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To protect and enhance rural character, landscaping for rural cluster subdivision development under chapter 30.41C SCC shall provide screening to minimize the visibility of rural cluster subdivisions from adjoining roadways and from adjacent residential property. While 100 percent screening is not necessary, the view of new development should be softened and minimized to the greatest extent possible.

(1) Retention of 50 percent of the overall tree canopy on the pre-development site is recommended to minimize change to the visual character of the site.

(2) Visual screening shall be provided through retention of native vegetation, new landscape planting, or a combination of the two, in the following locations:

(a) In the required setback buffer from the road rights-of-way;

(b) In the perimeter buffer of the site where it abuts adjacent residential property; and

(c) In the open space buffers between clusters.

(3) When retention of existing vegetation is not adequate to screen development from road rights-of-way or from adjacent residential property, landscape installation shall be required for additional visual screening. Landscape installation shall be in clustered plantings pursuant to SCC 30.25.033(4) that are each approximately 40 feet long, aligned parallel to the development boundary lines and extending the length of the property line, and 25 feet in depth measured perpendicular to the development property line. Planting clusters shall be alternated in parallel rows as illustrated in Figure 30.25.033(3), to achieve an informal appearance.

(4) Placement requirements may be redistributed or reduced by 20 percent when the landscape plan defines the local variations in topography, views, and character-defining elements, both natural and manmade, and accordingly sites a variety of landscape groupings to provide visual buffers at strategic points to diminish the visual impact of the housing clusters on the public traveling along adjoining roads and on houses located on adjacent properties. The modified planting plan also shall preserve landscape features and viewsheds for the visual benefit of the public and adjacent properties whenever possible.

(5) Rural cluster subdivision landscaping shall meet the following standards:

(a) Plant combinations of trees and shrubs located in planted clusters that:

(i) Preserve existing vegetation wherever feasible;

(ii) Use native plants for new planting installations or a mix of native plants and 20 to 30 percent non-native plants if they are naturalized vegetation typical of established rural uses, such as orchards, hedgerows or windbreaks; and

(iii) Incorporate both evergreen and deciduous species of trees and shrubs that are in varying degrees of maturity at planting and can establish a natural succession of growth.

(b) For standard landscape groupings:

(i) Trees and shrubs must be two-thirds evergreen species;

(ii) Each plant grouping shall contain trees planted approximately 15' on center in a triangular or offset pattern;

(iii) Evergreen and deciduous shrubs shall be located at no greater than 8 feet on center;

(iv) Evergreen trees shall have a minimum height of 8 feet at the time of planting; and

(v) Deciduous trees shall have a minimum 1 ½ -inch caliper (DBH) for balled stock at the time of planting.

(c) The director shall provide and maintain a list of trees and shrubs that are native species or naturalized vegetation typical of established rural uses, such as orchards, hedgerows or windbreaks for landscaping in the rural districts.

(d) Preference shall be given to Snohomish County-grown tree and vegetation stock, to help promote a viable agricultural industry and opportunity in the county.

(6) Existing trees shall be retained in the setback, perimeter and cluster separation buffers where wind-throw loss can be minimized, as determined by a qualified landscape designer. When enhancement is necessary using the provisions of subsections (2), (3), (4) and (5) of this section to prevent significant wind-throw loss or to support a remnant forest environment, the extent of the enhancement shall be determined by a qualified landscape designer using the screening provisions of this section. The tree retention requirements of this provision do not apply to any forest practice occurring on forest land as those terms are defined by RCW 76.09.020 of the Forest Practices Act, chapter 76.09 RCW.

(7) Non-native vegetation that has become part of the rural landscape and character such as orchards, hedgerows and windbreaks shall be retained.

(8) Landscaping of stormwater detention facilities is required in accordance with SCC 30.25.023.

(9) A performance or maintenance security may be required by the department in accordance with SCC 30.84.150 and a plan review and inspection fee in accordance with SCC 30.86.145 shall be provided to the county for landscaping. (Added by Amended Ord. 08-087, Feb. 4, 2009, Eff date Apr. 5, 2009; Amended by Amended Ord. 10-086, Oct. 20, 2010, Eff date Nov. 4, 2010).