The Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission approved a city code change Monday that revises and expands guidelines for the planting and maintenance of “street trees” on city rights of way, including sidewalks.

Hailey Tree Committee Chairwoman Linda Reis said the draft regulations have been in the works for three years and provide standards that could prolong the lives of the city’s public trees.

The average lifetime for a street tree in the U.S. is seven years, Reis though Hailey’s do “a little better.”

The new standards address requirements for soils, tree measurement and infrastructure and provide best practices for tree longevity.

“The purpose of these street tree guidelines and standards is to encourage tree diversity and promote strong, healthy trees that are not limited by environmental conditions from achieving a long life and mature size,” the new text states.

The guidelines provide specific “structural soil” composition requirements for planting trees in sidewalks where compaction is required, and “suitable soil” compositions that include a minimum of 1-3 percent organic matter, less than 1,280 parts per million of salt and no “herbicides, heavy metals, or hydrocarbons that will impact growth.”

They provide details on tree well construction and placement for new trees and replacement costs for existing trees that could be removed during development, to be determined by the city.

Linear plantings of trees 40 feet apart are recommended and tree clusters are “discouraged.”

“The minimum number of trees in an alternative or clustering design shall be no less than the theoretical number of trees in a linear planting design for the same area,” the new guidelines state.

Reis, a trained arborist, said a tree planting guide, available on the city of Hailey website, would help tree planters to locate proper species in appropriate locations.

“People have planted crabapple trees in places where there wasn’t enough walking clearance around them,” she said.

The City Council will review the proposed changes at a date to be determined.

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