The Texas Association of Builders (TAB) commends the Legislature for passing House Bill 7, which will allow property owners to receive a tree mitigation fee credit for any trees planted.
After years of working with legislators, stakeholders, local governments and other interested parties to enact legislation that would limit or prevent onerous regulations of trees on private property, a tree credit bill has finally passed the Texas Legislature and has been signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott.
HB 7 was authored by State Representative Dade Phelan (R-Port Neches) and Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham). It requires the roughly 77 cities in Texas that impose tree mitigation fees to give property owners credits for trees planted. The bill also allows trees to be planted on a mutually agreed upon location by the city and the property owner.
“We appreciate the efforts of the bill authors, Lieutenant Governor Patrick, Speaker Straus and Governor Abbott to work with our industry during the past several months to craft the legislation,” said M. Scott Norman, Jr., Executive Director of the Association. “HB 7 strikes a balance between local efforts to protect existing trees while encouraging the private sector to plant more trees during the development and construction process.”
“HB 7 provides a market-based solution to lessen the financial burden on Texas homeowners of tree mitigation fees and other tree regulations that are negatively impacting housing affordability and infringing on the private property rights of Texans,” said TAB President Rick McGuire, a homebuilder from Lubbock.
HB 7 contains similar language from a bill filed during the 85th Regular Legislative Session, Senate Bill 744, also authored by Senator Kolkhorst and Representative Phelan. Governor Abbott vetoed SB 744 and added the topic of tree regulation to the call of the Special Session. During the legislative process, changes were made to increase the protections and fee credits for individual homeowners, and to prohibit tree mitigation fees on a homeowner if the tree is 10 inches or less in diameter. Furthermore, with regard to all property, the bill forbids mitigation fees and prohibitions on the removal of trees that are dead, diseased, or pose an imminent threat to persons or property.