Much attention has been given to what Village regulations say about growing marijuana in residential neighborhoods, but do you know what else is banned? Landscaping regulations developed many years ago also are found in Chapter 18 of the Corrales Code of Ordinances which has been the subject of intense debate over commercial cultivation here in recent years. Section 18-33 specifies what can and cannot be planted in those areas of Corrales zoned A-1 and A-2 (lots where only one home can be built on a one-acre parcel, or one home on two acres respectively). Proposed changes to Chapter 18 —to address concerns over growing marijuana— will not likely modify Village rules for landscaping in those areas.
Even so, the current laws may not dictate what you think. For example, you can be jailed up to three months or fined up to $500 for planting an elm, Russian olive or salt cedar tree. That’s not likely, of course, but that is the law. Below are verbatim paragraphs from the Code of Ordinances Section 18-33 for landscaping as approved at March 8, 2022 council meeting.
Section 18-40. Landscaping requirements. shall be amended as follows:
(a) Intent. All landscaping required by this article shall be of a type and located in a manner, which mitigates the impact of nonresidential development upon the existing residential and agricultural character of the Village.
(b) Landscaping requirements for residential development.
(1) No planting of Siberian/Chinese Elm, Russian olive, Tamarisk, or other plant species listed on the New Mexico Noxious Weed List is permitted.
(2) Xeriscaping of newly constructed dwelling units:
- Landscaped areas of newly constructed dwelling units shall be xeriscaped.
Not more than twenty percent (20%) of the landscaped area of newly constructed dwelling units shall be dedicated to cold-weather grasses such as blue grass and fescue, unless such grasses are raised for and dedicated to the purpose of consumption by animals.
- For any newly constructed dwelling unit on a lot with a total area less than two and one half acres, the requirements of Paragraph 18-40(b)(2)(a) shall apply to the entire landscaped area of the lot. For any new home constructed on a lot with a total area greater than two and one half acres, the requirements of Paragraph 18-40(b)(2)(a) shall apply to the area immediately surrounding the home, including any area disturbed during the construction thereof, but the area on which xeriscaping is required shall not in any event exceed two and one half acres.
- The xeriscaping requirements set forth in this Subsection 18-40(b)(2) do not apply to areas that have been used historically for the cultivation of crops, and that continue to be so used despite the construction of a home on a portion of the lot or lots containing such cultivated areas, nor do they apply to those undisturbed areas of any lot or parcel of land which retain their natural vegetation.
- The xeriscaping requirements set forth in this Subsection 18-40(b)(2) shall apply to any landscaping of a newly constructed dwelling unit, but shall not be construed to require such landscaping unless otherwise mandated by Village ordinance or other law.
- Landscaping found to be in violation of the xeriscaping requirements of this Subsection 18-40(b)(2) shall be modified by the property owner within six (6) months so as to conform to the xeriscaping requirements. Each failure of the property owner, after notice by the Village, to modify the landscaping within six (6) months thereafter so as to conform to the xeriscaping requirements, shall be deemed a separate violation of this section.
(c) Historic zone. Landscaping shall be compatible with a rural historic area.
(d) Landscaping requirements for nonresidential development.
(1) Landscaping minimums. Landscaping of nonresidential development, in addition to natural vegetation, provided to meet the requirements of this article shall be provided in the following minimum numbers, sizes and growth capabilities:
- Landscaped area. A minimum of ten (10) percent of the lot shall be landscaped area. Corner lots or double fronted lots shall provide a minimum of fifteen (15) percent of the lot as landscaped area.
- There shall be a minimum of one shade tree, fruit tree or ornamental tree planted for each 1,000 square feet of required landscaped area. Existing trees at least twelve (12) feet in height may be used to meet this requirement in whole or in part.
- Shade trees, fruit trees or ornamental trees shall be at least 1-ó inches in caliper measured at the trunk two (2) feet above grade, or the tree shall be at least ten (10) feet in height at the time of planting.
- To the extent feasible, existing trees of species native to the Corrales area should be retained and incorporated into the landscape plans.
- Any tree identified as a Landmark Tree or as a Nominated Tree under Chapter 14, Article V shall be shown on landscape plans.
- Siberian elm trees (Ulmus parvifolia), Russian olive (Eleagnus angustifolia) and tamarisk, or salt cedars (Tamarix ramosissima, Tamarix parviflora, Tamarix chinensis), or any other tree listed on the New Mexico Noxious Weed List shall not be used to meet any of the requirements in this section.
- Ground cover. Ground cover shall be planted to provide general ground coverage within one growing season after planting. Xeriscaping or usage of low water plants or native plants is encouraged.
- Shrubs and bushes. Shrubs and bushes shall be at least five-gallon or larger container sizes.
- Installation and maintenance.
- Landscaping of nonresidential development shall be installed according to plans approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission and shall be completed within one calendar year after issuance of a certificate of occupancy.
- Any damage to utility lines resulting from the negligence of the landowner, his their agents, or employees in the installation and maintenance of the landscaped treatment shall be the responsibility of such landowner.
- Landscaping shall have adequate maintenance. property owner as expeditiously as possible, but in no case longer than three months after notification by the Administrator.
- Buffer landscaping.
- Where a property to be developed for a nonresidential purpose abuts a residential property, special buffer landscaping is required on the non-residentially developed property to minimize noise and sight impacts of the nonresidential activities upon the residential property.
- Where the side or rear property lines of a nonresidential development are contiguous to a residential property, a fence, wall, or hedge a minimum of six feet in height and a five-foot wide area with landscaping inside the property boundary shall be provided to shield the residential property from the nonresidential development. Municipal zoned properties are exempt from the requirement for a solid fence or wall around the perimeter of the property, and for such properties the Commission in its discretion may approve alternative buffering or may require no buffering.
- The Planning and Zoning Commission as a condition of approval of a site plan may approve alternate buffers to the landscaping, if the noise and sight buffering can be accomplished at least as well with the alternate plan.
Section 18-42. Lighting. shall be amended as follows:
(1) All non-conforming fixtures installed prior to and operable on the effective date of this section shall be removed or converted to a conforming fixture when the existing non-conforming fixture is inoperable or un-repairable. The Village may require a non-conforming use to be corrected to the standards specified in this section if the Village determines that the non-conforming use is creating a nuisance glare or disabling glare as defined in Section 18-29(b).
(f) Enforcement and Penalties for Violation.
(1) It shall be unlawful to install or operate a light fixture in violation of this section. Any person violating any provisions of this section shall be guilty of a petty misdemeanor.
Each and every day during which the illegal use continues after notification shall be considered a separate offense. Continued installation of non-compliant fixtures after notification shall be determined to be an additional offense per fixture.