The city of Dothan has been rapidly growing with new commercial buildings for retail space. Most of the land that has been cleared is green space, but city officials have been working to make sure that construction doesn't wipe out too much of the environment.
When driving through the Dothan Pavilion parking lot, you may notice medians filled with trees and bushes.
Those islands are more than just decorations, they are the little pieces of greenery left over from before the parking lot was built.
Todd Taggart, with the Houston County Forestry Commission said, "I think Dothan is becoming more strict on their ordinances, but you know, I would like to see them put back as much or more than what they took away."
The Houston County Forestry Commission watches the environment closely.
In order to build the massive shopping center, Thomas Enterprise had to follow the city's landscaping ordinance.
Dothan Planning & Development Director Todd McDonald said, "It’s based on a point system; you get points for existing vegetation. If you remove the existing vegetation, it comes off your points total."
The original plans asked for 3500 parking spaces, which was lowered to just over 2600 to reduce the amount of asphalt that covers green space.
McDonald said, "You keep the trees, you increase shade that’s available; that lowers energy costs. It’s the act of the tree itself absorbing carbon dioxide, and pollutants in the atmosphere and giving them off."
Architects involved in commercial planning are required to come up with environmentally friendly plans that also meet the needs of retailers.
Landscape Architect Michael Canaday said, "We plan for the future; stuff that’s going to replace those trees, [but] still make the environment there; not all of a sudden, the trees are gone."
One requirement includes keeping stores Cleary visible, but retailers still need to meet the city regulations on environmental standards.
It’s one way for the city to pave parking lots, while keeping a piece of paradise.
The proposed movie theater is expected to need more parking spaces, so a new set of plans will be drawn up.
And, in order for approval on that project, more vegetation will be needed.