Yellowstone County Commissioners have approved changes to landscaping zone regulations. The amendment is the first segment of changes that is the product of Project Re-code, which is a long-term endeavor to update the county zoning regulations.
The landscaping portion of the regulation changes have been pushed to the fore because that is the only segment of the zoning code that has threatened lawsuits against the county, according to County Commissioner John Ostlund.
Property owners trying to develop along thoroughfares, especially along the interstate highway, have frequently complained that under previous zoning, not only were the requirements for landscaping onerous, but impractical in terms of being sustainable and in serving commerce well. Planners seem to agree.
Nicole Cromwell of the City County Planning Department explained that previous regulations mandated specifics that failed to take into account varying conditions — for example, requiring more plants than what is sustainable — developers were being required to plant 85 trees when only 30 of those trees would live.
County Commissioners, fearful of possible suits, expressed relief that the landscaping codes were finally being addressed, which in a sense stood as a detriment to economic development in the county.
The existing zoning codes “didn’t recognize the realities of things,” said former deputy attorney Dan Schwarz, who prior to his recent retirement served on the committee. The old code didn’t take into account that this is a very arid climate –“We only get 13 inches of rainfall a year.” The code was “making demands on water we didn’t really have.” CLICK HERE TO READ MORE