Proposed New Dallas Tree Regulations Spark Homebuilder Opposition

Extra steps to follow new Dallas tree regulations approved in May

Proposed Dallas regulations that could forbid removing trees from home owners’ back yards are the target of opposition from the Homebuilders Association of Greater Dallas.

The Neighborhood Forest Overlay (NFO) plan, making its way through City Hall, is an additional step beyond tougher tree regulations already approved by the Dallas City Council in May.

NFO would be an optional step neighborhoods could take to retain trees. Supporters hope to reduce clear cutting that sometimes occurs when small older homes are demolished to make way for larger new homes.

New homes are replacing older homes now in many established Dallas neighborhoods with big trees.

Former Dallas City Councilman Bob Stimson is also a former Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce President. He has been a builders’ advocate but also supports tree preservation. He supports the NFO plan.

“It’s a way for neighborhoods, on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis, to adopt the equivalent of a conservation district, to protect the trees inside their neighborhood,” Stimson said. “The Neighborhood Forest Overlay would allow each neighborhood to decide which trees get cut and which don’t get cut.”

An individual neighborhood plan might forbid removing trees in the back yard of homes or simply add more protection to front yard trees.

Jeff Dworkin with JLD Custom Homes said that some trees are not worth protecting if they compromise the slab of a home.

“Builders do not just tear down trees unnecessarily. We want to leave the trees in. They help sell the house,” Dworkin said.

He said some varieties are more valuable than other trees and property owners should have the right to decide what trees to save. The rules would apply to existing homeowners and not just new home builders.

“This is a property rights issue. It is not an issue of old home versus new home. It’s really a property rights issue,” Dworkin said.

The measure is under review now by the Dallas Zoning Advisory Committee. The Dallas Plan Commission would also review it before any final action by the Dallas City Council so there is substantial time for more public input.

Stimson said the Homebuilders have some valid concerns that could be addressed with possible exceptions in the final NFO regulations.

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