Tree Ordinance Text Amendment


As part of the development of a Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), the City Council has adopted changes to the Charlotte Tree Ordinance. The adopted changes to the Tree Ordinance are limited in scope and focused entirely on urban zoned sites.

While an effective tool, the application of the Tree Ordinance standards to urban development can be challenging. The adopted changes are intended to make the Tree Ordinance work better on these urban sites. Such sites are zoned UMUD, MUDD, TOD, UR and NS, as well as any zoning district with a PED or TS overlay.

The adopted changes to the Tree Ordinance :

  • Codify flexibility – Greater transparency and predictability can be expected by formalizing the flexible administration of the Tree Ordinance that is currently already in use
  • Better integrate trees into urban sites – Provide more/better options to integrate trees on urban sites where people can interact with them
  • Result in NO NET LOSS OF ORDINANCE REQUIRED TREES – This was a guiding principle in drafting this text amendment


WHY CHANGE THE TREE ORDINANCE? The Charlotte Tree Ordinance is an effective tool for preserving and enhancing the city’s tree canopy in greenfield development and in suburban settings. However, the application of some Tree Ordinance standards can be challenging in urban development. The adopted changes are intended to make the Tree Ordinance work better with these sites.

CODIFY FLEXIBILITY The new language for urban sites will codify the flexibility that is currently being applied in the administration of the Tree Ordinance for greater transparency and predictability.

BETTER INTEGRATION OF TREES INTO URBAN SITES The prior Tree Ordinance requirements were not conducive to integrating required internal trees and tree save areas into urban development sites. The adopted amendment permits better integration of trees into areas of the site where people can interact with them.

WHAT WILL BE THE IMPACT OF THE ADOPTED CHANGES? A guiding principle in the development of the Tree Ordinance amendment is that there will be NO NET LOSS OF ORDINANCE-REQUIRED TREES. City staff has committed to tracking the impact of these innovative approaches for urban sites and plans on referencing these outcomes when updating the full Tree Ordinance which will be included in the UDO.

During our October 10 public meeting we received lots of comments about this text amendment, the tree ordinance in general and larger tree canopy goals. We took some time to review these questions and would like to share our answers here.

What Happens Next

TREES IN THE UNIFIED DEVELOPMENT ORDINANCE City staff will be working through 2021 to draft a Unified Development Ordinance that will include an update to the Tree Ordinance.

TRACKING INNOVATIVE APPROACHES As the city rolls out these new approaches to urban zoned sites, our Planning, Design and Development staff will track their utilization and compare outcomes to inform future changes to the Tree Ordinance in the UDO.

FUTURE COMMUNITY OUTREACH As our draft of the Unified Development Ordinance advances, city staff will provide an opportunity for community dialogue. To ensure you are a part of that conversation, send an email to expressing your interest in future meeting notices.

Tree Ordinance as Updated by Text Amendment

Tree Ordinance Text Amendment