The Giving Trees of Fayetteville

Yesterday, the Fayetteville Observer released an opinion piece criticizing the City Council’s decision to amend the UDO’s tree ordinance. The Observer’s article included misleading information. This morning, the Observer posted the piece again on its facebook page, aggravating some in town.

The purpose of this post is to give some clarity to the issue and let you draw your own conclusions.


A “specimen tree” is defined by our city code as a tree with a caliper measurement of 30 inches.

If you’re going to chop down a “specimen tree” in Fayetteville, you need a good reason.

You also have to pay a fine:

Note that this fine is $100.00 per caliper inch for all trees above 30 inches.

This is a tree caliper:

The tree in this photo is about 10 caliper inches.

Under the current formula, you take the number of inches on your caliper, multiply it by by 100, and pay that many dollars to City Hall. For commercial developers, it gets expensive, fast. Trees don’t grow in isolation.

Observer “Our View” Omission

On Monday the council voted to reduce the “fine” on the removal of specimen trees from $100 per caliper inch to $50 per caliper inch.

The vote was 9-1. Only Tisha Waddell voted against it. In short, the council threw a bone to developers.

But the Fayetteville Observer took the view that this was a mistake:

Read the piece with this link.

It starts like this:

Members of the Fayetteville City Council took some time Monday to go after trees, and we are perplexed as to why.

A subsequent paragraph shows why the Observer might be “perplexed”:

“For the privilege of removing so-called “specimen trees,” defined as those with a diameter of 30 inches or more, developers will now be charged $50 per tree instead of $100.”

Are you seeing what they left out? It makes it seem like developers are nickle and diming the city over $50 per tree.

The omission is strange because John Henderson, a reporter for the Observer, got the facts right in an article that ran at the same time:

Fayetteville Makes it Less Expensive for Developers to Take Down Large Trees

Henderson noted the fee was “per caliper inch” and that a 30 inch tree could run a $3,000 fine under the current code. I guess the Observer’s opinion writers either glossed over or didn’t read Henderson’s reporting.


If you’re going to criticize elected officials for encouraging development in Fayetteville, you should print accurate facts.

I hope you have enjoyed our discussion of tree calipers. I know I have.

Image result for the giving tree happy not really

Update (9-26-19)

The day after this post was published, the Fayetteville Observer corrected the online version of its original article.

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  1. Pingback: "Top 9" for 2019 « Cross Creek Divide

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