Environment

A Louisville Metro Committee has approved new regulations to preserve more of the city’s tree canopy.

A healthy tree canopy could help combat several problems facing the city including urban heat, flash flooding and air quality issues. A 2015 study found the city is losing about 54,000 trees every year and one city expert has said the city is likely losing even more trees now.

To help improve the canopy, the Louisville Metro Planning and Zoning Committee unanimously approved changes to the land development code during a meeting on Tuesday. The ordinance now moves to a vote before the full Metro Council.

Metro Councilman Bill Hollander said the ordinance is a significant improvement that includes the city’s first tree preservation requirement.

“I’ll say that not everyone got everything they wanted here. I know that,” Hollander said. “And that I think is true on the side of the developers. It’s certainly true on the sides of the environmentalists and tree advocates.”

In most cases, new subdivisions and commercial developments that have lots with more than 50% tree canopy would need to preserve at least 20% of those trees. In certain cases, developers would be allowed to pay a fee in lieu of planting or preserving trees.

Street trees would be required for all land uses along public rights of way.

The ordinance also has stipulations for re-zoning properties and permit applications to close possible loopholes. In those cases, sites are ineligible if 20% or more of the site has been clear-cut in the last 24 months.

 

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter.