Alabaster to save trees with newly amended ordinance

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 6, 2006

The Alabaster City Council voted Monday to make it harder for developers to clear-cut land when building residential neighborhoods.

The council amended a city ordinance to now require developers to present a tree survey when applying for a land disturbance permit. The survey must show that trees are cut only if they block the &8220;footprint&8221; a house makes, which includes the foundation, roads and utility lines.

Under the changes, all other adult trees of a certain height

must be saved, moved or replaced with trees of equal height.

&8220;I think it&8217;s something we need,&8221; said Mayor David Frings. &8220;Recent surveys have shown that our number one complaint is a lack of or the removal of green space.&8221;

Frings said the amendment would provide Alabaster with better water and air quality. He said the changes would benefit developers too.

&8220;They will actually be offering a better looking product,&8221; he said.

Councilman Tommy Ryals said altering the land disturbance ordinance was faster and easier than changing the city&8217;s 1999 zoning regulations.

&8220;We decided the best way to address the problem was to amend our ordinance,&8221; he said.

Ryals also addressed criticism of the new permit process.

He admitted the ordinance would allow clear-cutting in a one to two street area, but stressed that any trees removed must be accounted for elsewhere in a development.

He also made it clear that once a homeowner buys a house, the ordinance becomes null.

&8220;This does not limit what individuals can do on their own property,&8221; said Ryals. &8220;They can cut every tree and do as they please, but this will affect developers and how many trees they can cut.&8221;

Most city residents present at Monday night&8217;s meeting seemed pleased with the attempts to saving Alabaster&8217;s greenery.

&8220;Most of these developers coming in don&8217;t live and work here anyway,&8221; said Barbara Gora. &8220;Most of them live in places with beautiful trees. Now when they leave, we&8217;ll still have trees too.&8221;