Strategies for a Resilient Community
Low Impact Development (LID) Ordinance
Low Impact Development (LID) is a term to describe a land planning and engineering design approach to managing stormwater runoff as part of green infrastructure. LID emphasizes conservation and use of on-site natural features to protect water quality. This approach implements engineered small-scale hydrologic controls to replicate the pre-development hydrologic regime of the watershed through infiltrating, filtering, storing, evaporating, and detaining runoff close to its source. ’Green infrastructure’ investments are one approach that often yields multiple benefits and builds city resilience. Fortunately, Low Impact Development is often cost neutral or more affordable than “conventional” solutions.
Increase Stream Setback Requirement
A Stream Setback ordinance is a regulation that creates a “buffer zone” between a river, creek, or stream and adjoining land uses, by specifying where construction of buildings and other infrastructure is or is not permitted. They are intended to protect the many functions (hydrologic, biological, ecological, aesthetic, recreational, and educational) that riparian areas provide for free to communities. They help preserve stream banks and natural vegetation while providing financial benefits to a community.
In areas where public access is desirable, no build setbacks may include walking paths outside of the floodway. Developments could also include the setback as part of their open space requirements and parkland, reducing the financial burden associated with preserving these features.
(Boerne’s provides a good example and will be added when the UDC is formally adopted)
Dark Sky Ordinance
Skyglow is the illumination of the night sky or parts of it, resembling an orange “smog“. It occurs from both natural and human-made sources. Artificial skyglow is caused by light that is either emitted directly upward or reflected from the ground that is then scattered by dust and gas molecules in the atmosphere, producing a luminous background or light dome. These artificial skyglows cause the sky to be 5–10 times brighter in urban areas than a naturally dark sky that is unaffected by artificial light.
Strengthen Tree Ordinance
A city without a good tree ordinance is at risk of becoming a rather bleak and hot environment. Beyond providing beauty, texture, and color, trees mitigate the “heat island” effect created when pavement heats up during the day and radiates into the surrounding environment at night. This can result in a 10-degree temperature change, which often results in higher electricity bills as air-conditioners must work harder for longer or be sized larger to compensate for the additional heat.
Many tree ordinances lack adequate protection for the trees that they seek to preserve, like “Root Protection Zones,” which keep the tree’s root systems from being choked by pavement. This often results in trees surviving construction and for many years while being slowly choked to death.
Tree ordinances must also protect trees during the construction process to prevent damage to the trees and compaction of the root protection zone.
(Boerne’s New UDC will provide example when adopted.)
More Public Natural Areas
In addition to natural areas, recreational parks, including those with playing fields, can contain designated “No Mow” zones that provide wildlife habitat to butterflies and other pollinators, while simultaneously attracting songbirds.
To make the best use of the region’s existing natural resources, cities need parkland and natural areas strategy that connects these amenities to neighborhoods, which can significantly increase a city’s quality of life.