City considers ordinance on best practices for trees on or near public property

COLUMBUS, Ind. — City staff members and officials are updating Columbus’ policies and best practices for trees on or near public property.

The Columbus City Council has passed the first reading of an ordinance amending the city’s code on street trees and shrubs. Ordinances must be passed on two readings in order to be fully approved. The council’s next meeting is set for Tuesday.

The ordinance applies to trees on public property, including those in medians and the right-of-way.

It also contains some regulations for trees on private property adjacent to public property and trees on the boundary lines between public and private land, according to Assistant Planning Director Melissa Begley.

“The intent of the replacement ordinance is to better reflect the city’s current street tree care practices, property owner responsibility and standards for street tree care,” Begley wrote in a memo to the city council.

Redrafting the ordinance was a collaborative effort, with several city departments and interested citizens starting the work in early 2021. The Davey Resource Group was also contracted to collect data on street tree ordinances, including trends and best practices.

Begley told council members that it’s unclear when Columbus’s existing street tree ordinance was adopted, though it appears to predate the city code that was codified in 1994. There are no citations indicating that it has been updated since then.

“Just looking at basically what we have, it seems like the only way to go is forward,” said Begley.

For the complete story, see Thursday’s Republic.