Tree removal limits part of proposed 'conservation' subdivision - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Tree removal limits part of proposed 'conservation' subdivision rules

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Stand of trees near proposed Covington By The Park subdivision Stand of trees near proposed Covington By The Park subdivision

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Louisville Metro Council will take up proposed changes to conservation subdivision rules at its meeting Thursday night, including steps meant to limit tree removal in projects whose goal is preserving green space.

The regulations were hammered out by a task force that included planning officials, neighborhood groups and developers, and recommended by the city’s planning commission this summer.

“It probably didn’t go far enough to satisfy those of us who are very concerned about conservation, but it’s probably in the realm of a good compromise,” said Steve Porter, an attorney who served on the task force.

The proposal before the council would prevent trees from being cleared at a proposed conservation subdivision within two years prior to submitting an application. By waiting that long, Porter said, preservation advocates hope to prod builders to make tree cover part of the land that is preserve.

“Our feeling was the developer could come in and just clear cut or cut down the trees and he’d sit around and wait for a year and then make an application,” Porter said. “Two years would maybe discourage people.”

The planning commission halted its review of the subdivisions earlier this year while looking into regulations that took effect in 2008. Designed to keep large bands of green space in housing developments, the rules require that at least 30 percent of all land remain intact.

In exchange for setting aside portions of undeveloped land, builders can add more lots.

But critics long have maintained that the subdivisions, which count slopes and other undesirable land towards the requirements, do little actual conservation. By some accounts, nearly all of the proposed subdivisions in Jefferson County applied for the ‘conservation’ status.

“We don’t need to be mowing down trees and then a month later applying for a conservation subdivision,” said Donnie Blake, a former planning commission chairman who served on the task force. “That’s just not the right thing to do.”

Blake said he hopes the regulations to the Land Development Code, if approved by the council, will promote a “better product.”

“We need more green space in our developments. We need more tree preservation,” Blake said.

About 820 acres of trees are cut down in Metro Louisville each year. About 37 percent of all land in Jefferson County is covered by trees, according to a 2015 review of the city’s tree canopy, but officials hope to get 45 percent coverage.

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