On Tuesday, May 13, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo and other area leaders met at Halyburton Park to speak about a proposal that would limit the ability of local governments to regulate trees, including the the removal, replacement or preservation of trees on private property. Along with Mayor Saffo, officials from other nearby local governments were in attendance.
Currently, Wilmington has local laws designed to protect trees and encourage developers to maintain trees, or plant new trees if trees are removed during construction. A proposal brought forward by a state legislative study committee last month would strip the authority of cities and counties to have such laws and a bill could be introduced during the upcoming short session of the NC General Assembly.
Wilmington's ordinances allow us to work hand-in-hand with the development community to not only protect trees, but also to incentivize developers to maintain trees and/or plant new trees. Residents benefit with increased property values and control over community aesthetics.
The City of Wilmington has been recognized annually for over a decade as a Tree City USA. If the legislation is passed, Wilmington and every other community in North Carolina would lose this distinction.
The short session will begin on May 14 with several other proposals that would significantly impact local governments, including a proposal that surfaced last week that would cap the amount of property tax revenues municipalities could increase from year to year. Such a cap could significantly limit cities' ability to provide basic services.
Additional items on Wilmington’s legislative agenda for the short session include: maintaining film incentives and state Historic Preservation Tax Credits, as well as supporting adequate state transportation funding and opposing significant financial changes to cities’ business license taxes.