The Block Island Times

Tree protection ordinance planted back on council agenda

By Stephanie Turaj | Mar 07, 2013

The Town Council this week revisited a proposal that aims to protect Block Island’s trees by regulating the maintenance, removal and planting of trees on public property.

The Conservation Commission originally drafted a document by adapting it directly from Newport, Rhode Island’s tree ordinance and revising it in a series of meetings.

At the council’s Wednesday, Feb. 27, meeting, two members of the Conservation Commission explained to council members the intent of the proposal, and went through the document to highlight its main objectives.

Ultimately, after a detailed discussion, the council came up with suggestions for the Conservation Commission to address at its next meeting. One suggestion was to recommend the types of trees that can be planted on public property, and to list trees the commission feels should not be planted.

The ordinance would apply only to public property. It would not apply to private property unless homeowners volunteer to designate their tree as a “heritage tree” to be protected.

Ned Phillips, chair of the Conservation Commission, has been appointed by the council as Tree Warden, which is a volunteer position.

Audience member Bruce Montgomery questioned a conflict of Phillips acting as Tree Warden while also running his own landscaping business. Gaffett suggested that the Conservation Commission review wording in the ordinance to make sure there’s no conflict.

Once the commission addresses the Town Council’s concerns, the council would put the ordinance up for a public hearing.

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