17.26.030 – General design principles and standards

The Landscape Plan shall address the following criteria:

  1. Sensitivity to the Site
    Landscape improvements shall be designed to integrate the building and other improvements with the site and its surroundings, with sensitivity to natural topography, watercourses, and existing vegetation. Existing landscape material and topography shall be taken into account and preserved where feasible, particularly where mature trees are part of the site. (See also St. Charles Municipal Code, Chapter 8.30 regarding tree preservation requirements.)
  2. Scale and Arrangement of Landscaping Material
    The scale and arrangement of landscaping materials and the size of planting beds shall be appropriate to the size of existing and proposed structures and site improvements. For example, larger-scale buildings shall generally be complemented by plantings that are larger-scale at both the time of installation and at maturity. Whenever possible, plantings shall be arranged in groupings and masses to provide a more natural appearance.
  3. Existing Trees and Other Vegetation
    Subject to the approval of the Director of Community Development, existing trees and other vegetation may be utilized in lieu of installing new plant material to satisfy the requirements of this Chapter. The Landscape Plan shall accurately show the existing trees and other vegetation to be so utilized, and shall include the types and quantities of plantings that will be installed if the existing plant material dies.
  4. Storm Water Management
    Natural drainage patterns and features such as swales, filter strips, wetlands and rain gardens shall be integrated into the landscape design, and shall be preserved or restored if existing. To the greatest extent possible, stormwater detention and retention basins and associated landscaping shallbe designed to resemble natural landforms. Grading of stormwater basins shall be designed so as to accommodate the proposed plantings. The Landscape Plan shall be coordinated with the stormwater management plan to slow storm water runoff, increase infiltration on the site, and filter suspended solids and contaminants. Landscaping is required around the perimeter of all retention and detention basins, and a planting scheme using native grasses and forbs to discourage waterfowl in developed areas is encouraged.
  5. Softening of Walls and Fences
    Plant material shall be placed intermittently against long expanses of building walls, fences and other barriers to create a softening effect and to help break up long expanses of blank walls with little architectural detail. Conversely, where walls, fences, and other barriers are designed with articulation and/or architectural detail, there is less need for softening with landscaping.
  6. Irrigation
    Landscape designs shall be cognizant of the need for water conservation and irrigation, depending on the site environment and type of plant material selected. Where no permanent source of water for irrigation is available, the landscape design shall not rely on irrigation to maintain healthy plantings.
  7. Energy Conservation
    Plant material placement shall be designed to reduce the energy consumption needs of the development.
    1. Locate sun tolerant trees and plants on the south and west sides of buildings to provide shade from the summer sun.
    2. Locate shade tolerant trees and plants on the north and west sides of buildings to dissipate the effect of winter winds.
  8. Berming
    Earthen berms and existing topographic features shall be incorporated into the landscape treatment of a site where there is sufficient space and, in particular, where berms and existing topographic features can be combined with plant material to provide effective screening. Berms shall be no steeper than a 4:1 proportion on average and shall have a rounded top surface a minimum of five (5) feet in width to accommodate plantings. Berming more than one foot in height is prohibited over utility easements when located parallel to, or approximately parallel to, the easement. Berming located perpendicular to utility easements is permitted.
  9. Landscape Protection
    Landscaping in proximity to vehicular areas shall be protected by curbs, wheel stops, decorative bollards, retaining walls, or other methods integrated into the site improvements or Landscape Plan.
  10. Clear Zones
    1. Notwithstanding any provision hereof to the contrary, landscaping around fire hydrants shall be installed and maintained in accordance with the provisions of Section 16.44.070 M of the St. Charles Municipal Code, as amended.
    2. A clear zone of three (3) feet shall be maintained in all directions from a pad-mounted electrical transformer; a ten (10) foot clear zone shall also be maintained in front of transformer access doors to allow for operation and maintenance activities, in accordance with the guidelines established by the St. Charles Electric Utility. Plantings within this zone shall be limited to non-woody plants or turf grass.
  11. Parking Lot Landscape Islands
    Landscape islands shall be a minimum of eight (8’) feet in width and a minimum of 160 square feet in area, their surface shall be at least six (6”) inches above the surface of the parking lot and shall be crowned to allow for positive drainage, and shall be protected with concrete curbing, except in the case of a bioswale design. Bioswales, which are continuous, planting beds designed for the conveyance, absorption, or filtration of stormwater runoff, may be provided as an alternative design to conventional planting islands. 
(2019-Z-1; 2011-Z-1: § 19)