season turfgrass in new development and redevelopment. For comparison, the below-listed municipalities limit turfgrass in new development to the following:



OVERVIEW OF PROPOSED ORDINANCE

Applicability of Landscape Code Requirements (Development Threshold Requirements)

The proposed code specifically outlines the types of projects that would need to comply with the new landscape code requirements. As drafted, the landscape code requirements would apply to:

  • All new construction, including residential and non-residential, and all construction projects that cumulatively increase the gross floor area of the property by 65% or more. Any total redevelopment of a parcel that includes demolition and new construction.

  • Construction of parking lots containing 10 or more spaces, or expansion of an existing parking lot by more than either 10 spaces or 50% of the existing parking lot area, whichever is greater.

Exceptions that clarify applicability regarding when plans are approved prior to the effective date of the ordinance, even if the development has not been completed by January 1, 2024. The following scenarios are excepted from the landscape code:

  • Public land dedications must comply with the provisions of the chapter unless specifically exempted based on the Open Space characteristics of the subject property and as approved by the city and county manager, or their designee.

  • The landscape plan requirements do not apply to modifications by a property owner or homeowner’s association to existing landscaping only.

  • Approved landscaped plans prior to January 1, 2024, including site development plans and planned unit development plans, are exempted from the requirements of the landscape code, but must be maintained in compliance with the requirements in place at the time they were originally approved.

General Landscaping Standards

  • All development subject to the requirements shall include a variety of water-wise plant materials
  • Planting cool-season turfgrass in lieu of drought-tolerant vegetation to meet the minimum landscape lot coverage is prohibited
  • The removal of water-wise plant material to convert the area back to cool-season turfgrass is prohibited
  • Soil amendments are required
  • A minimum of 75% of all annuals and trees, and 100% of shrubs, perennials, groundcovers, and ornamental grasses are required to be selected from a plant list contained in the Landscape Reference Manual
  • Non-living materials such as stone, masonry and steel (used for edging) may not comprise more than 25% of the landscaped area

Single-Family Detached Residential Development Standards

  • Properties that meet the development threshold requirements (new development greater than a 65% expansion of an existing home, or a full demolition of the existing structure with new construction)

  • Landscape requirements apply to front and visible side yards, only

  • Minimum of 75% of the front yard and side yards visible from a public street

    • Turfgrass cannot exceed 30% of the area that is required to be landscaped

  • Irrigation systems installed must meet EPA WaterSense certification requirements

The rendering below shows an example of a single-family residential lot that includes the proposed maximum coverage of cool-season turfgrass threshold with drought-tolerant landscaping.


Non-Residential, Multi-Family, Single-Family Attached, and Mobile Home Park Development Standards

  • Properties meeting the development threshold requirements (new development greater than a 65% expansion of an existing building, or a full demolition of the existing structure with new construction)

  • Irrigation systems installed must meet EPA WaterSense certification requirements

  • The landscape plan must adhere to water-wise principles

  • Cool-season turfgrass established at a maximum of 30% coverage

Parking Lot Landscape Requirements

  • Minimum materials (size, quantity) and placement requirements

  • Solar panels may be installed in lieu of parking lot islands, provided used as canopies over parking stalls

  • Turfgrass and artificial turf is prohibited within the interior of the parking lot.


Changes Requested by Council at Study Session

At the May 16 Study Session, City Council directed staff to make revisions to the following sections. These revisions are reflected in the updated draft ordinance that is scheduled for review by City Council on July 11 and August 22, 2023.

  • Review the landscape strip requirements and analyze minimum cool-season turfgrass limits. Possibly restrict turfgrass within all landscape strips regardless of width.
  • Revise redevelopment threshold. Review other jurisdictions' redevelopment thresholds and identify appropriate percentages for various types of redevelopment. This applies to:

  • Parking Lots

  • Single-Family Residential Attached and Detached and Multi-Family

  • Commercial

  • Clarify the coverage threshold with regard to cool-season turfgrass. Clarify that a property owner or developer would not be allowed to forego drought-tolerant plantings and install turfgrass instead.



The City & County of Broomfield city council voted to adopted new landscape requirements for new development and redevelopment that meets certain thresholds.

