Letters: What about the Tree Ordinance?

Joy Hewett, Pittsboro
Posted 5/22/20

To the editor:

The Unified Development Ordinance for Pittsboro, with the Tree Ordinance section, was slated to be completed in the winter of 2019. Town Board member Michael Fiocco took the draft …

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Letters: What about the Tree Ordinance?

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Posted

To the editor:

The Unified Development Ordinance for Pittsboro, with the Tree Ordinance section, was slated to be completed in the winter of 2019. Town Board member Michael Fiocco took the draft to make changes, but where is it now? The town needs to have the tree ordinance enacted soon to protect existing trees and wooded areas. Trees are coming down and buildings going up. Roads are being widened and new ones created. Regulations to ensure the beauty and health benefits our trees have provided need to be in place before it’s too late.

Trees are critical to the town and the area surrounding it. Much of the tree coverage belongs in private hands, of course, and we have been fortunate to live in such a beautiful tree covered area. But land is being sold and developed. We need standards in place to save trees and to encourage preservation.

In the 2018 UDO draft, Existing Tree Canopy Retention Standards were too low; payment in lieu of providing replacement trees and other aspects of the tree section of the ordinance raised concerns. Many of us spoke at town board meetings about the value of trees for our community. As Chatham Park clear cut areas and created tree canopy-tree coverage standards that left “tree planning areas” along riparian buffers (already required by law) to stand for minimum tree percentages for commercial, mixed use and residential areas, dozens of people spoke about the extreme importance of trees, forests, the preservation of natural heritage resources, wildlife habitat and corridors, and water quality for the Haw River. Woods and stately trees provide cooling shade, oxygen, storm water absorption, carbon sequestration, and nature itself which we all need to survive. One large oak transpires up to 40,000 gallons of water in a year, drawing up water from the earth and releasing it into our atmosphere, according to the US Geological Survey. Chatham Park’s thousands of acres are exempt from the UDO, so trees in the town itself will be even more important.

Trees need to be a priority. Without them, heat will increase. Benefits from tree coverage will be greatly reduced if we don’t act now. Oaks, hickories, tulip poplars, a diversity of types need to preserved. More need to be planted. What about planting more dogwoods, pecan trees, magnolias, and other Southern heritage trees? Fruit trees in public spaces and parks? What about making sure affordable housing has tree canopy and vegetation to reduce the need for air conditioning and improve the health of residents which nature provides—including noise reduction?

So, when will the UDO be ready for public comment? Will the tree section be sufficient for the needs of future generations?

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