At its Sept. 8 meeting, members of the Asheville City Council unanimously approved three amendments to Asheville’s Unified Development Ordinance to require tree preservation in commercial and residential areas.
According to an Urban Tree Canopy Study prepared for the city in October, Asheville lost 6.4% of its tree cover between 2008 and 2018, making the area more prone to high surface temperatures and flooding associated with climate change.
The new amendments, first presented at Council’s meeting of Aug. 25, outline how much canopy cover sites must include and add measures to incentivize preservation over new growth. Developers will also have the option to pay a fee-in-lieu if they cannot or choose not to comply with the canopy cover requirements.
Three community members encouraged members to adopt the proposed protections during the Aug. 25 public hearing. Because North Carolina’s virtual meeting procedures require emailed public comments to be accepted up to 24 hours after the close of a public hearing, Council did not formally vote on the proposals until last week.
“Voters deserve adaptations that promote sustainability and lead to the ultimate goal of net-zero tree canopy loss,” said longtime tree advocate Dixie Deerman during Council’s Aug. 25 meeting. “We ask you to nurture our tourist-luring tree canopy, protect the trees that remain and encourage planting to restore tree loss to irresponsible building practice. Enable Asheville trees to be full, green and relevant for generations to come.”