Article : LASN Ordinances August 2009: Pensacola Proposes Protecting Heritage Trees & Tucson Rainwater Harvesting Ordinance

Pensacola Proposes Protecting Heritage Trees

This is historic downtown Pensacola. The latest city ordinance proposal would double the fee ($250 to $500) for every protected tree removed from residential or commercial properties that is not replanted or replaced according to the ordinance standards. To remove a single 34-inch heritage tree would require either planting 16 trees or paying $8,000.

Pensacola (est. pop. 55,000) is a seaport on the Gulf of Mexico, situated on the western panhandle of Florida. On February 19, 2009, the Spanish king and queen—Juan Carlos I and Sof?a—visited the city to commemorate Pensacola's 450th anniversary as America's first European settlement. France, Great Britain (and the Confederacy) also claimed it as their own.

After nearly a year of delay, Pensacola, Fla.’s tree and landscape ordinance issues are before the city council.

On July 10, however, the council backed off its vote on strengthening the tree ordinance to protect older, large trees to give all parties more time to come to a compromise.

The latest proposal has more than 30 changes, such as defining heritage trees by size and type, a steeper cost for removing a heritage tree, revising the size of replacement trees and giving developers credit for additional landscaping.

One councilman who is ready to approve the new ordinances said he’s hearing from citizens that they want stronger tree protection, but not one that hinders development.

The latest proposal is to double the fee from $250 to $500 for every protected tree removed from residential or commercial property that is not replanted or replaced according to the ordinance standards.

Under the proposal, to remove a single 34-inch heritage tree would require either planting 16 trees or paying $8,000.

Some council members think that’s too restrictive on large developments and residential property owners, particularly given the economy.

The new ordinances would require a landscape and tree protection plan from anyone getting a building permit or site work permit for building a residential townhouse, multifamily residential units, or commercial or industrial development.

Currently, only a landscape plan is required for getting a building permit. A landscape and tree protection plan must be drawn to scale by an architect, landscape architect or civil engineer licensed by the state.

Tucson Rainwater Harvesting Ordinance

A Target store in Tucson is already anticipating the rain harvesting ordinance by upgrading the parking lot with tree plantings of palo verdes and sweet acacias in runoff depressions that will collect an estimated 112,200 gallons per rainstorm.

Santa Fe County, New Mexico began requiring water harvesting via cisterns or similar water-collection systems last year for new commercial and residential development.

Now, Tucson, Ariz. has passed what may well be the first municipal rainwater-harvesting ordinance in the U.S.

Tucson Water estimates that 45 percent of all water usage in its service area goes to outdoor purposes.

The Tucson rainwater-harvesting ordinance requires that all commercial development and site plans submitted after June 1, 2010 must include a rainwater-harvesting plan submitted concurrently with the site and landscape plan. The plan must also include a landscape water budget that estimates the volume of water required each year for all site landscaping, and an implementation plan to show how rainwater will be harvested on site. The implementation plan will provide water metering of all onsite landscaping via a separate water meter connected to the main water supply, or via an irrigation submeter.

The ordinance further states: “No later than three years from the date of issuance of a final certificate of occupancy, and for every year thereafter, 50% of the estimated yearly landscape water budget shall be provided by rainwater harvested onsite by a rainwater harvesting system…”

A group of developers, architects, environmentalists and ecology advocates brought together by the Tucson City Council derived the 50 percent figure.

Certain land uses within a development, however, are exempted from the 50% rainwater harvesting requirements. That would include public parks; botanical gardens; outdoor rec facilities (public or private); playing areas of golf courses; cemeteries; natural open spaces; and crop production.

A rainwater harvesting landscape water-use budget report must be submitted each year by the owner or owner’s agent to Tucson Water. It will include month rainfall totals collected and monthly submeter or service meter data.

Failure to meet the 50% rainwater-harvesting requirement for landscape irrigation will constitute water wastage and constitute a code violation.

Last year, Tucson Water delivered more than 131,000 acre-feet of water, including 26,000 acre-feet of reclaimed wastewater. Local experts estimate more than 185,000 acre-feet of rainfall is available per year in Tucson.

An acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons. Picture 69 square yards a foot deep in water—an amount of water used by two households for a year.

Tucson’s City Council also approved a measure requiring a plumbing hookup in new homes so that water from washing machines, sinks and showers goes down separate drain lines (if homeowners want—it’s an additional expense). Those lines can be connected to irrigation systems.

A Target store in Tucson is having a landscape architect re-landscape its 620-space parking lot in anticipation of the rainwater-harvesting ordinance. Three hundred trees are being planted in depressions in the lot, which previously had no water-capturing system. Rainfall will run from the asphalt into soil strips sloped lower than the parking spots. The project landscape architect estimates the lot will capture roughly 112,200 gallons per rainstorm.

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June 30, 2016, 11:44 am EST

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