Tree Ordinances – St. Johnsbury

Case Studies

Tree Ordinances – St. Johnsbury

Community overview

Named in 2016 as the #1 Small Town for Adventure by National Geographic, St. Johnsbury is the county seat of Caledonia County in Vermont. St. Johnsbury. with a population of approximately 7,500, is located approximately 10 miles northwest of the Connecticut River and 40 miles south of the Canadian border. The community boasts not only the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum and the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium, but a wealth of other stores, recreational opportunities and attractions. St. Johnsbury Works!, a National Main Street Program, is dedicated to revitalizing and strengthening the downtown.

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St. Johnsbury Tree Ordinance

In 2004, the town of St. Johnsbury decided the public tree maintenance program in place for the town was inadequate. They had several reasons for enacting a more comprehensive tree ordinance. First, the town wanted to have a legal standard that the town officials could rely on confidently when dealing with development proposals. Secondly, they felt that in enacting a comprehensive tree ordinance, it would educate the community on the importance of urban trees. By taking a voluntary program and turning it into a mandatory ordinance, St. Johnsbury residents were able to understand the importance urban trees have in a community. Furthermore, the town was interested in getting Tree City status by the Arbor Day Foundation. Recognition as a Tree City brings about a positive image for the community and their values. Currently, St. Johnsbury has received Tree City status for the past four years.

Implementation of the tree ordinance has progressed smoothly. There has been minimal enforcement needed. Overall, the town has felt satisfied with this ordinance.

Lessons Learned

  • The ordinance must have the support of the town officials. St. Johnsbury found it particularly helpful developing the ordinance in conjunction with the Town Manager.
  • Model a new ordinance after one already existing in Vermont. St. Johnsbury modeled theirs after Burlington and Montpelier.

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