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Historic commission forwards tree policy for approval

The Washington Historic Preservation Commission, during its meeting Tuesday night, voted unanimously to recommend the City Council adopt a revision to the city’s tree-replacement policy.

The new tree policy, it is believed, would provide for more accountability from property owners regarding removal of a tree and replacing it. The new policy also takes into account the preferred time for relocating trees rather than replacing a tree anytime during the year.

“This is a great idea. We’ve been needing this in place. Ya’ll did a really good job. I want to commend the committee,” said commission member Rebecca Clark.

Commission Chairman Mark Everett commended city staff for developing a form related to tree replacement, specifically the inclusion of a box for recording the date of the commission’s action on tree removal request. It will make it easier for city staff to track progress on replacing the tree.

Everett added: “I was just going to say I appreciated all the work the tree committee has done on this. I think its good to encourage longer term species that will do well in this environment and enhance the historic district over many years to come.”

The existing policy reads: “If a diseased, storm damaged or safety hazard tree is removed, it should be replaced by a suitable species, as designated in a approved landscaping plan, within sixty (60) days from the time of removal.”

The proposed policy reads: “If a diseased, storm damaged of safety hazard tree is removed, it should be replaced by a suitable species, as designated in an approved landscaping plan. The tree replacement must occur with one (1) year of removal, between the months of September 1st and March 1st of the following year.”

In developing the amendment to the landscaping plan, the city produced a brochure about the new tree policy. The brochure discussed common mistake made when caring for trees, the impact of trees on downtown settings, developing a landscaping plan for replacing a tree and provides a list of recommended trees for Washington. That list includes nuttall oaks, sugar maples, eastern redbuds, crepe myrtles, dura heat birches and possumaw hollys.

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.

The City Council would have final say on the policy, brochure and newsletter.

The committee members were William Kenner, Cheri Vaughn, Monica Ferrari and Will Aley.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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