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A tree-advocacy group believes proposed changes to Arlington housing policy could have a cataclysmic impact on existing tree canopy in the community.

“Tell the county ‘no’ – do not enact policies that further reduce our tree canopy,” the Arlington Tree Action Group (ATAG) said May 20 in response to a county-government proposal on possible zoning changes.

The group’s major criticism: Tree-coverage requirements on newly constructed multi-plex properties would be reduced from the current 20-percent requirements in single-family-zoned areas. In some cases, the requirements would be cut in half.

“Since 61 percent of Arlington’s trees reside in residential areas, we believe this lessening of requirements will have devastating effects on our tree canopy,” said the organization, which in recent years has been vocal in its criticisms of some county-government policies.

Under the staff proposal, “fewer trees will be preserved, fewer trees will be planted,” ATAG contends.

The organization urged its supporters to e-mail the County Board, county manager and director of the Department of Community, Planning, Housing and Development and attend the May 26 meeting of the Forestry & Natural Resources Commission, which will be held online.

The housing proposal, which holds the possibility of eliminating single-family zoning in much of the county, will be further outlined to the Arlington County Civic Federation on June 14 and a County Board work session on July 12.

Some critics see the entire process as a fig leaf to cover a policy that already has been decided on. At a recent County Board meeting, elected officials pushed back on that notion.

An online form to gather public feedback is open through May 27 on the government’s Website at https://arlingtonva.us, and after that time, a generalized comment form will be posted online to continue to collect feedback, county officials say.

[Sun Gazette Newspapers provides content to, but otherwise is unaffiliated with, InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media LLC.]

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