Like the food pyramid, the 3Rs of sustainable site design lists in a hierarchy various practices builders can use to achieve their sustainability goals.
The national SITES Rating System is for development projects located on sites with or without buildings.
While Minnesota's current roadside mowing statute, 160.232 (1985), says, among other things, that roadside mowing cannot be done before July 31, the MN Dept. of Natural Resources, MnDOT, the MN Dept. of Agriculture and the Monarch Joint Venture (coordinated by the MN Monarch Lab at the University of Minnesota) all recommend not mowing (except for safety and weed control) before October 1 in southern MN and not before September 20 in northern MN in order to maximize habitat for birds, monarch butterflies, other pollinators, and other fauna and flora.
The MN Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) has developed a Landscape Resiliency Toolbox with strategies and resources to address a wide range of landscape stressors including climate change, in order to maintain long-term ecological, economic and social benefits.
In 2002 Minnesota became the first state in the nation to regulate phosphorus fertilizer use on lawns and turf. Phosphorus is a nutrient that can cause over-enrichment of lakes, rivers, and wetlands. Phosphorus fertilizer cannot be used on lawns and turf in Minnesota unless specific conditions exist. Leftover phosphorus lawn fertilizer must be handled properly.
Adopt an integrated approach to roadside maintenance; fill out the EPA Assessment Tool A.1 Site Development and Preservation of Natural Areas section to assess the city's codes and ordinances for their compatibility with sustainable sites and land use development. Provide a code/ordinance reference for each question in section A.1.
Amend or adopt at least one code/ordinance to expressly require or incentivize preservation or protection of drinking water source(s), pollinator habitat, steep slopes, green space and/or trees.
Certify or qualify a site under the SITES rating system; amend or adopt at least one code/ordinance that expressly requires or incentivizes flexibility to modify design and materials of streets, driveways and/or parking to protect natural resources.
Who's doing it
Belle Plaine - 3 star
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The City of Belle Plaine has adopted code which is designed to ensure that sensitive physical features such as bluff land, ravines, wetlands and natural waterways are protected.
In 1991, the city of Chanhasen passed ordinances aimed at the protection of steep slopes/bluffs, trees, and green space. The Bluff Protection ordinance prohibits any development on steep slopes and requires setbacks for all structures. The Tree Preservation ordinance requires the protection of existing tree cover on sites up for development and preserves woodlands through zoning or conservation easements. The Bluff Creek Overlay District identifies the primary corridor of Bluff Creek within the city and protects all natural areas along the creek. This ordinances has protected a greenway running the length of the city that includes woodlands, prairies and wetlands.
Coon Rapids has a zoning district called a Conservancy District that aims to protect areas with valuable environmental qualities which should be retainedin a substantially undeveloped state to conserve natural resources, preserve environmental amenities, protect ground water recharge areas, curtail pollution and siltation and alleviate flooding problems. The permitted uses in the Conservancy District include agriculture following soil conservation practices, conservation areas, open space areas, and outdoor recreational uses and facilities. Other land uses require submittal of a site plan showing that the development considers neatural features, topography, minimal clearance, and a finding that the natural retention storage capacity of any watercourse is not reduced.
Development projects can get credit for preserving existing healthy trees. They are also required to replace a certain percentage of any trees removed during the development process (UDC 50-25.6).
The Natural Resources Overlay is a zoning overlay designed to help protect water resources in the city from incompatible development. Certain types of projects are prohibited in this zone and any development has to adhere to designated setbacks from rivers, streams, and lakes (UDC 50.18.1).
The City uses a variety of methods to conserve its natural resource base and green infrastructure. City ordinances detail development in protected areas and require buffers, flood control measures, potential redesigns of subdivisions, and other measures to protect environmentally sensitive areas. In addition, City ordinances highlight wetlands management and the implementation of a wetland management plan by the developer that is consistent with the City’s wetland management plan. The City, through its environmental practices, closely monitors development along a MN DNR designated trout stream and restores degraded sections to improve the quality and diversity of aquatic habitat and reduce sediment loading. In other areas the City’s zoning ordinances identify specific development requirements for shoreland overlay districts, public and open space districts, and flood plain overlay districts. The City is also active, through the City Forester, in managing and enforcing its tree preservation ordinance to preserve all healthy trees, even those less than 6” in diameter. The City Forester provides a list of tree species to use when replacing trees under the developer’s tree preservation plan to ensure species diversity within the City and to avoid overplanting of trees susceptible to parasites and disease.
We have zoned lots 28260674, 28260675, 28260544, 28260573, 28260572, 28260557 as public recreational. This has been the zoning for several years with the hope of making a park on the land that would preserve the natural beauty for the park goes to enjoy. This land ultimately went up for auction as tax forfeited. With the partnership of the neighbors and the city we are on our way to turning this existing long range plan into an obtainable reality. The land was pulled off of the market to start negotiations between the city and the county. We are in the final stages now of presenting our proposal for a park of natural trails, leaving the trees and nature mostly untouched, to the county. In the winter this will double as a snow shoe trail making it a usable park year round. Pending the county's approval we will be on our way to having a 40 acre park filled with nature and trails for people to enjoy for years to come.
In Saint Peter, the Planning and Zoning Commission takes into consideration the requirements of the community and the best use of the land being subdivided. Particular attention have been given to the arrangements, location and widths of streets, the general stormwater drainage situation, lot sizes and arrangement, as well as Comprehensive Plan requirements such as parks, school sites, access ways, boulevards and highways, but not limited to these.
The City of Savage is home to many unique and historic resources. Details of theses features and strategies to protect them are outlined in the 2040 Comprehensive Plan Chapter 4 (Natural Resources). One to highlight is the Savage Fen Wetland Complex. The Savage Fen Wetland Complex is located in the City of Savage between the Minnesota River and the ancient River Warren bluffline and between TH 13 and Quentin Avenue. It is the largest calcareous fen in Minnesota, comprising of approximately 640 acres. This type of wetland is a rarity and contains some plant species found in few or no other locations. Its special characteristics are a product of the groundwater flowing through the upgradient aquifer and glacial till in this particular location.
Specific to City Code, Chapter 152 Sections 152.400 - 152.408 details the Environmental Overlay Districts. The purpose of this chapter is to protect environmentally sensitive areas within the City. There are currently three overlay districts:
1. Shoreland Overlay District
2. Wetland Overlay District
3. Bluffland Overlay District