A proposed change to the city's tree ordinance would allow the city to plant trees on private property through an easement, with the trees becoming the responsibility of the property owner after one year.
The public hearing on the proposal will be held at the City Council meeting July 31, and the Council is expected to take final action August 7.
The change would allow the Director of Parks and Recreation, with approval of the Mayor, to ask for the permission of property owners to plant one or more street trees on property adjacent to the public right-of-way. These requests would be made when there is insufficient land available for the planting and proper growth of trees in the public right-of-way or when the space between the curb and sidewalk is anticipated to be reduced through a future street project. The property owners would agree to assume the responsibility for the proper maintenance of the street trees, including watering, cultivating and mulching.
"This community prides itself on our beautiful trees, but locating street trees between the curb and the sidewalk sometimes places them at risk when the roadway is widened," said Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Johnson. "This innovative solution has been developed to insure that Lincoln residents will continue to enjoy tree-lined streets in the future."
Johnson said city staff would be able to work with property owners several years in advance of street widening so that young trees would be established prior to the existing trees being removed.
City Arborist Steve Schwab and the Community Forestry Advisory Board researched how other communities handled the situation. They worked with the City Attorney's office on the proposal to work with private property owners to establish temporary easements for street tree planting.
The city would designate the type of tree or trees to be planted from the city's approved street tree list and would also determine locations. Property owners have the right to refuse street trees just as they currently do when trees are planted on the city right-of-way.