An ordinance is being proposed by the Lower Macungie Township Board of Commissioners that would require residents to apply for a permit to cut down more than three trees on their property within one calendar year. This would apply to trees with trunks thicker then 6 inches at breast height.
The proposed penalty for cutting down a fourth tree without a permit would be $1,000 plus costs.The residential part of the ordinance has provisions for sick, or damaged trees.The ordinance does not state the costs associated with applying for this permit.
The ordinance also deals with commercial tree removal. It requires logging operations to operate in a sustainable manner and prohibits clear cutting which entails cutting down all the trees in a specified area.
Lastly, the ordinance allows trees to be cut down when zoning permits are issued for buildings. This includes the space of the future building, within 15 feet of proposed buildings and within 10 feet of driveways.
The commercial aspect of this ordinance is great. However, I think the residential limit of three trees in one year deserves some more thought and discussion.
Certainly forest protection in the township is important. Woodland protection helps control erosion issues, sedimentation and runoff. Trees are an asset. But does this ordinance strike the proper balance between landowners rights and community good?
Would a policy that somehow rewards planting native trees make sense to augment this?
I would support something a little more specific in terms of protecting high value aesthetic trees (streetscape) and those in environmentally sensitive areas as opposed to a blanket limit of three trees per lot.
This would be more appropriate in terms of the delicate balance between landowner rights and protecting community assets.
Our township has many property owners with large wooded lots. Good forest management includes pruning forests, cutting down invasives and replanting with natives, promoting growth of desirable lumber trees and wildlife friendly nut trees along with opening sunlight to promote understory growth for songbird food and protection.
This is an ordinance that would affects almost every township resident. What are your thoughts?