Tool-Kit - Site Plan Development

What is required for transitions? – See Section A
What transitions will help gain approval of my application? – See Section B

Section A – The Required Transition Tool-Kit

  1. (1) Bufferyards (160.488) – An open space and landscaped areas including fences, walls, berms, or any combination thereof used to physically separate or screen one use or property from another so as to visually shield or block noise, lights, or other items that are incompatible.

When do I need to add a bufferyard to my project?  Bufferyards are required when two adjacent forms are not compatible.  For example, a new office building adjacent to an existing residence will require a bufferyard.  There are four different levels of bufferyards.  See below.

Level A – 10 foot setback with a 2-foot berm or a 4-foot fence – including 20 units of landscaping for each 100 lineal feet.

Level A

Level B – 15 feet total setback with a 2-foot berm or 4-foot fence and 30 units of landscaping for each 100 lineal feet.

Level BLevel B

Level C – 30-foot setback with a 4-foot berm or 6-foot fence required and 40-units of landscaping for each 100 lineal feet.

Level CLevel C

Level D – 45-foot total setback with a 6-foot berm and 50 units of landscaping for each 100 lineal feet.

Level DLevel D


What are Plant Units? 

The landscaping that is required within each of the buffer yards is based on a plant unit basis. Existing trees above ten-inch caliper may count towards double the plant units if the existing tree can be used as part of the buffer yard. Below is the criteria for various plants and their plant units.

Size Plant Units
6' min height
Upright Evergreen
4' min height
18" to 24" spread
1 gallon


What determines the size of my bufferyard? 

Buffer yards are determined by the level of compatibility of each form. Buffer yards are listed in the chart below. The developing form is responsible for constructing and maintaining the buffer yard area.

Types of Bufferyards

Go to the Zoning Interface to check all applicable bufferyards for each form.  

To see the complete bufferyard zoning regulations go to – 160.488.  We encourage you to work through your questions with the Zoning Enforcement Team – call 367-8254.

A. Interior parking space tree requirements. (160.488 (3))

         A.   When unenclosed interior parking spaces are provided on the site, one tree shall be required for every 18 interior parking spaces after a minimum of 36 interior parking spaces are provided. Every interior tree shall be located in a planting island entirely within the hard-surfaced area utilized for parking and maneuvering purposes. The islands shall have dimensions of at least five feet wide and contain a minimum of 36 square feet per tree. Planting islands shall utilize raised curbs or wheelstops necessary to prevent damage from vehicles. Interior trees shall be allowed to be grouped into a larger island. Each tree, if grouped, shall have a minimum of 36 square feet per tree.

Interior parking space tree requirements.
         B.   Exception: On sites with limited capacity due to existing conditions or redevelopment restrictions, alternatives to placement standards are allowed through the provisions of § 160.599 (Landscape and Buffer Yard Alternative Plans).

B. Parking Lot landscaped islands – 160.485

Parking lots providing over 200 stalls should be divided into smaller parking fields not exceeding 100 stalls to reduce the visual impact of large parking expanses. Divisions should be made with landscape strips, peninsulas, or grade changes. (See illustration below for example.)
Parking Lot landscaped islands

C. Lighting within 150 feet of residential -  (160.491)

applies to all MD, NF, BCF, UT, RE, and WM forms within 150 feet of all DD and AD forms.

The height of all outdoor lighting fixtures when located within 150 feet of residentially used or zoned property shall not exceed 28 feet above the grade immediately below the lighting fixture. The height of all outdoor lighting fixtures located more than 150 feet off all DD and AD forms shall not exceed 38 feet above the grade immediately below the lighting fixture.

Light trespass.  The maximum light level shall be no greater than three foot candles 

Lighting within 150 feet of residential

D. Landscaping requirements 160.485  

At least 90% of the required front yard setback in any zoning district shall be landscaped and maintained with living ground cover. The required setback may include necessary hard surfacing of driveways to reach allowable parking, loading or stacking areas. Poured or laid asphalt, concrete or similar hard surfacing shall not be used as allowable landscape material. Landscape rock, stone, or pebbles shall not be allowed for placement within the right-of-way. Front yard setback landscape areas must be capable of providing a substantially full expanse of foliage within three years after planting.

Before  After
Before and after picture at 8th and Minnesota

(b)   Trees. Valuing the benefits provided from the use of trees in reducing heat, pollution and the loss of habitat resulting from the use of expansive areas of hard surfacing for parking purposes, the following standards regarding trees shall be met and maintained for all forms except for DD and AD types.

      (1)   Total number of trees required.

         A.   Trees shall be required at the rate of one tree per 50 feet of frontage located within the required front yard or one tree per six parking, loading and stacking spaces provided on the site, whichever is greater. Where fractional trees result, the number of required trees shall be rounded to the nearest whole number. Trees shall be allowed to be grouped into clusters. Each tree, if grouped, shall be spaced at least 8 feet apart for coniferous and 15 feet for deciduous and ornamental trees. If a buffer yard is also required (see § 160.488) within a front yard and trees are provided as the required buffer yard landscaping units, the required number of trees required by this section may be eliminated but for only the frontage that shares the buffer yard.

