9.9 Project Boundary Buffers
(1) Project boundary buffers shall be required when making application for all site plan, development plan, or preliminary plat approvals when a proposed use is of higher intensity or impact than an adjacent use or adjacent zoning district.
(2) “High impact uses” include multi-family housing developments of nine (9) or more units, adult entertainment establishments, airports, animal shelters, asphalt or concrete plants, correctional facilities, crematories, dog kennels, drinking establishments, engine repair establishments, firing ranges, junkyards, manufacturing, railroad facilities, recycling facilities, resource extraction, trucking companies, truck stops, major utilities, vehicle services, warehouse and distribution facilities, retail buildings greater than forty thousand (40,000) square feet, and waste related facilities.
(3) Project boundary buffers with varying width and planting requirements, or transitional features, shall be provided according to Table 9.9.1. Buffers may also be required as a condition of approval of a compatible or flexible use or development plan.
(4) Some uses may require additional buffering, as set forth in Chapter 11, Additional Standards for Certain Permitted Uses.
(5) No project boundary buffers shall be required for property in the MUD District.
(6) Location: Required project boundary buffers shall be provided along the perimeter of any lot or development except adjoining street or railroad rights-of-way.
(7) Project boundary buffers shall be designated and dimensioned on all site plans and preliminary plats.
Note: Bracketed items are suggested, not mandatory.
9.9.2 Walls, Berms and Fences in Buffers: Where walls, berms or fences are built within any required project boundary buffer, they shall meet the following requirements:
(1) All walls, when located within a buffer, shall be planted on the side facing the adjacent property with at least one (1) upright shrub for every six (6) feet of wall length. Where shrubs are planted adjacent to a wall, the minimum distance between the wall and the property line shall be four (4) feet.
(2) The applicant shall be required to demonstrate provision for access and maintenance of landscaping and the wall structure at the time of landscape plan approval.
(3) Berms located within a buffer shall have side slopes of not less than three (3) feet horizontal for each one (1) foot vertical and a minimum crown width of two (2) feet.
(4) Prior to issuance of the first certificate of compliance, berms shall be planted to ensure coverage by live plant material within three (3) to five (5) years.
(5) Fences shall be maintained in a structurally safe and attractive condition and with finished faces and plantings located towards the adjacent property with at least one (1) upright shrub for every six (6) linear feet of fence length.
9.9.3 Separate Parcels for Stormwater Management: Where a separate legal parcel is permitted for stormwater management, buffers consistent with those required for the remainder of the project shall be required.
9.9.4 Permitted Activity Within Project Boundary Buffers:
(1) Driveways or walkways may cross a project boundary buffer, provided they cross at as near a perpendicular angle as practical. Walking paths or trails may be placed within project boundary buffers.
(2) Existing specimen trees, as defined in Section 9.6, Protection of Existing Vegetation, that are located within a required project boundary buffer shall be retained, except where the approving authority determines that the removal of such trees is required to provide safe and reasonable access to the property.
9.9.5 Variations in Buffer Width
Buffer width shall normally be calculated as perpendicular to the property line, however, design variations may be allowed and shall be calculated based on the average width of the buffer per one hundred (100) feet or portion thereof. In no case shall the minimum width of the buffer be less than one-half (½) the required width. The maximum width, for the purposes of installing required landscaping or receiving credit for existing vegetation, shall not be more than one and one-half (1 ½) times the required buffer width.
9.9.6 Off-Site Vegetation
Existing plant material on adjacent property may be credited toward buffer requirements, provided that such material is in a permanently protected area such as a conservation or landscape easement or similarly preserved area. Credit for offsite plant material shall be calculated as provided in Section 9.8.
(1) Constructed Buffer: The following four (4) basic buffer templates and two (2) alternatives are to be used as specified in table 9.9.
(a) The Type A Opaque Buffer is used between high impact uses and residential or mixed uses. It provides a continuous, solid screen to the height of six (6) feet, serving as a sight and noise barrier. The buffer width is fifty (50) feet. Trees required may not have greater than five (5) foot opening between mature canopies. Fifty percent (50%) of trees and one hundred percent (100%) of shrubs must be evergreen.
(b) The Type B Opaque Buffer is used in cases of lesser degrees of incompatibility, such as between non-residential uses that are not high impact and residential uses. Its planting requirements are the same as the Type A buffer but with a thirty (30) foot width.
(c) The Type C Semi-Opaque Buffer is used in relatively low incompatibility cases; such as between mixed use development and detached dwellings. It provides a semi-solid screen allowing views between properties. The buffer width is twenty (20) feet. Trees required may not have greater than ten (10) foot opening between mature canopies. No understory trees and fewer shrubs are required.
(d) The Type D Open Buffer provides a tree buffer while allowing view between properties. The buffer width is ten (10) feet with three (3) canopy trees and three (3) understory trees per one hundred (100) feet of length. The buffer width is ten (10) feet. Canopy spacing is not to exceed twenty (20) feet.
(e) The Type E Overhead Utility Buffer shall be permitted only where overhead utilities make larger tree planting impractical. It is defined as the applicable Type A, B, C, or D Buffer with canopy trees replaced by understory trees.
