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 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.
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
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
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