Also during their work session Tuesday, Forsyth County commissioners:
* Heard from representatives of the Lake Lanier Association, who offered an update on the advocacy group’s work.
* Entered into a contract with UGA cooperative Extension Services for an agriculture natural resources agent to serve for one year starting Oct. 1.
* Reduced the amount of funding for the Department of Family and Children Services from $140,000 to $53,000.
* Approved using Nova Engineering and Environmental for special inspections at Shakerag Water Reclamation Facility for $59,315.
* OK’d the purchase of five new trucks totaling $91,850 for the water and sewer department.
* Heard about a potential subarea plan in west Forsyth.
* Agreed to two surplus fire trucks to Lumpkin County for $6,000. The vote was 4-0, with Todd Levent absent.
* Appointed 4-0, with Levent absent, Jim Grogan as the new member of the Development Authority to fill the unexpired term of Pam Sessions.
* Rejected by a 4-0 vote, with Todd Levent absent, a proposed cell phone tour at the Dicks Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility due to its proximity to a residential area.
Note: All votes were 5-0 unless otherwise listed.
-- Kelly Whitmire
FORSYTH COUNTY — In an effort to enliven neighborhoods, the Forsyth commission voted 5-0 on Tuesday to update the county’s tree ordinance.
Following the change, the minimum size for a “specimen tree” would be raised from 18 inches in diameter for hardwood and softwood trees and 8 inches for understory to 22 inches for hardwood, 25 inches for softwood and 10 inches for understory.
A specimen tree is determined by its species, size, age or other professional criteria, and homebuilders are required to replace the trees cleared during development.
“As far as raising or lowering the standard, it depends if you are saving a tree or removing one,” said Planning Director Tim Brown. “If you’re removing a tree, this is generally more favorable.
“If you are saving a tree, this is less likely to be a benefit to you, because it is less likely the tree you’re saving will be a specimen tree.
The new numbers were reached after discussion with the commission and averaging the minimum size criteria from the jurisdictions of neighboring Cherokee, Dawson, Fulton, Gwinnett and Hall counties, as well as the cities of Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton and Sugar Hill.
The ordinance will also require two trees to be planted per lot for a new subdivision. And those new trees must have a 2-inch caliper size and be an overstory-type hard wood species, like oak, elm and maple trees.
The change is meant to liven neighborhoods, and requires that at least one tree be placed in the front yard.
“We’ve got a tree ordinance, but yet we’re not using trees to break monotony in our subdivisions,” said Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills. “We have a really strict tree ordinance, but it’s just that all our trees are planted where there are already trees.”
The ordinance was also amended regarding the critical root zone, or the area under a tree that must be undisturbed. That will extend the area from the outermost branch tips to a range equaling 1 foot per inch of the tree’s diameter.