Water conservation is one of the City and County of Broomfield’s top sustainability initiatives. In Broomfield, 60-70% of the water supply is dedicated to outdoor water use each year, and much of this water is being used to irrigate high-water use turfgrass. As Broomfield grows, installing low-water plant alternatives with efficient irrigation systems in new development and redevelopment is one of the community’s biggest opportunities to improve water supply resilience in the face of a hotter and drier future. And water-wise landscapes don’t just save water, they also help us lower our water bills, drought-proof our landscape investments, and support local wildlife, pollinators, and the environment while better reflecting the landscapes around them.

Want to learn more about water-wise landscaping tools and resources for Broomfield community members? Visit https://www.broomfield.org/3627/Lawn-Replacement-Program


On January 17, 2023, City Council held a study session that introduced the “Future Broomfield” project, a coordinated and systematic approach to the continued update of development review process tools, such as zoning regulations, community wide design guidelines, and area plans updates to reflect changes in priorities. Modernizing zoning approaches with regard to environmental sustainability and landscape requirements for new development was identified as one of the action items planned for 2023.

During the May 16, 2023, City Council study session, staff presented an initial proposal to repeal and replace BMC 17-70 Residential Landscape Requirements with Chapter 17-70 Landscape Requirements. Council was supportive of this proposal .

CURRENT CHALLENGES WITH CHAPTER 17-70 BROOMFIELD MUNICIPAL CODE - RESIDENTIAL LANDSCAPE REQUIREMENTS

The primary goal of the update is to encourage water conservation practices as it relates to landscaping requirements for new development and redevelopment. Adopted in 2003, the current landscape requirements include the following issues:

  • The requirements are specific only for residential development and standards are not provided for non-residential development.

  • Requirements that the total landscaped area of a residential lot can be up to 60% turfgrass, leading to high water usage.

  • The limitation on turfgrass coverage for residential lots includes areas in the rear and side yards that may not be visible from public property and therefore creates enforcement challenges for staff.

  • Technologies that promote water conservation with regard to water smart irrigation are out-of-date.

  • Specific requirements that the landscape plans incorporate xeric or waterwise plant species are not included.

The BMC landscape code does not incorporate xeriscaping best practices which have become commonplace throughout the Front Range. “Xeriscaping” or “xeric landscaping” refers to the practice of using plants that are native or adapted to Colorado’s semi-arid climate combined with water-efficient irrigation, soil amendments, identifying hydrozones, and implementing other water-conserving practices. A common misconception is that xeriscaping is landscaping that is composed primarily of rock (sometimes erroneously called “zero-scaping”). Xeriscaping principles include:

  • Developing a landscape plan that outlines planting patterns and design;

  • Selecting native and/or drought-tolerant plants and grouping plants with similar water needs together in zones (also known as “hydrozoning”);

  • Watering efficiently with a properly designed irrigation system and irrigation schedule;

  • Creating practical and functional turf areas and reducing the amount of water-intensive cool season turfgrass wherever possible;

  • Adhering to specific soil amendments for different types of soils; i.e., clay, loam, sand, and silt, or clayey/sandy, clayey/loam, or clayey/silt that is often specific to the Colorado Front Range soil composition;

  • Specifying mulch type and depth requirements;

  • Developing and adhering to a long-term maintenance plan; and

  • Other planting strategies that help to significantly reduce outdoor water consumption.



Why limit cool season turfgrass?

Kentucky bluegrass, the most common grass species installed in Colorado, requires significant amounts of irrigation water to survive in our climate (approximately 24-26 inches per year). Other cool-season turfgrasses, such as tall fescue and perennial ryegrass, exhibit similar irrigation requirements (20-22 inches/year). By contrast, native or warm-season turfgrasses and native plants such as buffalo grass, and blue grama require only about 8-10 inches of supplemental irrigation per year, or upwards of a 50% water savings when compared to the water requirements of Kentucky bluegrass.

To ensure the City of Broomfield grows as water efficient as possible, it is important to limit cool season turfgrass to a maximum of 30% for residential front yard coverage and to limit turfgrass within landscaped areas for commercial and industrial developments.

