MILTON, Ga. — Milton’s long-running update to its tree ordinance could be coming to fruition soon, more than a year after the city initially approved the new regulations. 

The timeline dates back to October 2016, when the city began discussions with residents and a consulting firm to brainstorm the city’s new stipulations on one of its most valued assets. 

The tree ordinance aims to preserve Milton’s existing trees and sets limits on how many and what types of trees can be removed on residential properties and business developments. 

In February 2018, the city passed its new regulations, which stipulated that a property’s trees would be measured by their canopy once the tree reaches full growth. The prior ordinance measured trees by their trunk size. 

The updated regulations came under scrutiny soon after they were adopted, however, when developers and land surveyors claimed the new ordinance was too restrictive. 

A few months later, the city loosened some of the requirements. However, the city extended an option to developers last fall that they could either adhere to the city’s previous tree ordinance or the updated regulations. That option remains in effect until the city finalizes the ordinance. 

A 20-member citizen advisory committee was established to draft updates along with the city and its consultants. The committee includes residents, horse farm owners, a developer and a business owner. 

The new ordinance aims to “create the least intrusive regulations” while “ensuring we do not place an unfair burden on property owners.” 

The committee’s draft streamlines the ordinance, updates the canopy coverage percentage required in all zoning areas and adds and deletes some language, including a state timber harvesting requirement. While timber harvesting will likely not come into play in Milton, the update removes language that has significant meaning for the city’s equestrian community. Under the tree canopy ordinance, requirements were set for the amount of canopy required on properties designated for agricultural uses. That language has been cut from the tree ordinance and will be addressed in the city’s zoning regulations. 

While the committee gave its go-ahead to the draft, none of the stipulations have been formally approved. The city’s Planning Commission made suggestions at its July 24 and Aug. 28 meetings. Though the draft is not required to be reviewed by the commission, the city placed it on the agenda to further fine-tune the ordinance. 

The updates could soon go before the City Council, who can choose to adopt the ordinance. 

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