Updated Landscaping Ordinance Ready for Sept. 14 Council Meeting

Release Date: 
09/08/2015

The last revisions to the City of Hermiston’s proposed landscaping ordinance before a Public Hearing on September 14 were released Tuesday.  A copy of the updated draft ordinance is available HERE.

The City Council continued an August 24 Public Hearing and directed city staff to consider incorporating several changes recommended by the public and the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce.  The revisions include clarifications about the opportunity to use xeriscaping, clarifying language about how enforcement will take place, and including a streamlined process for those seeking a waiver from the requirements.

Comments received from the public at many of the public input sessions and hearings questioned why the code would encourage landscaping which could increase water usage.  Although the proposed code never prohibited the use of drought-tolerant vegetation and low-water irrigation systems, the revised proposal specifically identifies xeriscaping as an approved landscaping technique.  Additionally, the proposal clarifies that “natural vegetation” native to Hermiston’s climate may be used, but not those plants already considered noxious or prohibited in the City’s existing code.

The Hermiston Chamber of Commerce conducted a survey of its members in late July about whether or not they support implementing a landscape ordinance.  More than 70% of their respondents supported implementing a landscape ordinance, however some indicated that they thought some minor changes and clarification would help.  City staff met with the Chamber of Commerce for a second time about the proposed ordinance after the August 24 hearing to listen to any additional input.  One of the biggest concerns for the group was a fear that obtaining a landscaping permit would slow down the development process for certain properties.

The proposed ordinance had allowed developers to use alternative improvements on certain properties.  The proposed changes now would allow developers of those properties to seek a waiver which can be processed by city staff.

Other modifications to the proposed ordinance include increasing the amount of “non-plant ground cover,” like decorative rock, which can be used from 33% to 50%.  Also, the minimum amount of landscaping required for large developments in the C-2 commercial zone was modified from 6% of the developed area to now include a cap of 20,000 square feet of landscaping required if the overall development is larger than 10 acres.

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