The League City council Sept. 25 gave final approval to new tree ordinances for a community long known for its historic oaks.

Council members voted 7-0, with Greg Gripon absent, to approve new ordinances that include increasing the size requirement that defines a significant tree from 36 inches to 38 inches in diameter and increasing the fines for those who violate the ordinances, among other provisions.

The city’s Parks Board for months has been considering the changes, but the initial proposals drew concern from several members of the council about Texas law, enforcement and who had regulatory authority.

But city staff then changed the wording of the ordinances after a June presentation to give the city planner and council the ability to hear resident appeals and the ability to waive mitigation requirements in some instances, officials said.

While some council members still had specific concerns about the proposed ordinances, the council eventually approved the new measure on a first reading Sept. 11. The Sept. 25 final vote, then, solidifies the ordinances.

Residents of the city have been calling for tree ordinance changes ever since efforts to save a historic oak tree at League City Elementary School fell short of raising enough money to move a tree from a construction zone.

League City, with a population near 105,000, has a history of protecting trees from development. In 2012, the city paid $197,500 to move a Compton oak tree so it wouldn’t be cut down for the widening of Louisiana Avenue.

In 1872, George Washington Butler bought 30 acres in what is now League City, including the land where League City Elementary School is, descendant Anita Butler said.

The city council could still approve more changes to the ordinances in coming months, however.

Councilman Hank Dugie at the Sept. 11 meeting asked city staff members to consider adding a registry for historic trees that property owners could volunteer to place their trees on, but other council members said they could discuss that later.

Matt deGrood: 409-683-5230; matt.degrood@galvnews.com

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