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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

General Assembly's attempt to block cities from regulating trees concerns more than just their huggers

Posted By on Tue, May 6, 2014 at 3:02 PM

A draft bill that would strip North Carolina municipalities of the authority to remove, replace or preserve trees on private property has more than environmentalists concerned.

Some on city council say the bill - expected to come up in the short session, which begins next week - is another overreach by legislators in Raleigh, those supposed defenders of limited government.

If lawmakers approve the bill as it is, the city wouldn't be able to regulate or preserve trees in water quality buffers, "which will lead to degradation of local water quality and will affect the City's ability to comply with the federally mandated National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit," according to a council-manager memo. It also would no longer be able to "prevent the clear-cutting of trees in new subdivisions, which would negatively impact air and water quality," and, yes, seriously piss off environmentalists.

It would also strip the city's ability to require tree buffers, which would create more noise and light issues, and impede the city's goal of increasing Charlotte's much beloved - and threatened - tree canopy by 50 percent by 2050.

The N.C. Home Builders Association has spoken against "over reaching" local tree ordinances before, according to the N.C. League of Municipalities.

The city's environmental committee is expected to discuss the legislation in a meeting Wednesday.

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