Updated Tree Preservation Alternatives (8-31-18)
Arlington can do more to support the preservation of its trees. Below are some alternatives to consider:
• Adopt a tree preservation ordinance based on § 15.2-961.1. Conservation of trees during land development process in localities belonging to a nonattainment area for air quality standards (as has Fairfax County). See full section of the State Code at https://law.lis.virginia.gov/
• Adopt a countywide stormwater utility fee (as Albemarle County has) instead of or in addition to Arlington’s current service-district method to incentivize landowners to keep space open and green or to restore land to natural condition. Stormwater utility fees are charged based on a property’s percentage of impervious cover, placing a greater burden on those who generate more runoff. See https://www.cvilletomorrow.
• Strengthen enforcement of existing permitting rules on public as well as private sites and do not give APS and county government a free pass on adhering to permit requirements, as the county and board did when APS cut more trees than permitted on the Ashlawn Elementary School site (with the board simply changing the permit instead of applying penalties): https://www.arlnow.com/?s=
• Reinstate sensible setback rules and height limits for S-3A zoned public land (representing most public parkland) to discourage development in public parks. Zoning staff made clear that it wouldn’t limit these changes to school construction and intend to extend the changes to all uses and structures built on county parkland. See https://building.arlingtonva.
• Identify and nominate more “specimen” trees — the only category that provides legal protections — beyond the 10 specimen trees on public land. Out of 11.6 sq mi of public land, there must be more than 10 trees worth saving. On the 14.4 sq mi of private land, there are 16 specimen trees. See https://environment.
• Apply a whole building design/whole system approach to site design on public sites, which would utilize the lowest impact strategies that limit land disturbance and preserve existing vegetation to the maximum degree possible: https://www.wbdg.org/design-
• Increase the number of LEED points awarded (now just 1 point) for reducing land disturbance and preserving existing mature trees on sites to be developed.
• Increase the minimum landscaping percentage for all of its commercial zoning categories to 20%, as the ordinance does for the C-1-O zoning category: https://building.arlingtonva.
• Work with state and federal stormwater program managers to “better integrate urban tree canopy and riparian buffer goals with TMDL/WIP implementation and MS4 programs” — see p. 11 of “Tree Canopy Outcome Management Strategy 2015–2025” at https://www.
• Explore purchasing the preservation rights for the tree. See James Komen at http://www.jameskomen.com/. He wrote an article on this topic, which is available here: https://eventmobi.com/api/