         B.   Exception: If parking facilities or building can utilize zero setbacks, one tree per 50 feet of frontage shall be provided within the right-of-way subject to approval by the city engineer.

      (2)   Placement according to size, type, and percentage allowed.

         A.   Deciduous shade tree. May be utilized for 100% of the total tree requirement. Only deciduous shade trees may be utilized for required interior trees or optional right-of-way planting, and no more than 20% of the total tree requirement may be planted in the right-of-way area. Street trees planted in the right-of-way boulevard may count towards the deciduous shade tree requirement. Deciduous shade trees must be a minimum caliper of 2 inches.

         B.   Deciduous ornamental and evergreen or coniferous trees. Up to 25% of the required trees may be deciduous ornamental, evergreen, or coniferous trees; however, they shall not be planted in a driveway or intersection safety zone nor utilized for parking lot interior trees or right-of-way plantings. Deciduous ornamental trees must be a minimum caliper of 1.5 inches. Evergreen or coniferous trees must be a minimum of 6 feet in height.

         C.   Required species mix. The City of Sioux Falls encourages a diverse and vibrant urban forest. In order to avoid overplanting of one specific type of species minimum requirements have been established for the number of species based upon the total number of trees required on a site.

Required Number of Trees Minimum Number of Species
<4 1
5-10 2

E. Screening of dumpsters and outdoor storage. 160.485 (c)

All outside garbage or recycling dumpsters or any outdoor storage which requires screening on the site shall be screened from view of the street right-of-way by an opaque durable fence or wall with a minimum height of 6 feet in height. 
Screening of dumpsters and outdoor storage.

F. Screening of Drive-thru service windows.  160.485 (d)

Screening of drive-through windows. All drive-through windows should be oriented away from DD and AD forms when possible and should be screened by a fence or wall.  
Screening of Drive-thru service windows

G. Offices adjacent or across the street from DD forms (single-family residential)

Are required to have pitched roof

Office building with pitched roof at 26th and Minnesota

Is required to have Parking behind the office building when the front yard is across the street from residential.

Office adjacent to homes near 69th and Western

Section B: What in the tool-kit could help make a better project, but not required by ordinance

  • Develop safe and clear pedestrian ways that connect principal buildings together with minimum interruption by driveways and other vehicular conflicts.  
  • Include pedestrian ways that are furnished as site amenities including lighting, street furniture, graphics, and other features that improve the pedestrian experience. 

Create at least one active and strategically located open space into the design of major commercial and office and mixed-use development projects 

  • Open space such as a plaza, special planting area, water feature, or other thematic element at a key public location such as the primary project entrance or a highly visible intersection adjacent to the project.  Using the site amenity for a functional purpose such as stormwater management is encouraged.


Site amenities in mixed use projects.   Top left: A fountain plaza at Englewood City Center. Top right: Pond and walkway at One Pacific Place in Omaha, NE.Bottom left: Re-creation of a Dutch urban canal at the Molengracht, Pella, Iowa.

  • The space should accommodate community gatherings appropriate to the nature of the project.  The space may be defined by such features as decorative lighting, distinctive paving patterns, landscaping, seating areas, shade, public art, and fountains, ponds, or other water elements. 

Green Buildings

  • Develop and promote environmentally sustainable building practices including : 
    • Green Roofs 
    • Parking lots with open drainage areas including snow removal areas.
    • LEED building certification or compliance with other conservation or efficiency standards. 

Green Building

Minimize the visual impact of parking facilities from public streets.  

Minimize the visual impact

  • Means of access to residential areas
  • High quality exterior building materials such as brick, native, or manufactured stone.

  • Encourage large parking areas to utilize drainage swales, water features, or other design techniques to manage storm run-off.  Limits should be placed on the amount of pavement that may be provided without being broken by a landscape feature. 
  • Allow the use of permeable paving surfaces especially in parking areas that receive relatively infrequent use.

Bioswales.   These landscape elements slow the speed and reduce the quantity of runoff from parking lots.Rright: Joslyn Art Museum parking lot, Omaha; Left:  Commercial parking lot with permeable pavers.

Other Considerations

  • Building scale should reflect the surrounding neighborhood context and placing buildings or building elements with greater mass and height away from lower-density development or adjacent streets.

Building Scale

  • Planned Unit Development options – flexibility – mixed-use – pedestrian connections
  • Alternative Parking Plans – shared parking – reduced parking with parking study
  • Alternative Landscape Plans
  • Alternative Signage Plans?? Only for C-4 and PUDs
  • Pedestrian-Orientation – from Shape Corridor – Streetcar corridor policies?
Pedestrians 1  Pedestrians