Nags Head Planning Council votes for proposed text changes to tree removal and preservation regulations – Reuters

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Nags Head Planning Council votes for proposed text changes to tree removal and preservation regulations

Posted 8:28 a.m. on Sunday, October 30, 2022

By Judy Stiles

Nags Head Planning Board Chair Megan Vaughan called the October Planning Board meeting at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, October 18. All council members were present.

Nags Head Deputy Director of Planning and Development, Kate Jones, presented the proposed amendments to the text of the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) section which deals with tree preservation regulations and the circumstances in which a tree may be felled . The drafted text changes are intended to clarify and strengthen the language of the Town of Nags Head regarding tree protection and preservation standards.

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The Living Oak, the official tree of the Town of Nags Head, is protected. The amended UDO provides owners with information on the flexibility of tree replanting and includes information on the permitted removal of a dead or dying live oak tree, when death is determined by an arborist or staff member of planning. Additionally, the UDO stipulates that a tree identified by staff members as a hazard or risk to public safety may be removed.

Meade Gwinn, member of the Nags Head Planning Council, asked if it was possible to consolidate all the tree and vegetation guidelines into one section. While Jones acknowledged that there are jurisdictions that have only one section, she explained that the direction of the Nags City Chief Commissioners was to work with this document rather than create a new document. Gwinn said it can be easier for an owner to find information if it’s in one section. Jones indicated that once the wording is approved, it could be formatted with an appendix that could make the section clearer to understand.

Vaughan asked if topping is only defined as the removal of all limbs or if severe pruning is also considered topping. Jones referenced the section that says pruning should follow American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A300 guidelines, which are generally accepted best practices for properly pruning a tree. Jones said that information could also be included in the appendix.

Dave Elder, member of the Nags Head Planning Board, asked if there is a need to define what tree destruction is or if there is a national standard that defines destruction. Jones said ANSI A300 standards provide a definition of topping, destruction and how to properly prune a tree.

Jones said planning staff have proposed that live oak preservation also be included in commercial districts. Site visits are currently being carried out for residential development before the permit is issued and Jones said it was also necessary to examine trees in commercial development.

Vaughan suggested community outreach and education be provided to ensure people understand the benefits of the tree ordinance. Planning staff agreed that outreach and education are important and will be provided.

The Planning Council voted unanimously to accept the changes to the text and add an appendix.

Nags Head Planning and Development Director Kelly Wyatt has discussed the possibility of exploring reviewing the current Area V Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance with respect to bidding requirements V-Zone certification. Wyatt asked to review the requirements that specified engineering drawings for small development work. Nags Head Planning Council member Molly Harrison asked about the possibility of someone using this as a way to circumvent regulations rather than doing it right. After discussion, there was consensus to support planning staff studying V-Zone certification.

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