AUSTIN – On Friday, in response to a request from Sen. Donna Campbell, the Office of the Attorney General issued an advisory opinion regarding the constitutionality of tree preservation ordinances. The opinion states that if a municipality’s policy “operates to deny a property owner all economically beneficial or productive use of land, the ordinance will result in a taking that requires just compensation under article I, section 17 of the Texas Constitution.”
The opinion was released before a special session of the Texas Legislature is set to begin on Tuesday, in which local tree ordinances are expected to be addressed.
TPPF released the following statements in response to the opinion:
“The Texas Attorney General’s opinion hits the mark in finding that municipal tree ordinance regulations may violate the Texas Constitution," said Robert Henneke, general counsel and director of the Center for the American Future at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. "When tree restrictions unreasonably interfere with a landowner’s rights to use and enjoy their property, the city owes a property owner just compensation or the tree ordinance must be struck as unconstitutional. With sound legal analysis, the Texas Attorney General’s opinion strongly defends private property rights."
“Tree-cutting ordinances are another glaring example of local government overreach. City bureaucrats have no business telling private property owners what they can and cannot do with their trees,” said James Quintero, who leads the Think Local Liberty project at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “To safeguard Texans’ property rights as well as their constitutional rights, lawmakers should bar cities from passing these kinds of nanny state ordinances.”
To interview Mr. Henneke or Mr. Quintero, please contact Alicia Pierce at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-472-2700.
The Honorable Robert Henneke is general counsel and director of the Center for the American Future at Texas Public Policy Foundation.
James Quintero is director of the Center for Local Governance and leads the Think Local Liberty project at Texas Public Policy Foundation.