Gilich proposes tree committee, more oversight

Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich is proposing changing the city’s tree ordinance to create a seven-member advisory committee and provide more oversight over the process.

The new ordinance, set to be voted on during the council meeting on Jan. 26, is the result of pleadings by¬†dozens of residents more than two years ago for more input in the city’s process after the loss of numerous protected and unprotected trees throughout the city. Currently, permits are granted by the city arborist and Community Development director; under the proposed regulation, a tree committee will have a say in the process.

“It’s obvious from everything that I have seen and heard that members of the public want more input in the process,” Gilich said. “This ordinance aims to provide that input, so that more people are aware of requested tree permits, and it also creates an appeals process.”

Members of the advisory committee, who will be appointed by the mayor and ratified by the City Council, will meet regularly and review applications to remove trees, and a member of the tree committee also will serve as a non-voting member of the city’s Development Review Committee, which reviews all proposed new commercial construction.

Under the existing city ordinance, a permit is required to remove any variety of oak, magnolia, or bald cypress tree that measures at least 5 inches in diameter or 16 inches in circumference¬†when measured 4¬Ĺ feet above the ground. Permits also are required to remove any tree or woody perennial plant that has a single trunk that measures 25 inches in circumference when measured 4¬Ĺ feet above the ground.

The existing ordinance also requires the Planning Commission to hold a public hearing for any proposal to remove five or more protected trees. The proposed ordinance requires any proposal removal of a protected tree to go before the tree committee.

The new ordinance also charges the city arborist to make monthly reports to the committee, and the committee members and other city staff are charged with using their best efforts to balance quality of life considerations with the public need for economic development and respecting the rights of individuals to develop¬†their property in “a meaningful and responsible manner.”

The new ordinance also allows the designation of “majestic oaks,” which if approved by the mayor and council, would require tree committee approval for a tree permit. The City Council would hear appeals over any disputed tree issues, according to the ordinance.

Additionally, the ordinance creates “major” and “minor” tree permits, which would involve trees that are protected and unprotected, respectively, under city ordinance. All major tree permits would be reviewed by the tree committee before a permit could be approved by the Community Development director.
See the proposed new ordinance
See the existing process

News and notes:

Senior luncheon is Wednesday: The Parks and Recreation Department will celebrate Mardi Gras at this month’s senior luncheon.¬† Individuals age 55 and older are invited to don their Mardi Gras garb, and enjoy music and food at a free luncheon at the Donal Snyder Community Center, Wednesday from noon to 2 p.m.¬† To see the flyer, click here.

Children’s parade registration deadline:¬†Deadline for pre-registration for the Biloxi Children‚Äôs Mardi Gras Walking Parade is this Friday, and this is important. Why? Because all pre-registered participants are guaranteed to receive throws for the Jan. 30 parade. Registration will continue until 10 a.m. on day of the parade, but throws are guaranteed only to those who pre-register Registration is open to participants¬†age 12 and under.¬† To see the registration form, click here.

MLK and MGM: Organizers of the MLK “Marade” and Battle of the Bands at MGM Park on Monday report a crowd of 7,500 attended the event. To see a photo, click here.

An outstanding Biloxian: The Biloxi Lions Club is seeking a deserving honoree for the annual Outstanding Biloxian award. Deadline for nominees if Feb. 3, so act now. To learn more about the honor and to nominate someone, click here.