By Bob Seidenberg
Residents would be required to obtain special permits before removing designated trees from their property under an ordinance expected to go to vote Monday night.
Evanston City Council members are scheduled to vote on the city’s first comprehensive ordinance governing the protection of trees on private property, which makes up at least 70% of the city’s tree canopy and likely closer to 80%, according to one study.
Under the proposal, property owners would be required to obtain a tree preservation permit in projects where trees might be affected by construction, providing information about the work they intend to do.
An arborist would pay a visit to the site, advising the best course to minimize other trees on the property as well as any trees on neighboring properties.
In cases where construction is not an issue, the property owner may be required to request a variation from the the city’s Human Services Committee and the City Council.
Members of the city’s Environment Board have been calling for an ordinance for several years, in favor of preventing healthy trees from being cut down on private property.
The issue has taken on even greater importance in line of research stressing trees cooling properties.
Addressing the Council at their July meeting, Cherie LeBlanc Fisher, co-chair of the Environment Board for fours year, told Council members
“When we have intense rainstorms, trees keep soil from eroding and absorb stormwater. When we have smoke from Canadian wildfires…our trees help clean the air. It is easy to think of trees on private property as privately owned, but they are a community resource that benefits everyone.”
She said “removing just one mature tree eliminates benefits that cannot be replaced for decades by planting small trees.”