In December Metro Councilmembers Bill Hollander (D-9) and Cheri Bryant-Hamilton (D-5) introduced an ordinance relating to Louisville Metro trees. Adoption of such an ordinance was the very first of 41 recommendations in the 2015 Louisville Urban Tree Canopy Assessment. The proposed ordinance covers “public trees”, which includes trees located on Metro Government owned or controlled land or in public right-of-way areas, except for parks and parkways under the jurisdiction of Louisville Metro Parks.

Current Tree Ordinance | Proposed Tree Ordinance

Proposed Tree ordinance key provisions:

  • Applies generally only to public property, such as open spaces, rights-of-way and easements granted to private or public entities. If people don’t know whether trees in their front yards or along allies are in a right of way, the city’s Division of Community Forestry will help them find out.
  • Puts the forestry division in charge of overseeing all public trees while allowing it to enter into agreements with other entities for tree maintenance.
  • Re-establishes a tree advisory committee that will hold regular public meetings.
  • Metro Parks will continue to manage and maintain trees in parks and along parkways it controls.
  • Permits will be needed for planting, pruning or removing public trees.
  • Division will have authority to maintain or order tree maintenance of public trees. If maintenance orders are not met, the division has the authority to perform needed work and recover costs.
  • The division shall establish policies and standards for planting, tree maintenance, removal and replacement of public trees, such as stump grinding within three months of a tree’s removal, with violations punishable by fines.
  • The fine for removing a living, public tree could range from $250 to $3,000.
  • Only trees that grow to a mature height of 25 feet or less will be considered for planting within 15 feet of an overhead utility line.
  • Private property owners can voluntarily seek to have certain historic or specimen trees protected, binding them and future property owners to care for those special trees and allowing their removal only by permit.
  • The city could require trees to be taken down on private property if they are determined to be a public nuisance, or present a disease threat to other trees.
  • Tree canopy assessments every five years.

The Louisville Metro Council will begin debating this ordinance in the Public Works, Parks, Sustainability and Transportation Committee this Tuesday, February 14 at 3:00PM. You can watch the committee meeting live by clicking here. We would encourage you to read the entire proposed Tree Ordinance and ask any questions you may have, please send your questions or feedback of the ordinance to angela.leet@louisvilleky.gov.