Pittsboro continues tree discussion; vote may occur April 22

Posted 4/12/19

PITTSBORO — The Pittsboro Board of Commissioners this week continued its discussion of Chatham Park’s proposed tree protection element for the 7,000 acre planned community.

The discussion …

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Pittsboro continues tree discussion; vote may occur April 22

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Posted

PITTSBORO — The Pittsboro Board of Commissioners this week continued its discussion of Chatham Park’s proposed tree protection element for the 7,000 acre planned community.

The discussion Monday during the board’s meeting was at the request of Chatham Park to receive final questions and comments before presenting the amended proposal at a board meeting potentially as early as April 22.

In the more than an hour-long discussion, commissioners reiterated some of their initial requests such as a new preamble and “tree credits” as well as sought clarification on other points such tree coverage and protecting root zones. Commissioner Michael Fiocco noted that one of the goals was to “encourage vertical residential” development. In that same discussion, Commissioner Bett Wilson Foley noted she would be open to keeping tree protection in urbanized areas lower if tree protection along the 2,000-foot zone along the Haw River was increased.

Fiocco reminded the board about the graduated density requirements in that 2,000-foot zone. In addition, Fiocco noted that the lots within that zone are required to be larger lots and residents would likely not clear the trees in their entirety based on trends in the housing market. Foley said she wanted to ensure that those who lived by the Haw River would become “keepers” of the river and would need to have more responsibility for the trees on their land.

Chuck Smith, Vice President of Planning and Development for Preston Development overseeing the development of Chatham Park, said Chatham Park has already included different standards for those areas in a small area plans and would continue to consider those kind of standards while noting they have increased the buffer in many areas along the Haw River. Fiocco also noted that the town’s current regulations would not prevent a homeowner from fencing off property to prevent public access to the river, but Chatham Park’s plan, with the buffer that connects to public land, would be an improvement to the town’s current regulations. At the same time, Smith noted that Chatham Park would consider continuing the different standards for development along the Haw River.

Smith again had to clarify the different between tree coverage area, which is determined by physical area of tree plantings, and canopy, which is an ever-changing level of shade created. The required tree coverage area is the only area that can be “counted” as tree protection while trees required in other areas, such as in parking lots, on streetscapes, and in residential areas, are not “counted” as tree protection under the element. As such, all those elements together combine to create the tree canopy.

There was also discussion Monday about the amount of native trees required when replanting is done. Smith noted that on occasion, growers don’t necessarily have a stock of native trees available, but that native plants are the goal. Fiocco noted a potential fix for the element where the landowner can post a bond where they state they will plant a native plant during a certain period of time if there is a shortage or if the in the wrong season to plant for the tree to be viable. The addition was welcomed by both board members and Chatham Park.

Smith noted that the goal was to complete a new draft of the tree element in the next few days to provide to the town’s planner to weigh in on the draft. Once reviewed by the town staff, Smith wanted to get the document back to the commissioners as soon as possible.

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