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The City Journals

Tree Protection ordinance in the works

May 02, 2017 04:34PM ● By Bryan Scott

Holladay resident, Susan Basmajian, speaking to City Council about developing tree protection ordinance. (Aspen Perry/City Journals)

By Aspen Perry |  [email protected]
Walker and Cottonwood Lane residents filled the City Council Chambers of Holladay City, Thursday March 23, to voice concerns regarding the need for a tree protection ordinance after a new property owner acted on the advisement to cut down over 20 trees on their newly purchased lot.
During the public hearing portion of the council meeting several residents including, former first chairman of the Holladay-Cottonwood Community Council, Kim Kimball expressed the upset he felt to the council.
As Kimball said, “The thing that makes this area special is the trees… and we work very hard to keep those trees… we all fought for two-acre zoning, to keep the trees and the environment of the Walker-Cottonwood area.”
Kimball further went on to stress the importance of developing a tree protection ordinance quickly, given all the properties recently changing hands. 
Another resident, Susan Basmajian, recommended in addition to creating a tree protection ordinance, another solution to avoid another mass tree cutting would be to provide education to new property owners.
“Maybe if there was a packet that went out to the new owner, to describe the history of the area and what the trees mean to the people who live there, maybe things would have been different,” Basmajian said.
Council member Mark Stewart of District 5 was the first to address residents, at which time he cleared up confusion surrounding the idea the City allowed this to happen, as he explained this particular incident was not a candidate for the current tree canopy protection, in addition being that the land is privately owned and the City did not have authorization to tell the owner what they could or could not do with trees on their property.
Stewart also stressed the level of seriousness the City was taking to move forward on a tree ordinance.
“All of (the council) love the idea of the trees in Holladay, we recognize the importance the tree canopy plays in Holladay… we have been working on an ordinance… this incident will give us more ammunition to (ensure) it gets done,” said Stewart.
District 4 council member, Steve Gunn, went on to encourage residents to participate on the tree committee, which Gunn himself serves, in addition to explaining where the tree committee is in drafting a tree protection ordinance.
“We have shown the ordinance to the planning commission, for their tentative approval. Now we have to work through some sticky constitutional issues,” Gunn said.
Gunn went on to describe the ordinance in the current state will categorize trees in a number of ways to offer specified protection, for example historic trees and trees of a certain diameter, to name a couple.
Despite the frustration and contention of the residents present during the March City Council meeting, specifically in regards to the owners of the property where the trees were cut down and City officials, during an April interview Basmajian was hopeful current residents would be able to develop a good relationship with new owners.
Additionally, Basmajian was encouraged by the response of City officials, as she said, “The City is working diligently on the tree ordinance… Mark Stewart has been very responsive to our needs and that is really encouraging… and for him to hold a town hall is a wonderful thing and a lot of good can come from that.”
As this issue went to print, there was a meeting set with the tree committee, city staff, and Council member Stewart and Gunn for April 12 to discuss the first draft of the ordinance.
There are further plans to hold public open houses throughout May in an effort to receive public input on an ordinance before the City Council votes. For information on open houses, please visit City of Holladay website.