Trustees considering ordinance changes for greater green diversity
The havoc caused by the emerald ash borer has changed how Village of Fredonia officials are looking at local greenery.
That new attitude is reflected in a draft of the village’s revised tree ordinance, which was presented to the Village Board last month. Action on the updated ordinance is expected at Thursday’s board meeting.
Among the changes proposed in the eight-page ordinance is a greater sensitivity to maintaining a healthy tree population.
Part of the problem revealed by the blight of the emerald ash borer is that tree populations can be devastated by a single pest or disease if a single species dominates local plantings.
“In order to mitigate potential loss of the urban forest due to disease or pest, no more than 20% of trees may come from one ‘family,’ no more than 10% from one ‘genus’ and no more than 5% from any single species,” the ordinance states.
To monitor those numbers, the ordinance would require the village to update its database of street and park trees annually.
All planting within public property must also be approved by the village’s director of public works.
To prevent the ready spread of disease, attention is also given to spacing of trees. Small trees (defined as no more than 20 feet in height at maturity) can be no closer than 30 feet, medium trees (which grow to no more than 40 feet tall) can be no closer than 40 feet, and large trees (expected to grow more than 40 feet) can be no closer than 50 feet.
With an eye toward long-range care and maintenance, the ordinance also specifies that only “small” trees be planted near overhead utility lines or within the area where sewer and water lines are placed. No street tree would be allowed within 35 feet of any intersection, nor within 10 feet of any fire hydrant.
To encourage greater diversity among village trees, the list of approved “large” tree would be expanded from 10 to 24 varieties.
The approved list includes several species of oak, beech, chestnut, sycamore, black cherry, Chinese elm, catalpa, Norway and sugar maple, pecan, spruce, Scotch pine, shagbark hickory and buckeye.
Public Works Director Roger Strohm said attention was given to the list to make sure included species require little maintenance and can survive Wisconsin’s climate.
The existing ordinance already includes provisions for how the village may intervene if dead or diseased trees need to be removed from private property.
That provision is expected to come into play with regularity as the emerald ash borer begins to take its lethal toll on local trees.
If infested trees are deemed a hazard and the property owner refuses to remove it within 60 days of notification, the village may remove the tree and place the charge on the owner’s tax bill.