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Photo: Project Green Heart

At 1000 Stanley Avenue this week, the first of thousands of trees was planted as part of a major health study to determine the impact of green foliage on the community’s health.

Councilwoman Keisha Dorsey (D-3) was on hand for the first tree planted as part of the Green Heart Project, a program being conducted by the University of Louisville Environment Institute and The Nature Conservancy.

“We know Louisville Metro has been losing trees at an alarming rate.  As the Green Heart Project moves forward in the coming years, we will be able to have a better understanding on how greenery impacts the health of the people of our community while replenishing our tree canopy,” said Dorsey.

The Green Heart Project will examine, for the first time, if increasing greenness in an urban community will reduce the levels of air pollution in the neighborhood, decrease the risk of heart disease, and increase outdoor activity and relationships between neighbors.

Green Heart will help discover:

  • How to plant trees in urban communities to maximize the removal of air pollution,
  • If increasing green space affects the risk of developing obesity, diabetes, and heart disease,
  • If increasing urban green space reduces mental stress, enhances social cohesion, increases physical activity, and
  • If urban green space affects crime rates, property values, storm water runoff, energy use, and heat island effect.

Research teams with the project have already conducted health screenings with neighborhood residents and will recheck their biomarkers over time to determine whether the additional trees and shrubs improve their health, including cardiovascular health, diabetes, and other health indicators.

The Green Heart Project has a specific timeline:

  • Baseline measurements in 2018 and 2019
  • Monitor levels of air pollution around roadways and residential areas.
  • Recruit hundreds of people for the HEAL Health Study to see baseline health, stress levels, lifestyle and relationships, and disease risk.
  • Greening in 2019 and 2020
  • Plant thousands of trees, shrubs, and grasses to create a robust and sustainable ecosystem maximized to remove air pollution.
  • Monitoring in 2020 and 2021
  • Track changes in pollution, physical and mental health, and social change.
  • Comparison in 2022
  • Compare observed changes before planting and two years after planting

“Every neighborhood in our community is special and we all want a better quality of life,” said Dorsey. “Now, we will be able to see through the Green Heart Project if the beauty of trees and greenery not only improve our neighborhoods but our health as well.”

For more information about the Green Heart Project, go to: https://louisville.edu/greenheart/about

In response to the passage of a Metro Council resolution, Louisville Metro’s Planning & Design Services, the city’s agency responsible for reviewing development applications and ensuring they align with our planning and zoning regulations, will hold public meetings to engage with the public on an update of Chapter 10 of the Land Development Code. Chapter 10 concerns trees, landscaping and open space.

The resolution passed by Metro Council on October 11 asked the Planning Commission to review the Land Development Code and to review the tree preservation and planting requirements to preserve and increase Louisville’s tree canopy.

The updates to Chapter 10 of the Land Development Code will only affect tree canopy requirements for development applications submitted to Planning & Design Services.

The update follows a tree ordinance aimed at preserving and increasing the tree canopy on public rights of way, which was passed by Metro Council in 2017.

“I was pleased to see the unanimous Metro Council vote to begin the process of improving Louisville’s Land Development Code, reducing tree loss and increasing our shrinking tree canopy,” Metro Council District 9 Councilman, and one of four sponsors of the resolution, Bill Hollander said. “There’s a bipartisan consensus that changes are needed. I encourage everyone to attend a meeting or make a comment as part of this process.”

The meetings will take place at the following dates, locations and times:

  • November 13: Jeffersontown branch of the Louisville Free Public Library (10635 Watterson Trail) from 12-2 p.m.
  • November 27: Okolona Fire Department (8501 Preston Highway) from 12-2 p.m.
  • December 4: Portland branch of the Louisville Free Public Library (3305 Northwestern Parkway) from 6-8 p.m.
  • December 11: East Government Center (200 N. Juneau Drive) from 6-8 p.m.

Proposed changes to Chapter 10 of the Land Development Code are due to Metro Council by March 1, 2019.

Changes related to tree requirements were last reviewed in 2014. Increases to preservation and planting requirement were deferred at that time pending the completion of an Urban Tree Canopy Assessment. The Assessment was complete in 2015 and showed a loss in tree canopy from 2004 to 2012 and predicted further losses without changes to City requirements.

For more information and a public comment form, please visit https://louisvilleky.gov/government/planning-design/land-development-cod…

Photo: Louisville Metro Council

President David James (D-6) will join representatives of MSD, Brightside, MSD, and the Ancient Order of Hibernians for the next phase of Planting O the Green on Saturday. March 24th.

This year, the President is partnering with Councilman Brandon Coan (D-8) to plant a total of 90 new trees this year.

“There may be snow on the ground now, it won’t last. A tree can last for many years and at the same time help our environment and make a neighborhood a beautiful place to live,” says James.

In District 6, 45 trees will be planted on E. St. Catherine between 2nd and Preston beginning at 9:00am. In District 8, the trees have already been plated in the green space along Gardiner Lane in the Hawthorne neighborhood abutting I-264.

