The City Code, Section 21-10, requires a permit for tree removal on private property. Tree removal means "removal, relocating or topping of the tree." Trees affected by this code are any trees with a caliper of more than two inches, as measured at four inches above ground level.
Steps to obtain tree removal permit
- Fill out permit application.
- Include Site Plan or House Location Plat and show tree(s) to be removed.
- Include photograph of tree (optional, except for Historic Area Work Permits).
- Pay fee ($5 per tree, $20 minimum).
- Request tree inspection from City inspector or arborist. Arborist's report may be required to determine survivability for specimen trees 9" in caliper, or larger.
- Attach arborist's report(s) or tree services' evaluation.
- Obtain Historic Area Work Permit, if tree(s) is/are located on a historically designated site or in a historic district.
Site plan Approved Trees
If the tree is part of an approved site plan, the tree must be replaced per staff's instructions.
If the tree is on a historically designated site or in a historic district - the Brookes, Russell. Walker District or the Chestnut/Meem Historic District - it will also require a historic area work permit issued by the Historic District Commission. If the tree is declared hazardous (see below) and its removal is an emergency, the City Manager may approve the historic area work permit. Replacement issues will be discussed between the applicant and the Historic Preservation Advisory Committee as part of the historic area work permit review process.
Hazardous tree is one that endangers life, health, safety or property, the determination of which must be made by a qualified person (e.g., certified arborist) for the purpose of issuing a tree permit. If such a tree is on a private property, the City Manager may order its removal if it is a danger to the public, and its removal will done by the property owners at their expense (City Code, Section 21-12).
Replacement of trees
The replacement of trees is highly desirable, although care must be exercised in selecting the location and species. In the case of historic areas, the Historic Preservation Advisory Committee will assist the property owners to determine whether or not replacement is desirable and, if so, provide a list of recommended species suitable for the historic areas. This information is made available through the tree inventory and tree care program sponsored by the City for the historic districts. For other situations, qualified City staff is available to make recommendations for tree replacement on species and location.
There are also City programs whereby donations can be made to the City's landscape planning fund or to plant commemorative trees. Contact Wally DeBord or Mark Kober, of the City's Department of Public Works, Park Maintenance, and Engineering at 301-258-6370.
A fine of $100 may be issued for removing a tree without a permit.