Closing the loopholes in the Tree Preservation Ordinance is again on the agenda this Wednesday, April 9, at Programs & Services, 7:45 pm in Room 222. Since the last discussion there and on Village14, further discussions with aldermen found a reluctance to infringe on the rights of genuine long-term homeowners to cut down whatever trees they want. So Marc Welch and the Legal Department, with the support of the Urban Tree Commission, came up with another approach which basically tightens up the existing ordinance so that it can be enforced the way it was intended to be enforced, i.e. on developers and other short-term owners flipping properties.
The key changes are stricter requirements for what is an exempt lot, and defining “occupied” lot, which the current ordinance does not do. You can read a summary of the differences between current and proposed ordinances, which is included in the Friday Packet along with the annotated draft ordinance here. It won’t please everyone — if you’re not happy that your next door neighbor cut down all the trees screening you from their mega-addition or swimming pool or whatever, without at least having to pay for replacement caliper inches somewhere, this ordinance wouldn’t help.
But it should discourage situations like the above at 73 Williston Road in Auburndale, a property which recently sold, where the house will be a teardown, and the buyer had the seller cut down the trees before the sale. This is what it looks like today:
Even the revised ordinance would not prevent the tree cutting, but it would be a lot harder to avoid paying into the Tree Preservation Fund or planting replacement caliper inches, either of which would partially offset the loss of canopy.
Feel free to “Red Team” the language and see if there are still any loopholes to try to close.