Community Environment

Louisville residents spoke up about a proposed Metro Council tree ordinance Tuesday.

The ordinance, filed in December, would require residents who want to remove a tree on public property, such as rights of way, to replace it with a new tree.

Ninth District councilman Bill Hollander sponsors the bill, citing the need to maintain Louisville’s tree canopy to alleviate the city’s heat island effect. Hollander couldn’t make it to Tuesday’s meeting, but thanked attendants in a written statement.

“A public tree ordinance has been recommended for decades, most recently as part of the tree canopy and urban heat island studies,” he wrote. “I am glad the community is now considering that recommendation and I thank you for your input.”

The majority of residents who attended Tuesday’s hearing supported the ordinance. Some requested changes to the proposed measure.

Lake Forest resident Duncan Murley is against the measure. Murley said in 35 years, Lake Forest homeowners’ association has spent up to $15 million to maintain, rebuild and improve public and private landscaping.

“We’ve been good stewards of our green space, and were good stewards of our green space, for 20-plus years prior to Metro Government even looking at trees,” Murley said. “Why not spend our tax dollars wisely where the ordinance is needed rather than the old ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach?”

Louisville resident Deborah Harlan spoke in support of the proposal. She said it’s time to stop talking and do something about the issue.

“We’re really good at talking, we’re really good at sitting around and having meetings, but we’re not doing anything,” Harlan said. “Now I’m going to get on the bus and go back to the Highlands so I don’t have to go back to my urban heat island that I love, which is Old Louisville, because nobody is taking care of anything that isn’t in Lake Forest apparently.”

If approved, the ordinance would establish a fund to help property owners who couldn’t afford to pay for tree removal.

Erin Thompson, supervisor for Metro Government’s division of community forestry, said she would likely need to hire seven more arborists if the measure passes. Ordinance fees, she said, would be handled by the office of management of budget.