Archive for Friday, March 9, 2007

Permit system eyed for tree cutting

March 9, 2007


City proposes Tree Conservation Ordinance

There's an idea moving through City Hall that may require you to do more than just sharpen your saw to cut down your backyard tree. Enlarge video

The way Richard Morantz sees it, you need a city permit to tear down your garage in Lawrence, so maybe you also should need a permit to cut down the big old tree in your backyard.

After all, the general public probably receives greater benefit from your tree than your garage.

"A big tree affects your neighbors too," Morantz said. "It provides shade to their property also. Plus, Lawrence is a beautiful city, and part of the beauty is the mature trees that we have. We just want to help protect that."

The idea, which Morantz started building support for in late 2005, is beginning to work its way through City Hall. The city's Recycling and Resource Conservation Advisory Board has endorsed the idea of creating a city advisory board that would be responsible for protecting trees.

The recycling board stopped short of endorsing a system that would require a permit for people to cut down trees on private property, but said those types of details should be worked out by the new tree board.

City commissioners haven't taken any action. Instead, they're waiting on a review by the Parks and Recreation Department of existing city ordinances regarding trees.

A new permit system might cut against the grain with some folks concerned about private property rights.

"My gut reaction is it is something the city ought to stay out of," said Newton Mulford, owner of Lawrence-based Mulford's Tree Service. "I don't see why the city should have the authority to tell a property owner what they can or can't do with their tree."

Morantz - who is a rural Baldwin resident but serves as an organizer for a citizens group called the Tree Conservancy of Lawrence - said the ordinance might not include private property.

Instead, the city could choose to have an ordinance that protects trees only on public property, such as in parks or on road rights of way.

Morantz, though, said he thought it would be good to have an ordinance that encourages developers to leave mature trees on property that they're preparing for construction.

Fred DeVictor, director of the city's Parks and Recreation Department, said a new tree ordinance also could address what methods utility companies must use when trimming trees in their easements.

DeVictor said he is having his staff members examine the department's standards for deciding when a tree at a park or on city property should be removed. But DeVictor said his department tried to avoid cutting down trees.

"We think we're pretty careful in assessing the condition of a tree," DeVictor said. "We don't want to take down a tree if we can help it."

The city also plants about 1,000 trees per year through several programs. Earlier this week the city was recognized for the 29th consecutive year as a Tree City USA community by the National Arbor Day Foundation.


nut_case 11 years ago

Boooooo....tree cutting permit for my own yard.

Magnetic_field 11 years ago

All those protests in the 60's and 70's to get out from under repressive rules.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

I have 5 acres in the city. A coupla hundred trees. I cut down about 5 a year for the fireplace. So now I have to ask permission?

What is wrong with you Mr. Morantz?

Nikki May 11 years ago

And how much were they going to charge for this permit?

monkeyhawk 11 years ago

I have had to remove two deseased, dead pines from my yard in the past couple of years. This nasty disease spreads quickly to the others in the area. If the city adopts this regulation, could a person count on the decision to come within, say, a couple of weeks, months, etc? Will there have to be a study done by outside consultants, and will the owner be required to hire an "approved" tree company?

We have all permitted the city to infringe on our rights with only minor outcries, so why not just give in to merrill, boozo and the likes. We need to hand over our lives for caring guidance and gentle control because we cannot take care of ourselves.

doc1 11 years ago

I would never waste my time going to get a permit. Never Never Never. Some of this crap has got to stop.

cowboy 11 years ago

efective today all residential lawns shall be converted to soybean fiels to fed the communal tofu plant, thank you The Kommissars

average 11 years ago

What qualifies as a tree? I chop out dozens of little trashy elm seedlings every year. Do I need a surveyor to map each one of them for a permit?

tir 11 years ago

I don't have any big, old trees in my backyard. But my neighbors do. Their trees have big old limbs that hang over my roof and my power, cable, and phone lines, too. In the past, I have had to beg them to trim their trees, or hire someone myself to trim the branches that menace my roof and lines. If this ordinance passes, they won't trim their trees and I won't be able to. And "Average" is right--the nasty little seedling trees are a huge problem--if I can't trim those back, pretty soon they'll take over my yard and it will be a jungle. Then the city will come after me for that, you can bet on it.

Bottom line--It's a stupid idea that will have all sorts of bad consequences that Richard Morantz hasn't even considered. Butt out, Richard. You don't even live here--what gives you ANY right to tell Lawrence property owners what to do?

