Central mayor, council seeking to add trees to town
By Greg Oliver
CENTRAL — Housing developments under construction in Central are visible signs of growth, but with growth have come some changes to the town’s landscape — particularly the clearing of trees.
Those concerns, brought up at a recent town council meeting, prompted Central Mayor Mac Martin to suggest a line item for the 2020 fiscal year budget to replenish those trees.
“A longtime landowner sold property to a developer who did clear cutting on the land,” Martin said. “That got some people’s attention, so a couple of council members wanted to suggest a tree ordinance or some sort of process to save trees in town.”
The mayor’s idea has yet to be discussed or approved by council. It is expected to be part of the next work session scheduled for May 6.
But Martin said he is thinking of a three-person committee made up of town administrator Phillip Mishoe, Councilwoman Lynne O’Dell Chapman, one of the council members who raised concerns about the tree clearing, and Will Mullinax, a tree authority versed in purchasing and planting of trees and the time of year that is best.
The mayor said his criteria for trees is they cost no more than $25, would have the ability to be planted anywhere in town on public or private property with permission from the landowner, and, through some private funding, planted on property that may be annexed in the future. The mayor said $1,000 could plant 40 trees in a year.
Martin said a sponsor has also come forth willing to partner with the town, contributing dollar for dollar. If council passes a tree line item, the sponsor will match the $1,000 contribution by the town.
“There’s a lot of trees that are cheaper than $25, so we could get more than 40 trees planted in one year,” Martin said.
Chapman said she would like to combine the mayor’s proposal with a proposal she is now working on.
“We need to make sure that Central becomes more of a green-friendly town that protects our natural environment and stays that way for future generations,” she said. “We who are serving as council members now need to make sure we do everything possible to make Central the best it can be now and for all who will live here in years to come after we’re gone.”
Councilman Ken Dill said he is happy to see Central moving forward in finding ways to beautify the town.
“We’re moving from a place where we always talked about infrastructure to now looking at the future,” Dill said. “We’ve been looking at the sewer system, water and making sure our citizens are well taken care of and poised for growth, and we can now talk about that growth and how we want to move forward for the future.
Martin said the types of trees he envisions planting would likely not include water oaks.
“The water oaks that live around here live 80 years, while white oaks have a lifespan of 200 years,” Martin said. “Inside town limits, there’s no white oaks, just water oaks. But they’ve been trimmed on, stomped on, nails driven through them — they’re just not healthy. A lot of trees that have fallen on houses are probably water oaks.”
Bradford pears, along with shrubbery, would not be considered for tree planting. Martin said he would like to see 200 trees planted, with indigenous varieties at a minimum of 15 feet adult height, including dogwoods.
“There’s a lot of places you can plant them, and I think 200 to 300 would fill us up,” he said.
Martin said he plans to bring up the idea at the work session as a budget proviso and continue the effort on an annual basis. The one-page proviso would be attached to the budget and voted on for second and final reading of the new fiscal year budget that formally goes into effect July 1.
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