“Planting O’ the Green is part of my goal to plant one tree in District 8 and another tree somewhere else in the city every day.  I commend President James and District 6 for joining our partnership,” says Coan.

“TreesLouisville is thrilled to be a primary sponsor of the Planting O’ the Green,” TreesLouisville Executive Director Cindi Sullivan said. “Our vision is a healthier community for current and future generations through a more robust tree canopy and collaborations like this one are an excellent way to make progress.”

“Brightside is very happy to be a part of another Planting O’ The Green,” Brightside Director Gina O’Brien said. “Trees are a terrific investment in our communities that will positively affect the health of Louisville’s residents, environment and economy. Districts 6 and 8 will reap the benefits of these trees for years to come.”

John O’Dwyer, President of the Father Abram J. Ryan Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, reflected on the meaning of the St. Patrick’s Parade and the impact of Planting O’ The Green.

“The Hibernians strive to open the spring season each year with the St. Patrick’s Parade, often called the People’s Parade, and it is a time for fun and community. Now we are making the Greenest Parade even greener as the next evolution of this charity event to give back to our fine city,” O’Dwyer said.

For more information about Planting O’ the Green, contact President James’ office at 574-1106.

Photo: Louisville Metro Council

As a way to help Louisville expand its tree canopy, Councilman Brandon Coan (D-8) has announced the second annual Planting O’ the Green, an initiative that will plant 90 trees in the weeks surrounding the St. Patrick’s Parade.

“In honor of this year’s 45th St. Patrick’s Parade, we’re planting 45 trees in District 8 and 45 trees in District 6,” said Coan.  “I believe this pay-it-forward approach is the only way to solve our citywide tree problem, and I hope Planting O’ the Green remains a tradition for many years to come.”

The Councilman and President James (D-6) made the announcement with representatives of TreesLouisville, MSD, Brightside, Olmsted Parks Conservancy and the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

“I’m thrilled to work with Trees Louisville and Councilman Brandon Coan to bring more trees to our neighborhoods.  Paying it Forward with Trees in our community is a great way to help replenish our tree canopy, which makes us all healthier and our city more vibrant,” said President James.

In District 6, 45 trees will be planted on E. St. Catherine between 2nd and Preston. In District 8, the trees will be planted in the green space along Gardiner Lane in the Hawthorne neighborhood abutting I-264.

“TreesLouisville is thrilled to be a primary sponsor of the Planting O’ the Green,” TreesLouisville Executive Director Cindi Sullivan said. “Our vision is a healthier community for current and future generations through a more robust tree canopy, and collaborations like this one are an excellent way to make progress.”

“Brightside is very happy to be a part of another Planting O’ The Green,” Brightside Director Gina O’Brien said. “Trees are a terrific investment in our communities that will positively affect the health of Louisville’s residents, environment and economy. Districts 6 and 8 will reap the benefits of these trees for years to come.”

John O’Dwyer, President of the Father Abram J. Ryan Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, reflected on the meaning of the St. Patrick’s Parade and the impact of Planting O’ The Green.

“The Hibernians strive to open the spring season each year with the St. Patrick’s Parade, often called the People’s Parade, and it is a time for fun and community. Now we are making the Greenest Parade even greener as the next evolution of this charity event to give back to our fine city,” O’Dwyer said.

The 45th Annual St. Patrick’s Parade is Saturday, March 10th. For more information about Planting O’ the Green, contact Councilman Coan’s office at 574-1108.

Metro Councilmembers Bill Hollander (D-9) and Cheri Bryant Hamilton (D-5) applauded the bipartisan 20 to 3 vote approving a Louisville Metro Public Tree Ordinance. When the ordinance is signed by the Mayor, Louisville Metro will finally join other jurisdictions that have had a tree protection ordinance for years.

Adoption of such an ordinance was the very first of 41 recommendations in the 2015 Louisville Urban Tree Canopy Assessment. It was also recommended by the Louisville Metro Tree Advisory Commission, after a lengthy review of ordinances in dozens of other cities, including several in Kentucky.

Councilmembers Hollander and Hamilton introduced the ordinance last December and had multiple meetings with citizens and other interested parties about it.  The final version approved tonight reflected changes which Hollander and Hamilton said improved the proposal.

“Adoption of a Public Tree Ordinance has been recommended in Louisville for decades, most recently as part of the tree canopy and urban heat island studies,” Councilman Hollander said.  “Since it was filed in December, we have met with many citizens and interested parties and had numerous public meetings. Many concerns and questions have been addressed.  The ordinance will help focus attention on the loss of tree canopy in Louisville, protect the trees we have, and reduce the possibility of more losses. It recognizes that trees are important to quality of life and to our health”.

“Our community needs more trees, desperately.  Studies have shown that it makes a difference and it will reduce the temperature in the City,” said Councilwoman Hamilton.  “We need to do a better job of getting people to connect the dots between our environment and our health and this ordinance will help. The no-net-loss provision for trees in the right-of-way is a really important provision of the ordinance.”

