Layton council adopts water-saving landscaping requirements for most new development
LAYTON — Amid a historic drought year, Layton City is seemingly taking the lead in municipal water conservation.
Last week, the Layton City Council unanimously approved a set of amendments to its landscaping ordinance, implementing a host of new water-saving requirements for all new development outside of most single-family residences. City officials say the move will significantly reduce future water usage in Davis County’s most populated city.
Among other things, the amended ordinance limits the maximum percentage lawn for all new nonresidential, multi-family, or mixed-use residential projects to 15% of a particular development’s total landscape acreage. Exceptions would be allowed for outdoor recreational use and for things like cemeteries. In master planned residential developments (which can include single-family homes) lawn is limited to 35% of the total landscape area.
The changes to the ordinance also stipulate that lawn can’t be installed in areas less than eight feet wide, and won’t be allowed in landscape buffers, parking lot landscaping and other planted bed landscape areas, or on slopes with a grade over 25%. The ordinance also calls for at least 90% of the plants and trees for a project’s landscape plan to be selected from the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District’s recommended plant list, which includes vegetation that is better suited for the Northern Utah climate and requires less water.
Layton City Planner Tim Watkins said while the ordinance amendments are required for most new developments, the practices are also recommended for new single-family homes. The ordinance amendment also removed stipulation that required a minimum amount of lawn for a single-family home.
Layton council member Dawn Fitzpatrick said she likes the new ordinance, but thought the city could have gone even further, by making the new requirements a standard for all new construction, no matter what type, going forward.
“This issue in particular is very important to me,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’ve been a believer in this … for about 10 years. This just happened to be a good year for this to come forward because I think people fully understand there is an issue … (But) I think this is a really good start for us.”
Mayor Joy Petro said the city’s planning commission played a large role in developing the new ordinance.
“They spent a lot of time on this,” she said. “I know they went on field trips and really made sure they studied all the important issues we needed to consider.”
According to the National Integrated Drought Information System, nearly all of Davis County is in an “extreme drought,” the second most significant drought classification under the NIDIS monitoring system. According to the NIDIS, all of the following can be present during an extreme drought: pasture and water is inadequate for cattle, air quality is poor, dust is a problem, vegetation is stressed and fire danger increases dramatically.
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox has issued several emergency drought declarations and instituted a host of water restrictions since March. Earlier this month, Cox banned the use of fireworks on all state and unincorporated lands in Utah.
“All indicators show this could be the worst drought year on record,” Cox said in early June.