Measure may guide planting of trees along public roads

Commissioners seem to favor draft ordinance on landscaping

September 03, 2004|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Carroll's County's streetscapes could become greener and lined with stately trees and well-maintained shrubs if the county commissioners adopt a proposed Landscape Ordinance and Manual, which they reviewed yesterday.

The ordinance details where and how to plant trees along public roads so they will mature to provide shade to streets and buildings.

"This is basically Landscaping 101," said Brian Adams, a landscaper for Westminster and member of the review committee that fine-tuned the draft ordinance. "We are literally giving the specs so that there will be a good product in the end.

"We are not talking about a row of white pines 2 feet apart," he said. "We will be considering the size and health of trees in a layout that gives them a chance to survive."

Landscaping is more than beautification, said Andrew Stine, a landscape consultant and committee member.

"It is a basic amenity that provides general livability with shade and wind breaks for the whole community in perpetuity," he said.

Although much of the county landscaping efforts will be in public rights of way, the proposal gives the property owners responsibility for maintaining and refurbishing landscaping. The proposal does not apply to trees on private property and would not force homeowners to maintain or replace other trees on their property.

"This could be tough to enforce, but if you can encourage it, it will be good for the community," Adams said.

Vicki Luther, county forest conservationist and committee member, said the public will provide the best enforcement.

"You will find that people will be happy to have these trees for the aesthetics of the whole subdivision," she said.

The committee decided that the proposed planting of a buffer between residential areas and farmland would prove too costly. Members deleted that from the ordinance and left the decision to homeowners.

"That is where you will get your rows of white pines," Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge said.

The ordinance leaves decisions on landscaping at the edges of commercial and industrial properties to the business owner, allows for the removal of trees for safety and security reasons, and in county parks, recommends plantings that complement their use.

Because property owners would have to replace any diseased or dead trees along the road, that responsibility would have to be disclosed when a property is sold, according to the ordinance.

The commissioners will schedule a public hearing on the draft, but they appeared to favor its approval after the briefing yesterday.

Commissioner Dean L. Minnich called the landscape plan "flexible in design, with room for adjustments and palatable to the public tastes." He said he expects the plan to spur tree plantings and maintenance.

"We are talking about responsible landscaping by contractors," Minnich said.

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