Dispute Over Replanting “Landmark Trees” that absorb 1.5M/gal/yr.

by David Gordon, reporting on the January 17, 2018 Planning Commission meeting.

The Planning Commission last night tabled a request from a developer to build an 1,127’ extension to Jomar Drive because of a dispute over replanting 37 “Landmark Trees” that would be cut down during construction.

In making the motion to table, Chairman Larry Roman said more clarity was needed, especially regarding the replanting of the large trees. Several residents expressed concern about flooding if the trees are not replanted.

Tree Transpiration 400w318w

 "The wetlands on this property were there long before the property was purchased, and wetlands serve an important purpose" said resident Polly McNichol, who lives nearby. "The Commission should not make an informed decision without knowing all the plans for this site, not just the road. And the trees should be replanted."

Township Planner Paul Lippens it was “clearly the intent of the Natural Features Ordinance” that the trees be replanted. The ordinance defines a “Landmark Tree” as having a minimum of 12” diameter at chest height (about 4 ½’) and requires replacement. (See link below)

A large oak tree will absorb about 40,000 gallons/year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The 37 trees slated for felling soak up about 1.5 Million/gal/year. Another 70 smaller, non-landmark trees would also be cut down. The developer is not required to replace them.

The new road (in the township’s Research– Technology – Manufacturing (RTM) district off N. Territorial Road east of US23), would create access to four or five new building sites, according to Robert Wagner of Mid-West Consulting who was representing the owner, James W. Kugler (Falls North Investment).

Wagner argued that only the private road ordinance applies and that tree replacement isn’t required.   He claimed it would cost the applicant $100,000 to replant.

In other news, the township has approved 94% of applications made in the last three months according to the Zoning Administrator’s report.

In other action, the Commission:

  • Discussed their “2018 Work Plan”,
  • Adopted the 2018 Meeting Calendar,
  • Re-appointed officers,
  • Adopted an abbreviated “Robert’s Rules of Order”,
  • Welcomed their newest member, Eamonn Dwyer, who replaced former Commissioner Amy Steffens and will serve through 2019.

The meeting adjourned at 8:31 p.m.


Northfield Township Natural Features Ordinance language re: Landmark Tree

Ordinance 36-723(c)

All replacement trees shall have a diameter at breast height (DBH) or height as follows: for deciduous trees, replacement shall be on a total caliper basis; that is, for example, for each tree with a 12 inch DBH, there shall be replacement trees with an aggregate of calipers totaling 12 inches; provided, however, no replacement trees shall have a DBH less than 2.5 inches. For conifers, replacement shall be based upon total height, with no replacement tree having a height less than six feet.

Link to Section 36-723 “Natural features preservation”:

Our Township Laws are compiled by and made available online by Municode, linked to here.


Meeting Documents:

Watch individual Agenda items with our exclusive LiveAgenda.  

Or click here to watch it the old fashioned way, start to finish on VideoNorthfield.

1-17-2018 Northfield Township Planning Commission meeting Agenda

1-17-2018 Northfield Township Planning Commission meeting Packet (OCR to text)

1-17-2018 Northfield Township Planning Commission meeting Packet (As distributed by Township)