Will you reconsider or amend the City’s tree protection ordinance? Why isn’t the City accepting a letter of credit (which appears to be permissible in the ordinance)? (Feb. 6, 2024)

The City has had a Tree Protection Ordinance since 2015 to preserve Edina’s highly valued trees, while allowing reasonable development to take place. Amendments went into effect Jan. 1, 2023, after the Energy & Environment Commission reviewed deficiencies of the original ordinance and recommended to the City Council many improvements, including a fee schedule that requires solutions for preserving and protecting trees.

Staff has observed that the new Tree Protection Ordinance has resulted in the preservation of large trees with some projects choosing to alter their design or move large existing trees. The current ordinance accomplishes the stated goals identified by the Energy & Environment Commission.

According to the ordinance, “The City shall, at its option, require cash escrow or a letter of credit satisfactory to the City in the amount of 110 percent of the value of the tree replacement identified in the tree protection plan, securing the full performance of tree protection plan.” Staff have consistently preferred the cash escrow because the letter of credit involves a third person who may or may not cooperate with us and follow through on the obligation. With a cash bond, staff can directly cause the bonded improvements to be done because we have the cash in our hands. We don’t have to depend on a bank or insurance company to agree to help us, like we do with letters of credit.  

To remove any confusion and make our practice more clear, the City Council could amend the ordinance to remove the reference to a letter of credit.

Other changes to the ordinance or fees would require an evaluation of the intended purpose of the ordinance and impact to tree preservation. A City Council work session will likely be scheduled for this topic later this year.

Learn more about the ordinance.

(Response updated Feb. 20, 2024)

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