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Wilmington's staff struggle to balance a growing city with the urban tree canopy

The city of Wilmington’s new land use codes try to walk a fine line between encouraging development and protecting the urban tree canopy.

In many ways, the character of a street depends on what plant life is around: whether it’s newly planted saplings or hundred-year-old live oaks.

So city officials recently spent an hour on trees and green spaces at a joint meeting on the proposed land use codes, which will determine how Wilmington grows in the coming decades.

For many, the wooded land next to major streets are an important part of life in Wilmington. So planning director Glenn Harbeck wants to keep some of those trees even as those properties develop.

“I think staff is in absolute agreement, that if we can save a veil of trees in our suburban locations, especially as you look down the length of the road, it appears as though you're driving through a wooded area. But as you look left and right, you can still see the businesses.”

He added that such a buffer can help with stormwater, too.

The new land use codes also include landscaping requirements-- based on both the number and size of trees. And invasive species don’t count toward a developer’s tree quota.

The draft land development codes are currently under review, and they’ll receive a public hearing on Thursday, June 24, starting at 8:30 am.

Kelly Kenoyer is an Oregonian transplant on the East Coast. She attended University of Oregon’s School of Journalism as an undergraduate, and later received a Master’s in Journalism from University of Missouri- Columbia. Contact her on Twitter @Kelly_Kenoyer or by email: KKenoyer@whqr.org.