North Texas Daily

City Council discusses tree fund

City Council discusses tree fund

September 17
09:03 2014

Rhiannon Saegert / Senior Staff Writer

With Denton in a drought, the city council revisited the issue of tree conservation during their meeting Tuesday.

The tree preservation and landscaping requirements, or Tree Code, was adopted in 2004 as a guide to planting and protecting trees in Denton. Found The plan was intended to increase property values and improve environmental conditions in Denton by preserving its trees.

The code was reviewed in 2007, creating several different ways developers could build in wooded areas without violating the code. For instance, a developer would need to replace trees in the area or pay $125 per caliper inch to Denton City Council’s tree fund. The fund will be used to preserve, plant and maintain existing trees as well as educate citizens about trees’ value. There is currently $2,082,078 in the fund.

“I think what you can assume from that is that the development community probably sees this as just another fee,” council member Greg Johnson said. “I think we really need to work hard, as we go through the re-work of this thing, to think about what are the things we can do that show that this money is being put to use to replace the canopy.”

The council also discussed tree trusts, which would allow developers to buy undeveloped land for the city to preserve and expand on parks and trails. A citizens’ committee would decide which wooded areas the city should focus on.

Denton urban forester Haywood Morgan suggested a citywide ecosystem assessment and canopy analysis that would provide specific information about the current tree population. He said an analysis would provide the context needed to review and rewrite the Tree Code.

“We all know that trees fight pollution,” Morgan said. “We all know that trees store carbon, that they help with storm water runoff. What’s that really mean? This type of analysis will give us quantitative values for [how] the city of Denton is benefitting from their trees which I think will go a long way for educating the public, educating developers on ‘This is why we value trees.’”

Mayor Chris Watts said he was reluctant to spend money on another study and draw the process out further.

“It seems to me before we spend any more money on anything from this fund, we need to be spending it on some real trees,” Watts said. “I would say right now that for every dollar we spend on some study, we need to spend three dollars on planting some trees. I would think in the long-run, I would shoot for 4-to-1. I think we should spend more of that money on what everyone thought it was going to be used for, which is replacing trees.”

During the open meeting, the council approved an ordinance of a recently-annexed area for initial zoning and development into a residential neighborhood. The presentation included plans to preserve a wooded area on the property to comply with existing Denton development codes, not taking into the Tree Code into account.

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