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Dear Decaturish – Kelly Walsh gets it

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Dear Decaturish – Kelly Walsh gets it

Kelly Walsh. Photo provided to Decaturish
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Kelly Walsh. Photo provided to Decaturish

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Dear Decaturish,

Decatur’s Urban Forest is very important to me. The issue is more complex than amending a tree ordinance or getting mad at developers. Eighty percent of our forest in Decatur is in our backyards on residential zoned property.  Because of my concern for this issue, I endorse Kelly Walsh for the upcoming election for City of Decatur Commissioner District 1. I have spoken with her in depth, and she gets it. To protect quality healthy trees, we need to limit land disturbance and allow less grading during new construction and renovations. The cost to do this is not prohibitive and it will protect swaths of trees.

Building on a smaller footprint does not prohibit building a custom home and/or even a large home (by going up). It also has the potential to make homes more affordable by encouraging the retention of existing homes in addition to retaining the natural ecosystems (water, air, green, wood) that all neighbors benefit from. Kelly Walsh has stated the following on Decaturish (https://www.decaturish.com/2017/10/follow-up-qa-decatur-candidates-answer-more-questions/) :

Q: What is your opinion of the city’s current tree ordinance? Are there any changes you would like to make to the current ordinance?

“To better protect existing trees I am recommending the following:

1. We need do a better job of identifying and preserving trees that will provide future canopy for the City. These are not always the biggest trees but are important contributors now and in future to Decatur’s Urban Forest Canopy.

2. Less grading. Decatur lots under new development are typically scraped from setback to set back requiring the removal of most, if not all, the trees in addition to the top soil for future trees. Because root zones cross boundaries, the impact can be negative to neighboring properties as well, thereby amplifying the problem. Some important outcomes of making these changes are that landscape starts to inform design rather than the converse. More existing trees, forests and neighborhood character can be preserved. Less impervious surface is created by less mass grading. High value soils are protected and there are benefits from the associated storm water mitigation. Also importantly, green design that respects the position of healthy trees can facilitate the creation of affordable housing.”

Please join me in voting for Kelly Walsh in the upcoming election in Decatur either through early voting or on November 7th. Her website is VoteKellyWalsh.com She will make a difference.

Thank you for your consideration.

Neil W Norton
ISA Certified Arborist, SO-4158A

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