Orange council may permit ‘naturalized landscaping’ in village

ORANGE, Ohio — Village Council is considering an amendment to an existing ordinance that would permit “naturalized landscaping” in the village.

The legislation was introduced to council Wednesday (Sept. 6). Council did not vote on it, as it typically votes on ordinances on third reading.

In the proposed ordinance, “naturalized landscaping” is defined as a designed combination of plants, shrubs and trees that are intended to grow with minimal maintenance. The design would need to be approved by the village’s Architectural Board of Review (ABR).

The legislation would amend sections of the village’s codified ordinances that pertain to trimming of trees, shrubs and weeds and exterior areas of properties. It would also enact a new section to permit “naturalized landscaping.”

“This came about as a result of some conditions that we’ve observed in the village, a number of homes that allowed their landscaping to become overgrown,” said Councilman Judson Kline, who serves as council’s representative to the Planning Commission and ABR.

“We needed to find a way in which the building department would be able to monitor and manage these conditions.”

Kline said the village’s building department would be tasked with enforcing the new ordinance.

“In certain cases, individuals have made the assumption that they’re trying to create a natural landscaping, which is just allowing the plants and trees to grow how they’re growing and not maintain them in any way,” he said.

“Therefore, we needed to have a mechanism by which the building department can direct people who want to do this to be able to do it. So if they want to create natural landscaping, we created a mechanism by which they could go about getting approval for such.

“Along with that, we produced a set of guidelines to enable people who are interested in pursuing this to understand what’s required.”

According to the proposed ordinance, exterior areas of all premises must be kept free of any objects, materials or conditions that may create a health, accident or fire hazard or adversely affect the value of surrounding properties, including landscaping that displays these conditions:

• Designed pathways within the landscape that are blocked by overgrown foliage

• Dead plantings

• Standing water

• Pruned or trimmed branches or other landscaping debris on the ground

• Foliage that blocks the sight lines of vehicles or pedestrians on public or private roads or driveways.

The ordinance further states that “naturalized landscaping can be environmentally beneficial, without giving the appearance of being merely a yard that is unkempt.”

“We have a couple of properties that we have been dealing with over the last couple years that have failed to maintain their landscaping in terms of cutting the grass or trimming the trees that are hanging over the public sidewalk,” said Bob McLaughlin, the village’s chief building official.

“We were really limited in how we could address that. So this at least gives us an opportunity to require someone” to maintain their landscaping in compliance with specified conditions.

“Say someone says they want to trim their front yard into a wildflower patch,” he said. “Our code didn’t have any kind of a process by which I could accept what was reasonable.

“This now says if you want to do something like that, you can go to the Architectural Board of Review specifically with a proposed plan and let the ABR make the assessment of what would happen.”

McLaughlin added, “This is not something that we’re going to have the service department address as a violation issue that we would end up in court over.

“Grass and trees that are dangerous and go up to the right of way are the only things that our code allows us to take direct action on, and that’s not changing,” he said.

“This is just a new process for someone who wants to do something unusual (related to landscaping).”

Purchase of cot approved

In other action, council approved the purchase of a Power PRO-2 powered ambulance cot for the village’s fire department from Stryker Medical of Kalamazoo, Mich., at a cost not to exceed $32,000.

Mayor Kathy U. Mulcahy explained that the village received a grant that covers $24,000 of the cost and already has purchased and received the cot.

“But we never asked (council) if we could spend up to $32,000,” she said, noting that the administration needs council’s permission to spend more than $15,000. “So please forgive us.”

The total cost of the cot was $31,662, so the net cost to the village was $7,662, Mulcahy said.

Moderator named for Candidates Night

Also on Wednesday, Mulcahy said Barbara Greenberg, who serves as a magistrate for Bedford Municipal Court, will be the moderator for the village’s Candidates Night at 7 p.m. Oct. 10 at Village Hall.

The event will provide an opportunity for residents to meet the candidates for mayor and council in the Nov. 7 election.

In addition, Scott Bilsky, president of the Orange Board of Education, will provide information about the Orange School District’s 1.5-mill permanent improvement levy on the Nov. 7 ballot.

The village is requesting questions from the audience in advance of the forum, Mulcahy said. All questions must be received by 1 p.m. Oct. 9.

To submit a question, go to the village website,; email them to Anna Girardi at; or mail or drop them off to Girardi’s attention at Village Hall, 4600 Lander Road, Orange Village, OH 44022.

Hydrant flushing under way

Mulcahy also indicated that the Orange Village Fire Department is doing hydrant flushing to make sure the village’s fire hydrants are working properly.

Fire Chief Bob Wilson said the flushing began Tuesday (Sept. 5) and will continue for two weeks. It will be done during the daytime only.

Residents may notice brown-tinted water coming from their faucets during the hydrant flushing, but this is not a health or safety risk, according to the village website.

For more information, visit

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