by EMILY SCHNACKY
The Duluth City Council tabled action on a new tree ordinance relating to the planting, maintaining and removal of vegetation on public and private property Monday evening after concerns that privacy rights of property owners would be violated.
Council President Jeff Anderson favored tabling the ordinance until next month so that the language in the amendment and specifics regarding privacy rights of the homeowner could be addressed.
It was brought to attention that there needs to be an amendment added to put language in the ordinance to make sure the home owner is notified if there will be a tree inspector on their property. A note from the city about a week prior to the inspection was suggested so the property owner would not be caught by surprise.
Councilor Sharla Gardner said, "We don't want to prevent the tree inspector from preventing the spread of diseased trees," but she did recognize the importance of notifying the homeowner before having a tree inspector on their property.
Councilor Todd Fedora had stronger opinions regarding personal property rights and said that the city should only be allowed to enter a homeowner's private property with their personal permission. This motion failed to gain enough support among council members.
Fedora however was successful in amending part of the ordinance. The ordinance used to state, "No person shall plant any vegetation on public property without having received the prior written approval of a tree inspector." Property owners can now tend to and prune trees and vegetation in the area which was not allowed before without permission from the city.
Private property rights in regard to this ordinance will be discussed at the city council meeting next month.