By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
MARGATE – The Planning Board Thursday, Sept. 24 unanimously agreed to accept the city’s Community Forestry Management Plan as a guiding document for developing future ordinances.
The plan was commissioned by Sustainable Margate, the city’s green team, and accepted by the governing body. It was paid for through a Sustainable Jersey grant and written by licensed arborist Mickey Riggin and approved by New Jersey Forestry Service for the period covering Jan. 1, 2018 to Dec. 31, 2020. The plan was developed to provide the green team, municipality and community with a strategic outline to preserve and protect the urban forest.
The document outlines certain goals for the community, such as planting new trees, maintaining existing trees and conducting public education about the benefits of trees. It also seeks to educate the public about the proper care of trees and recommends certain tree species for future plantings.
Margate Administrator Richard Deaney asked the board to review the document and consider five options: accept it as part of the city’s Master Plan, acknowledge the document and make it part of the review process for future applications, modify it, reject it or acknowledge it with no further action at this time.
The board discussed it at a prior meeting and held off adopting it until all board members could thoroughly review the 38-page document.
Planning Board Chairman Richard Patterson noted that Margate Zoning Officer Roger McLarnon recommended it not be part of the Master Plan, but instead used to guide the board in the future development of ordinances.
Attorney Leo Manus said making the document part of the Master Plan would be a lengthy process that would require public hearings.
“It’s a bit of a haul,” he said.
Patterson also said the document, although informative, had “no teeth” to be enforceable.
“It’s not worth the effort,” he said.
McLarnon said certain aspects of the document could be incorporated into existing landscaping ordinances at a future time, but that the city should continue working with the green team on environmental projects.
Sustainable Margate Chairman Steve Jasiecki, who is an alternate member of the Planning Board, said the board’s recommendation “makes sense.”
“It’s a plan that sets out parameters and how we should proceed with our city trees,” he said. “Sustainable Margate is only an advisor and does volunteer work, such as tree giveaways.”
The board unanimously agreed to accept the Community Forestry Management Plan as a “stand-alone” document that can be used to guide future ordinances.
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