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Threshold for heritage tree removal comes into question
Monday, February 25, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns
At the Feb. 20 meeting of the Environmental Commission, Save Our Springs Alliance attorney Bobby Levinski brought the commissioners’ attention to the heritage tree ordinance and how he believes the law falls short. He referenced a case where the Austin Country Club applied for a permit to remove a single heritage tree on a 180-acre golf course in order to create a designated press area for a PGA tournament. The city arborist approved the application and the tree was removed. “The only rationale they gave was for a media area for the press for a PGA tournament. That’s not really a great reason for removing our heritage trees,” said Levinski. “I’m concerned that this is setting a very, very low standard for what it takes to get a heritage tree removed.” The country club had previously hosted tournaments where the press was in attendance while the tree was still standing. He urged the board that the city needs to engage in a broader conversation about the requirements for heritage tree removal going forward, emphasizing that a single tree on 180 acres meeting the threshold for “impeding reasonable use” is a stretch. The commission thanked him for bringing the case to their attention.