Dilworth Master Tree Plan
The Dilworth Master Street Tree Plan is a guiding document negotiated between the Dilworth neighborhood and the City of Charlotte.
Our street trees are an integral part of the neighborhood, and play a significant role in the historic look that is “Dilworth”. Many are nearing the end of their life span, but fortunately there’s a plan in place to help keep our tree canopy healthy and vibrant - the Dilworth Street Tree Master Plan. This Plan addresses an array of tree selection issues with communal sensibilities.
Originally, each of Dilworth’s streets was planted with a uniform species, adding to the aesthetically unique character of the neighborhood. However, the first planters depended heavily on one tree for many of the streets - the willow oak. While a beloved and durable tree, we’ve learned over time that a monoculture has its dangers (cue the canker worm issues of the 2000s). Add in climate change and increased development pressure, and it’s clear that life as a tree on the streets can be pretty tough. Best practices today include selecting tree species that grow and survive/thrive in tough conditions and using a variety of tree species to reduce susceptibility to disease and pests. Power lines and utilities also impact site and tree selections.
Back in 2011, the DCA’s Tree Committee addressed these issues and worked on a plan for replanting street trees with the goal of creating an historically appropriate and sustainable tree canopy. The Tree Committee at that time walked the entire neighborhood, street by street, and came up with a proposal for what large and small trees could be planted on each street. This was then presented to and negotiated with the neighborhood and the City of Charlotte, and together a blueprint for future planting efforts in the form of the Dilworth Street Tree Master Plan was born. The Plan increased the diversity of the canopy and emphasized large shade trees over small ornamental trees wherever possible.
To see the Street Tree Master Plan street-by-street tree designations, click here.
Wonder how street trees get planted? The City is responsible for the planting, maintenance, and removal of street trees throughout the city. Storms, old age, development, and disease had taken their toll in Dilworth, leaving a growing number of gaps in our tree canopy. The City was replanting trees, but funding was tight and they couldn’t replace all that had been lost. Beginning in 2019, the Tree Canopy Committee began fundraising (through Share the Shade and the Tree Tribute Program) and worked with the City to play catch up, using money raised to add even more trees to Dilworth each year. This is an ongoing effort, and to date the trees selected have been guided by the Dilworth Street Tree Master Plan.
Trees have wide ranging community benefits - they provide cooling shade, decrease flooding, improve water quality, increase traffic safety, sequester carbon, increase property values, extend the life of roads, and more. This is why the City of Charlotte uses public funds to plant these trees on public land (the planting strip next to the street). Very much like sidewalks, street lights, and water lines, the street trees are a public good. And as such, these street trees are carefully managed by the City. They are our green infrastructure. In Dilworth, the City committed to planting trees according to the species indicated on the Master Plan for each street. No longer would they just plant whatever tree they had available. Just as Dilworth's character has been shaped by required design guidelines and historic protection of the housing stock, our neighborhood has also reaped the benefits of careful tree canopy design.
Going forward, the DCA's Tree Canopy Committee will continue to work to support Dilworth’s trees. Proceeds from the recent fundraiser have resulted in more large shade trees being planted again this winter. Efforts are underway to strengthen the Master Plan in light of City and climate changes.
Response to Recent Media Coverage
Dilworth is a historic district and the neighborhood has been concerned about saving the Leeper & Wyatt building since the property owner filed for demolition on December 8, 2021. Subsequently the DCA has collaborated with 3 different developers in an effort to save the historic building. Since we began working with the petitioner the DCA has consistently maintained that we want to save the building and abide by the ordinance. The DCA and the Dilworth neighbors support saving the Leeper & Wyatt building.
The petition presented at the Council Hearing on Monday, September 18 did not include the technical revisions required by Planning Staff per the UDO. The language regarding the 10 leased off-site parking places was unenforceable. The DCA's request on Monday night was simply to include lease language that is enforceable. The DCA has not opposed any other exception requested by the petitioner and is asking the petitioner to continue to cooperate with us and the Planning Staff in order to save the Leeper & Wyatt building.