Dallas Trees Update: May 10, 2017

Soil availability for planting is essential, but also equally consider the condition of the soil for compaction, toxicity to the species, drainage, and location of other trees, utilities, and structures.  

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

State Legislation
As we prepare for the second briefing of Article X landscape and tree ordinance to the Dallas City Plan Commission in little over a week, the larger body of the House in Austin has just unanimously passed HB 2052, and it is being moved on to the Senate (companion SB 744)for a final vote before being passed on to the governor to sign.  The bill is not expected to see any further amendments in the Senate. Based on the predicted vote tally, we can likely expect this bill to be effective immediately upon passage.  The house bill authored by Phelan and Fallon states:

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
AN ACT
relating to a tree planting credit to offset tree mitigation fees
imposed by a municipality.
       BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
       SECTION 1.  Subchapter Z, Chapter 212, Local Government
Code, is amended by adding Section 212.905 to read as follows:
       Sec. 212.905.  TREE MITIGATION FEE CREDIT FOR PLANTED TREES.
(a)  A municipality that imposes a tree mitigation fee for tree
removal that is necessary for development or construction on a
person's property must allow that person to apply for a credit for
tree planting under this section to offset the amount of the fee.
       (b)  An application for a credit under Subsection (a) must be
in the form and manner prescribed by the municipality.  To qualify
for a credit under this section, a tree must be:
             (1)  planted on property:
                   (A)  for which the tree mitigation fee was
assessed; or
                   (B)  mutually agreed upon by the municipality and
the person; and
             (2)  at least two inches in diameter at the point on the
trunk 4.5 feet above ground.
       (c)  For purposes of Subsection (b)(1)(B), the municipality
and the person may consult with an academic organization, state
agency, or nonprofit organization to identify an area for which
tree planting will best address the science-based benefits of trees
and other reforestation needs of the municipality.
       (d)  The amount of a credit provided to a person under this
section must be:
             (1)  applied in the same manner as the tree mitigation
fee assessed against the person; and
             (2)  at least 50 percent of the amount of the tree
mitigation fee assessed against the person.
       (e)  As long as the municipality meets the requirement to
provide a person a credit under Subsection (a), this section does
not affect the ability of or require a municipality to determine:
             (1)  the size, number, and type of trees that must be
planted to receive a credit under this section, except as provided
by Subsection (b);
             (2)  the requirements for tree removal and
corresponding tree mitigation fees, if applicable; or
             (3)  the requirements for tree planting methods and
best management practices to ensure that the tree grows to the
anticipated height at maturity.
       (f)  This section does not apply to property within five
miles of a federal military base in active use as of September 1,
2017.
       SECTION 2.  The changes in law made by this Act apply only to
a tree mitigation fee assessed by a municipality on or after the
effective date of this Act.
       SECTION 3.  This Act takes effect immediately if it receives
a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as
provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution.  If this
Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this
Act takes effect September 1, 2017.

The applicability of this bill depends on the municipality and I'm not ready to comment on that aspect for the City of Dallas at this time.  However, the body of the bill had undergone some considerable compromise to reach such broad support, including a very important statement I enhanced in the text. The City of Dallas could be ready with the ordinance amendment to address the conditions in any case, so we will look on to another bill.

HB 1572, which relates to residential property owner's right to remove a tree or vegetation that the owner believes poses a fire risk, has come out of committee.  This bill is aimed at residential properties and would not be significant in Dallas since lots under 2 acres with single family or duplex residences are exempted from tree regulations.  The bill has far to go and is not certain to make it through the House or Senate.

Article X update
The latest draft ordinance is making its way out for full public availability soon.  The next CPC briefing and first public comment period is May 18.  I will endeavor in this blog to discuss items objectively which have been made of public record to better explain meaning and intent.  You can check back weekly for new updates at the Dallas City Hall website for Current Planning and Code Amendments.  The Plan Commission agenda will also be available.

Urban Forester position in Mobility and Street Services
The City of Dallas has a new position and it needs to be filled soon.  The new position will be responsible for establishing and managing the urban forestry operations on city public rights-of-way, including planting projects, maintenance, and inventory.  This person will have the opportunity to build this group from the ground up into a forestry division in our Mobility and Street Services Department, with the expectation of hiring and expanding the crew and for developing efficient operations under his/her direction.

The position is listed under Manager II (Forestry/Horticulture/Park Ranger).  The listing closes on May 20, 2017.



For more information on urban forestry and links to important sites, you can go to my website:
dallastrees.net


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