VENICE - Under a new ordinance, property owners with large banyan trees, oaks and other trees deemed “Venetian Trees” could receive a tax incentive to preserve them.

Officials at the city’s development services department have been crafting the ordinance with an eye toward the city assuming responsibility for tree permits from Sarasota County by October 1, according to the Herald Tribune. City and county officials must still determine how to handle permits to remove, plant and trim trees during the transition period.

With the October 1 deadline for the expiration of an interlocal agreement between the city and Sarasota County looming, more than one council member wondered whether city staff may be better off asking the county to extend the deadline 90 days, and have the city take over the permitting process January 1, 2020.

City staff is also weighing how the ordinance would be impacted by a new state law that preempts local government tree ordinances between March 1 and June 1, allowing owners of residential property to trim and remove trees without a permit in preparation for hurricane season.

One of the goals of the ordinance is to foster an increase in the overall tree canopy. Currently the city of Venice has about 27% tree coverage, noted city arborist and Tree Program Administrator Jim Yelverton. The goal, he said, is to increase that to 30 percent — which is one of the reasons the ordinance has incentives to save big trees.

Incentives — in the form of credits — are also in place for developers to maintain trees and tree clusters. Property owners with Heritage and Venetian trees could see extra property tax relief.

Sarasota County already has Protected Trees and Heritage Trees in its ordinance, the Venetian Tree designation would be unique to the city.