Subcommittee to study tree-replacement issue in city’s Historic District
In an effort to keep abreast of tree removals — and replacement of removed trees — in the city’s Historic District, the Washington Historic Preservation Commission is forming a tree subcommittee.
That decision was made during the commission’s meeting last week. Commission members William Kenner and Cheri Vaughn volunteer to serve on the subcommittee. The commission would like for former commission members Monica Ferrari and Mary Pat Mussleman to serve on the subcommittee.
The commission wants more accountability regarding the replacement of trees from Historic District property owners who receive permission to remove trees from their properties. The commission’s guidelines require people replant another similar tree somewhere on the property within 60 days.
Sometimes that’s difficult for several reasons, including weather factors such as temperature, Emily Rebert, the city’s community-development planner, told the commission.
“There are certain times when you don’t plant it because of the hibernation period of the tree. Certain tree breeds can only be planted at certain times of the year,” said Kenner. “When Monica was on the board, she was pretty knowledgeable about that.”
Commission members also said an option to consider is allowing property owner to donate a tree to the city for planting at a city park instead of planting a replacement tree on the property owner’s land. Commission Chairman Mark Everett said the subcommittee might want to address issues such as appropriate places for replacement tree to be planted and specifying appropriate species of trees when it comes to replacing a removed tree.
Since the beginning of 2015 through May 18 of this year, the commission received 27 requests to remove trees, denying three requests and delaying action on three requests. A list of the requests indicates only two instances where removed trees were replaced and verified by the city. In 2015, four tree-removal requests were received and approved. In 2016, 10 requests were received, with six approved, three denied and two delayed. In 2017, 10 requests were received, with nine approved and one delayed. So far this year, three requests were received and approved.
“We are not sure if they’ve replaced them or not,” Rebert said about the removed trees other than the two trees confirmed as replaced.
The commission approves tree removals when a tree (usually damaged or dead) poses a threat of falling on nearby property, its root system poses damage to a structure’s foundation or an aging, damaged tree hinder growth of younger, more desirable trees.