The proposed ordinance covers “public trees”, which includes trees located on Metro Government owned or controlled land or in public rights-of-way controlled by Louisville Metro, except for parks and parkways under the jurisdiction of Louisville Metro Parks.

It consolidates Louisville’s tree efforts into the Metro Division of Community Forestry, to provide oversight and comprehensive coordination for tree and forestation issues.  A new, broadly-representative Louisville Metro Tree Advisory Committee — appointed by the Mayor and approved by Metro Council — would make recommendations about those efforts.

The ordinance also establishes policies and standards for public trees, clarifying and replacing the provisions of several existing ordinances.  For example, routine pruning of public trees is allowed without a permit, while the current ordinance requires a permit for any trimming.

Currently required tree removal permits for trees in the rights-of-way would be conditioned on replacement of the public tree, unless a waiver is granted. Trees removed by Louisville Metro are also required to be replaced. Those provisions effectively create a no-net-loss policy for public trees.

The ordinance also creates a Community Forestry Escrow Fund, to help defray the cost of mandated tree removal and planting of rights-of-way trees by abutting property owners with demonstrated financial need.  The fund would receive appropriations from Metro Government and private contributions.  Trees Louisville, a non-profit working on improving the tree canopy in Louisville, has agreed to contribute to the fund.

Hollander and Hamilton noted that the ordinance is just part of the effort to increase Louisville Metro’s tree canopy.  Metro Council has also made changes in the Land Development Code which protect trees in proposed Conservation Subdivisions.  Other changes in the Land Development Code are also under consideration and will be pursued through the Planning Commission, as state law requires.

MetroCouncilSt. Patrick’s Day will take on a special meaning this year as a time to celebrate the wearing of the green but also to make the city a little greener, too.

As a way to help Metro Louisville expand its tree canopy, Councilman Brandon Coan (D-8) has announced Planting O’ The Green, an initiative to plant 88 trees during the week leading up to this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and 364 trees over the next four parade cycles.

“In honor of this year’s 44th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Planting O’ The Green partners and I are planting 44 trees in District 8 and 44 trees in District 1,” said Coan.  “Next year, we’ll plant 45 trees in District 8 and 45 trees in another Metro Council district, and so on.  I believe this pay-it-forward approach is the only way to solve our citywide tree problem, and I hope Planting O’ The Green becomes a tradition for many years to come.”

The Councilman made the announcement with Councilwoman Jessica Green (D-1) and representatives of Brightside, MSD, Olmsted Parks Conservancy, TreesLouisville, Bellarmine University and the Ancient Order of the Hibernians on Monday.

“I am pleased to be part of this effort because we all know trees are important to all of our neighborhoods. Trees bring us closer to nature and remind us of the beauty that can be found on any street or corner. What better way to celebrate the wearing of the green than making sure our community is a little greener,” said Green.

In District 1, 44 trees will be planted at Farnsley Middle School, led by Planting O’ The Green partner Trees Louisville.

“TreesLouisville is thrilled to be a part of the Planting O’ The Green project,” TreesLouisville Executive Director Cindi Sullivan said. “We applaud Councilman Coan and Councilwoman Green for sharing our vision of a healthier and more livable community for current and future generations through a robust community tree canopy. Collaborative projects like this one are an excellent, strategic means to plant trees that will benefit students at Farnsley Middle School, the neighborhood residents that utilize the walking path we will be shading, and all Louisville residents.”

In District 8, 24 trees will be planted in Cherokee Park, led by the Olmsted Parks Conservancy, and 20 trees will be planted on neighborhood streets in Deer Park and Tyler Park, led by Brightside.  Additionally, Brightside is organizing an extra effort to pick-up litter after the parade, led by students from Bellarmine University.

“What a great opportunity to work with such an impressive group of public and private partners to help grow and sustain Louisville’s urban tree canopy,” said Olmsted Parks Conservancy President Rachel Kennedy,  “As you know the Conservancy’s mission is to connect nature to neighborhoods within the nationally significant network of Olmsted Parks and we cannot think of a better way to do this than partnering with Metro Council and other nonprofits to green our neighborhoods and parks this St Patrick’s Day.”

“Brightside is thrilled to join with Metro Council, Ancient Order of Hibernians and community partners on this new community beautifying event,” Brightside Director Gina O’Brien said. “Keeping litter off the streets and trees in the ground are two pillars of Brightside and we love that this event focuses on both.”

John O’Dwyer, President of the Father Abram J. Ryan Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, reflected on the meaning of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the impact of Planting O’ The Green.

“We strive to open the spring season each year with the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, often called the People’s Parade, and it is a time for fun and community. Now we are turning the Greenest Parade into the greenest parade as the next evolution of this charity event give back to our fine city,” O’Dwyer said. “Partnering in the Planting O’ The Green initiative will have lasting impact for generations to come. It will increase recycling on Parade Day and improve our tree canopy year-round. The Hibernians are proud to lead the way in being charitable and improving the environment.”

The 44th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade is Saturday, March 11. For more information about Planting O’ The Green and related activities during the week leading up to the parade, contact Councilman Coan’s office at 574-1108.

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