(f) The Type F Intense Buffer is an alternative allowing reduction of buffer width by replacing shrubs with a wall, fence or berm. Type A buffers may be reduced to twenty-five (25) feet, type B buffers to twenty (20) feet, Type C buffers to fifteen (15) feet.
i. Use of Type F Buffers may be approved as part of site plan, preliminary plat, development plan, compatible use, or flexible use approval. The approving authority may allow comparable flexibility in buffer plantings or dimensions if the design intent of the applicable buffer type is satisfied.
(g) All shrubs used to meet constructed buffer requirements shall be upright shrubs.
(2) Natural Buffers: Existing healthy, natural forest cover and other vegetation shall be used to meet buffer requirements in the Agriculture/Open Space and Low Density Residential Districts as follows:
(a) Where the existing tree cover exceeds fifteen (15) feet in height; and
(b) Where the existing tree canopy covers seventy-five percent (75%) or more of the required buffer area.
(c) The minimum width of a required natural buffer shall be fifty (50) feet.
(3) Natural Buffer as an Option: In zoning districts that do not require use of a natural buffer, a natural buffer may be employed. A minimum natural buffer width of twenty-five (25) feet or the width required to satisfy the applicable constructed buffer requirement, whichever is greater, shall be provided in these instances.
(a) Tree Protection in Natural Buffers
(b) In addition to the requirements of Section 9.11, Tree Protection and Tree Coverage
(c) Preservation, trees within natural buffers shall be protected as follows:
(d) For the trees with a diameter at breast height of thirty (30) inches or less, seventy-five percent (75%) of the root protection zone shall be undisturbed; and
(e) For trees over thirty (30) inches diameter at breast height, at least ninety percent (90%) of the root protection zone shall be undisturbed.
(4) Additional Planting: The Development Services Director, or designee, may require additional planting in a natural buffer if it does not meet the vegetation standards required for the applicable constructed buffer. Sampling of existing vegetation within a natural buffer shall be required to determine if it meets this standard.
9.9.8. Land Disturbance Buffers
(1) Land disturbing activity of five (5) acres or more where no other site improvements are proposed shall require perimeter buffers at all exterior lot lines pursuant to this section.
(2) Buffers required by this section shall no longer be required if a site plan for other site improvements (other than preliminary plat) has been approved, although buffers may be required by other provisions of this Ordinance.
(3) If such a site plan or a final plat is approved, the required land disturbance buffer shall be retained until a project boundary buffer pursuant to Section 9.9.1., Constructed Buffers, is installed, or a natural buffer pursuant to Section 9.9.2. Natural Buffers, is approved.
(4) No grading shall be allowed within land disturbance buffers except to provide reasonable access and for utility installation. Utilities shall be located to limit disturbance to existing vegetation and shall be approved prior to installation.
(5) Perimeter land disturbance buffers adjoining other properties (along exterior property lines), a minimum of thirty-two (32) feet in width, measured perpendicular to the boundary of the site, shall be in place prior to any land disturbing activity, unless the adjoining property is undeveloped and has had no applications for development filed, in which case no perimeter land disturbance buffers shall be required on those sides of the site proposed for disturbance.
(6) Such buffers, when required, shall consist of existing vegetation with supplemental vegetation added, when necessary, that meets or exceeds the requirements of Table 9.9, Constructed Buffer.
(7) Land disturbance buffers along public right-of-way at least fifty (50) feet in width measured perpendicular to the boundary of the site shall be in place prior to any land disturbing activity.
(8) Such buffers shall consist of preserved vegetation with supplemental vegetation added, when necessary, that meets or exceeds the standards of Table 9.9, Constructed Buffer, exclusive of areas for reasonable access or for utility installation.
(9) Exemptions: Forestry activities conducted in conformance with a Forest Management Plan that uses the current best management practices as adopted by the Mississippi Forestry Commission shall not require a land disturbance buffer.
(10) Revegetation: Revegetation is required where land disturbing activity has taken place, and no site plan for improvements has been approved within two (2) years.
(a) An owner shall have two (2) years from the date that a site plan is approved for land disturbing activity subject to this section where no other tract improvements are proposed either to secure site plan approval for development of the tract or to revegetate the site.
(b) Revegetation required by this section shall not be required upon approval of a site plan for site improvements (other than a preliminary plat) for that portion of the development tract with such improvements proposed. The remainder of the development tract shall continue to require revegetation until a site plan showing other site improvements (other than a preliminary plat) is approved.
(c) Standards: So long as the required land disturbance buffers pursuant to this section have been provided and maintained, revegetation of a tract with a ground cover sufficient to restrain erosion shall satisfy the requirement for revegetation.
i. If the required land disturbance buffers were not provided and maintained, revegetation of a tract shall create a biological community composed of a mixed and variable assemblage of native vegetation which is appropriate for the existing site conditions with at least three (3) different species of trees native to Mississippi and a tree density of at least two hundred (200) living trees per acre, with at least fifty percent (50%) of those trees having the potential of attaining a two and one-half (2 ½) inch or greater diameter at breast height within seven (7) years.