If you’re disturbed by some of the recent cases of clear-cutting of trees by developers, such as at 34 Wilde Road, Waban, pictured above and below, tonight’s Programs & Services meeting (8pm, Rm 222) should be of interest. P&S will be reviewing proposed revisions to the city’s Tree Preservation Ordinance. The ordinance, passed in 2009, essentially requires developers taking down healthy trees greater than 8″ diameter to plant replacement caliper inches or pay into the city’s Tree Preservation Fund. It works pretty well for large commercial or institutional projects, but less so for individual house lots.
This excerpt from the minutes of the November 20 P&S meeting summarizes the situation:
The intent has been met but as time has passed, developers and builders have found some loopholes in the ordinance. The behavior to evade the ordinance has been escalating recently with builders openly stating their intent to do so. Now that people have figured out how to get around compliance, enforcement is nearly impossible.
This includes developers making their purchase of a property contingent on the seller removing the trees, or saying they will occupy the property and claiming an exemption. To remove the loopholes, the solution that Forestry, the Law Department and Urban Tree Commission propose is to eliminate the concept of “exempt lot” and “occupied” (remember how hard “occupied” is to disprove). Instead , anyone would be able to remove a limited number of trees without a permit, but more than five protected (8″ or greater) trees, more than 80″ of protected trees, or a single tree more than 50″ in diameter, in a consecutive 24-month-period, would require a permit, and planting or paying for replacement caliper inches.
You can read the minutes of the preliminary discussion at P&S on November 20, as well as the proposed revisions to the ordinance, here.