KsTwister 11 years ago

In that case, the city can clean them up at their expense when the storms come through too.

armyguy 11 years ago

What sort of tree hugging BS is this? I have 5 trees in my yard that are going to die of unnatural causes this spring. I would love to have somebody climb up in it with a save the tree/world/shade/small animals/ ozone group and chain themselves on it. They as well as the trees would be missing limbs. Better get my chainsaw tuned up.

Wilbur_Nether 11 years ago

I wonder if there is significant difference between this topic, and yesterday's:

bodahana 11 years ago

What tree are we going to cut down to print the permit on paper?

jafs 11 years ago

If your neighbor's trees are causing hazardous conditions in your yard, I believe it is their legal responsibility to correct that.

While it seems silly, the intention behind this is to protect and preserve natural resources, which is a worthwhile goal in my view.

If enacted at all, this would probably only affect public property, as mentioned in the article. I wouldn't mind an ordinance that prevented developers from tearing down more trees and ruining more open green spaces than they already have.

sourpuss 11 years ago

In Toronto, the city owns every tree, root to leaf, over a certain size diameter (so you can still cut down the scrubs that pop up). A few years ago, the city seized all of the trees to prevent developers and land owners from clear cutting their property. Now, you don't have a right to disturb a tree on your property outside of routine trimming to protect eaves, clear walking paths, maintain a garden, etc. (You can still trim your decorative cedar, for instance). The bonus is that you actually aren't responsible for them anymore either. If you have a nuisance tree, instead of spending upwards of $2000 to have it removed, the city comes and does it for free. The deal is you just have to replace the tree somewhere on your property or pay for one in a park somewhere.

Trees help clean the air from the impurities caused by all this driving, so Toronto wanted to ensure that selfish people couldn't ruin things for everyone. Sadly, such socialist measures wouldn't be necessary if some people weren't complete jerks. However, now property owners do not have to go to the expense of maintaining their own trees. The expense is shared by all through the city.

50YearResident 11 years ago

It only makes sense, if you need a permit to cut a tree down, then you are also going to need a permit to plant one back in your yard. There is no end to this.

OnlyTheOne 11 years ago

How do you turn a nice city into a laughing stock?

"details should be worked out by the new tree board."

Of course I was kinda shocked yesterday as I drove in north from 458 (on Haskell extended) to see all the trees on the property being prepared for a new house had been bulldozed! I'm really pretty sure some of those fellas could've been saved. Worry about the developers and builders leave the property owner alone!

canyon_wren 11 years ago

It's my understanding that Monterey, California (and I am sure many other places) have ordinances like this. It is unreasonable to assume that this will affect all trees everyone's back yard, but it has proven REALLY beneficial to have an ordinance that requires developers to leave mature trees in new subdivisions--this is not a new idea at all and has been applied elsewhere for probably at least 20 years or more. It is not some "tree-hugger's" idea but is the general consensus of many very reasonable people who are dismayed by the scouring off of perfectly beautiful land for ugly subdivisions.

It really seems unlikely that an ordinance as BROAD as most of the posters interpret this as being would ever be proposed--for one, thing, enforcement would be impossible. Get real--no one is going to make you get a permit to cut some scrappy Chinese elms sprouts or a dead diseased tree. If you keep on top of it and let your commissioners know how everyone feels, they will come up with something reasonable.

gccs14r 11 years ago

Power, phone, and cable lines should all be buried so that swaying trees don't knock them down. I can't believe that we still put them up on posts to be easy targets.

monkeyhawk 11 years ago

With so many seemingly against this, it is sure to pass.

Rationalanimal 11 years ago

"such socialist measures wouldn't be necessary if some people weren't complete jerks."

I'm not just saying it, you guys admit it. This is driven--like many other agendas in this town--by socialists.

To save the oppressed working class from the bourgeois class (jerks), we ought to confiscate all real and personal private property and then distribute, redistribute,and control it through the state. Forget creating jobs in Lawrence, lets build the workers paradise. The scary thing about me saying this is, I know some people on here are saying, "Yeah, let's do it. Down with the bourgeois pigs. When do we march across the Mass St. Bridge?"

I'm going to re-read "The Giving Tree" and then go chainsaw a tree to the ground before its criminalized by the Lawrence Intelligentsia.

April can't possible come soon enough.

Godot 11 years ago

Logrithmic, the branches that were hanging over your yard were your responsibility.

gccs14r 11 years ago

Why am I not surprised that Marion knows how to kill things?

Godot 11 years ago

"I'm not a lawyer. But I know this, if someone fell from the branch and hit my land, it would be my responsibility."

That is why you have the right to cut that branch off if you think it is necessary.