Recognizing this opportunity, more and more communities across the Front Range are adopting water-wise landscaping codes that limit cool season turfgrass in new development and redevelopment. For comparison, the below-listed municipalities limit turfgrass in new development to the following:



OVERVIEW OF PROPOSED ORDINANCE

Applicability of Landscape Code Requirements (Development Threshold Requirements)

The proposed code specifically outlines the types of projects that would need to comply with the new landscape code requirements. As drafted, the landscape code requirements would apply to:

  • All new construction, including residential and non-residential, and all construction projects that cumulatively increase the gross floor area of the property by 65% or more. Any total redevelopment of a parcel that includes demolition and new construction.

  • Construction of parking lots containing 10 or more spaces, or expansion of an existing parking lot by more than either 10 spaces or 50% of the existing parking lot area, whichever is greater.

Exceptions that clarify applicability regarding when plans are approved prior to the effective date of the ordinance, even if the development has not been completed by January 1, 2024. The following scenarios are excepted from the landscape code:

  • Public land dedications must comply with the provisions of the chapter unless specifically exempted based on the Open Space characteristics of the subject property and as approved by the city and county manager, or their designee.

  • The landscape plan requirements do not apply to modifications by a property owner or homeowner’s association to existing landscaping only.

  • Approved landscaped plans prior to January 1, 2024, including site development plans and planned unit development plans, are exempted from the requirements of the landscape code, but must be maintained in compliance with the requirements in place at the time they were originally approved.

General Landscaping Standards

  • All development subject to the requirements shall include a variety of water-wise plant materials
  • Planting cool-season turfgrass in lieu of drought-tolerant vegetation to meet the minimum landscape lot coverage is prohibited
  • The removal of water-wise plant material to convert the area back to cool-season turfgrass is prohibited
  • Soil amendments are required
  • A minimum of 75% of all annuals and trees, and 100% of shrubs, perennials, groundcovers, and ornamental grasses are required to be selected from a plant list contained in the Landscape Reference Manual
  • Non-living materials such as stone, masonry and steel (used for edging) may not comprise more than 25% of the landscaped area

Single-Family Detached Residential Development Standards

  • Properties that meet the development threshold requirements (new development greater than a 65% expansion of an existing home, or a full demolition of the existing structure with new construction)

  • Landscape requirements apply to front and visible side yards, only

  • Minimum of 75% of the front yard and side yards visible from a public street

    • Turfgrass cannot exceed 30% of the area that is required to be landscaped

  • Irrigation systems installed must meet EPA WaterSense certification requirements

The rendering below shows an example of a single-family residential lot that includes the proposed maximum coverage of cool-season turfgrass threshold with drought-tolerant landscaping.


Non-Residential, Multi-Family, Single-Family Attached, and Mobile Home Park Development Standards

  • Properties meeting the development threshold requirements (new development greater than a 65% expansion of an existing building, or a full demolition of the existing structure with new construction)

  • Irrigation systems installed must meet EPA WaterSense certification requirements

  • The landscape plan must adhere to water-wise principles

  • Cool-season turfgrass established at a maximum of 30% coverage

Parking Lot Landscape Requirements

  • Minimum materials (size, quantity) and placement requirements

  • Solar panels may be installed in lieu of parking lot islands, provided used as canopies over parking stalls

  • Turfgrass and artificial turf is prohibited within the interior of the parking lot.


Changes Requested by Council at Study Session

At the May 16 Study Session, City Council directed staff to make revisions to the following sections. These revisions are reflected in the updated draft ordinance that is scheduled for review by City Council on July 11 and August 22, 2023.

  • Review the landscape strip requirements and analyze minimum cool-season turfgrass limits. Possibly restrict turfgrass within all landscape strips regardless of width.
  • Revise redevelopment threshold. Review other jurisdictions' redevelopment thresholds and identify appropriate percentages for various types of redevelopment. This applies to:

  • Parking Lots

  • Single-Family Residential Attached and Detached and Multi-Family

  • Commercial

  • Clarify the coverage threshold with regard to cool-season turfgrass. Clarify that a property owner or developer would not be allowed to forego drought-tolerant plantings and install turfgrass instead.



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Page last updated: 14 Dec 2023, 05:10 PM