Tree ordinance brings more questions at G’Town Council

By Martha B. Jacob –

During its Oct. 27 meeting, members of the Georgetown Council held its second reading of an ordinance regulating public trees within the Village of Georgetown.
At an earlier meeting on Oct. 13, Sue McKinley with the Tree Commission discussed the proposed ordinance. The Tree Commis-sion, was originally organized as part of the village’s efforts to become a Tree City, USA.
McKinley told council at the Oct. 13 meeting that the Commission had been working with Village Solicitor Joe Braun to revise their original proposal of an ordinance to make it more suitable to Georgetown. Once the ordinance is passed it will be submitted to the state to make the Village of Georgetown a Tree City.
However, at that meeting Mayor Dale Cahall asked for a motion to suspend the rules, declaring the ordinance an emergency. Two council members, Ginny Colwell and Dave Guenther voted no on suspending the rules as well as a motion to pass the ordinance.
Councilman Guenther told council that he was concerned that the ordinance would interfere with residents rights. The motion to pass the ordinance as an emergency measure died, but the first reading for the ordinance did take place.
As the second reading of the ordinance came up at the Oct. 27 meeting a vote was called for, Guenther again, vented his concerns to council.
“I still have a couple questions about this tree ordinance,” Guenther said, “I have a question about the purpose of this ordinance, the ordinance reads, the way it is now….. ‘the purpose of this ordinance is to provide for the regulation of trees on public property within the Village of Georgetown.’
“The whole section on resident’s responsibility of a right-of-way concerns me. This definition of right-of-way, I find that, that means “going across someone’s land,” so, to me that’s not just public land like the ordinance reads is its purpose. Right-of-ways are not public lands, as this ordinance reads.”
Guenther also questioned another section of the ordinance which talked about a ‘tree lawn,’ which he found confusing, and a part that said someone could be fined up to $1,000 for removing a tree without concent of the commission.
In the end, council did have the second reading of the ordinance. The final reading will take place at the next scheduled council meeting on Nov. 10, 2016.
In other business at the meeting Police Chief Rob Freeland talked briefly about the Shop-With-a-Cop Pro-gram sponsored annually by his department.
“We’ve been taking part of the Shop-With-a-Cop program since 2013 with the support of our local citizens and businesses,” Chief Free-land said, “We’ve been able to make the Christmas of 14 children from low income or households much brighter.”
Freeland asked council for support of the program and told them that checks for the program should be made to the Georgetown Police Officers Association, Shop with a Cop.