RALEIGH, N.C. — Raleigh is the City of Oaks, but some developers say a new tree ordinance branches into their property rights.
Mayor Charles Meeker is pushing a measure that regulates the removal of trees and sets fines if too many are cut down.
Developers say sometimes cutting trees is necessary and they claim they gave a right to do so.
"I think it's a denial of basic property rights to the people that own the land," developer Harold Yelle said.
Yelle is a veteran land surveyor and says the proposed ordinance applies to any property of 1 acre or more; a 10-acre lot would need at least 2 acres of trees.
"By this ordinance you would have to set aside 2 acres of tree preservation in some form or fashion and you would not be allowed to remove any of those trees without severe penalties," Yelle said. "If you wanted to remove seven trees of 24 inches in caliper to put your pool in, then you would have to pay the city of Raleigh $1,200 per tree."
Meeker says the city needs to protect trees.
"While I very much favor preserving trees, we also have to be practical so we can have good development and good quality and preserve as many trees as we can. The purpose of this ordinance is to try to strike that balance that is fair to the developer and also preserves trees," Meeker said.
The mayor says debate will make the ordinance better. Developers say we would be better off without the ordinance at all.
The city council sent the ordinance to the planning commission, which is expected to make a recommendation by September or October. The city council has the final say.