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Council tables tree plan

By Jeffrey Pieters

jpieters@postbulletin.com

A proposed Rochester ordinance requiring streetside trees for new homes and businesses got stuck in a stalemate Monday night.

Council members voted 3-3 on the measure, failing to start the months-long public process that would lead to an ordinance. Then the council tabled it. The seventh member, Mark Bilderback, was away on business. A final vote will come at another meeting.

The ordinance is intended to stem the loss of about 300 trees per year in Rochester. The city has an estimated 30,000 vacant street-side spaces where trees could be planted.

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"Our newer subdivisions are quite barren compared to the established parts of our city," City Forester Jacob Ryg said.

The tree ordinance would be added to the city’s zoning code, and would require builders to pay fees of about $200 per tree. The city Park Department would oversee planting.

Builders, represented by the Rochester Area Builders organization, objected to the ordinance for several reasons. Among them:

• They are worried that the ordinance will slow permit issuances.

• The new fee would add to housing costs.

• The ordinance focuses on new housing without addressing the city at large.

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