What types of developments are required to install landscaping?
Parkway tree planting is required for:
Vehicular use area screening is required for:
Internal landscaping for vehicular use areas is required for:
What kinds and amounts of landscaping are required?
Parkway Trees: The ordinance requires the planting of one shade tree, at least two inches in caliper, for every 25 feet of frontage.
Vehicular Use Area Screening: Parking lots must have a two- to four-foot high hedge within a five-foot landscaped setback. The required setback is 15 to 20 feet if the lot is located in a residential district. Screening along side or rear lot lines by a wall, fence or hedge between five and seven feet.
Vehicular Use Area Internal Planting: Shade trees at least two inches in caliper must be planted in landscape islands of at least 165 square feet The total landscape area must equal five percent of the vehicular use area. One tree must be planted for every 250 square feet of interior landscaped area.
Is a special permit necessary for the installation of required landscaping?
No separate landscape permit is required. Landscaping permits are part of the normal processing of building and zoning permit applications.
If you are required to apply for building or zoning permits, you may be required to submit landscaping plans. Determine whether the project is subject to the requirements of these guidelines; determine the exact requirements; prepare a landscape plan; and then submit the plan to the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) as part of the building permit application.
DZP staff will review and approve or disapprove the landscape plan. If it is not approved, specific recommendations to bring the landscape plan into conformance with these guidelines will be noted on a correction sheet.
What information must be submitted?
How long does it take to get a permit?
A simple landscape plan will require no more time than is required for normal processing of building and zoning applications. In some cases, conditional approval of zoning permits are granted pending the Bureau of Forestry’s review of proposed parkway trees. The Bureau of Forestry processes parkway tree plans within seven working days.
What types of trees are acceptable?
High quality, nursery-grown trees must be planted because of potential damage by pollutants such as salt and carbon monoxide common to city streets. To prevent the planting of trees that become hazards or serious maintenance problems, consult the recommended species list on page 41 of the ordinance.
What development projects are exempt from landscaping requirements?
Can landscaping requirements be waived?
The screening or landscape requirements may be waived or modified provided that the Zoning Administrator finds that (1) the strict application of the requirements would deprive the applicant of reasonable use of the land or would otherwise impose an unreasonable hardship, and (2) the conditions and circumstances upon which the waiver or modification is sought are not caused by the applicant. Furthermore, the Zoning Administrator may permit an architectural or urban design solution to the screening of parking areas provided the alternative meets the requirements of Subsection 11.7A-3 (10) of the Chicago Zoning Ordinance.
Who is responsible for the maintenance of required landscaping?
All required landscaping must be maintained by the property owner in good condition.
Any damaged or dead trees, shrubs or ground cover must be promptly replaced. Maintenance of landscaped areas includes weeding, mowing, trimming, pruning, edging, cultivation, seeding, fertilizing, watering, pest control and anything else necessary to ensure healthy, vigorous plant growth.
The landscaping code requires property owners to maintain parkway trees for a minimum period of five years following their initial planting. After five years, the Bureau of Forestry will assume responsibility for maintenance. Landscaping planted on private property must be maintained during all times the property remains in use.
How will landscaping requirements be enforced?
Personnel from the Bureau of Forestry and the Department of Planning and Development will inspect project sites to ensure that the required landscaping has been installed. A Certificate of Occupancy will not be issued until inspectors have visited the site and determined that the required landscaping has been installed. Surface parking lots and other vehicular use areas require a Certificate of Occupancy.
If weather prevents the installation of required landscaping, the Zoning Administrator may accept a performance bond to insure that within a reasonable time period (up to six months) the required landscaping will be installed. Following the installation of required landscaping and inspection by City personnel, the performance bond will be released.
NOTE: This summary has been published only as an introductory guide to requirements of Chicago’s Landscape Ordinance. For any specific project, the actual language of the ordinance should be consulted.
For more information contact:
City of Chicago
Department of Planning and Development
121 N. LaSalle St., Room 905
Chicago, IL 60602