Trees

What do you think of the proposed tree ordinance? Personally, I value Chapel Hill's canopy and wooded neighborhoods, including my family's own heavily wooded lot. That said, I see this as good intentions gone way, way awry. If adopted, the town and its citizens will face increased regulatory costs (more staff to review proposals and police tree removal) and more delay, uncertainty and cost for citizens who need or just seek to remove trees on their own property. What about clearing space for solar panels, culling saplings to better support larger growth trees, or removing diseased trees? Even if the ordinance allows for those activities (and admittedly, it might, I just don't know for sure), the added time and expense necessary for completing paperwork, then waiting for inspections, or, more likely, relying on neighbors to police each other, seems the wrong tack to take. Is this really a problem? 
Total votes: 134

Comments

I don't understand it either.  It just comes off as heavy handed and pointless to boot since there's nothing even resembling a tree chopping lobby in this town. More generally, I wonder why issues like this aren't discussed during the campaign. In the last month we first had the "no cell phone while driving" issue come up and now the "can't chop trees" issue.  It possible that I just don't remember, but I don't recall either of these being discussed during the campaign.  Where were they then?  It's not like something has drastically changed in the past few months to suddenly make these issues relevant. Two weeks ago I had never even heard of this tree proposal and now TC is proposing it.  Who thought it up and why?  And why now rather than during the campaign when a larger number of people were paying attention and the candidates would have had to render an opinion on it?

One of the things I found most interesting is that it was the work of citizens that really brought the practical implications of this ordinance into focus.  Scott Radway and others are the ones who did the work to say: OK if we adopt this ordinance what are the practical implications for projects like U Mall redevelopment, for neighbor relations, for a subject residential property.      I would hope that this kind of analysis would be part of the  information provided to our elected officials early on as part of their decision making process.  What if we didn't have people like Scott and the others with the time to do these kinds of analyses?   Isn't this something that should be part of the work a consultant does---how a proposal like this one  ordinance impacts the reality of our residential and commercial market sectors and other stated goals and objectives of the Council?   For example, If we have a goal to encourage commercial investment in the community or encourage redevelopment of areas like Ram's Plaza, how does this ordinance help or hinder that?     I think the a broad analysis of the practical implications of proposals--both pro and con, things like  costs to government to oversee (is this going to require additional staff to administer?)   costs to citizens, benefits to community, benefits to real estate values, environmental benefits, environmental costs, impact on economic development efforts---- should be part of the work done by a consultant.  Even raising the questions:  You might want to think about these things--would be helpful.    Is the role of a consultant to help you justify doing something ( or not doing something) that you have already made a decision on,  or to do work that helps you make a decision based on understanding as many of the factors as possible?      

I thought the TC was considering passing it as law. As usual, I appreciate your level head.

Del SnowThe tree ordinance discussion has been around since 2007, when the Council responded to a Planning Board petition indicating a strong need for changes to the EXISTING TREE ORDINANCE.The DRAFT ordinance, as proposed, provided flexibility for differing situations-whether it was for achieving other goals of the Comprehensive Plan, dealing with damaged or diseased trees, etc. The point of the Public Hearing was to find the weak spots and continue working on the ordinance.  No one ever thought that it would be voted on as proposed.And why try to save more trees?  As we approach build-out, areas of environmental sensitivity are being eyed by developers.  It is more economical to clear cut and plant new trees than to work around existing trees.  However, if this happened, our canopy coverage would decrease significantly.  Trees, animate objects, are part of the interrelationship between all living things on earth.  Their environmental benefits far outweigh the "inconvenience" of saving them-at the risk of sounding melodramatic, without trees on earth, humans would not survive.  So, in the spirit of acting locally, we have to do our share.I don't believe that individual homeowners are a target of this ordinance.  It is an evolving document and everyone should remain committed to the basic premise-we need the trees and we have to find ways to support that goal.  Let's improve the draft and not lose sight of that.  

Was the proposed change in the ordinance discussed during the 2009 campaign?  Because if so, I don't recall it.  Considering the reaction it is drawing now, if the change was going to be proposed shortly after the election then it should have been one of the issues discussed during the campaign. There are lots of things that are part of the interrelationship of all living things on earth and that humans couldn't survive without, none of which anyone is proposed doing away with.  So that's not the point of the discussion.   Do the environmental benefit of trees far outweigh the benefit of saving them only if the trees are within the town limits of Chapel Hill?  Because if UNC expands and then trees in Chapel Hill aren't cut down, what do you think happens to trees outside the limits of Chapel Hill?  I know that isn't the topic of this thread but you brought it up so I thought I had to address it lest others think the entire matter is all that simple.

 

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