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Arlington County Civic Federation

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Resolution of the Arlington County Civic Federation

Adopted on: November 12, 2002

A Tree Ordinance that Balances Environmental Needs and Private Rights

Whereas, (1) trees and other plantings are an essential component of life, adding immeasurably to the aesthetic value of a community, the health and stability of its land formations, and the health of its residents; (2) the loss of tree canopy over the past decade has damaged the aesthetic beauty of Arlington and, combined with other factors, eroded the quality of our environment - land, water and air; and (3) development, with inadequate regard to the loss of trees and other vegetation, has contributed to this condition;

Whereas, it is completely within the purview of the County of Arlington, Virginia to enhance the tree canopy on public parks, open spaces, sidewalk and streetscapes, and the County Board has stated as one of its purposes the restoration of the canopy, to the extent practicable; and the focus of government policy must necessarily balance the perceived needs of the community with the rights of the individual as outlined in various amendments to the U.S. Constitution and the abilities of our public institutions such as the Courts and public safety;

Be it resolved, by the Arlington County Civic Federation, that the County Board is encouraged to support those portions of the proposed tree ordinance dealing exclusively with trees in the public domains;

Be it further resolved, that the Civic Federation urges the County Board to reject the portion of the proposed ordinance dealing with trees on private property until greater specificity can be achieved, including, but not limited to: clear proof of need; specific County goals; definitions and criteria for designation and findings; procedures for arbitration, adjudication, compensation or appeal; inclusion of Code of Virginia (Code) �25-46.1 et seq., governing the "taking" of property under subsection D of Code �10.1-1127.1 (the State authorizing statute); and the specific issue of canopy loss as the result of commercial development; (See Attachment for detailed comments and categories of concern/omission);

Be it further resolved, that the County Board adopt its revised Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance prior to adopting the "Tree Preservation Ordinance," thereby allowing full review of criteria for private and commercial activities affecting the Arlington tree canopy;

And be it further resolved, that the County Board is requested to extend the opportunity for public review and comment for two months or longer, but in no case earlier than February 1, 2003.

Here is a detailed rundown of the questions that the Environmental Affairs Committee had on the ordinance.

And here is the County's decision. After hearing testimony, the Board adopted an ordinance that allows for the designation of trees as Heritage, Memorial, Specimen or Street trees and protects such trees from removal or damage. Trees on both public and private property are eligible for designation, although trees on land used for single-family residential properties, under Article 3 of the ordinance, require consent by the landowner before being protected under the ordinance.

This page was last revised on: December 27, 2003.
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