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Charlotte Tree Canopy Action Summit meets

Charlotte’s tree-planting goals and proposed state legislation that could undermine local tree ordinances were focuses of the third annual tree canopy summit on Monday.

Hosted by the public-private collaborative partnership TreesCharlotte, the meeting at Freedom Park drew representatives of 30 organizations.

In its first two years, TreesCharlotte has planted about 11,000 trees through partnership with schools, the Charlotte Housing Authority and other entities. Its goal is to plant 15,000 trees a year, all paid for with private money.

Charlotte City Council, noting a decline in the leafy cover, has set its own goal: a tree canopy over 50 percent of the city’s area by 2050. The canopy is now at 47 percent, according to a 2012 analysis, but has shown no net decline since 2008.

“What we’re really trying to do is build community” with such goals, City Manager Ron Carlee told the group. “We want to build a place where people will want to live.”

The canopy goal is ambitious because development will continue to take some trees, and aging trees will die. One percent of the city’s tree canopy equals 100,000 trees.

A bill that is expected to come before legislators this year, meanwhile, has drawn attention from tree lovers.

A draft of the bill bans local ordinances that regulate the “removal, replacement and preservation of trees on private property” and would prohibit local tree ordinances such as Charlotte’s.

Legislators cited Charlotte’s $4,700 fine of a church – later dropped – in 2011 for improperly trimming crape myrtle trees as evidence of overreach by local regulators.

This article was modified at 11:20 a.m. May 20 to say that a city fine against a Charlotte church in 2011 was later dropped.

Henderson: 704-358-5051; Twitter: @bhender
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