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These guidelines apply to commercial and office development within the HC Overlay District.

  1. Site Design Guidelines:
    1. Relationship to Landforms
      1. Buildings shall maintain a minimum buffer of 30 feet from the edge of any Special Flood Hazard Area on the most current Flood Insurance Rate Maps or from the edge of any wetlands identified by the National Wetlands Inventory or a site-specific inventory of wetlands.
      2. Site design shall minimize cut-and-fill and, to the maximum degree possible, follow the natural topography of the site.
      3. Developments shall preserve natural and scenic areas, streams and natural drainage ways, floodplains, prairies, and wetlands. Developments shall, to the maximum degree possible, preserve individual trees or stands of trees. Developments that remove trees shall replace them according to the following schedule. All replacement trees must follow the Nebraska State Arboretum's list of recommended species and shall have a caliper of at least 2 inches.

        Tree Replacement Schedule:

        Caliper measurement of removed tree: 

        Required number of replacement trees for each removed tree: 

        3 inches or less 

        1 tree 

        3.1 to 6 inches 

        2 trees

        6.1 to 9 inches 

        3 trees

        Over 9 inches 

        4 trees

    2. Building Location and Orientation
      1. Facades with principal entrances shall be oriented to the project's primary street or to an active pedestrian or public zone within the site. For multi-tenant buildings, at least 50% of the entrances shall be oriented to the primary street or pedestrian or public zone. Facades with principal customer entrances may be turned perpendicular to the primary street if they provide a direct pedestrian connection from a public sidewalk to the major customer entrance without interruption by vehicular traffic. When the development has two primary streets, the site plan shall determine orientation.
      2. Developments should maximize the amount of parking located in the side or rear of buildings and should locate buildings near their primary fronting streets. Parking exposure to the principal highway corridors shall be minimized.
      3. Developments at intersections shall identify or emphasize their corners with significant landscaping or similar public feature.
      4. A clearly delineated pathway or route shall connect all principal building or business entrances to any sidewalks or trails on streets adjacent to the project.
    3. Pedestrian Access
      1. Developments shall provide a continuous walkway connection at least 5 feet in width from the public sidewalk or right-of-way to the customer entrances of all principal buildings on the site. Developments adjacent to multi-use trails shall provide a direct connection from the trail to the development's internal pedestrian circulation system. For trails that are proposed in the county's comprehensive plan, trail master plan, or other adopted county document but are not yet constructed, the development plan shall make provisions for a connection to the trail and shall be responsible for constructing the connection when the trail becomes available.
      2. Multi-building developments shall provide clear and safe walkways at least 5 feet in width that connect all buildings on the site. Buildings not intended for routine customer access or intended solely for drive-up services are excluded from this requirement.
      3. Where the required walkways specified in this section cross drives, parking aisles, or other vehicular ways, the crosswalks shall be distinguished from driving surfaces by the use of durable, low-maintenance surface materials such as concrete or brick pavers; or scored, colored concrete. Painted concrete is not acceptable in this application.
      4. In parking lots with over 200 stalls, the required walkways specified in this section shall be located in landscaped medians or corridors that include trees and groundcovers for at least 50% of their combined length.
      5. Sidewalks no less than 8 feet in width and separated by curbs from adjacent vehicular circulation ways shall be provided along the full length of the building along any facade that either includes a customer entrance or adjoins a customer parking area.
      6. Pedestrian connections to adjacent developments shall be provided. If adjacent properties are undeveloped, the development plan shall indicate how future connections will be provided.
    4. Vehicular Access
      1. Development plans shall minimize the number of access points to the highway corridors. Access from arterial streets shall be controlled by the Douglas County Engineer and the Nebraska Department Roads, as applicable. Developments shall make maximum use of internal cross-easements and shared access points when possible. Cross accesses between adjacent properties shall use traffic calming techniques to reduce speeds.
      2. Main driveways and drive aisles shall provide a continuous system that connects to the main site entrance.
      3. Commercial developments are encouraged to provide means of access to residential areas that avoid requiring residents to use arterial streets for short-distance trips. Such connections must be designed to avoid channeling commercial traffic onto residential streets outside of comprehensively planned, mixed-use projects.
      4. When possible, shared service and delivery access should be provided between adjacent parcels and buildings.
    5. Parking
      1. Parking shall be grouped into parking blocks that are defined by pedestrian paths, landscaping, and buildings.
      2. A maximum of 400 parking stalls may be located in any one parking block.
    6. Signs
      1. Attached signs shall be designed as an integral part of the building elevation and integrated into the overall design of the building. Attached signs shall be located above the building entrance, storefront opening, or at other locations that are consistent with and emphasize the architectural features of a building.
      2. All new commercial or office development shall use monument or ground signs no more than 8 feet in height.
      3. A landscaped base area shall be provided for monument or ground signs appropriate to the mass and height of the sign. As a guideline, a base area of 1.5 square feet shall be provided for each square foot of sign area. The landscaped area may include trees, shrubs, flowering perennials, ornamental tall grass, fountains, water features, decorative stonework, planters, sculpture, and decorative paving. Loose stone or mulch are not credited for satisfying this requirement. Irrigated turf grass is not allowed. Native and sustainable plant materials are encouraged if plant materials are proposed.
