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14 March 2008
ACE Committee Branches Out

By Jennifer Bacchus
News Staff Writer

The ACE committee is working on a law to preserve the old trees in Jacksonville and encourage the planting of new ones. Photo: Anita Kilgore

Jacksonville’s Alabama Community of Excellence program has begun to branch out – literally. A subcommittee has been formed from the ACE Quality of Life committee to look at a tree ordinance for the city of Jacksonville.

Consisting of developers, business people, forestry specialists, and people who just have an interest in keeping Jacksonville as green as possible, the committee plans to be short-lived, only meeting a few times, and they hope their end result will be a workable tree ordinance to present to the city council.

Though the group has a wealth of expertise in its members, they know the best way to ensure a new law is not only enforceable, but one that will be obeyed is to ask residents for advice.

So they are asking.

From now until March 26, surveys will be available at the public library, the community center, the water department and other businesses in Jacksonville. It will also be available on the ACE website at

An ordinance governing the landscaping of new businesses coming to town or old businesses changing their parking lots is already in existence. Since the committee sees that ordinance as a good start, they are hoping to just add to it.

“I noticed they were using the linear length, one tree per 50 feet, and some other ordinances I’ve looked at talked about canopy cover as perhaps a better way to get the results you’re looking for, which is to cool the place down,” said Scott Beckett, a forestry expert and JSU math professor who is serving on the committee.

P.D. Pritchett, a local developer and member of the committee, warned the group that any restrictions on privately owned residential property would be difficult to enforce unless it is written into the covenants of any new developments.

“It’s hard to tell somebody what they can do to a degree,” said Pritchett. “It also has to be in their covenants and restrictions because once that developer sells that lot to a homeowner, if they don’t have anything in their covenants, then have no control. That homeowner could cut everything down if they want to.”

Several members of the committee would like to see the creation of a tree bank. This would work on the idea that a developer, homeowner or business could pay the cost of replacement trees for any tree they cut down on their property. This “bank” of trees would then be available for planting on public property.

Since the committee plans to be a short-lived entity, David Glass, the committee head, has asked the Jacksonville Garden Club’s Green Team to help with future efforts.

He would like them to serve as a resource for residents of the town, teaching them how to plant and properly maintain their trees as well as create welcome packages for anyone moving into the city, encouraging them to keep their trees and offering help with landscaping their home.

Since the committee knows any new law they create and get passed through the council will have little to no effect on current homes and businesses, they are hoping to work through education to keep the trees already in Jacksonville and encourage the safe planting of new trees.

Other suggestions made at the meeting include:

• Susan DiBiase encouraged the committee to include creation of green spaces in their efforts, mentioning the city’s planned green space from the Chief Ladiga Trail to City Park and other pieces of property she felt would work well as small parks.

• Adrienne Veal recommended planting wildflowers in the median along Alabama Highway 21 as a way to add color and beauty.

About Jennifer Bachus

Jennifer Bacchus is a staff writer at The Jacksonville News. She can be reached at 256-435-5021 or via e-mail at

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