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Street Tree Rules

October 21, 2010

In the 10-10-10 Journal Gazette, Frank Gray published a fine but incomplete article on the loss and replacement of our street trees. There is no doubt that Fort Wayne will lose thousands (300+ just in our neighborhood) and that few if any will be replaced by the city or via the annual and limited street tree program.

Frank suggests that homeowners should replace their lost trees themselves but only hints at the rules governing street tree placement and tree variety. The rules are clearly and fully stated on the Street Tree 2010 Application form. Follow these rules, water well, don’t mound up mulch on the trunk and you will have a lovely, happy street tree.

Placement rules are defined to assure healthy trees and safety. Here are the placement rules:

– minimum 2″ diameter and 8′ – 14′ height
– not under utility lines
– not in a park strip less than 5′ deep
– not within 40′ of another tree (street tree or yard tree), or intersection
– not within 15′ of a residential driveway
– not within 10′ of a street light, hydrant or traffic signal
– not within 3′ of curbs and/or sidewalks in poor condition

Street tree variety rules limit options to reliable and handsome canopy trees Allowed tree varieties are:

– Honeylocust
– Linden (American or Littleleaf)
– Maple (Sugar, Freeman, or Red)
– London Plane ‘Bloodgood’
– Hybrid Elms
– Common Hackberry
– Oak (Red, White, Burr, English, Swamp White, Northern Pin, Shingle, Heritage, Regal Prince, Northern Black, Chinquapin)
– Tulip Tree
– Sweetgum
– Zelkova
– Kentucky Coffee Tree ‘Expresso’
– Hornbeam (European or American Hop)

Your Board will be considering the establishment of a fund to replace lost Southwood Park street trees. If established, the above rules will be our rules too.

Pat Thomson

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Scott Bryson permalink
    December 16, 2010 10:00 pm

    The street tree rules are ridiculous. By following many of these rules, no one in Southwood Park would be able to plant a tree. Boulevards in neighborhoods of this age are not 5 feet deep. For smaller properties you might not be able to plant a tree in the yard at all because of where the driveway is placed. I could go on but it is pointless. As many of the trees will be destroyed by the invasive pest, Southwood will unfortunately not see a return of these trees because of the “rules”. I for one moved to SWP because of the tree canopy but don’t believe the board has the best interests of SWP at heart when it concerns our trees. I would invite the board to not blindly adopt the rules set forth by the city (think 15 year trees) and come up with rules that apply to older neighborhoods. One point on the application to make SWP a “historic” place was our trees. If residents follow these rules, we might as well live the in suburbs where there are no trees or very few. Blind adoption of the City of Fort Wayne’s rule is thoughtless and short-sighted.

    • December 18, 2010 11:56 am


      Maybe you’re questioning the scope of the street tree rules article? If so, I hope this helps:
      — The rules are the City’s rules for planting trees on park strips only, which are effectively city property. City rules don’t apply outside the easement.
      — If the blog article was understood to mean the Association is regulating tree planting in yards, that isn’t the case. There’s no interest in that.
      — What the article meant was that the Association will follow the City’s rules on trees if we plant any on spots volunteered by neighbors. (I’m not talking about Tacoma replanting here! That is a separate issue now being discussed between the City, Councilman Pape and a group of Tacoma residents.)

      The clarifications are out of the way. Now I can share my opinion about the City’s tree planting rules. I share some your concerns about the rules, Scott.

      City rules would prohibit plantings that mimic the original forest growth patterns of the wider, winding park strips near Indiana-Maxine-Drury-Pembroke or Westover-Crestwood-Stratford. I’d like to see ways for homeowners with smaller park strips (like Tacoma or Arlington) to grant “rights of entry” to allow the City to plant street trees using an easement on the home sides of sidewalks.

      These are just my opinions, not the Association’s position on the issue. While I’m willing to lobby for some tweaks to the rules to better suit the diverse needs of historic neighborhoods like ours, I’m not willing to dismiss all the rules as ridiculous. I know that the City rules are based on sound science and economics. Fort Wayne has a well trained, professional arborist. Many cities, like Indianapolis, do not.

      I understand your frustration with losing much of the tree canopy, Scott. But I take issue with your assertion that members of the Board “don’t have the best interests of Southwood Park at heart when it concerns our trees”. If we didn’t care about the beauty of our neighborhood, it wouldn’t be the biggest topic at our Board meetings; we wouldn’t write newsletter articles or letters to the editor about trees; we wouldn’t invite expert tree speakers to our annual meeting; and we wouldn’t make efforts to beautify the neighborhood.

      The best way to know what’s really going on in the neighborhood is to volunteer and be involved. Residents have been invited to join the beautification committee for years. We regularly work in many areas of the neighborhood including the daylily beds and park bench in front of your house on the island.

      Steve McCord

      • Scott Bryson permalink
        December 18, 2010 1:13 pm

        It is good to hear that these rules only apply to the boulevard and not the entire property. Though, many of these rules would incumber a comeback of the tree canopy and for many trees in the boulevard. It also would have allayed many fears if the article had stated these rules apply the park strip only and not an individuals property.

        Hopefully the board has brought these concerns to Councilman Pape so ordinances can be crafted as to take into account older neighborhoods. I don’t want the rest of the neighborhood looking like Tacoma because of rules that did not take into account older neighborhoods.

        It would be helpful to many people in the neighborhood if there was a follow-up article about what the neighborhood is trying to do about keeping the character of the neighborhood. Tacoma was a wake-up call for many residents. The residents need a better understanding of what the board is doing (besides asking us to attend a meeting) to prevent another Tacoma.

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