City prepares to require ‘Florida-Friendly’ landscapes
by Joe Wilhelm Jr.
New construction projects will be subject to “Florida-Friendly” landscape practices if a proposed ordinance is approved in the coming months.
Staff from the City’s Planning and Developing Department met with the Jacksonville Waterways Commission Thursday to discuss changes to the City’s zoning code that are included in proposed ordinance 2009-864.
These changes were developed to make the City’s code consistent with the State’s “Florida-Friendly” practices.
In the new legislation, the term “Florida-Friendly” would replace “Xeriscape” in the City’s landscape and tree protection regulations. “Florida-Friendly” is defined as “a landscaping that maximizes the conservation of water by the use of site-appropriate plants - right plant in the right place methodology, efficient watering systems, appropriate, fertilization, mulching, attraction of wildlife, responsible management of pests, recycling of yard waste, reduction of stormwater runoff and waterfront protection.”
“I’m here to introduce Ordinance 2009-864, which is the inclusion of ‘Florida-Friendly’ landscape practices and irrigation design standards into our landscape codes,” said Mark Shelton of the City’s Planning and Development Department.
“This specific revision is applicable only to new public agency projects and private projects, including industrial, commercial, recreational and multifamily residential. Much of the work was comprised of developing additional definitions to help implement Florida-Friendly standards.”
New definitions included in the ordinance include best management practices, pressure regulating devices, hardscape, water-wise irrigation and water-wise principles.
Though not included in the ordinance, single-family residences were “highly encouraged to follow the Best Management Practices for Florida-Friendly landscape, Water Wise irrigation and Water Wise principles.”
Part of Shelton’s presentation was to explain why the new legislation was necessary.
“What is ‘Florida-Friendly’ landscaping and why should we revise our code to include it?,” said Shelton. “It improves aesthetics. They are an important part of any landscaping feature, commercial or industrial. Through ‘Florida-Friendly’ landscaping, you can still maintain the beauty and make it more adaptable to the existing conditions,” he said.
He also emphasized water conservation. “With our current water issues, it is critical that we have the right plants in the right place that require less water usage.”
The irrigation maintenance and design portion of the ordinance included a new irrigation device, micro-irrigation.
“Our current code didn’t really speak much to micro-irrigation,” said Shelton. “We’ve expounded on that.”
In micro-irrigation systems, water is distributed using an extensive hydraulic pipe network that conveys water from its source to the plant, according to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences extension.
“This is pretty comprehensive,” said City Council member John Crescimbeni. “I’d like to have more time to digest this and bring it back at our next meeting.”
Planning and Development Department staff encouraged the Commission to take time to study the changes because it was the first of two sets of changes.
“It is a conversation that will continue, especially building up for the residential piece,” said Lisa Rinaman, policy director for the mayor’s office. “There will probably be more people in this room when we talk about the application for residential landscaping.”
The Commission voted to take time to review the 20-page ordinance and discuss it at the July 8 meeting.