By: Robert Boehle
Driving through the City of Zanesville, one passes by thousands of street trees along with tens of thousands of trees in parks, cemeteries, business properties and private properties without much of a thought. The trees that are within the public right of ways, on city owned properties and within the historic districts are all protected by city code. This responsibility of the oversight falls to the Zanesville Shade Tree Commission (ZSTC).
The ZSTC was created by city council back in 1992 with the intention of protecting the trees throughout the city. The commission is made up of 5 volunteer community members, one of whom has to be a Certified Arborist, and another who has to be a representative of one of the city’s three historic districts. This commission meets on a monthly basis to review and approve or deny requests by property owners in historic districts to do tree work on their property and by citizens who have concerns about trees in city right of ways.
ZSTC is tasked with protecting the urban forest of Zanesville. Part of this is due to requirements to be designated a Tree City USA through the Arbor Day Foundation. Zanesville has been a Tree City USA for more than 20 years at this point, and the hope is to continue this into the future. Urban forests also provide a host of benefits that most people do not think about, such as mitigation of air and noise pollution, reduction of flooding, increase of property and aesthetic beauty, storm water benefits, as well as temperature reduction in and around urban forests.
ZSTC, along with city officials, work with property owners and tenants to try to come to solutions that both sides can agree too. Working with landowners before any work is done is always preferred. With the expertise that sits on the ZSTC, as well as connections with other professional that the average landowner may not think of, many times there are solutions that can meet the landowner’s needs without removal of the tree.
On occasion the ZSTC discovers that tree work has been done outside of the due process that the city has established. This is a situation that we always try to avoid as it harms the urban forest of Zanesville as well as can lead to legal trouble for the landowner. As set forth in the city code there is a penalty clause. Any person who violates any provisions of the Chapter 907 of the city code shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree.
Overall the ZSTC is there to look out for the best interests of Zanesville’s Urban Forests. Landowners who have questions concerning trees on their property or in public right of ways should reach out to ZSTC. We are more than happy to come out and meet with landowners to discuss issues and come to solutions that work for everyone. There are many other resources that can provide expertise about trees. The Ohio Division of Forestry, local Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and many private International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborists are all resources that can help. Let’s all work together in keeping Zanesville’s Urban Forest healthy.