Trees in Montgomery now have a little more protection, courtesy of revisions to the tree ordinance.
Montgomery City Council at its regular meeting June 25 approved a new tree ordinance that changes how tree coverage is measured. The ordinance is effective immediately, but individual residential property owners are exempt.
Originally, tree coverage was measured based on the diameter of a tree’s trunk. This was measured on trees currently existing on a proposed site. Now, tree coverage will be measured based on canopy coverage on the property post-development. The ordinance protects trees with a trunk diameter greater than 18 inches.
The ordinance also specified how much coverage certain properties needed to maintain: 20% of commercial, institutional, single-family and multifamily residential as well as 10% of industrial. The institutional requirements are for rights of way, easements and sports fields.
“The thinking is to classify the percentage of canopy coverage based on the land use zoned. That allows you to modify any one of them without having to modify the other ones. It also recognizes that the type of land use varying from zone to zone is radically different,” Assistant to the City Administrator Dave McCorquodale said.
The council first reviewed the ordinance at its June 11 meeting. McCorquodale said the ordinance strikes a middle ground between protecting the aesthetic and historic value of the town and it being a viable development site.
The only major difference between the original proposal and the adopted ordinance is the elimination of a 20-foot residential buffer zone between nonresidential and residential properties where trees would be protected. At the June 25 meeting, McCorquodale said nonresidential properties are already required by the zoning code to maintain 25-foot side and rear setbacks.
At its June 24 meeting, the Montgomery Planning and Zoning Commission discussed the ordinance and recommended it to City Council. Chairman Nelson Cox commended the administration department for its hard work.
“I’ve attended all these meetings, and I know what you’ve put into it,” Cox said.