The latest version of a new tree ordinance up for consideration (see story, page 1) draws a better balance between public and private interests, and scales back earlier versions which while while well-intentioned were far too restrictive.
The aim of the proposed ordinance up for a hearing next Tuesday is not only to give clear guidelines to utilities, the tree commission and the tree warden, but also to protect Warren’s tree resources.
One key provision of the law’s first version was understandably mothballed after little debate. It put severe restrictions on the owners of “significant” trees who sought to take them down. Property rights advocates cried foul, and the town stepped back and eased restrictions on those who own such trees. The newest part of the ordinance currently up for debate goes a step further, by rewarding homeowners who agree to save their trees by offering tax incentives.
This seems to be a no-brainer for most residents, as few take trees down without a valid reason — be it disease, proximity to the house, construction plans etc.
Some have predicted that the ordinance could cost the town $75,000 per year in lost property taxes ($96 per household/tree). While we have a hard time believing 800 homeoowners will sign up for the abatement, the costs will surely be in the thousands.
Is it worth it? Time will tell. But there are few things that look more barren and bleak than a place where a majestic oak, fir or maple once stood.