The City of Jackson will move to put into place new protections for heritage trees on city-owned property following the Tuesday, November 12 meeting of the Jackson City Council.
City residents near a recently-removed large oak tree on Buffington Street in the Peek Hill area addressed the council, both to protest the tree’s removal and to call for a new city ordinance to protect existing old growth trees. One resident called the removal of the tree, which was 40 feet tall and 3½ feet across, a “punch in the heart.”
The tree was removed by the city as a potential hazard when it began to overhang a nearby house. Tree advocates attempted to present a petition to the Council, demanding that they adopt an ordinance on the spot that would protect the city’s trees, but were told such an action would be a violation of the Brown Act, which requires such actions be placed on the agenda and advertised in advance of the meeting.
In response to the public comments, the council directed city staff to prepare options for reviewing the future decision to remove of any further trees. In making the motion, councilmember Wayne Garibaldi said that the city had not done enough to communicate to the public before the removal of the Buffington Street tree. The new policy, which will be reviewed and approved by the council at a future meeting before going into effect, will only apply to trees on city-owned land, not on private property. Vice-Mayor Connie Gonsalves warned that trees could still prove to be a hazard and might still need to be removed for public safety or insurance purposes.
The council also re-appointed two members to the Jackson Cemetery Commission, Chad Simmons and Steve McLean. There is one open seat still left. Those interested in the position can inquire at Jackson City hall.