December 5, 2002

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Village Council business—
Council considers efforts to protect trees in town

Village Council at its meeting Monday discussed how the Village could protect historic trees and whether Council supports the creation of a tree preservation ordinance and a tree review board.

Council members, who seemed uncertain about both ideas, said they needed more time to discuss this endeavor.

Council is considering two similar proposals. One, which was written by the ad hoc Tree Preservation Ordinance Subcommittee, would establish a tree review board to review the cutting down or removal of all trees downtown and trees six inches in diameter on Village property, school district property, commercial and light industrial zones and in urban forests. The review process would be completed in 21 days, allowing time for education, investigation and public involvement.

The tree board would also create an inventory of “significant trees” in town.

When it was presented last spring, Council seemed generally supportive of the tree group’s proposal.

The second proposal comes from the Village Planning Commission and recommends the Village participate in the Tree City USA program, which is organized by the National Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters.

Under that program, the Village would establish a tree board that would be responsible for the care and management of trees in Yellow Springs. The Village would also have to create a tree ordinance that would provide “clear guidance for planting, maintaining and removing trees” on public property.

During the meeting Dec. 2, Council member Joan Horn said she supported the creation of a tree review board.

Council president Tony Arnett said providing a waiting period before a tree is cut down would give the public a chance, through a tree board, to comment, and be involved in the process. When two Osage orange trees were removed in Kings Yard last year, Arnett said, some people said they at least wanted to have a say in that action.

Other Council members, however, questioned the usefulness of the board.

Council member Denise Swinger, for instance, said she was not against the board, but wanted assurance that the board would not increase expenses for the Village. She also said the board could not make a difference unless it could leverage punitive charges, a power neither proposal contains right now.

Council member Hazel Latson emphasized the need to educate people about trees before they are planted. She also said she would not support a waiting period “because there are many different conditions when trees need to be cut down.”

“I don’t want to see the village fighting itself on cutting down trees,” she said.

* * *

In other Council business:

• Village Manager Rob Hillard reported that he has been discussing with the cities of Huber Heights and Xenia the Village’s efforts to find a new way to collect income taxes. Last month, the Village learned that the City of Dayton, which has collected the tax for the Village for more than 30 years, would stop collecting income taxes for other municipalities in February.

Hillard said he hopes to provide Council with a proposal by its next meeting, Dec. 16.

• Council approved 4–0 a resolution increasing Hillard’s annual salary to $78,900 from $78,000. Council member George Pitstick was absent.

The move came after Council evaluated Hillard in executive session at its meeting Nov. 18.

• Council approved 4–0 the second reading of an ordinance revising the fee schedule for door-to-door vendors and solicitors.

Under the ordinance, which amended chapter 860 of the Village Codified Ordinances, the Village will require vendors selling magazines, medicine, goods, services, wares or anything of value to obtain a license from the Village, for a $25 fee. The license would be good for 30 days.

Representatives of religious, patriotic, charitable or civic organizations would not have to obtain a vendor’s license from the Village.

• Council approved 4–0 the second reading of an ordinance amending the codified ordinances for the Environmental Commission and Cable Advisory Commission in an effort to establish an attendance policy for Council-appointed boards and commissions. The policy allows Council to remove commission members for failing to attend three consecutive meetings.

• Council approved 4–0 an emergency ordinance allowing the Village to give employees who receive health insurance from the Village part of the proceeds of the Village’s sale of stock from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The Village received stock from Anthem when the company went public last year. Because the Village cannot hold stock, it must sell its shares. Village employees will receive 15 percent of the proceeds, which Hillard estimated could be as high as $140,000.

• Council members said they would try to hold a special meeting in January to discuss plans to hold a community visioning project.

• At its meeting Nov. 18, after meeting in executive session, Council unanimously agreed to appoint Bill Bebko to the Environmental Commission.


—Robert Mihalek