Commercial Landscape Companies Need to Stay a Conditional Use

Issue:  Absent stakeholder input, a county council zoning text amendment was introduced by Council President Tom Hucker that will open multiple rural zones to by right commercial landscape contractors with scant conditions.

Why this matters:  

  • Similar to concerns about siting large scale solar on farmland- the primary use of the Ag Reserve is farming. Landscape companies allowed by right in the Reserve will drive up prices for new farmers to access land in the zone set aside for Agriculture. The proposed ZTA identifies 2 acre parcels for these industrial uses - the same amount of land a new table crop producer is ideally looking for.
  • Keeping this industry type as a conditional use (as surrounding jurisdictions also do) allows a review of how an operation would fit into a specific area. Changing to a permitted use would allow these intensive uses to be sited much more broadly with few protections. Missing in under this zoning change are considerations for: Impervious surface and water quality, forest destruction, road width and condition and noise.

The Solution: Table this zoning text amendment and convene a group of stakeholders to collaborate on an appropriate means of addressing the concerns of the landscaping industry. This solution is supported by the planning staff report opposing this ZTA,  "Staff is very concerned about the negative impacts Landscape Contractors often have on neighboring residential uses, which are directly related to their operations and can only be properly mitigated through detailed analysis and regulatory conditions imposed by the Conditional Use process."

The Ask: Click "start writing" to send a letter to the County Council and Planning Board detailing your concerns.

Also let us know if you are affiliated with a civic organization that would like to sign on to group correspondence. Email us at:

Two chances to testify:
  • Planning Board on the 18th At the planning board on 11/18, county staff did a great job of laying out their reasons for opposition, testimony from our own Caroline Taylor made the case for a process that addresses the concerns of new landscape contractors looking for land  that balances neighborhood concerns about noise, dust, water quality and forests - along with farmland competition. (The video is here - but you'll have to skip through to 07:03:36)
  • The Public hearing at the Council on November 30, 2021 has been limited to only 5 speakers and is now full (we understand it will likely be opened to more people, please sign up on the waitlist here).

So the council needs to hear from the public via emails and/or calls in advance of 11/30.

Currently commercial landscape contractors are provided the opportunity to locate their businesses in multiple zones (Ag Reserve, rural, rural residential) through conditional use approval. This process is utilized to ensure that the facilities will not pose undue non-inherent effects on the surrounding community. The conditional use process recognizes that these are not a one size fits all use in these zones and without proper evaluation could undermine the master plan.

Full ZTA and summary here see the chart below for the zoning change: (the map at the top can be zoomed in on here.)

Please take two minutes to contact the County today by clicking "start writing". And Thanks!

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