The Block Island Times

Conservation trims tree ordinance

By Stephanie Turaj | Oct 14, 2012

The original 19-page “Tree Ordinance” draft is now slightly shorter, condensed, and better organized, and after a discussion at the Conservation Commission October 9 meeting, members voted to approve the changes.

The commission had drafted an ordinance with the intent of better preserving town trees. The ordinance would grant the commission powers of a “Tree Commission,” and Commission Chair Ned Phillips is to serve as “tree warden.”

However, members of the community and the Block Island Power Company have questioned the lengthy document, its complexity and the restrictions it would place on tree cutting.

In response, and with the help of community input and specific suggestions made by community member Jon Ives, Chair Ned Phillips explained that there have been some changes to the document. Some included reducing definitions that didn’t apply, replacing the term “historic trees” with “heritage trees,” and some other shortening and clarification.

The most significant change would exempt utility companies and the town from needing a permit to trim, prune or otherwise alter trees on public property. Utility companies such as BIPCo and Verizon and municipal bodies would have to contact the “Tree Warden” before removing or altering trees. Both the town and the utility companies would have to submit a tree management plan for commission review.

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