Winter Park, a central Florida community set within a subtropical landscape, cherishes its past, but looks to its future. The city commission is working with the help of the sustainability coordinator and the parks and recreation department and other city departments to qualify the city for the Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC) Standards and Policies program www.floridagreenbuilding.org. The city's intent is to green the city and move it toward a sustainable future.
Meeting the standards of this program will allow the city to increase its environmental performance with respect to water, air, energy, waste and land. Performance is measured in a LEED-like manner, with points for meeting certain levels of compliance. Four levels of greening are recognized based upon points credited. These levels rank in order of environmental performance: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Platinum means that the city is following all best practices for local communities as set forth by the FGBC.
''Be the best place to live, work and play in Florida, for today's residents and future generations.''
—2012 city vision statement
Standards are created and set forth in a FGBC Reference Guide specifically for various city departments. It is at the city department level that the city and its citizens will move toward a sustainable future. The guide document presents these standard to direct the city toward tools, methodology, procedures and ordinance changes that will preserve and improve the quality of life in the community. Among the many recommended standards of the FGBC Green Building program are the development of an effective tree preservation ordinance and a sustainability-based landscape code. To this end, the city is currently upgrading their tree preservation ordinance. The draft, as reported here, has several outstanding features.
The Tree Ordinance
Winter Park adopted its tree preservation ordinance (Chapter 58, Land Development Code, Art. 5, Environmental Protection Regulations, Division 6) back in 2002, and has amended it several times since.
The purpose of this ordinance is sustaining the urban forest canopy over city neighborhoods, even though that is not explicitly stated. A little word smithing to Sec. 58-281 can not only make this clear but should include language tying the code to the Florida Green Building Local Government Standards mentioned above. The ordinance also needs to be directly related to the community landscape code Division 8 of the same codebook.
Many cities would do well to harmonize their tree ordinance and landscape code within their Land Development Code as Winter Park has done, since both provide regulations for community trees.