Exemption is used to skirt city's tree rules:
When City Council members approved an ordinance in 1997 to protect trees from urban sprawl, they had a deceptively simple goal: Make sure the rules applied to developers who often own large tracts of land — not homeowners who want to get rid of a few trees on single-family lots.
But at least one lobbyist has figured out developers can bulldoze trees on a large property, as long as it has a house.
In 2007, lobbyist Ken Brown told a commercial client, Skinner Nurseries, it could clear trees on a rural tract of land without worrying about the tree ordinance, said Charles Skinner, a real estate agent for the Florida company who is related to the owners.
Because the 19-acre property on Somerset Road had a house, Skinner Nurseries was able to use the homeowner exemption as a free pass to get around the tree ordinance and its potential mitigation costs.
Nearly every tree on the property was bulldozed to develop a tree-nursery business.