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Thread: 'Naturalized' lawn permits

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    'Naturalized' lawn permits

    My community has a code provision that allows residents to not mow portions of their lawn if they receive a 'naturalized' lawn permit. Applicants submit inventories listing the types of specific plants and a description of the area they wish to be exempt from the mowing requirements. The permiting process ensures that the applicant have some sort of land mangement plan for the naturalized areas and leaves the door open for the city to revoke the permit if it ends up being used for, say, storing heaps of woodchips/landscaping materials, brushpiles, etc.

    Is anyone aware of any other communities that have such a critter? I'm trying to nail down an appropriate review fee.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    I'm trying to nail down an appropriate review fee.
    I'd recommend a fee of 2 lbs. of granola and 1 ounce of patchouli oil.
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

  3. #3
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SGB View post
    I'd recommend a fee of 2 lbs. of granola and 1 ounce of patchouli oil.
    Appealing to that particular demographic is pretty much the intent behind it.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Not really, but I like it. Care to share?

    Oh, quick google search showed that Waterloo & London Canada have regs. dealing with naturalized areas.
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    ..... I'm trying to nail down an appropriate review fee.
    The review fee should be based on the time it takes to process the application plus overhead. That goes for all applications.

  6. #6
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dandy_warhol View post
    Not really, but I like it. Care to share?
    I seem to be getting quite a bit of interest on this one, so why not...

    (i) Naturalized lawns; land management plans.
    (1) Any owner or operator of land in the city may apply for approval of a land management plan for a natural lawn (one where the grasses exceed eight inches in height) with the department of community development.
    (2) As used in this subsection, "land management plan" means a written plan relating to management of naturalized area which contains a legal description of the naturalized area upon which the grasses will exceed eight inches in height, a statement of intent and purpose for the naturalized area, a general description of the vegetational types, plants and plant succession involved and the specific management and maintenance techniques to be employed. The management plan must include provisions for cutting, at a length not greater than eight inches, the terrace area, that portion between the sidewalk and the street or a strip not less than four feet adjacent to the street where there is no sidewalk and at least a three-foot strip adjacent to the neighboring property lines unless waived by the abutting property owner on the side so affected.
    (3) The land management plan may be revoked for failure to comply with the requirements thereof. A notice of intent to revoke a land management plan is appealable to the environmental board. An application for such an appeal shall be submitted within 15 days of the notice of intent.
    (4) Each application for a land management plan shall be on a form provided by the department of community development. A copy of the application shall be mailed by the applicant or given personally by the applicant to each of the owners of record, as listed in the office of the assessor, of the property situated in whole or in part within 200 feet of the boundaries of the properties affected. The director of community development shall provide the list of the property owners who are to be notified of the application. The applicant shall certify, under oath, on a form to be furnished by the director, that such owners have been duly notified and the manner in which they have been notified. If, within 15 days of receipt of a copy of the application, any of such property owners files written objections to the application with the director, the director shall refer the application to the environmental board for hearing and decision. If no objections to the application are filed, the director shall grant a permit for the land management plan.
    (5) The owner or operator of land in the city may appeal from a decision of the director refusing to grant a permit for a land management plan. Any such appeal shall be to the environmental board, and the application therefore shall be submitted within 15 days of the notice of denial of the land management plan.
    (6) The granting of a permit for a land management plan shall give the owner or operator no vested rights in the plan and, should this subsection be notified, repealed or otherwise amended, the owner or operator shall forthwith comply with this subsection, as so modified, repealed or amended.
    (j) The remedies provided for herein are not exclusive and civil action, or any other enforcement action allowed by law may also be brought immediately upon violation of this section.
    (Ord. No. 00-10, § 670.04, 9-5-2000; Ord. No. 04-05, 2-22-2005)

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    We never had a permit, just a noxious weed law and a (never hold up in court) unsightly appearance law. We had several natural landscapes. Ironically, all of them were the homes of gay men.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
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    I think that restrictions on what one grows in the front yard (Not what one "stores") may well go the way of deed restrictions that outlawed Negros in subdivisions. In a "green" environment promoting well manicured turf is just wrong for the environment on many fronts. A wildflower medow can be very attractive, but the flowers may be born on stems far higher than eight inches.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Richi View post
    I think that restrictions on what one grows in the front yard (Not what one "stores") may well go the way of deed restrictions that outlawed Negros in subdivisions. In a "green" environment promoting well manicured turf is just wrong for the environment on many fronts. A wildflower medow can be very attractive, but the flowers may be born on stems far higher than eight inches.
    Off-topic:
    My first house, built in 1951 (or was it 53?) had a deed restriction against selling to negoes or puerto ricans. My title insurance excluded that provision from my coverage. Thank goodness someone payed attention.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Thanks for posting the ordinance. We don't have our own ordinance, but I think it's a great idea.

