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Oxford’s Baptist Hospital in process of replacing trees

Baptist Memorial-Hospital North Mississippi is asking to spend $53,250 on trees that won’t be on the new hospital property,

With the construction of the new hospital, many trees had to be cleared to make room for the new 500,000-plus-square foot facility. The city of Oxford requires new developments to replant new trees to help mitigate that loss.

However, once construction began, it became obvious the hospital would not have the room it needed to replace 426 trees on the site.

City code also allows developers who cannot physically plant the required number of trees to pay into the city’s Tree Escrow Account and the funds will be used by city officials to plant trees in other parts of the city, generally in parks and other city-owned property.

City planners have worked with Baptist officials to determine a cost of $125 per tree based on the cost to purchase and plant the trees in other locations.

Replacing 1,500 trees

On Tuesday, city planners will ask the Oxford Board of Aldermen to approve Baptist’s payment into the fund in lieu of planting the trees at the new hospital site.

Baptist cleared trees from 88 acres of the 149-acre site, leaving 61 acres undisturbed.

According to Baptist’s Reforestation Plan, 1,566 trees needed to be replaced. They replaced all but the 426 trees that they are proposing to pay for through the contribution into the city’s Tree Escrow Fund.

In documents filed online in preparation for Tuesday’s meeting, city planners say the need for reforestation arose after Baptist discovered that because of the type of soil on the site, the site would need to be cleared and the soil would have to settle for two years before construction began. Baptist started clearing the site before the site plan was approved by the city. Baptist decided to instead harvest the timber in lieu of a tree survey and required mitigation. The city stopped Baptist from further clearing and Baptist submitted a Reforestation Plan with its site plan.

The aldermen will meet at 5 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.