Volusia Committee Tackles Tree Preservation Amid Development

In a recent meeting of the Volusia Environmental Committee, tree preservation and replacement standards, particularly in relation to development and flooding concerns, took center stage. Members engaged in discussions on the need to update tree replacement requirements, balancing environmental protection with economic development, and increasing tree preservation areas, especially in environmentally sensitive zones.

A focal point of the discussions was the impact of current and future development on flooding, with members expressing the necessity to address both historical infrastructural shortcomings and the potential exacerbating effects of new developments. The significance of involving various county departments, including the Economic Development Division and Road and Bridge, was highlighted to gain a comprehensive understanding of the issues and to ensure that recommendations do not inadvertently hinder economic growth.

One suggestion involved shifting to a prescriptive policy that would require a certain number of trees per lot size, rather than the current method of cross-sectional square inch calculations. The debate also touched upon the practicality of enforcing tree preservation and replacement on individual lots, as well as the long-term viability of protecting trees in perpetuity.

Further, the committee deliberated on the effectiveness of the current tree ordinance, considering the experiences of homeowners whose properties were damaged by preserved trees. The discussion encompassed the possibility of statistical analysis for tree surveys as an alternative to full surveys, and questioned the suitability of a one-size-fits-all policy for different habitat types. Members also contemplated a prescriptive approach for tree preservation.

An additional issue was the tree preservation area requirements for development, particularly in areas designated as Norma and Eco. Members grappled with whether to increase the current 15% requirement, considering the economic and environmental implications of such a change. The Norma designation’s relationship with city annexation and its impact on wildlife habitat, including songbird species, was also part of the discussion.

The committee debated the necessity of tree protection easements and the enforcement of tree preservation requirements, acknowledging the need for practicality and flexibility. They discussed the exploration of other jurisdictions’ ordinances to gain insights into alternative approaches and the potential for simplifying the code to facilitate easier compliance for businesses, such as lowering the minimum replacement tree size.

In the realm of subdivisions, the possibility of mandating additional tree replacement if a proposal involves clearing all lots was considered. This led to debates over the specifics of tree replacement requirements, including the simplification of replacing palm trees on a one-to-one basis and the use of existing trees below certain diameters as replacement stock.

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.
County Manager:
George Recktenwald
Environmental Commission Officials:
Melissa Lammers, Jessica Gow (Esq.), Wendy B. Anderson, Tyler J. Malmborg, Saralee Morrissey, Bob Fitzsimmons, John L. Hoblick, Jack Surrette, E. Bliss Jamison, Bill Lites, Bernie LeFils, Alex Zelenski, Suzanne Scheiber, Donna Brosemer

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