Tree Ordinance Moves Forward

BLYTHEWOOD – The Planning Commission voted Monday night to recommend to Town Council the long-awaited zoning text amendment to the Town’s Landscape and Tree Preservation Ordinance. The amendment has been on the Commission’s agenda several times during the past year but was deferred for one reason or another.

After a subcommittee spent several months making modifications to the ordinance, Town Hall staff was to put the ordinance into codified form last fall so it could be recommended to Council for first reading. The Commission was told that town attorney Jim Meggs would finish the work. However, after reviewing the ordinance at the December meeting, Commissioners Malcolm Gordge and Town Planner Michael Criss both agreed that what they were presented did not reflect the final work done by the subcommittee.

The ordinance was presented again at Monday evening’s meeting and the Commission, after reviewing it, agreed that it was complete and ready to send to Council for first reading.

The draft document is a consolidation of the previous separate sub-chapters for Landscaping and Tree Preservation. The intention of the consolidation, according to Gordge, was to provide clarity and better guidance for interpreting the requirements of the Town in these two key areas.

“A considerable re-write was essential in order to achieve this,” Gordge, the subcommittee chairman, said, “and Michael Criss summarized all the areas under review at the Planning Commission meeting on Sept. 3 (2013).”

Gordge said the ordinance now provides illustrations for buffer yards applicable to the various zoning districts and examples of tree surveys and tree protection plans to assist businesses, developers and homeowners.

“Since it depends on the particular needs of the user,” Gordge told The Voice, “it is not really possible to mention specific changes for all applications or circumstances.”

The ordinance is expected to be on the agenda at the next Town Council meeting.

In other business, the Commission deferred until the April 7 meeting a request by builder D. R. Horton to decrease the setbacks on 276 lots in the Primrose section of Cobblestone Park until D. R. Horton can revise the list of lots to include only those owned by D. R. Horton.

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