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Current Planning

Landscaping

Landscaping may be required by several independent sections of the municipal code:

  • Zoning district regulations (AMC 21.40)              
  • Parking areas (AMC 21.45.080.X.6 and .10)              
  • Lots fronting the Glenn and Seward highways (AMC 21.45.130.B)              
  • Conditional uses (as imposed by the Planning and Zoning Commission)              
  • Platting actions, when land is subdivided (AMC 21.80.340)
  • Site plan reviews (as imposed by the Planning and Zoning Commission or the Urban Design Commission)

There are four types of landscaping defined in the code:

The buffer standard is higher than the visual enhancement standard, as it requires a wider planting bed and more trees and shrubs.  The screening standard is higher than the buffer standard.  Where there are overlapping requirements, the highest standard governs unless the code specifically provides otherwise.  If landscaping is required but no standard is specified, the Visual Enhancement standard applies (see AMC 21.45.120.C.)

Natural vegetation may be retained in place to satisfy part or all of any landscaping requirement.

In some cases (such as public projects, or the highway screening required by AMC 21.45.130) a landscaping plan must be approved by the Urban Design Commission.  The Planning Department serves as staff for the Commission.

Landscaping that is required by any section of the code or by a plat note must be installed and maintained by the property owner.  Failure to do so is a violation of the municipal code.

If you use the online version of the code, try searching on "21.45.125" "21.45.130" or "21.80.340" for more information.  To look up parking lot landscaping, search on "15 more spaces " (if you search on "21.45.080" you will have to scroll through 19 extraneous hits and most of the parking regulations to get there.)  Please note that recent amendments may not have been published yet.  Land Use Enforcement will be happy to verify the current code language for you.

Visual Enhancement Landscaping

 

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AMC 21.45.125.C.1: Visual enhancement landscaping shall conform to the following standards:

a. Average minimum planting bed width shall be eight feet, except for foundation plantings;

b. Evergreen trees a minimum of five feet in height with a ratio of height to spread no less than five to three, or deciduous trees a minimum of eight feet in height (one-inch caliper), planted at average intervals no greater than 20 feet on center, are required;

c. Shrubs a minimum of 18 inches in height, and ground cover or mulches, placed so as to cover the ground in three years, are required; and

d. Natural vegetation which is sufficient to meet the intent of the standards set out in this subsection may be retained in place of all or part of any required landscaping.

In the illustration above, the planting bed has an 8 foot average depth.  There is no minimum depth.

Buffer Landscaping

 

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AMC 21.45.125.C.2: Buffer landscaping shall conform to the following:

a. The planting bed width shall be an average of ten feet with a minimum width not less than eight feet, except for buffer yards required under section 21.45.200;

b. Evergreen trees a minimum of five feet with a ratio of height to spread no less than five to three, and deciduous trees a minimum of eight feet in height (1½ -inch caliper) with no more than 50 percent being deciduous, planted at average intervals no greater than ten feet on center, are required;

c. Shrubs, a minimum of 18 inches in height, and ground cover or mulches, placed so that the ground will be covered within three years, are required; and

d. Natural vegetation which is sufficient to meet the intent of the standards set out in this subsection may be retained in place of all or part of any required landscaping.

In the illustration above, the planting bed has a 10 foot average depth with a minimum depth of 8 feet.

Screening Landscaping

 

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AMC 21.45.125.C.3: Screening landscaping shall conform to the following standards:

a. Average planting bed width shall be 30 feet, with a minimum of not less than 25 feet. A decorative wood fence seven feet in height may be provided in lieu of ten feet of the required 30 feet;

b. Two rows of evergreen trees, a minimum of six feet in height and an with average height of eight feet, with a ratio of height to spread no less than five to three, planted at average intervals no greater than ten feet on center, are required;

c. Shrubs a minimum of 2½ feet in height, and ground cover or mulches, placed so that the ground will be covered within three years, are required;

d. Earthen berms may be substituted for part of the required minimum tree height, utilizing a ratio of two feet of berm height per one foot of tree height (e.g., if trees are planted on a three-foot-high berm, the minimum height of the trees may be reduced by 1½ feet, thus giving an overall height of the trees plus berm of 9½ feet);

e. Natural vegetation which is sufficient to meet the intent of the standards set out in this subsection may be retained in place of all or part of any required landscaping.

In the illustration above, the section on the left has a 30 foot average depth with a minimum depth of 25 feet.  The section on the right has a decorative wood fence in lieu of ten feet of the required 30 foot bed width.

Arterial Landscaping

 

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AMC 21.45.125.C.4: Arterial landscaping shall conform to the following standards:

a. Arterial landscaping shall be provided along all collectors or arterials adjacent to sites with a commercial zoning classification of B-1A, B-1B and B-3.

b. This landscaping shall be in lieu of any parking lot landscaping required along an arterial or collector street.

c. The minimum planting bed width shall be six feet, provided that, if there is a vehicle overhang, the minimum bed width shall be eight feet.

d. All plantings shall be spaced so as to provide continuous ground coverage within three years.

e. One of the following kinds of plant materials shall be used:

(1) Hedges in a combination of one-third evergreen plant material and two-thirds deciduous plant material which attain a mature height of at least four feet;

(2) Hedges using all deciduous plant material plus an opaque screening structure of at least four feet in height;

(3) A combination of trees and shrubs which attain a mature height of at least four feet.

In the illustration above, the 8 foot planting bed allows for a 2 foot vehicle overhang, while curbs or wheel stops must be used to prevent vehicles from overhanging the 6 foot planting bed.

    • Current Planning
    • Section Supervisor: Erika McConnell
    • 4700 Elmore Road, Anchorage, AK 99507
    • 907 343-7943