Charles County, MD
 
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Amended 5-7-2008 by Bill No. 2008-01]
It is intended that the application of the landscape standards set forth below will reduce the visual and environmental impacts of large expanses of parking areas. Breaking up of paved parking areas with plantings will provide improved aesthetics, stormwater runoff absorption, and microclimatic benefits by reducing heat and glare. Guidance for designing parking areas to achieve this intent is contained in Appendix E.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Appendix E is included as an attachment to this chapter.
A. 
New sites. No new parking areas shall hereafter be constructed or used unless landscaping is provided as required by the provisions of this article.
B. 
Existing sites. No parking areas shall be expanded, moved or removed and/or reconstructed unless the minimum landscaping required by the provisions of this article is provided for the property to the extent of its alteration or expansion, but not for the entire property.
C. 
Change of use. No use shall be changed to another use for which this chapter requires additional parking over and above that required for the previous use, unless vehicular use area perimeter landscaping as required by this article is provided for such additional parking. The provisions of this section shall be effective regardless of whether or not new construction is necessary to meet the parking requirements for the new uses. Where new construction will not be necessary to meet the parking requirements, such additional required parking shall be deemed to be on the perimeter for as much as possible of the existing vehicular use area. Where the previous use had no required parking, perimeter landscaping shall be provided for the entire vehicular use area serving the new use. Interior landscaping shall not be required where only the use of the property is changed and no new construction or reconstruction is proposed.
D. 
Change of zone. No use of an existing building, structure or vehicular use area shall be commenced subsequent to a change in zoning unless property perimeter landscaping as required herein has been provided.
E. 
The owner of an existing parking lot may convert existing parking areas based on the design standards and parking requirements of this chapter, upon the Zoning Officer's approval of a site plan showing the new arrangement. The site plan shall provide landscaping as required in this section.
[Amended 5-7-2008 by Bill No. 2008-01]
[Added 5-7-2008 by Bill No. 2008-01[1]]
A. 
For calculating the gross area for landscaping, the actual measured paved area or a minimum 400 square feet per parking space, whichever is greater, shall be used.
B. 
In any parking lot perimeter or interior landscaping area, there shall be a distance of at least four feet from the center of all planted trees to the edge of paving.
C. 
No paving may be placed within 12 1/2 feet (measured from the center of the trunk) of any tree retained to comply with this section.
D. 
New trees planted to comply with this section are to be surrounded by at least 200 square feet of unpaved area.
E. 
All landscaping areas are encouraged to be designed as bioretention areas to accommodate stormwater management.
F. 
All landscaping areas are encouraged to be flush with the pavement. If not flush, all landscaping areas are to be protected by curbing or curb stops six inches in height or approved alternative. Curb cuts and curb stops are allowed to provide water flow to bioretention areas and access to pedestrian crossings.
G. 
Landscaping for parking areas shall be installed and continuously maintained by the owner according to the requirements contained in this chapter.
H. 
Landscape material type and quality shall comply with the provisions of the landscaping and buffer yard guides of this chapter (see Articles XXI, XXII, and XXIII and Appendix E) and the following:
(1) 
Ninety percent of all required perimeter and shade trees are to be native Maryland species;
(2) 
Nonnative, invasive plant species identified by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Wildlife and Heritage Division are prohibited for required landscaping; and
(3) 
A maximum of 1/3 of the trees are to be a single species.
I. 
All soils in interior landscape areas shall be loosened and amended to a depth of 2 1/2 feet.
J. 
All plant materials required to meet this chapter are to be inspected for the use and occupancy permit and shall be labeled with the Latin name and bonded for two years. The labels may be removed from the plant material after the bond is released.
K. 
Plan submission and approval. Whenever any property is affected by these parking area landscape requirements, the property owner or applicant shall prepare a landscape plan for approval by the Zoning Officer.
[1]
Editor's Note: This bill also renumbered former §§ 297-357 and 297-358 as §§ 297-358 and 297-359, respectively.
[Amended 5-7-2008 by Bill No. 2008-01]
A. 
