Cape May Commission Debates Tree Replacement and Arbor Day Plans

The Cape May Shade Tree Commission recently engaged in discussions surrounding the replacement of 20 trees in a public RightWay area, with a focus on future maintenance responsibilities and species selection to prevent infrastructure damage. These deliberations, part of the commission’s broader conversation on urban forestry management, also extended to a review of Arbor Day activities and concerns over the preservation of mature trees in the face of new construction developments.

Central to the Commission’s agenda was the decision-making process regarding the removal and replacement of trees in a development, a subject that saw varying perspectives on the homeowners association’s financial obligations. The key issue at hand was the proposal to replace the trees with smaller species to prevent root systems from damaging sidewalks. The commission members debated the merits of charging the homeowners association a removal fee, highlighting concerns about setting a precedent for waiving such fees in the future. The discussion also addressed the uniformity of tree species, with a suggestion to plant a variety of trees to reduce risks related to diseases.

The exact number of trees to be removed, the replacement species, and the associated fees remained unresolved at the conclusion of the meeting, with the commission anticipating further discussions and potential voting on the matter.

Alongside the tree replacement debate, the commission evaluated potential activities for the upcoming Arbor Day celebration, assessing the effectiveness of past events. The idea of reading storybooks to preschool classes faced criticism, with alternative suggestions including planting seedlings and organizing a tree planting event at a local park. The commission agreed on the need to engage more with local schools and community groups and to explore collaborations for future Arbor Day events.

The commission also considered the possibility of planting a hybrid chestnut tree in coordination with a local school, to serve educational purposes despite past failures with chestnut trees in the area. Additionally, they discussed the necessity of pruning a tree on West Perry Street and the contentious removal of a healthy tree on Broad Street. Concerns were voiced about the loss of mature trees resulting from new construction, prompting a debate over tree removal applications, fees, and replanting requirements.

In terms of policy, the commission reviewed the recently approved ordinance regarding tree removal fees. Some confusion arose over details such as the refundability of the application fee and whether fees were to be charged per tree or per property. Deliberations also touched on the commission’s role in inspecting sidewalks, questioning if that responsibility fell within their jurisdiction or that of city code enforcement. The need for clear guidelines on tree protection during construction was emphasized, particularly regarding the tree protection zone ordinance. Discussions extended to the removal and replacement of trees near Acme and Franklin Street School, as well as the potential trimming of a tree at the Franklin Street School.

Furthermore, the commission considered the establishment of a vice chairperson position, with plans to include this proposal on the agenda for the next meeting.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Zachary Mullock
Shade Tree Commission Officials:
Carol York, Carol Sick, Jay Schatz, George Ator, George Werner, James Van Pelt, Barbara Preminger, Shaine P. Meier (Council Liaison), Frank McCloskey (DPW Liaison), Connie Anderson (Shade Tree Secretary)

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