If you're planning on building anything in Lyon County, don't forget to mind your trees and hues.
The county has a landscape ordinance, passed by the Lyon County Commissioners in January, which, among other things, requires developers and builders to set aside between 6 percent and 15 percent of the lot for landscaping purposes, depending on the site zoning.
It sets the number and type of trees allowed and requires that landscaping have a variety of color with a good mix of evergreen and shade trees.
While most acknowledge the benefits of such an ordinance, many are also beginning to rethink the severity of the law.
The landscape ordinance was not in place in 1998 when the Smith's Food and Drug Store on Highway 50 was built. Today the property is a vast paved parking lot, but not for long.
Dayton Delta LLC, developers of the new shopping mall surrounding Smith's have plans to add about $100,000 in landscaping.
"We understand as developers it has to look nice," said Chris Bonafede, manager of the Minden company. "When the final phase comes online, the landscaping will be done." Bonafede said that should be by December.
"Probably September or October," he said. "Before the end of planting season."
Bonafede said the company will landscape the frontage of the Smith's store as part of their third phase. The first phase on Retail Road is in and the second phase of landscaping plans are before the county for approval now.
"We've incorporated the frontage landscaping in our third plan," he said. "We will pay for it and do it. Smith's has been very cooperative with us on everything. They've been a great party to work with."
He said Dayton Delta is working with the county on the center's landscaping plan to try to modify it somewhat.
"We are still trying to smooth out things that don't make sense to us or them," he said. "Issues that will help us use less water and that are more realistic."
Other business, along with officials, are looking for ways to make the ordinance more realistic as well.
Don Ogden is one who thinks the landscape requirements are a little more green than his business can handle.
"This ordinance really affects us," he told the commissioners at their July 21 meeting. "We want to be good neighbors, but some rules are hard on us."
Ogden said the new ordinance required the Builder's Choice owner, who is building a truss-manufacturing business in Silver Springs, to put aside three acres of his 19-acre parcel for landscaping, plus plant 270 trees.
County Manager Donna Kristaponis has suggested several changes in the current ordinance, including making exceptions for industrial property when the site could not be seen from the roadway and allowing hardscaping, or non-plant materials, to make up 40 percent of landscaping, instead of the current 15 percent.
No action was taken by the commissioners, but several expressed their displeasure with much of the ordinance.
"We're stuck with the ordinance as it is today, and we have ended up harming people we meant to serve," said Bob Milz, commission chairman, said at the meeting.
Commissioner Leroy Goodman questioned the enforceability of the ordinance, as well as possible infringement on private property rights.
"If someone has a well, and he wants to water three acres of land, that's his business," Goodman said. "We don't have the ability to enforce this much less maintain it."
Goodman suggested rewriting the entire ordinance.
"I have a problem requiring 10 percent of property as landscaping if it's in front of a welder's shop," he said.
Several commissioners suggested landscaping plans be approved on a case-by-case basis when building plans are submitted or certificates of occupancy are requested.
Kristaponis said the landscape ordinance was important to prevent businesses from having no landscaping, adding to dust problems and creating an eyesore. As an example, she mentioned Smith's.
County officials relied on regulations in other Northern Nevada counties and towns in creating its landscape ordinance, according to Kristaponis.
Despite the questions, the landscape ordinance of January is still in effect. Among its stated goals are to enhance the aesthetics of the community, conserve water, reduce noise, dust and erosion, improve air quality, improve groundwater recharge, reduce visual pollution in an urbanizing area, and establish a greater sense of privacy.
The law applies to all new development projects, including model homes, and to the expansion of any building on a site not in conformance with the ordinance.
A builder or developer of a new site must file a detailed landscaping plan with the county before proceeding.
In addition to the percentage of landscaping and tree requirements, the ordinance specifies which trees cannot be used, regulates the use of container-grown shrubs and plants, places restrictions on the use of turf unless treated effluent is available at the site, and determines rules for parking areas.
"You want to ensure you get landscaping in parking areas," Kristaponis told the commissioners. "You don't want people to put all their landscaping in one place and parking in another. You want to spread it around.
- Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at email@example.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.
How much to landscape
The amount of land used for landscaping depends on zoning.
• Residential districts - 20 percent of the site area for all permitted uses except single-family and two-family dwellings.
• Limited neighborhood commercial district - 20 percent
• General commercial district - 15 percent
• Tourist commercial district - 20 percent
• General Industrial district - 15 percent
• Industrial estate district - 6 percent
• RV park district - 15 percent
• Junk, wrecking yard district - 10 percent
• X-Rated district - 20 percent
To obtain a copy of the landscape ordinance, contact the Lyon County Planning Department at (775) 246-6140.