By Jonathan Copsey; Appen Newspapers
July 14, 2010 MILTON – Just when you thought it was safe to cut down that large tree in your backyard, think again; Milton now has a tree ordinance.
In a lengthy discussion, the council approved the new law that regulates how trees are to be handled on properties. For any tree over 15 inches in diameter, the property owner will need city permission to chop it down.
The ordinance was crafted "to further ensure and preserve our rural characteristic in the city of Milton by retaining as many of our trees as we can," said Lynn Tully, the community development director.
The ordinance, which has been in development since 2008, also provides for the regulation and approval of tree removal companies who would specialize in such matters.
Of particular concern to the council was what constituted a "self-imposed hardship." A hardship is when matters on a property prevent the owner from complying with established law. In such a case, waivers can be issued. A self-imposed hardship is, obviously, a hardship the owner brought upon himself.
Council member Julie Zahner-Bailey raised the question that, with the new ordinance, should there be a large, immovable tree in the middle of the property, does that constitute a hardship if it prevents a new building from going up in that site?
If it does, the property owner could be able to chop down the tree regardless of its status with the city.
The ordinance passed unanimously with added wording detailing hardships.