Brookhaven has published a first draft of its new tree ordinance rewrite ahead of its final public input meeting, which is scheduled for April 22. 

The ordinance was originally written in 2014 and has not been updated since 2015. The city decided to rewrite the ordinance in light of tree-cutting that angered residents in 2020. The draft of the rewrite can be read here. 

According to city Community Development Director Patrice Ruffin, the new draft of the ordinance is a “total rewrite.” Some of the biggest changes include updated definitions for “specimen tree” and “tree care prescription.” 

In the new draft, a specimen tree is any tree that qualifies for preservation due to its “size, type, condition, location or historical significance.” According to the document, the tree must be assessed by a “qualified professional” and must meet criteria in a “Specimen Tree Table,” which offers descriptors for different types of trees. 

“Tree care prescription” is not found in the old draft, but is defined in the new draft as “a tree care plan developed by a qualified professional based on multiple variables, including scope of impact, immediate growing conditions and environment, species, size and condition of tree.” 

Other changes from the old code include revised regulations related to minimum tree density and tree protection during construction, and the removal of “alternative compliance allowances.” Alternative compliance refers to a section of the existing code where one could make a payment into the city’s tree fund instead of complying with the tree code. 

The city has held two days of public input meetings on this issue, one in January and one in February. The final input meetings will be held April 22 at noon and 6 p.m. The Zoom link for the noon meeting can be found here, and the link for the 6 p.m. meeting can be found here.  

Both meetings will be broadcast on the city’s Facebook page and contain the same information. 

Sammie Purcell

Sammie Purcell is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers.