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Three Tree-Centered Measures Move Forward

City Commission Workshop Begins Discussions on Key Canopy Issues

At today’s Tallahassee City Commission workshop, trees were the topic of the day. After discussion, Commissioners unanimously approved the establishment of the Urban Forest Master Plan, modifications to the current City standard for tree trimming near electric utility lines and preliminary steps toward targeted overhead to underground electric utility conversions.

To begin crafting the Urban Forest Master plan, the Commission directed staff to issue a Request for Proposal for a qualified urban forestry consultant to perform an Urban Tree Canopy Analysis, an organizational review, a public engagement program and other recommended tasks.

The plan will be a multi-year effort that begins with a comprehensive assessment of Tallahassee’s trees. The tree inventory will collect information such as size, condition and species of public trees, as well as maintenance needs and planting location conflicts. The plan’s development will assess City policy and code and include all divisions that deal with urban forest management. As the plan moves forward, community input will be sought to help create a vision for balancing the needs of the community with best management practices for incorporating healthy trees and canopy into daily urban life.

“Through the Urban Forest Master Plan, we are committed to developing a long-range strategy to keep Tallahassee a Tree City USA for generations to come,” Mayor Andrew Gillum said.

Commissioners also voted to enhance electric reliability by expanding tree trimming near power lines. The tree trimming modifications were recommended based on the success of a pilot program that was conducted in select areas around Tallahassee. Results from the pilot program showed a reduction in outages in those areas. This modification authorizes replacement plantings in cases of tree removal.

As part of these efforts to create a more resilient community and electric grid, the Commission voted to move forward with a study and development of preliminary designs and cost estimates for the underground conversion of electric lines along Miccosukee Road’s medical corridor. This area includes a significant number of medical and senior care facilities, and a targeted undergrounding effort in this area could provide enhanced reliability for these critical customers.

To encourage more developer-driven conversions, which will help create a more storm-resilient electric grid, the Commission also approved adoption of a permanent cost-sharing arrangement for future main circuit overhead to underground conversions.

The workshop agenda can be viewed at http://www.boarddocs.com/fla/talgov/Board.nsf/Public

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