Council makes changes in list of protected trees

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This large tree at the Lewisville Feed Mill is an example of a tree that could be nominated under the city's proposed Champion Tree program (Photo by Steve Southwell)

The Lewisville City Council has made some changes in the Lewisville City Code which protects certain trees in the city.

At its regular meeting on May 16, the council approved an ordinance amending sections of the city code which adds three trees to the protected tree list and removes three other trees from the list.

The council approved taking the Aristocrat Pear, Bradford Pear and Chinese Pistachio Pear off of the protected tree list. Added to the protected tree list were the Lace Bark Elm, Texas Hickory and Black Walnut trees.

On non-residential lots, anyone who removes a tree that is on the protected list without a permit could be subject to a fine. There are exceptions, including trees that are dead or fatally diseased, trees located in a public easement or right-of-way, or other emergency situations.

The proposed changes were brought before the city council by Assistant City Manager Claire Swann.

She said the city staff had presented different options to the city council at a March 21 council workshop.

Swann said they had originally proposed a “heritage tree” process where the city could proactively designate significantly large, old, or iconic trees as protected trees. She said the city council would prefer that this process be voluntarily initiated by the property owners.

“We would establish a criteria for Heritage Tree designation, and our city arborist would decide which trees meet the criteria. Each year, on Arbor Day, we would announce which trees would be added to our Heritage Tree list,” Swann said.

However, its likely that there would be a lack of requests from property owners to create Heritage Trees.

“With this limitation, staff believes that few individuals would request such designation,” Swann said, “because it would include voluntarily placing development restrictions on their properties.”

She suggested that, as an alternative, a Champion Tree program be operated by the Parks and Leisure Services Department, that, if implemented, would allow citizens to independently nominate any tree as a Champion Tree.

The Champion Tree proposal is to be considered by the city council at a later date.