Stewardship of Trees in Chatham Park

By April 1, 2019 July 31st, 2019 News Feed

Nature plays a leading role here at Chatham Park, where living, working, and playing harmonize beautifully

Whether it’s among one of the many greenways or green spaces, the emphasis on walking and biking as preferred modes of transportation, or in the common enthusiasm for being a part of something with a purpose larger than themselves, Chatham Park’s commitment to thoughtful, environmental stewardship is abundantly clear. In fact, stewardship is one of our core values.

Chatham Park is in relentless pursuit of the perfect community. To that end, we’re proud to have created and implemented standards that demonstrate an exemplary commitment to nature and sustainability. Following these standards, Chatham Park’s tree canopy never falls below 50% – a requirement that raises the bar for other North Carolina communities.

Let’s talk about what that means and why it makes Chatham Park all the more unique.

Tree Canopy vs. Tree Coverage
What’s the difference between tree coverage and tree canopy?
Tree canopy is the area the tree’s branches and leaves cover when viewed from above.
Tree coverage is the land area where the tree grows. Typically, tree canopy measurements will be 3x the tree coverage area.

“As added measures, trees in parking lots, single-family lots, and planted in street rights of way will not receive credit for tree coverage in Chatham Park. We also have buffer requirements to preserve natural areas,” says Chuck Smith, VP, Planning & Development at Preston Development Company and the Chatham Park project.

Already established buffer requirements in Chatham Park’s include:

  • 100-foot buffers on perennial streams, twice the amount of any stream buffer requirement in Pittsboro today
  • 300 and 500-foot buffers along the Haw River. These are 6 and 10 times the current Town and State requirements on the Haw River

Chatham Park’s Tree Canopy vs. Other NC Cities
Chatham Park’s requirements for tree canopy sets new, higher standards for other communities, and that’s something for residents and visitors to be proud of! 

For instance:

  • Chapel Hill, Chatham Park’s neighbor to the north, requires 30-40% tree canopy coverage and has no canopy requirements for the Town Center or UNC’s campus.
  • Charlotte has 47% tree canopy and set a goal of 50% by 2050 (according to TreesCharlotte). The tree coverage requirements in their ordinances range from 10-15% (except in the urban center with 0% required).

Chatham Park’s standards, however, meet or exceed all of Charlotte’s long-term goals; we will always maintain at least 50% canopy. Plus, tree coverage requirements for Village Centers will also result in more canopy.

“The combination of the tree protection, open space, parks, public facilities, water quality, and water conservation standards adopted by Chatham Park will provide more environmental protections than any other property along the Haw River,” adds Smith.

Chatham Park will never fall below 50% tree canopy.

In 2013, The Conservation Ordinance Review Committee (CORC) drafted recommendations for a Tree Protection Ordinance in Pittsboro. This report estimated there is 53% “canopy coverage” in the Town Limits. Most of this canopy is located in residential lots. Powell Place, for example, is the most comparable type of community to Chatham Park, and has 34% tree canopy with 12% tree coverage.

Very few municipalities in the state even have tree ordinances – and Chatham Park compares very favorably to those that do. Each city uses different coverage (not canopy) metrics, but you can see that they are generally the same as Chatham Park’s 10-20%:

  • Charlotte: 10-15%
  • Raleigh:  10%
  • Durham: 10-20%
  • Greensboro: 10%
  • Winston-Salem: 10%

Where Nature and People Prosper
We believe that the perfect community is environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable. We also believe its role is to generate prosperity for its residents and those of the larger region, not merely to build attractive neighborhoods.

Here at Chatham Park, we balance the stewardship of the serene beauty of parks and open spaces in its natural areas with inspiring manmade art and architecture throughout built areas.

Positioned near two incredible water and wildlife areas and intentionally designed with ample outdoor spaces for natural recreation, Chatham Park is a well-orchestrated place where people live, work and play. It’s a place to escape the freeways and the annoyance of long commutes. Here, everything is in its place, and there is a place for everything – including lots of trees.

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