The golf course did the right thing by taking down the treehouse, but, technically, the vegetation that hangs over your property is yours to take care of.

I guess if we get to enjoy the beauty and shade of someone else's tree, then we also have to be responsible for trimming it if it is a nuisance.

Godot 11 years ago

Reminds me of my neighbors, who have a line of untrimmed and junky bushes and trees on their side of the fence that are pushing through the fence and hanging over my garden. They told me quite pleasantly that they wouldn't mind if I trimmed them; even gave me permission to come on their property and cut them down to the ground.

George_Braziller 11 years ago

Hmmmmm. Can we do this to Marion?

You can also bore a 1" hole into the offending Larch and place a bit of herbicide in the bottom of the hole then seal the hole with wax or putty.

The Larch will shortly join the Choir Invisible.



budwhysir 11 years ago

I would suggest a permit for reading the local newspapers. If everything we do requires a permit the city would make more money.

And by the way, how long has this town had a tree committe?? Seems as thought they may have been ignoring thier jobs if the problems have grown so big we now must implement a permit program.

Maybe this committe could also be in charge of issuing permits for shoveling the snow off of the sidewalks in front of homeowners property. And also a permit for removing weeds with a gas powered weed eater,

The other permit I would like to see is the required permit to start looking into forming a committe for researching permit usages

warthog 11 years ago

I think they're barking up the wrong tree. Hoo wood think we wood need a permit to cut down a tree? Such ideas usually sprout from nuts who want to control every branch of our lives. They should just leaf us alone and attend to the root of our problems.


bearded_gnome 11 years ago

amazing. that's all I have to say!

Bud, first, you need a permit that permits you to seek a permit. then, you need a paper permit which permits paper permitting to happen. then, and ink permit and a printer permit. OMG, look at all the unauthorized printering going on around this city! we'll have to have a city log of all the permits, so people don't just pine away for the good ol' days.

budwhysir 11 years ago

Bearded you are correct,

I will permit myself to apply for any permit as long as the permit is permited within the permit realm of permission. Otherwise, I would be permited to do without a permit that was written on permited paper or cut from a permited tree.

bearded_gnome 11 years ago

oh, Bud, you simpleton...first you need a permission slip, otherwise it will go on your perminent record! then, a permit to touch the touch screen: a "touch permit?" could become very popular in Lawrence. assume those seeking a "touch permit" will have their names released to the public.

of course we've been ignoring the most important permit necessary in the above process: the electron diversion permit, which allows you to divert electrons using electronic devices to the permitting process. without the EDP, you're SOL with no ETA, its just SOP, otherwise it would be SNAFU.

pelliott 11 years ago

I love trees, I wish people would plant more, I wish developers would leave more. I wish that a someone hadn't bought one of the nicest trees in Lawrence and cut it down in case it got between him and a buck. I DO NOT want to apply for a permit to cut down a tree in my yard!!!! That department is spooky anyway. And since I am not a developer they would probably give me their walk the block shuffle.

gr 11 years ago


What if one's tree suddenly died. Would the city require you to remove it? Would they charge you for removing it if you didn't?

So, they may charge you if you WANT to remove your tree and they may charge you if you DON'T want to remove your tree.

How about increasing the toll on the turnpike to pay for tree removal?

gr 11 years ago

"any hardwood species like maple, oak, hackberry and others should require a permit for removing useful woods."

"Useful woods"?! Who determines it? As opposed to useless woods? Some may view hackberry as useless.

Speaking of useless woods, what about elm? I believe elm is a banned tree. What if you have an elm growing on your property? And, now that I think of it, elm may collect a greater amount of carbon during a certain time frame than other species. That brings us to the question:

Is Lawrence accelerating global warming through its politics?

bearded_gnome 11 years ago

apparently, Cool is just opposed to private property rights, so she would have us turn over our land, trees, homes, everything to the benevolent citizens' council and they will decide what the individual needs, what the group needs, and what is not needed.
soon, the citizens' council will be deciding on lives, people, and jobs, too, as to wanted needed or disposable.

yea! a new form of slavery, and no one has incentive to individual investment or effort. wonderful.

bearded_gnome 11 years ago

Pilgrim, you surprised she listed the democratic peoples' republic of Berkeley as a city to take for an example?

okay, its the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Lawrence...long live the whole, at the expense of the individual!

remember, all that the benevolent citizens' council decides must be good for the whole. all individual property rights are just an expression of oppression. just because that tree is on your land, maybe you even planted, you are an exploiter if you think you actually own that tree. in fact, you should be locked up for such thoughts which threaten the peace of the whole.

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