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Mayor John Cooper Executive Order Number 005


John Cooper, Mayor

Subject: Metropolitan Tree Policy

I, John Cooper, Mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me, do hereby find, direct, and order the following:

  1. Metro Nashville's urban tree canopy is a utility that improves air quality, manages stormwater, supports public health, provides economic benefits, and increases quality of life for Nashville residents. This utility shall be managed as an asset, with tree protection and expansion programs that also provide flexibility to ensure development can continue throughout Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County.
  2. Responsible Agencies
    The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (the "Metropolitan
    Government") conducts tree-related programs and initiatives through the Departments of Water and Sewerage Services, Board of Parks and Recreation, Codes Administration, Public Works, General Services, Nashville Public Library and Planning within the Metropolitan Government's boundaries ("Responsible Agencies").
  3. Empowered Urban Forestry Program Management
    In order to ensure alignment across all Responsible Agencies, I empower the Stormwater Division of the Metropolitan Department of Water and Sewerage Services ("Metro Water Services") to take responsibility for urban forestry program management. Their urban forestry staff will lead coordination and ensure communication with all Responsible Agencies’ directors, project staff, and relevant non-governmental partners. Metro Water Services’ urban forestry staff shall advise the Mayor regarding tree-related issues. They will have the responsibility to oversee the activities related to this Executive Order and to convene the tree-related groups and partners regularly as outlined below.
  4. Governance
    Tree-related programs and initiatives should be managed and overseen by two key groups coordinated by the Metro Water Services urban forestry staff:
    1. A group that consists of senior management from the Responsible Agencies that convenes quarterly to review tree-related policy and initiatives.
    2. A Tree Working Group that consists of key program staff from the Responsible Agencies that convenes monthly to coordinate and provide updates on tree-related policy and initiatives.
  5. Metro Government Leading by Example
    1. In an effort to lead by example, new tree protection and replacement standards were established for Metro projects that have tree-density requirements pursuant to Chapter 17.24 of the Metropolitan Code. These standards are 15% higher than those imposed on private properties.
    2. The Metro Tree Review Panel was created to review and approve Metro projects and land-management activities on Metropolitan Government properties that include removals of trees over 100 aggregate inches in diameter at breast height, or of any single specimen tree over 30 inches in diameter at breast height. Trees that are dead, diseased, invasive, potentially hazardous, less than six inches in diameter at breast height, and/or located within a public utility easement or Right-of-Way will not count toward the aggregate total. The Metro Tree Review Panel established replacement standards for removed trees and will pursue retention where feasible, and may continue to develop and revise these standards. These standards will apply to projects across all Metropolitan Government departments and agencies, and for which there is no grading permit or development plan required. This protocol will not apply to areas managed as grasslands or mixed-grass meadows.
    3. The Metro Water Services urban forestry management staff will oversee the formalization of maintenance standards and responsibilities across all Metropolitan Government departments and agencies. Responsibilities will include regular tracking of tree plantings and removals on Metropolitan Government property and in the public right-of-way, along with replanting opportunities throughout the county.
  6. Enforcing Tree Standards
    1. All Responsible Agencies shall ensure compliance with applicable tree-related policies and regulations. To the extent consistent with the Metro Code, during the permitting process for any development or construction, trees shall be a major consideration in the review of a grading or building permit application and the issuance of occupancy permits.
    2. The policies and guidelines regarding Nashville's Tree Mitigation Bank will continue to be refined to provide flexibility and predictability for properties where tree-density requirements cannot be reasonably met, while ensuring an appropriate financial structure that supports the planting of new trees.
  7. Regular Tracking and Data Collection
    1. Protecting and expanding the Metropolitan Government's tree canopy requires ongoing monitoring across Davidson County. The Metropolitan Government will update its county-wide Urban Tree Canopy study no less frequently than every five years, with more frequent analysis as conditions require.
    2. In addition, the Metropolitan Government, by and through the Metro Water Services’ urban forestry staff, will develop and maintain an inventory of all street trees and potential tree-planting locations inside Nashville's Urban Zoning Overlay district, as shown on Exhibit A, attached hereto.
  8. Departments and Agencies Covered
    The Metropolitan Tree Policy addressed in this Executive Order applies to the Departments of
    Water and Sewerage Services, Parks and Recreation, Codes Administration, Public Works, General Services, Planning, and the Nashville Public Library. I hereby request that Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, Nashville Electric Service, the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency, and the Metropolitan Sports Authority also consider following this policy.

Ordered, Effective and Issued:

John Cooper
Metropolitan County Mayor

Date: March 10, 2020