Property line landscape buffers between adjacent land uses shall be provided in accordance with the requirements spelled out in the landscape and land use buffer articles of this chapter.[1] In addition, the following buffers are required:
(1) 
Where a parking area of 10 spaces or more abuts property with a single-family detached house that is closer than 100 feet, the parking area must be screened by Buffer Yard C. (See Article XXIII.)
(2) 
Any parking area of 10,000 square feet or more that is adjacent to a road or public right-of-way shall provide a landscaping area width based upon the following right-of-way width:
(a) 
Sixty feet wide or less: ten-foot minimum landscape area width (Buffer Yard A).
(b) 
More than 60 feet wide: fifteen-foot minimum landscape area width (Buffer Yard C).
(3) 
Any parking area of 10,000 square feet or more for business, industrial or institutional uses, located less than 100 feet from any residential zone, shall require a minimum Buffer Yard D (as defined in Article XXIII) adjacent to any residential zone.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Art. XXI, Landscaping of Parking Facilities, Art. XXII, Screening and Trees, and Art. XXIII, Buffer Yard Requirements.
B. 
The Zoning Officer may allow deviations from parking buffer requirements when it finds that the site in question exhibits irregular, confining or otherwise unusual characteristics. In no case shall the required landscape area width be less than 8 1/2 feet.
C. 
Grass or native ground cover shall be planted on all portions of the landscape area not occupied by other landscape material.
D. 
Landscape plantings that are planted within the sight triangle shall conform to the following standards:
(1) 
No trees planted shall have a main/stem/trunk greater than eight inches or have a dripline that falls below six feet six inches in height.
(2) 
No shrubs or ground covers shall exceed a height of 24 inches.
E. 
Special notes on existing natural vegetation.
(1) 
In cases where significant natural vegetation exists, limits of clearing/grading areas shall be established during site plan review to protect and preserve the natural area. These protected areas will not be disturbed by the installation of any structures, utilities, storm and sanitary sewers, water lines, sediment and erosion control traps, stormwater management systems or signs. Existing landscape material which is proposed to be used to fulfill landscape requirements shall be shown in the required plan and measures taken to protect these areas from disturbance during construction using forest conservation techniques such as protective fencing and root pruning.
(2) 
In the case where buffers are created by this chapter, no structures, utilities, storm and sanitary sewers, water lines, sediment and erosion control traps, stormwater management systems or signs will be permitted in the buffer yard.
(3) 
Where pedestrian and bike paths are proposed in the landscape area, such paths shall be meandering in order to preserve the existing trees.
(4) 
Any natural vegetation outside the limits of disturbance shown on the approved site plan that is damaged or destroyed by construction activity within one year of the issuance of the first use and occupancy permit for the property shall be replaced at a ratio of 2:1.
F. 
Landscaping in easements. An area located in a utility or other easement may be included in the calculation of the required landscaped area only when:
(1) 
The owner of such easement consents to such use of easement area; and
(2) 
Landscaping and planting in conformance with this chapter is to be located in the easement area used.
A. 
For any parking lot containing more than 6,000 square feet of area or 15 or more spaces, interior landscaping shall be provided in addition to the previously required perimeter landscaping.
[Amended 5-7-2008 by Bill No. 2008-01]
B. 
Where a parking area is altered or expanded to increase the size to 6,000 or more square feet of area or 15 or more vehicular parking spaces, interior landscaping for the entire parking area shall be provided, and not merely to the extent of its alteration or expansion.
C. 
Landscape area. For each 100 square feet or fraction thereof of gross parking area, 10 square feet of landscaped area shall be provided.
[Amended 5-7-2008 by Bill No. 2008-01]
D. 
Interior landscaping shall be contained in islands having a minimum soil area of 153 square feet, having a minimum width of 8 1/2 feet and a minimum length of 18 feet.
[Added 5-7-2008 by Bill No. 2008-01[1]]
[1]
Editor's Note: This bill also redesignated former Subsections D through H as Subsections E through I, respectively.
