From: Sally Claunch, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Published December 13, 2005 12:00 AM

Dallas Cowboys May Get Flexibility in How They Replace Trees

ARLINGTON, Texas — When building their new stadium, the Dallas Cowboys will have to replace as many trees as any other business that builds in Arlington, as required by the city's commercial tree ordinance. The organization, however, will probably be able to arrange trees differently.

The City Council has directed planners to write a new ordinance that applies only to major sports venues, which in Arlington means Ameriquest Field and the $650 million Dallas Cowboys stadium to be built near Collins Street and Randol Mill Road. The council is expected to vote on the ordinance next month.

The stadium is planned to take over a neighborhood dotted with mature oak trees. Houses in the area are being razed by the county to make way for the massive venue, but the old oaks still stand.

According to the commercial tree ordinance, builders do not have to replace trees that are within a building's footprint. But because the Cowboys will have to clear trees from parking areas, those that are 6 or more inches thick will have to be replaced, under the city's code. The trees must be replaced inch for inch. For example, is an uprooted tree is 6 inches in diameter, it could be replaced with two 3-inch trees.

The Cowboys also have to plant one 3-inch tree for every 20 parking spaces. But instead of spreading the trees across the parking lot, team representatives have asked to plant trees in groups.

"Clumping the trees together will appear more natural," said Councilwoman Kathryn Wilemon, who championed a residential tree ordinance this year. "A group of different kinds of trees will be a softening effect for the stadium."

Wilemon said she doesn't mind allowing the team to change the arrangement of the trees as long as the city gets all the trees it needs.

Along the edge of the stadium site, zoning rules call for one 4-inch tree every 30 feet. The Cowboys have requested that those trees not be spaced so far apart and that they be planted in groups, rather than in a row.

Other rules also may be relaxed for the stadium project.

Arlington requires that parking lots be made of asphalt or concrete. But the Cowboys have asked the city to allow it to use porous, honeycomb-looking stones that allow some grass to grow. Planning and Development Director Karen Brophy said the material can improve air and water quality. The grass would prevent a "heat island," which occurs when heat rises from an asphalt or concrete lot and can contribute to ozone problems during summer months.

Mayor Robert Cluck said a stone and grass parking surface also could prevent some water runoff, which can wash oil or other fluids from cars directly into gutters and into the local water system. He said the grass would act as a filtering agent, keeping chemicals from getting into the water table.

The team also has asked that it not be required to plant bushes, as required by city ordinance.

Cluck said the proposed major sports venue ordinance would not require bushes and that the area doesn't need such landscaping to buffer noise because most of the traffic will be on major arterial streets.

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Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

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