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Lower Mac Commissioners Approve Cutting Down 20 Street Trees

Last night at the Commissioners meeting the board approved the removal of 20 street trees along Village Walk between Caramoor Village Shopping Center and Legacy Oaks.

At the Commissioners Oct. 4 meeting the board approved the removal of 20 street trees along Village Walk between Caramoor Village Shopping Center and Legacy Oaks after receiving a letter from the Legacy Oaks HOA regarding issues with the tree roots damaging the bike path along the street.

I agree with the reasons for removal. I disagree with allowing a blanket waiver of the requirement to replace the trees. There was no exploration of ways to replace trees in the setback or requiring trees be re-placed in other areas of the township.

When Legacy Oaks was built 10 years ago, instead of installing a 4-foot sidewalk the developers were allowed to install a bike path instead (much cheaper for the developer). It seems the difference in the size between a bike path and sidewalk was made up by cutting into the green strip between the road and path instead of the deep setback. This resulted in a 36 inch green strip for planting, entirely too thin.

The reasoning was correct to remove the trees. However the waiver granted to not replace the trees was flawed. Legacy Oaks argued that they have planted over 40 additional trees over the last couple years in and around their property. Note: Legacy Oaks is a private development.

It's great Legacy Oaks is a tree friendly development and sees the value in additional plantings. My problem is these plantings are not street trees in the public right of way. Since Legacy Oaks is a posted private development any trees inside the property should not qualify as street trees. 

A street tree is specifically one that is in the public right of way directly adjacent to a street vs. an ornamental tree which is a part of the landscaping. With street trees placing and spacing is critical. Street trees serve a different purpose then landscaping trees.

This is a great article that outlines 22 benefits of street trees.

Last night before the vote I wanted to make a comment proposing a compromise. Unfortunately it was missed before the vote. I think it was a simple oversight as I was in the back of the room since ppl were talking at the podium. But here were my thoughts.

After taking a look at the area, I believe at least 8 of the trees could very easily be replaced by being moved into the setback. (see attached diagram/map, green circles) This still allows the trees to function as public street trees. The remaining 12 that cannot be replaced directly on Village Walk should have been required to be replaced in other areas of the township.

Basically if a developer wants a waiver they should be required to pay the amount of money it would cost to replace the tree so the township can replace the tree elsewhere.

What do you think?

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Michael D Siegel October 08, 2012 at 08:33 PM
need a shade tree commission NOW. The HOA or developer must plant trees over the path. The trees are supposed to cool the pavement surfaces. Simply waiving the trees should not occur without EAC recommendation
Ron Beitler October 08, 2012 at 09:00 PM
Thats my issue Michael... The replacement trees should serve the same function as the street trees that are being cut down. Ornamental landscaping trees do not. And I have a philosophical issue with replacement trees being inside a private development. The EAC did make a statement but it was ignored. Further the EAC opinion apparently only got into the hands of the President and not the rest of the board. That alone should have warranted tabling. This whole issue happened so quickly. 20 trees that have been there for a decade, 10 years worth of maturing being wiped out after a 10 minute discussion. :( This whole thing needed more thought put into. I have to read the exact motion that passed but this whole thing is contingent on legacy oaks showing replacement trees. I want to see that the replacement trees are actually street trees. And yes SHADE TREE COMMISSION NOW.
Janet Persing October 27, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Removing 10-yr. old trees is a travesty. Why were they approved to be planted where they were in the first place? Tree roots come up through surface; that should be no surprise to anyone. Planting trees, letting them mature, then cutting them down is totally crazy.

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