MILTON, Ga. — The Milton City Council finished the year’s business in short order Dec. 17, but in those 40 minutes, officials passed measures that will have long-term implications.

The council voted to extend the time period for developers to choose between the city’s prior and more recently adopted tree ordinance.

Under the prior ordinance, the city defined tree coverage density by trunk size. The updated regulations measure trees by their canopy at the tree’s full maturity. It also requires a higher density than the previous guidelines.

The city’s new tree ordinance, passed in February, has drawn criticism from developers who claim the new requirements are too stringent and make building all but impossible in some cases. Within two months, the city passed a measure, set to expire this month, allowing builders freedom to choose between provisions of the new ordinance or the one it replaced. During the intervening time, city officials said they hoped to adjust the tree ordinance to address builders’ concerns.

The latest action by the City Council extends the option period for developers to July 2019.

Principal Planner Michele McIntosh-Ross said updates to the tree ordinance have been drafted, but the extension is necessary to allow the city’s new Community Development director, Parag Agrawal, and a yet-to-be-hired city arborist time to review the proposed changes.

Also at the Dec. 17 meeting, the City Council voted to dedicate its future arboretum to Mark Law, who served as city arborist since Milton incorporated in 2006. He retired earlier this month. The arboretum, a botanical tree garden planned for Bell Memorial Park, will be named the “Mark Law Arboretum” in honor of “the work [Law] has done to bring this vision to fruition.”

The site will allow park visitors to learn about tree identification, maintenance and care. Law had previously designed a multi-phased tree-planting program for the site, and the first trees were recently planted.

The arboretum will be dedicated to Law and officially open during a ceremony on Arbor Day, April 26, 2019.

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