Asheville City Council hears tree canopy protection amendment

trees and houses



At Asheville City Council’s Aug. 25 meeting, City staff presented an ordinance focused on the preservation, enhancement and expansion of the City’s tree canopy as it relates to private land development activity. 


The proposed changes will ask developers to consider the tree canopy and require that they keep a portion of the trees in place, plant new trees or pay a fee in lieu of keeping the trees.  


Staff used the  the City’s recently adopted comprehensive plan Living Asheville, the Urban Tree Canopy Study and the NASA DEVELOP Urban Heat Island Study to develop new requirements for tree canopy preservation and enhancement for all subdivisions, new buildings (with the exception of new single-family homes), new open uses of land (such as parking lots) and expansions of at least 1,500 square feet for buildings and 3,000 square feet for open uses of land. 


This new section to the Unified Development Ordinance will replace the requirements for Tree Save Areas as currently found in Section 7-11-3(d)7. The new section places heavy incentives upon the preservation of existing tree canopy.


In the development of the Tree Canopy Protection Ordinance Amendments City staff provided updates and heard comments from: Urban Forestry Commission, Development Customer Advisory Group, Sustainability Committee, Planning and Economic Development Committee, Asheville Downtown Commission and the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce. 


“We understand the importance of protecting our tree canopy and have built in the guidelines to protect it, while still offering multiple methods of compliance for future development,“ said Chris Collins, Site Planning and Development Division Manager for the City’s Development Services Department. 


In accordance with state laws governing public hearings conducted remotely during a state of emergency, the tree ordinance amendments will be formally voted on at the City Council’s next regularly scheduled meeting, Sept. 8. The related public hearing was held during the Aug. 25 meeting.


Follow the process on our Tree Canopy Protection Ordinance Amendments web page as upcoming educational materials and opportunities are developed to help our community understand the amendments to the ordinance. 


Find a presentation about the tree ordinance amendments made to Asheville’s Planning & Zoning Commission at this link.