During a work session at Decatur City Hall last night, the Decatur City Commission publicly discussed some proposed changes to the proposed tree ordinance. You can watch the work session HERE, but here’s one stab at a summary of items that were discussed.
- No net loss of tree canopy – Previously, the draft ordinance looked to increase tree canopy coverage to 50%, but now the commission is looking at a goal to maintain the current city’s 45% coverage.
- Every tree removed would require a no-cost, “informational” permit, but residents would be able to remove up to 3 healthy trees in an 18 month period without activating the ordinance. Also, any tree deemed to be diseased or dying could be taken down at any point without activating the ordinance. The ordinance would only be triggered when a property owner decided to take down a 4th tree in an 18 month period. The commission discussed that this would allow residents to remove any trees they thought were a potential danger, while also preventing clear-cutting.
- Increasing impervious coverage – if you increased the impervious coverage by 15% or more (the size of a very large shed) and you were below the 45% canopy, you would be subject to the ordinance.
- Regarding boundary trees – there was general consensus about keeping the elements in the current draft that wouldn’t prevent a neighboring property from building on a site that would impact a neighbor’s tree, but instead would require the developing property to pay for the loss of the neighboring tree.
According to Decaturish, the commission is planning to have a draft of the ordinance by April and vote on the final ordinance in May.