Tree Canopy Bill Seeks to Preserve the Shade

A new bill is working its way through the Metro council that will throw more shade on Nashville’s citizenry — the good kind of shade, that is. Sponsored by Metro council members Anthony Davis, Angie Henderson, and Colby Sledge, the proposed bill seeks to preserve and expand Nashville’s urban tree canopy.

“Angie Harrison is working on a rewrite of the entire tree code, but we wanted to push something along while waiting for the new, overarching bill,” says Councilman Anthony Davis. “We have enforcement issues that will be addressed in the larger bill, but it was important for us to act as soon as possible because we’re losing more of our existing tree canopy every day.”

The new bill will increase the required tree density units on new developments from 14 per acre to 20 per acre. Tree density units are calculated using the trunk diameter of existing or newly planted trees. The bill will also require any trees with trunk diameters of 24 inches or more be surveyed and indicated on the development plan submitted to codes, and that all new, commercial developments be reviewed and approved by a licensed landscape architect.

“We also plan to add an amendment to help protect heritage trees,” Davis says. “We want to strengthen the restrictions on not cutting older, historic trees.”

The current bill was approved on first reading and sent to the Metro planning department for review. Davis says he hopes the bill will be sent back to council by February and to build a consensus for its passing.
“We can’t just count on parks and Metro-owned land to preserve Nashville’s tree canopy,” Davis says. “It has to extend to private property as well, and we have to ensure that private development plays their part.”

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