DRAFT Tree Removal Notification Ordinance

The Tree Advisory Board (TAB) proposed that the City Council consider an ordinance relative to trees located on private property, to complement the existing rules of the City Code on cutting public trees. 

The City Council tasked the TAB with outlining a draft ordinance for discussion. Over the year, the TAB has discussed and debated various approaches. 

Given that regulation of cutting trees on private land is constrained by private property rights, the TAB recommends that the City adopts a notification system for cutting of trees on private land. 

The proposed system is that cutting mature trees of more than 9 inch diameter must be notified in advance to the City Code Enforcement Officer. After a waiting period, the proposed cutting can proceed as proposed, unless the Code Enforcement Officer indicates otherwise. A copy of the notification will be forwarded to the TAB.

The advantages of a notification system are that: 

a) it raises awareness about the importance of urban trees, 

b) it provides the City with information about the number and type of trees that are being cut, and 

c) it provides the TAB with an opportunity to provide citizens with tailored information and recommendations about cutting and replanting of trees. Unlike permit systems, notification systems result in minimal burden for citizens and for the city administration.

Another potential ordinance for general discussion would involve amending the Historic Zoning to also include landscape which would require a review of any changes to the site viewable from the street to preserve significant site features including trees.