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Council to Discuss Possible Amendments to Tree Canopy Protection Ordinance

At the City Council Worksession on April 19, 2022, the Council reviewed Tree Protection Ordinance 21-O-09 and discussed options to move forward to approve the Ordinance. The Mayor and Council indicated they were leaning towards approval of an Ordinance but continued to have reservations with Ordinance 21-O-09 as drafted.
At next week’s meeting, the Council will discuss a modified proposal. The proposal asks to delay the implementation of fines and fees regarding the permits as outlined in the original ordinance for six months. During these six months, the proposal asks to implement the following steps:
1. Simple Permit  for Trees with 36 – 100” in circumference
A “simple” permit shall be required for trees from 36″ to 100″ on private property; however, the application would not require any criteria to be met to remove the tree – removal will be at the discretion of the property owner (or designee). The “simple” permit shall include educational information on the importance of canopy trees and have an opt-out for a visit from the city arborist (or designee). A “Simple” permit is essentially like a visitor parking pass – it’s valid for up to 1 year, requires no fee, is available online & in a paper form, and must be signed by the property owner (or designee). No permit shall be required for pruning.
(a) Applicants can opt-out of a visit from an arborist before tree removal.
(b) A later visit from the city arborist (or designee) to confirm compliance with tree replacement(s) is required regardless of opt-outs
(c) fines/fees in lieu, a notice (e.g., warning) will be provided to property owners.
2. Full Permit for Trees with 100+” circumference
A “Full” permit in accordance with the TLB recommendations shall be required for Heritage Trees (100″+). As the TLB recommended ordinance states, this includes limited allowances for removal, a city arborist or designee visit, and other requirements.
Staff and the Tree and Landscaping board members have expressed concerns about the modified proposals because delaying the implementation of the original proposal will most likely cause continuing losses City’s tree canopy. The staff is recommending not to support the revised proposal. Instead, it asks to support the original ordinance or meet the TLB to discuss a possible revision of the original ordinance.
At next week’s meeting, the Council will discuss the modified ordinance and whether to vote on its implementation in two phases.
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