The offer of free pizza and pop didn’t lure citizens to an informational meeting on a proposed landscaping ordinance.
But the lack of attendees didn’t daunt the enthusiasm of the group proposing the ordinance.
And the show went on as planned Thursday evening at the Adams Street Community Center.
Fewer than a dozen, most of whom are volunteers with Keep Brownwood Beautiful and two city employees, Nick Ferguson and Keith Pulaski, attended the hour-long presentation. Afterward, with the discussion continuing, they dined on soft drinks and pizza.
Daniel Graham, board member and volunteer with KBB, said the proposed landscape ordinance is a seven-page document, approximately half as long as the ordinances most cities similar in size to Brownwood have for landscape ordinances. Brownwood Mayor Bert Massey has assigned the study of incorporating a landscaping ordinance to a committee including volunteers, two members of the city council, three members of the planning and zoning committee and Ferguson and Pulaski.
“Brownwood is a growing community,” Graham said. “What we’re proposing is not meant to add another layer of bureaucracy to local government, but to enhance our community and the quality of life for all of us.”
Freda Day and Steve Puckett, both KBB volunteers, gave a slide presentation on the benefits of landscaping, and having certain standards to be met by new and improving developments. The ordinance proposes that new businesses would have one tree per 30 feet of street front, and also trees and other plants in islands or strategically placed in parking lots.
“Trees enhance life in general,” Puckett said, “and reduce stress in people.”
But the advantages are numerous, he said, pointing out that landscaping increases property values, reduces runoff by as much as 7 percent, reduces noise pollution and asphalt temperature.
“We’ve found statistics that show trees and greenery even help reduce crime rates,” Puckett said.
Graham said it is true that landscaping with trees can be more expensive at the start, than say, a flat parking lot with no trees or landscaping, but with cost factors figured in later, it may prove more costly not to have landscaping. Also, he said, the aesthetics of landscaping have actually been shown to increase business for retail stores and restaurants.
The high-end costs builders and developers have quoted, Graham said, include curb and gutter work, which is the main cost.
“Our ordinance doesn’t require curb and gutters around landscape islands,” Graham said. “Parking areas can be sloped to drain into onsite vegetative filter strips. It’s entirely possible to have attractive landscaping without expensive curb and gutter.”