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Thread: Tree ordinance

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Tree ordinance

    Mattoon recently passed a tree ordinance to help preserve the tree canopy that covers many of our streets. The intention was good, but they added a provision in the ordinance that allows the cutting of sweet gum trees as a "nuisance tree". While I can see detering from planting new sweet gums, this provision has led to the slaughter of dozens of mature trees in just a few months. Effectively accomplishing the opposite of the ordinances goals.

    Are tree ordinances common and are they generally effective? How are "nuisance trees" such as the sweet gum and ginkgo trees addressed?

    Quote Originally posted by Mattoon Tree Ordinance
    § 99.77 NUISANCE TREE REMOVAL.
    (A) A tree on public property within the city that is on the nuisance species list below may be removed at the adjacent landowner’s expense, provided that the landowner will allow the city to replace the tree at the City’s expense.

    (B) The nuisance species list includes:

    (1) Sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua); and

    (2) Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) (female of the species).

    (C) Other trees which are not on the nuisance species list may be removed if they are determined to be a nuisance by the Public Works Director or his/her designee.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    I've seen really good tree ordinances and some really terrible ordinances, too. They really need to be tailored to the area in which you live (like the nuisance trees). The best ordinances have descriptions of why a nuisance tree is actually a nuisance. Often it is due to junk that gets on the sidewalks, trees that the City have too many of already (which can cause widespread loss of trees if a disease or infestation occurs), or those that are known to have diseases, etc. And of course, like all regulatory ordinances, tree ordinances are only as good as their enforcement sections. Having the ability to ticket is nice, especially for things like people nailing signs to protected trees. But going for replacement trees and a serious fine, or even jail time protects the significant natural areas and groves better. I've seen bad enforcement sections lead to some really gruesome clearcuts.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian solarstar's avatar
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    Our tree ordinance lists nuisance trees, but only because they can't be used for reforestation. Removing any tree, nuisance or not, that is of a certain size requires meeting permitting requirements (and then we can usually easily approve removal of nuisance trees but still require reforestation with something more native).

    Sounds like they need to work with the tree ordinance a bit more. Ours has worked well, and resulted in huge fines for some property owners that decided to clear cut anyway - a few of those have deterred a lot more that wanted to try. We use the money for a tree fund to plant trees in common areas.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    tree preservation

    Here, our ordinance suggests to preserve old tree stock. However, no penalty for cutting them down and only a dumb "point incentive" for leaving them alone.

    With our oridnance is quite possible that a parking lot of 150 parking spaces could have only a 25" diameter tree as the only landscaping for the entire lot. No shrubs, no other trees. Thankfully, no one has exploited this hole.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  5. #5
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boiker View post
    Here, our ordinance suggests to preserve old tree stock. However, no penalty for cutting them down and only a dumb "point incentive" for leaving them alone.

    With our oridnance is quite possible that a parking lot of 150 parking spaces could have only a 25" diameter tree as the only landscaping for the entire lot. No shrubs, no other trees. Thankfully, no one has exploited this hole.
    Ours is kind of weak, but I came from a pretty hardcore tree protection environment (almost to a fault) prior to this city.

    I wrote the ordinance in the old city and was very specific about nuisance trees and why they were not protected (water use, exceptionally messy and disease prone were the biggies). We had big fines and other penalties for unauthorized tree removal: for a regular protected tree it would set you back $250 per caliper inch and required replacement of 5x the caliper inches removed. It got worse for specimen and majestic tree categories. If you needed to remove trees, you had to replace them at greater ratios. Also, there had to be a certain percentage of replacement trees of larger size than our standard. In addition, when replacing no more than 33% of the trees could be the same species (due to disease). They could pay a fee-in-lieu for up to 25% of the replacement inches at $100/inch. We could use this fund to purchase wooded areas or plant trees on public property. Basically the whole ordinance was geared to encourage preservation of existing trees.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  6. #6
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    Looking for help

    Well, I'm assisting a Township in our County that is totally on board witht he idea of a tree preservation ordinance. I know what kind of regulations I have in mind, but there is no point re-inventing the wheel. So, could you all direct me to some good tree preservation ordinances you know of.

    Thanks a bunch.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian craines's avatar
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    Why is the Ginko biloba listed as nuisance. They have " male" and 'Female's" species of the tree and i forget which one is not the desired one. I believe the male of this species is a bit messy unless the game is on.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by craines View post
    Why is the Ginko biloba listed as nuisance. They have " male" and 'Female's" species of the tree and i forget which one is not the desired one. I believe the male of this species is a bit messy unless the game is on.
    The female produces a fruit that smells like rotten garbage.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Yup...

    I like tree ordinances that make sense.

    One Colorado Example: Having a detached sidewalk with trees planted in the landscaped area, then allowing owners to pave over that landscape area soley because your City doesn't want to maintain it (all of it is in the ROW) (Separate Rule that owners must maintain ROW in front of their home).......then you end up with a mixed paved, dying landscape area

    Other Colorado examples are good.....as they should be, considering the number of "Tree City USA's" out there

    In Florida, we were a bit zealous about our trees, with code inspectors able to drive by a site and realize a tree was missing The result was good though, new trees planted and after many years, a broad knowledge of the program by enough residents to keep everyone on the same page. We also had a list of nasty trees that had to be destroyed on site! Well, almost, not really kidding here....the state has a mandatory citrus canker program to destroy infected trees and trees within a certain radius of a known infection.....thanks Brazil
    Skilled Adoxographer

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Savemattoon:

    I think your ordinance is fine and accomplishes what you are after:

    either the trees are a nuisance or they are not; if they are then you should in fact encourage their removal. So be it if it takes place all at once.

    They city says they will replace them, and while that may be costly, think of it as an investment

    I mean, that's what public planners always tell me when I hem and haw about tree planting and tree ordinance requirements!

  11. #11
    Cyburbian AubieTurtle's avatar
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    We have a very strict tree ordinance. Once a tree grows to a six inch diameter trunk size, it is very difficult to have the city arborist approve removal except in cases of a dying tree or new construction. As a result, the city is said to have the most dense urban canopy in the US (though that could just be local boosterism). Anywhere outside of the CBDs and industrial zones that you go in the city is likely to have heavy tree cover. Replacement is possible but keeping existing mature trees is heavily preferred over cutting them down and putting in new trees.

    You can find the very extensive gory details at
    http://library2.municode.com:80/mcc/...infobase=10376
    As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. - H.L. Mencken

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