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Tree ordinance moves forward

The Community Forestry Commission (CFC) will unveil its tree ordinance later this month.

The move is an attempt to curb confusion over regulations regarding trees and vegetation on the island.

“My office has received about 415 pieces of correspondence about clearing since Jan. 1, 2004,” City Code Enforcement Officer Meghan McKnight said. “Ninety percent of these are complaints and they often involve a series of violations, such as clearing without a permit, clearing in a wetland or geologically hazardous area and clearing in the native vegetation zone.”

Of those violations, McKnight believes the majority are homeowners who are unaware of restrictions on clearing.

The newordinance addresses that concern by consolidating regulations currently spread throughout the code.

The ordinance also establishes a 30 tree unit per-acre density requirement for most property around the island that has yet to be developed.

A tree unit is calculated by the diameter of the base of the tree. For different tree species there are different sizes that determine how that tree counts toward density requirements.

The ordinance would not trump critical areas regulations or Shoreline Master Program regulations

The CFC is hoping this will be the first stage of a two-part approach to managing trees on Bainbridge.

More incentives and tighter downtown tree regulations could be sought after this ordinance is passed, said city planner Kelly Dickson.

The CFC believes the ordinance will be approved by council by year’s end.

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