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Council shares updates on tree ordinance draft

Measure prioritizes replacement and establishes fund

Friends of the Cherry Hill Public Library CHPL Board President Art Simons accepts a proclamation on behalf of Jim Gibson, recognized by township council for his volunteerism and service to the library. He was unable to attend the council meeting. (EMILY LIU/The Sun)

After several weeks of waiting, a long-awaited update of Cherry Hill counci’s tree ordinance draft was presented at a May 9 council meeting by the township’s director of community development. 

Cosmas Diamantis announced that the existing ordinance would be repealed and replaced if the updated draft is approved on second reading.

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Among key differences between the draft and the current ordinance are:

  • Establishment of a tree fund used specifically to purchase and plant trees or remove dead ones
  • Requiring a tree permit from public works for planting in the public right of way (the green strip in front of the sidewalk) and for the removal of any trees for commercial applicants. Residents will have to submit a tree-permit application to remove more than three trees, unless they are an “imminent threat.”
  • There will be a one-to-one tree replacement for each tree taken down. For trees ineligible to be replaced on site, commercial applicants must contribute to the tree fund at $300 per tree; residential applicants will pay $175 per tree.
  • Removal of the planning board from the process. Tree permits applications will now be reviewed by the director of public works.

The ordinance also notes that according to the American Forests organization, Cherry 

Hill has a Tree Equity score of 87 out of 100, “which indicates whether there are enough trees in specific neighborhoods or municipalities for everyone to experience the health, economic and climate benefits that trees provide.” 

The draft ordinance is expected to be heard at the next council meeting on May 23 and is available online at the chnj.gov.

“These trees are incredibly valuable to our health, our planet and quality of life, and we will do everything possible to protect trees that we have,” said Mayor Susan Shin Angulo. “We also must ensure that when trees are lost, they need to be replaced so that generations that follow benefit from our beautiful trees.”

The mayor also used her meeting remarks to highlight May as National Jewish Heritage Month and encouraged residents to celebrate the contributions and achievements of Jewish people. She noted that the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia would reopen on May 13 and encouraged people to visit.

Council also recognized longtime library volunteer and president of the Friends of the Library Jim Gibson with a proclamation for innumerable hours spent volunteering with the township facility. He has raised money to support programs and other items not included in the library’s budget and is also recognized on the Veterans Wall of Honor for his Army service.

The next council meeting on May 23 will begin with a caucus at 7 p.m., and full council at 7:30.

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