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City Council Weighs Changes To Tree Ordinance

Developers in Charlotte may soon have more of a reason to keep building sites green. City council is considering a rule change that would require developers to save 15 percent of trees on a property. The City of Charlotte is known for its tree canopy, but that leafy shade has covered less and less ground over the past several years. Proposed changes to the city's tree ordinance are aimed at keeping some of that green from disappearing. "Charlotte is a tree city and it derives a lot of value from that," says Craig Madans who chaired a stakeholder group that came up with the proposed changes. The current tree ordinance puts some demands on developers, but it doesn't require a certain percent of land be set aside for trees. Madans likes to think about the proposal in terms of a checker board. "Fifteen percent basically means if there are 100 checker pieces on that board the developer is allowed to remove all the pieces, but he must put back a minimum of 15 pieces," explains Madans. Madans says if commercial property owners want to develop land with no trees on it, they must plant trees to meet the 15 percent rule. Council member Edwin Peacock chairs the environment committee. "One of the things that hasn't been well understood in this process is that we do have an ordinance that's working and has been effective in slowing the loss of tree canopy," says council member Edwin Peacock who chairs the environment committee. "What they're trying do is to improve it and be forward thinking." The environment committee tweaked the proposal to include a provision for land that is especially tricky to develop. In that case, a developer would be able to plant trees in other parts of the city to make up for the required fifteen percent. The city will hold a public hearing on the proposed changes on August 23rd.