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Thread: Zoning incentives for shoreland restoration

  1. #1
    Cyburbian DecaturHawk's avatar
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    Zoning incentives for shoreland restoration

    I am working with a township that has several inland lakes, all of which are fully developed with seasonal and year-round homes. Most homeowners have manicured lawns down to the water's edge. The township is looking for zoning-based incentives to convince riparian owners to revegetate the shoreline. For instance, allowing a waterfront deck, provided that twice the amount of the deck's area be revegetated on the rest of the shoreline (this idea has several problems, but there may be a way to write an ordinance that minimizes them). Has anyone seen any kind of incentive program using zoning for this purpose? Googling "shoreland protection + zoning incentives" mostly hits sites offering tax rebates or or other financially-based incentives. If anyone in the the Throbbing BrainTM can help, I would be grateful.
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
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    That's a tough one. You can't offer they typical developer incentives such as increased density, reduced fees, going to the head of the approval line, etc.

    You might try providing the plant material for free... perhaps from a public supply or via Boy Scouts, etc. Also, you might be able to offer some kind of design service. A computer generated visual might really help convince the owners that it won't "look like hell" when the natural stuff takes over. If you could find a homeowner that would do it and then hold an open house (or yard) to show it off that might help start the ball rolling.

    Try to see if this works in with the Audubon International certification thing. People like to be recognized.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Jen's avatar
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    Zoning incentives are an interesting choice for riparian restorations. And I bet that there may be remnant buffer zones that represent a good variety of native species already around those lakes. If people would just stop mowing, let it get weedy, identify the good extirpate the bad add more every year and in a few short years a buffer is created!

    JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association may have articles that have a policy approach.

    As a riparian dweller with a nonconforming parcel, in a nonconforming house there lived a nonconforming lady ....getting a zoning break on placing a deck or breaching a setback would be welcome!!!!

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    I agree that a zoning incentive is an interesting approach. I would never have thought of that.

    We have no waterfront here, but we're in the process of "naturalizing" our detention basins throughout the community and doing an educational effort to explain why native plantings are so much better than sod. It's been a really hard sell because most homeonwers think that naturalized ponds look "yucky" (their words, not mine). The arguments that have worked the best have been (1) less Canadian Geese (2) fewer maintenance costs to the homeowners association and (3) better flood protection.

    There's a ton of misinterformation out there and some really wacked landscape design tastes.

    We haven't taken an incentive approach -- we've just re-written our landscape guidelines to require native plantings in detetnion basins and also require a maintenance plan to be filed with the Village.

    I think the problem you'll run up against with homeowners is that they don't deal with zoning very often, so you might need to see about expedited permits, design services, or assistance with maintenance as an incentive.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    To make a program like that work, I would think that you would first need to have pretty restrictive rules on what can be done within a setback area from the shoreline. That would provide some ability to relax the requirements in exchange for restoration. You might also have to contend with jurisdictional issues if you have state rules that overlap local authority, as is sometimes the case here in Wisconsin.

    In a sumilar situation, several years ago our state created a rule that prohibited any improvements within a certain distance of the "top of the bank" of any navigable waterway in the state. This was meant to help protect surface water quality. In the discussions leading up to the rule I pointed out that the rule could allow somebody to plant non-native bluegrass right up to the water's edge, spraying and fertilizing it every year, and that such a landscape would do very little to filter contaminants. I suggested including a provision that would allow reduction of the setback by half if the landscape in the setback area was designed to filter pollutants, including the use of naturalized plantings. No go. Still a good idea, I contend.
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