Changes to tree regulations discussed

By Brandon Klein -

A review of the city of Delaware’s tree preservation regulations continued when the Shade Tree Commission met earlier this week.

New enforcement strategies and tree replacement fees were part of discussion.

The regulations were established to recognize the vital importance of tree growth in the ecological system and to allow for reasonable development in the city. The intent of its tree replacement requirements was to “maintain an equivalent tree canopy citywide before and after removal/construction,” according to codified ordinance section 1168.07.

Such language was adopted when Delaware City Council approved updates to the ordinance earlier this year. But it did not adopt a sentence to require the tree replacement fee be no less than $100 per caliper inch, or the diameter of the tree at a height of approximately 4 1/2 feet.

The tree replacement fee is an option developers can use in combination to make up the balance of removed trees before and after construction. The money collected from the fees would go into a tree bank fund. The updates council approved were intended to clarify the uses of the fund.

The Building Industry Association of Central Ohio voiced concerns when council was considering the updates. Other concerns it voiced about the chapter included the variance process.

The BIA’s assessment of the chapter prompted commission members to review the regulations, which started in May.

During the initial review, commission members asked Parks and Natural Resources Director Ted Miller if a developer was responsible for a tree that died a few years after construction.

Miller said the city could not conduct the forensics needed to prove the developer was responsible for the tree’s death. But he said an orange fence could be placed around the tree’s drip line, the area defined by the outermost circumference of a tree canopy where water drips from and onto the ground. The fence would prevent construction vehicles from parking around the tree.

Chairman Paul Olen and fellow commission members agreed with Miller’s suggestion. Commission members also suggested fence should be placed a few inches away from a tree’s drip line.

“It’s enforceable,” Olen said.

Additionally, council will include the tree replacement fee later this year in a fee schedule. During Tuesday’s meeting, Olen suggested the fee should increase based on inflation.

Miller said it should be tied in with the labor costs of planting trees. Olen agreed.

Commission member Susan Wright suggested that there could be some variance with the fee depending on how many trees are removed.

In other business, the commission approved plans for:

• Belmont Place Sections 4 and 5 development, located on the east side of Glenn Parkway and north of Peachblow Road on the city’s southeast side. The development consists of 21.5 acres for 72 single-family lots.

• Communities of Glenross Section 11, located on the south side of Cheshire Road and east of the Glenross Golf Course. The development consists of 22.74 acres for 58 single-family lots.

• Coughlin’s Crossing, located between U.S. 23 and Stratford Road, north of Meeker Way. The nearly 80-acre site is zoned mixed-use for retail, office, and residential purposes. The plan reviewed was for landscaping.

By Brandon Klein

Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.

Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.