E. 
Landscape islands.
[Amended 5-7-2008 by Bill No. 2008-01]
(1) 
Number of landscape islands required.
(a) 
For less than 100 spaces, one island is required for every seven parking spaces.
(b) 
For 100 spaces or more, one island is required for every 10 spaces.
(2) 
If bioretention is provided in the landscape area, one island is required for every 15 spaces.
(3) 
All interior parking aisles shall end in a landscape island.
(4) 
A minimum of one walkway per 10 parking spaces across landscape islands shall be provided.
F. 
Maximum contiguous areas for interior parking lot landscaping. In order to provide that the required landscape areas be properly dispersed, no required landscape area shall be larger than the following:
[Amended 5-7-2008 by Bill No. 2008-01]
(1) 
One thousand five hundred square feet in parking areas under 30,000 square feet.
(2) 
Three thousand five hundred square feet in parking areas over 30,000 square feet.
G. 
Landscape areas larger than the above are permitted as long as the additional area is in excess of the required minimum, except that landscape areas larger than the maximum permitted may be allowed as required landscaping areas in those cases where significant natural vegetation exists and are protected as set forth in § 297-358E.
[Amended 5-7-2008 by Bill No. 2008-01]
H. 
Minimum plant materials.
[Amended 5-7-2008 by Bill No. 2008-01]
(1) 
Preservation of existing shade trees is preferred over planting new trees. Shade trees shall meet the following requirements:
(a) 
Shade trees shall be deciduous trees or evergreen trees.
(b) 
Trunks are to be a minimum 2 1/2 inches in diameter at time of planting with the potential to reach at least 12 inches in diameter when fully mature.
(2) 
Using the standard of each large tree shading a circular area having a radius of 15 feet with the trunk of the tree as the center, there must be sufficient trees so that 35% of the parking area will be shaded. Small trees used for perimeter landscaping requirements may be counted towards shading as described in Appendix E.[2]
[2]
Editor's Note: Appendix E is included as an attachment to this chapter.
(3) 
Conservation landscaping or preserved plant material shall be provided for a minimum of 50% of all portions of the landscape area. Grass or native ground cover shall be planted on all portions of the landscape area not occupied by other landscape material.
I. 
Landscaping for service structures. Service structures shall include propane tanks, dumpsters, air-conditioning units and condensers, electrical transformers and other equipment or elements providing service to a building or a site. All such structures shall be fully screened except when located in a single-family, agriculture or industrial zone or when located more than 35 feet above the established grade. Service structures in an industrial zone shall be fully screened when located within 100 feet of any zone other than industrial.
(1) 
Location of screening. A continuous planting, hedge, fence, wall or earth mound shall enclose any service structure on all sides unless such structure must be frequently moved, in which case screening on all but one side is required. The average height of the screening material shall be one foot more than the height of the enclosed structure, but shall not be required to exceed eight feet in height. Whenever a service structure is located next to a building wall, perimeter landscaping material or vehicular use area landscaping material, such walls or screening material may fulfill the screening requirement for that side of the service structure if that wall or screening material is of an average height sufficient to meet the height requirement set out in this section. Whenever service structures are screened by plant material, such material may count towards the fulfillment of required interior or perimeter landscaping. No interior landscaping shall be required within an area screened for service structures.
(2) 
Protection of screening material. Whenever screening material is placed around any trash disposal unit or waste collection unit that is emptied or removed mechanically on a regular basis, a fixed barrier to contain the placement of the container shall be provided within the screening material on those sides where there is such material. The barrier shall be at least 18 inches from the material and shall be of sufficient strength to prevent possible damage to the screening when the container is moved or emptied. The minimum front opening of the screening material shall be 12 feet to allow service vehicles access to the container.[3]
[3]
Editor's Note: Former Subsection I, which provided for landscaping installation and maintenance, former Subsection J, which provided landscape material type and quality requirements, and former Subsection K, Plan submission and approval, all of which immediately followed this subsection, were repealed 5-7-2008 by Bill No. 2008-01.