A proposed tree ordinance in Traverse City that could add significant costs and additional red tape to commercial and industrial development sites. The proposed drafts would require new permits and require replacement for certain tree removals.
Proposal A Heavy Burden On Business
The draft ordinance has been under development over a year by a tree task force of the city Planning Commission. The Chamber – and many business owners and commercial property owners – saw the proposal as a strong idea in concept, but are very concerned with the initial lack of input from the local business and development community. The proposal would have a significant impact on private property rights and development costs for the affected properties – which included all commercial properties containing healthy trees.
While we acknowledge trees have significant value – environmental, economic, aesthetic – we are advocating that the city first find consensus on a tree canopy vision and goal. A city parks department inventory released recently showed that the city is at 33% tree canopy cover, which is equal or near to many of the communities it was compared to in the inventory.
The Chamber convened meetings last month with business and commercial property stakeholders, and with tree task force and Planning Commission representatives to offer additional input on the proposal. In addition, the Chamber and business stakeholders, including Builders Exchange of Northwest Michigan, ensured significant feedback and public comment in advance of a November City Planning Commission meeting.
Read Chamber’s public comments here: Nov 6 Planning Commissioner_Chamber
Learn more in this analysis of the draft proposal.
The push led Planning Commissioners to request a pause in the process and directly led to a formal public input session in early December.
Advocating For A Balanced Solution
In light of the positive tree inventory data, the Chamber is seeking a solution that includes significant buy-in from commercial, residential, and other community stakeholders, and that considers the following values:
1.) respects private property rights and values,
2.) incentivizes property owners for tree conservation rather than penalize,
3.) includes appropriate investment from the city towards a tree canopy goal (i.e. – consulting forester, education, grants, budget funding, etc.), and
4.) respects the differences in zoning classifications – especially between commercial, industrial, and residential zoning.
Follow this post for more updates on the Chamber’s work to find a workable solution for a city tree policy that works for the business community.