November 28, 2002

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Planning Commission business—
Village considers Tree City USA program

The Village may join a national tree program to help promote the preservation and stewardship of trees in Yellow Springs.

At its meeting Nov. 11, Village Planning Commission indicated that its members could support the Village’s participation in the Tree City USA program, which is organized by the National Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters. Plan board members agreed to ask Village Council if it was interested in the program.

Council will discuss the program at its next meeting, Dec. 2.

Earlier this year Council asked plan board to review a proposal by an ad hoc group, Tree Preservation Ordinance Subcommittee, to protect large trees in town. The subcommittee was formed after two large Osage orange trees were cut down last year in Kings Yard, and several local residents lobbied Council to create a law to protect historic and heritage trees.

In October, Planning Commission chairman John Struewing recommended the Village consider the Tree City USA program, which he said was similar to the tree subcommittee’s proposal.

The tree subcommittee proposed the Village establish a tree review board that would have the authority to review plans to cut down or remove all trees in downtown Yellow Springs and trees with a diameter of more than six inches that are located on Village and school property and in commercial and light industrial zones and urban forests. The board would not have the authority to review tree removals that occur on residential property.

To qualify as a Tree City community, the Village would have to establish a tree board that would be responsible for the care and management of the trees here. In addition, the Village would be required to approve a tree ordinance that could, for example, “provide clear guidance for planting, maintaining and removing trees from streets, parks and other public places.”

The Village would also have to spend $2 per person on a tree program. Village Manager Rob Hillard said the Village is already doing that.

Finally, the community would have to hold an Arbor Day celebration to qualify for the program.

During the meeting, commission member Dawn Johnson said education is the key to tree preservation. “We can write ordinances until we’re blue in the face,” she said. “We’re looking to create a culture that is appreciative of trees.”

“If we don’t develop an appreciation for championship trees, the axe will be out there,” Johnson added.

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In other Planning Commission business:

• Plan board unanimously agreed to deny a request from Louis Green and Associates to subdivide a 2.3-acre parcel owned by the Perry family near the end of Green Street. The commission rejected the request because the property is not located on a dedicated street. Commission members said the request, however, might be allowed if it is pursued under the Village’s site plan review process.

• Struewing, who has been representing the Village on the Springfield airport zoning commission, reported that the group is studying the airport’s zoning laws, which are likely to be revised. Struewing said the area around Fairfield Pike and Polecat Road is in the airport’s approach area and could be affected if the zoning laws are revised. For instance, he said residents in the area might have to get an airport zoning permit for remodeling or building a home.

—Robert Mihalek