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Winston-Salem / Forsyth County Tree Ordinance Committee

As Forsyth County urbanizes, more and more natural systems and vegetative cover are lost to impervious surfaces such as rooftops, driveways, parking areas, and streets. Recognizing the tangible benefits that trees provide in the urban environment, Aerial view of downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolinacitizens of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, North Carolinaexpressed in interest in preserving trees in their communities. Furthermore, they realized that in order to protect and enhance their valuable tree resources, a tree ordinance was needed to provide the authorization and standards for managing and protecting the forest canopy.

An attempt was made in 2004-05 to amend the City-County Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) to include a tree ordinance. An initial proposal, developed with support from the Community Appearance Commission, the Winston-Salem Association of Homebuilders and Realtors, and others, was brought before the Winston-Salem City Council and Forsyth County Board of Commissioners in early 2005. Other interest groups in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, having limited opportunity to participate in and comment on the proposed tree ordinance, chose not to support it. In response to the lack of unified support by many important interest groups and unknown city-county staffing needs, the two governing bodies remanded the ordinance back to the City-County Planning Department. The Department was tasked to convene a group of stakeholders who will work collaboratively toward the development of tree ordinance that can be supported by all interest groups. With a grant from the Winston-Salem Foundation, the Winston-Salem Neighborhood Alliance serves as a co-convenor, funding the facilitation of this process.

The purpose of the stakeholder process was to enable the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Tree Ordinance Stakeholder committee to work in collaboration toward the development of tree conservation and maintenance standards within the City-County Unified Development Ordinances. 

The two major goals of the stakeholder process were: 1) to provide the committee with a process of discovery, information sharing and education; 2) to provide the committee with a direct role in negotiating agreements that resolve the issues and balance the interests relative to a tree ordinance in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County.

Adobe iconTree Ordinance Committee Final Report
This report documents the actions and recommendations of the Winston-Salem / Forsyth County Tree Ordinance Committee and was submitted to the Planning Department in December 2007.

Adobe iconTree Ordinance Adopted by Winston-Salem City Council
Following the Tree Ordinance Committee's deliberations, the staff of the City-County Planning Board drafted an ordinance based on the committee's recommendations. The draft was considered by the City-County Planning Board in October 2008 and was not approved. The Board directed staff to develop a modified version that it adopted in December 2009. Some of the parties represented on the Tree Committee were not satisfied with the second draft. Winston-Salem City Council member Dan Besse developed a compromise version that combined elements of the October and December versions and brought the parties together in final negotiations to develop a revised version of this compromise ordinance. In July 2009, the Winston-Salem City Council considered the ordinance and unanimously adopted the compromise. The home builders, realtors, Neighborhood Alliance, and Sierra Club all publicly supported the agreement.


Supporting Documents, Links and Meeting Summaries

Supporting Documents
Meeting Summaries

Issue and Stakeholder Assessment Report

Tree Committee Charter

Negotiation Guidebook

Preparing for Negotiation Worksheet

Committee Vision Statements

Committee Interests

Key Issues

Decision framework (an exe file; opens a new window)

NC Tree Ordinance Comparison Chart

CITYgreen Report (Oct. '06)

City of CharlotteTree Ordinance

City of Palo Alto, CA, Urban Forestry Program

City of Winston-Salem Unified Development Ordinances

International Association of Arboriculture, Tree Ordinance Guidelines

Louisiana State University, Landscape Ordinances Research Site

National Arbor Day Foundation, Building with Trees

National Association of Homebuilders (search on keyword 'trees')

NC State University, Forestry Extension Ordinance Project

North Carolina Division of Forest Resources Urban Forestry Program

Summary of Committee Actions




















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