Ordinances for trees and site plans could be altered
Posted on 01/26/2021
Tree of Heaven (Chinese Sumac) is an invasive species. Two agenda items that would impact existing ordinances were discussed at the Planning Commission meeting on Jan. 19, led by new Chair Donna Tinberg. The discussion is in the early stages with the City planner to draft a tree ordinance amendment that would reduce or eliminate mitigation requirements for removal of existing invasive tree species, and prohibit planting invasive tree species. The ordinance for a performance guarantee of site plan improvements is slated for a public hearing at an upcoming meeting.

Performance guarantee ordinance – The current zoning ordinance allows the City to require a “performance guarantee” in only two specific areas of land use/development: 1) mineral mining reclamation and 2) condominium development standards.

Carlisle Wortman Associates (CWA) recommends the City have the option in the Zoning Ordinance to require a performance guarantee for all final site plans, and has drafted changes to the existing ordinance to that effect. The guarantee requires the developer to make a deposit with the City to cover the costs of site improvements approved in a final site plan in case the developer doesn’t install those items. Site improvements could be streets, parking lots, utilities, landscaping or other items apart from a building.

The revised ordinance language was presented to the Planning Commission, which offered comments and moved to schedule a public hearing at the next available meeting.

Tree preservation ordinance – When reviewing site plans, subdivisions, condominiums and lot splits, the Planning Commission is asked to review tree removals. The requirement is part of the City’s tree preservation ordinance, which is a “general law” ordinance rather than a zoning ordinance. CWA recommends that Northville allow property owners to remove existing invasive trees without penalty or mitigation (reduce or eliminate the requirement to replant the tree) and prohibit the planting of invasive species.

This recommendation would be achieved through revising the current ordinance and including a guide to invasive species. If a site plan is approved with tree removal, the applicate must still apply for a tree removal permit from the building official. A link to a potential list of invasive tree species is provided here.

The Planning Commission agreed with CWA’s assessment of the existing ordinance and asked for a draft that adds this information and achieves the goals mentioned above.