Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Minnetonka Tree Ordinance

An article in the Star Tribune outlined Minnetonka's efforts to bolster their tree ordinance. The article can be found here: http://www.startribune.com/west/story/1481970.html

A review of local tree preservation ordinances concludes that most South Lake communities have not prioritized tree preservation highly. If adopted, Minnetonka's would be the most tree-friendly / developer-strict code in the area.

Shorewood has an ordinance that recognizes the need to preserve "significant trees or stands of trees" but offers little in the way of enforeceable specifics. It is more of a position statement.

Excelsior mentions in an ordinance that subdivisions must comply with the management of significant trees in the city, but offers no details and definately nothing enforceable.

Deephaven spells out that trees on public right-of-way are to be maintained by the city, but does nothing to protect specimen trees outside of right-of-ways.

All three cities' ordinances speak to the control of disease among trees. After all, an important first step to tree preservation is preventing the outbreak of tree diseases. Still, Minnetonka's ordinance, particularly the point of having to replace removed trees with the same amount of new wood (a 20-inch diameter tree cannot be replaced by a new 2-inch tree, but must be replaced with 20 combined inches of new tree diameter) takes tree preservation futher than any other area towns that I can find.

Tree preservation ordinances are a classic case of balancing of landowners' rights with public interest. To paraphrase Aldo Leopold, "you can own the land but you can't own the landscape". A specimen Sugar Maple or Red Oak no doubt plays a critical role in a neighborhood, and it would be a shame to negatively alter an entire neighborhood because of a rash decision by one individual. It will be interesting to see how Minnetonka's ordinance is received.

No comments:

Post a Comment