OXFORD, Miss. — City planners are taking steps to protect Oxford's older, larger trees.
A proposed change to the city's tree ordinance would offer incentives for developers to retain as many large trees as possible when a site is developed in the Old Town Conservation Overlay District, which encompasses most of "old Oxford."
A new category of protected trees, called "Heritage" trees, would be created. Officials said the new category will include many native, large trees.
"We're working on the details of how the trees will be determined to be Heritage trees," City Planner Tim Akers told the Oxford Eagle (http://bit.ly/ODv7k0 )
"It will be based primarily on the species of the tree and the diameter of the trunk."
While the city's older, large oak trees are considered common trees, their size provides much in the way of the city's tree canopy and the beauty of Oxford.
"Until this change, there wasn't much incentive for developers to retain the large trees," Akers said. "This provides that incentive."
The ordinance does not pertain to single-family homes where a homeowner may need to remove a large tree due to safety reasons or to widen a driveway.
Currently, the only trees protected under the ordinance are "specimen trees," which is any tree identified on the Oxford Tree Ordinance Master Tree List. Some examples include flowering dogwood, red bud, Southern magnolia, maples, cherry and native hardwoods.
Also protected are "significant" trees, which are healthy hardwood and evergreen trees, except pines.
"We're seeing a number of developments coming through recently and have been missing opportunities to save some of our bigger trees by having no incentive to do so," Akers said.
Hume Bryant with the Oxford Tree Board has been working with Akers to create the Heritage tree list.
"Heritage trees will be predominantly species native to Lafayette County and of a size and maturity important to the health and conservation of Oxford's urban forest canopy," Bryant said. "The trees so identified will receive more development protection than heretofore."
A public hearing on this ordinance change is scheduled to be held during the Oxford Board of Aldermen meeting at 5 p. m. Tuesday at City Hall. Aldermen are expected to vote on the ordinance change at their March 18 meeting.
Information from: Oxford Eagle, http://www.oxfordeagle.com