TREE CANOPY PROTECTION ORDINANCE: September Events and Updates – City of Asheville
On September 8th, the Asheville City Council will vote on approval of an amendment to a city ordinance called, “Tree Canopy Protection Ordinance.” Thanks in part to community support for the ordinance amendment in the shape of hundreds of emails and phone calls to City Council members, it looks like passage of the ordinance amendment is likely.
Tree canopy is such an important part of the urban ecosystem, with the many environmental, social, public health and economic benefits it provides. Development, disease and natural death are leading to an alarming decrease in tree canopy in Asheville and Buncombe County. A study by Davey Resource Group in 2019, showed that between 2008-2018, overall tree canopy in Asheville shrank by 6.4%, or 891 acres of trees. Some areas, like West Asheville, have lost as much as 33% of their tree canopy. Replacement, or tree planting, is not keeping pace with tree loss. Also, trees that have reached maturity at 25 to 40 years old provide benefits that cannot be equalled by a newly planted tree. We need to preserve existing trees and the canopy they provide whenever possible.
This ordinance change will give developers options for protecting trees during construction on business and multi-family residential properties. Developers can either save trees, replace removed trees with new trees or pay a fee for lost canopy. The ordinance amendment is structured to incentivize keeping trees, with payment in lieu as a last resort. Any fees collected have to be used for urban forestry improvements in the same Resource Management District from which trees were removed.
For more information on the Tree Canopy Protection Ordinance, you can view a recording of a webinar on the proposed ordinance given by Chris Collins, Site Planning and Development Manager at the City of Asheville, Ed Macie of the Urban Forestry Commission and Dawn Chávez of Asheville GreenWorks. For even more information, visit the City of Asheville’s website on the ordinance at https://www.ashevillenc.gov/
There’s still time to take action and contact Asheville City Council members to encourage them to support the ordinance or thank them for their support. Council members Mayfield, Wisler and Haynes expressed their intent to approve the ordinance. Council members Young and Smith and Mayor Manheimer have not indicated publicly whether or not they plan on voting to approve the ordinance. More information on contacting Asheville City Council members can be found here: https://asheville-greenworks.