Hillsides and steep slopes pose unique conditions which can both benefit and cause problems for a community.
A hillside or slope is considered steep if its gradient is 12% or greater. Hillsides offer important view corridors and access to significant and scenic landscapes. Hillside preservation is an important component to a healthy environment and maintaining property values. Hillsides often will have unique ecosystems with plants that are specific to that gradient of land, or have remained relatively untouched because of impediments to development.
Importance and Value
- Steep hillsides are prone to soil erosion if disturbed, which can damage waterways
- Disturbed steeps slopes can greatly affect stormwater runoff and lead to significant flooding issues.
- Hillside slippage can cause property damage or a reduction in property values due to loss of land.
Recommendations for Communities and Land Owners
In order to protect both the physical integrity of a slope as well as a beautiful view from a vista, communities can adopt hillside regulations which address a number of issues related to new construction, including:
- Restrict building on ridge lines
- Establish limits on new or renovated building size, shape, orientation and aesthetic look in order to protect views and vistas.
- Encourage innovative planning, design, and construction techniques for development in the vicinity of hillsides.
- Restrict mass grading of slopes or require “contour or landform grading”
- Limit vegetation removal
- Create required buffers for steep slopes that limit disturbance
- Expand required stream buffers in areas that steep slopes exist within designated stream setbacks.