- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 16, 2015

D’IBERVILLE, Miss. (AP) - The city of D’Iberville is requiring developers and homeowners who cut any of the protected trees to plant several more or pay the city to plant and take care of the trees for a year.

The bigger the tree, the more they will pay.

Mike Mullins, public works director and city arborist, told The Sun Herald (https://bit.ly/1Fk96IU) that a protected tree 8 inches in diameter must be replaced with 12 trees. A 14-inch diameter protected tree would cost three trees plus three more for every 2 inches, requiring that 21 new trees be planted.

“That’s 21 trees at $100 a pop,” said Mullins.

To take down a 40-inch tree that may have been growing for centuries, the property owner must replant 63 trees.

The new ordinance was adopted in May.

The original tree ordinance adopted in 1992 designated oaks, magnolia, cypress, sycamore and cedars as protected trees. Under the new ordinance, oak was changed to live oak trees and cypress to bald cypress.

A permit is required to cut any tree with a trunk circumference of 18 inches when measured five feet above ground level. The property owner must apply to the Tree Protection Committee.

Mullins said the property owner has the option to plant trees and keep them alive for a year or pay to have the city to take care of planting and watering.

City staff periodically calls nurseries to get prices on replacement trees.

“We’re not charging them any more than what they’re going to pay for the tree,” Mullins said.

One developer who couldn’t plan around a protected magnolia tree cut the tree and a check to the city for $17,000, Mullins said.

While the mitigation costs are high, the penalty for not following the ordinance is a misdemeanor, which could involve a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 90 days, or both.

City Manager Bobby Eleuterius said city crews located and measured the protected trees throughout the city.

“We have that list,” he

The city has places to plant the trees, including near Interstate 10, where acres of trees were cut to make way for shopping centers and other development.

The ordinance has exemptions for trees that are hollow or damaged.

“Now you’re dealing with life safety,” Mullins said. “It the tree is in that condition the tree’s got to come down.”

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Information from: The Sun Herald, https://www.sunherald.com

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