    About ffive years ago, before the awareness of no-mow lawns and this sort of residential landscaping became "popular", I had to lead a team of code enforcement officers to force a property owner to mow a rather unsightly growth of weeds that the owner claimed was a natural backyard habitat. The neighbors were complaining and we didn't have a good understanding of what was an appropriate species and what wasn't -- or even if this sort of thing was a good idea.

    Totally embarrassed about that one in retrospect. I wished I had the knowledge I had now to work with the homeowner to plant appropriate species.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    National Audubon has been encouraging people to grow "backyard bird sanctuaries" for many years.

    I am about to rip out all the plants in my front yard (which has no grass, but does have a mess of ugly non-native plants) and put in a rain garden surrounded by drought-tolerant native plants (we get no rain for about three months straight in the summer, but lots of sun and strong wind).

    Lawns waste a lot of water and energy, and generally need lots of chemicals to look good.

    I have brother in law who lives near Zman who spends over $1,000 per month to water his rather extensive lawn. Seems wasted to me.

  12. #12
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Otis View post
    Lawns waste a lot of water and energy, and generally need lots of chemicals to look good.

    I have brother in law who lives near Zman who spends over $1,000 per month to water his rather extensive lawn. Seems wasted to me.
    I wholeheartedly agree. There is some sort of perverse cultural value being transmitted when we see folks expending considerable resources attempting to maintain manicured green lawns in environments where nothing could be less natural. (e.g. Las Vegas comes to mind). The only reason people do this sort of thing is because they have some preconcieved notion that's what lawns are supposed to look like (at least that's how they did Back East). Xeriscaping makes so much more sense in water-poor environments.


  13. #13
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    I attended Brownfields 2008 and as part of the film series they showed, "Gimme Green" a documentary that "provides a humoroous look at the American obsession with the residential lawn and the effects it has on our environment, our wllets, and our outlook on life." It was interesting, informative, and disturbing.
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
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    I think the lush lawn had it's beginning like so many other unhelthful things (white bred, sugar) in the status thing. Look at me, I can afford to spend all that time, money and energy on this fantastic green lawn. This put's me in the same class as the rich folks who have mansions. I've comea long way from my poor rural ancestors who had swept yards. In my youth I remember som cracker kinfolk in rural Ga. who had swept yards where there were not fruit trees or a few flower bushes to spiff up the place.

    In Hunguary and I suspect much of Europe, one sees little lawn in front yards. First of all few houses have a very deap front yard, but what is there is most often in either trees, grape vines or rose beds. Guess, living through all the wars those folks went through, the idea of having landscaping that will help feed you is primary.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    It's beginning to sound like there is something of a concensus that the lawn requirement is not a good one. Maybe instead of a naturalized lawn permit fee you ought to be looking at doing away with the lawn requirement. You can address unsightly yards through property maintenance requirements and noxious weed requirement. The people will love you for taking away a meddlesome governmental requirement. Except for the ones who will hate you for "lowering their property values" when their neighbors' lawns go away.

    Here in Oregon, and I suspect in most states, there is an official list of noxious weeds (such as blackberry, thistle, knotweed, ragwort, scotchbroom, etc). We require people to remove such plants from their yards. It's usually enforced when a particular yard is completely out of control. Blackberry is a hard one to enforce, but most people don't want it growing in their yards anyway. We also have a property maintenance ordinance that requires yard upkeep, and it seems to be working.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Our local water authority (an Albuquerque-Bernalillo County partnership) actively promotes low water use yards and provides rebates for homeowners that redesign xeriscapily (that's my own word - like it?) and reduce irrigation use.

    You can link to the page about this here to see how they deal with it (you can even get a full color plant guide and a kit to design your own yard for the rebate): http://www.abcwua.org/content/view/132/222/

    They also have public seminars and workshops to learn how to do this.

    Indeed, we couldn't be in a less appropriate environment for lawns (which doesn't prevent a lot of new housing from having it) and so all of this xeriscape planting is what others might call "naturalized." They are really just plants that already exist in this environment or similar ones. The infrastructure needed to keep a green lawn here is rather ridiculous.

    My own yard is xeriscaped with plants like rosemary, oregano, yucca, lavender, lemon balm (part of the mint family), russian sage, desert sage, globe mallow, yarrow an so on. Interestingly, almost all of these have some sort of medicinal or culinary use. I have been working on a list of things that can be made with the items in my yard.

    For the record, I did not plant all of this stuff (or really any of it) - it came with the house. But I love it. Something is in bloom almost all spring and summer and as many are aromatics, it smells great. Best of all, its pretty maintenance free. I just cut stuff back at select times of year. They get watered about twice a week.
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  17. #17
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    We live in a semi-arid region and so no one is ever bothered if they wan't to naturalize their yards. It's actually encouraged at various levels of government and public utility.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    There are neighborhoods in Madison, Wisconsin, where naturalized plantings are the norm and lawns are viewed as undesirable. These are some of the city's most attractive neighborhoods. You might check their ordinances to see how they deal with the issue, but I think it is simply permitted outright. Very few communities that I can think of have any requirement to get a permit for this.
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