      4. Other sign regulations and requirements are set forth in Section 11.
    7. Screening
      1. Developments shall provide year-round screening of loading docks, truck parking, outdoor storage, utility meters, HVAC equipment, trash collection and processing, and other service functions. Screening shall be provided for 75% of the vertical plane of these features, up to a height of eight feet. Trash enclosure gates shall furnish a steel frame with decorative steel or wood covering, or another design acceptable to the Zoning Coordinator. Chain-link fencing with inlaid wood or metal slats shall not be considered acceptable. Screening shall be integrated into the overall design of buildings and landscaping and fully contain the visual impact of these service functions from adjacent public streets and neighboring properties.
      2. Architectural elements, materials, colors, and design of screening walls, coverings, and fences shall be consistent with the predominant materials, colors, and elements of the primary building.
    8. Lighting
      1. All lighting used to illuminate an off-street parking area, sign or other structure shall be arranged so as to deflect light away from any adjoining property and from public streets through fixture type and location (i.e., there shall be no light trespass). When lighting is mounted to the underside of canopies, these lights shall be recessed so that the visible light source is no lower than the plane of the underside of the canopy.
      2. The maximum height of lighting standards shall be 35 feet unless the County grants a specific exception as part of the application approval process.
      3. Exterior lighting of buildings shall be limited to low-level incandescent spotlights, floodlights, and similar illuminating devices hooded in such a manner that the direct beam of any light sources will not glare upon adjacent property or public streets. The County may approve exceptions to these requirements for sports and athletic field lighting, flagpole lighting, public street lighting, temporary lighting for seasonal/holiday or special events, and lighting used for public safety.
  2. Architectural Guidelines
    1. Mass and Scale for Buildings over 40,000 Square Feet
      1. Breaks shall be incorporated into the mass if the building at significant entrances or along walls that front plazas or other significant pedestrian features. Methods of breaks may include towers, pediments, or facade articulations or variations; changes in the horizontal plane; or enhancements in color and materials, consistent with the overall design of the building.
      2. Primary building facades shall meet one of the following guidelines:
        1. Facades greater than 100 feet shall incorporate projections or recesses in the wall plane with a depth of at least 3% of the length of the facade and extend for at least 20% of the length of the facade. Maximum uninterrupted length of the wall shall be 100 feet.
        2. Facades shall display a repeating pattern of at least three cycles of color change, texture change, material change, or expression of structural bays with an offset of at least 12 inches from the ruling plane of the facade.
        3. The Zoning Coordinator may waive these guidelines if, in his/her opinion, the applicant demonstrates an alternative building design that provides visual interest and scale to the building.
    2. Mass and Scale for Buildings over Two Stories - Building mass and architectural elements shall differentiate between the first floor of the building and upper levels of the facade.
    3. Architectural Elements
      1. Front facades facing a primary street shall have visible, clearly defined customer entrances that include at least three of the following elements: canopies or porticos, overhangs, recesses or projections, arcades, raised cornice parapets over the entrance door, distinctive roof forms, arches, outdoor patios or plazas, display windows, or integral planters.
      2. At least 20% of the surface area of front commercial facades up to a height of 16 feet shall be transparent.
      3. Front facades shall utilize variations in color, horizontal planes, materials, patterns, height, and other techniques to provide visual interest and scale to buildings.
      4. All rear and side building facades oriented to arterials or collectors shall be subject to all requirements for front facade design with the exception of providing customer entrances.
      5. Other rear and side facades may use a simplified expression of the materials and design used on other building elevations.
    4. Building Materials
      1. Permitted exterior building materials shall be high quality, durable materials that include, but are not limited to, brick; native or manufactured stone (Renaissance stone or similar masonry materials); integrally colored, burnished, textured, or glazed concrete masonry units; pre-finished architectural metal  panel systems; quality metals such as copper; high quality prestressed concrete systems; and drainable (water managed) EIFS.
      2. The following exterior materials are prohibited: split shakes, rough-sawn wood; painted concrete block; tilt-up concrete panels without an architectural finish; field-painted or pre-finished standard corrugated metal siding; standard single- or double-tee concrete systems; or barrier type EIFS.
      3. Materials on all sides of the building shall be consistent with materials on the front facade.
      4. These guidelines are not intended to inhibit creativity and innovation in building design. The Zoning Coordinator may permit the use of other materials if the applicant demonstrates that the use of such materials will result in a building that gives a sense of quality and permanence.
    5. Roof Forms
      1. Buildings with flat or slightly sloped roofs to drain shall incorporate parapets on all facades that face a public street or residential district. Variations in parapet height and articulation of cornice lines may be used to add interest.
      2. Roof forms shall be designed to express various building functions and features, such as entrances.
      3. Visible roof materials shall include clay or concrete tile, tern metal, architectural grade asphalt shingles, architectural metals, copper, natural or synthetic slate, or similar durable materials.
      4. A mansard or false roofs shall be prohibited.
      5. Green roofs, as a stormwater BMP and consistent with industry standards, are encouraged to be utilized in combination with other stormwater BMPs.



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