Tree Impact Assessment and Tree Protection Plan Permit
Before conducting any project within 50 feet of an Urban Forest Tree, you must familiarize yourself with the City’s tree protection process. Construction, landscaping and tree pruning can all cause damage to the health and structure of nearby trees.
Key concerns include;
- excavation damaging roots,
- soil compaction and surface root damage from construction traffic and storage,
- damage to a tree’s trunk
- excessive pruning of a tree’s live branches
Consequences can include valuable trees rapidly declining or becoming unstable and posing risk to people and property. To help preserve the health of the urban forest, the City of Takoma Park has developed a two-step process for reviewing and permitting projects that may cause concerning impacts to trees.
Step 1: Tree Impact Assessment
City code requires a Tree Impact Assessment, which includes a $50 inspection fee, to be performed for projects that meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Land disturbing activities, such as raising or lowering existing grade or excavating more than three inches in depth over an area in excess of 25 square feet, within 50 feet of an Urban Forest Tree;
- Any activity within 50 feet of an Urban Forest Tree that may destroy a significant portion of the roots, compact the soil, or impede water uptake, including, but not limited to, the operation or parking of vehicles or heavy equipment, storage of materials, and trenching;
- Construction or placement of a structure other than a fence within 50 feet of an Urban Forest Tree;
- Paving in excess of 25 square feet with an impervious surface within 50 feet of an Urban Forest Tree ; or
- Removing, relocating, destroying, or topping an Urban Forest Tree or pruning more than 10% of the live canopy of an urban forest tree, or pruning live limbs with significant diameter in relation to the size of the tree, or other action which would significantly and permanently detract from an urban forest tree’s health or growth.
After receiving your request, the Urban Forest Manager will conduct an inspection and provide a response. Please inform the Urban Forest Manager if you feel that a site visit with your project team would be valuable. If the project is determined to pose a substantial risk to the health or structure of an urban forest tree, you will be required to submit an application for a full Tree Protection Plan Permit, which requires more extensive documentation of your project plans and how you will protect trees. See Step 2 below for further information on that.
Note for CONSTRUCTION, LANDSCAPING, and OTHER work:
For construction, landscaping, and other work, please provide a sketch or plan drawing as well as a brief narrative describing your project and how work is to be performed. Please include as much detail as you can regarding the depth of excavation, the type of equipment to be used, the area of your property that will be disturbed by project activities, and anything else that might be relevant. Damage to roots by excavation and soil compaction by construction traffic/materials storage are of chief concern. Your project will be assessed for impacts to trees on your property as well as those on neighboring properties.
Note for PRUNING work:
A Tree Impact Assessment for pruning more than 10% of a tree’s live canopy should include a written description and/or marked-up photos clearly explaining which branches and an estimate of what percentage of the live crown will be pruned. If you are uncertain about what portion of the tree needs to be pruned, you should determine this with your tree care contractor prior to submitting for your Tree Impact Assessment.
Apply for a Tree Impact Assessment by clicking this link: Tree Impact Assessment Online Application.
Step 2: Tree Protection Plan Permit
The City’s response following your Tree Impact Assessment may indicate that a Tree Protection Plan Permit is required.
To apply for this permit you must complete a Tree Protection Plan Application Packet and compile all supporting documentation as per the instructions in the packet. You must then upload the packet and supporting documentation through the MyTKPK Online Request Portal. A$50 application fee is associated with a Tree Protection Plan Permit Application.
Additionally, the City has prepared a Tree Protection Plan Manual to aid you in completing an acceptable Tree Protection Plan. The manual is organized to closely parallel the Tree Protection Plan Checklist in the application packet and should be referenced as you complete the checklist.
An acceptable Tree Protection Plan will include the following:
- Your Tree Protection Plan Application Packet.
- A Tree Inventory listing all urban forest trees in the vicinity of your project.
- A project plan drawing that accurately depicts the extents of your project, the locations of all urban forest trees indicated in your Tree Inventory, and any construction activities that may damage tree trunks, branches, or roots.
- Any narrative descriptions needed to explain your project and your Tree Protection Plan.
- Any relevant construction or tree protection installation detail drawings or descriptions.
- Any reports from arborists, surveyors, or other professionals as may be helpful.
Once a plan is deemed acceptable by the City, it will be provided Preliminary Approval subject to a 15-day adjacent property comment period and the contractor signing the Contractor Agreement. Then, after a preconstruction meeting with the Urban Forest Manager and the installation of any required tree protection measures, the project may proceed.
The complexity of a satisfactory Tree Protection Plan will vary greatly by project. Many projects will be simple enough that a homeowner should be able to provide the necessary documentation. However, in some cases an experienced designer and/or a qualified arborist may be needed to aid you in preparing your plan.
- Note that you cannot apply for a Tree Protection Plan Permit until after you have applied for a Tree Impact Assessment and received an official response from the City. The Tree Protection Plan Permit process is made significantly smoother by the Urban Forest Manager providing input via their Tree Impact Assessment response before you compose your Tree Protection Plan.
- Only the property owner may submit a Tree Protection Plan Permit Application. If you are a contractor preparing an application for your customer, please provide the property owner with the prepared documents and have the customer submit them through the MyTKPK Online Request Portal.
- Contractors, arborists, and designers working on the project will be contacted as needed during the review but the primary point of contact for the application must be the property owner.
Apply for a Tree Protection Plan Permit by following this link: Tree Protection Plan Permit Online Application.
Make sure you have all of the required documents prepared and ready for upload before submitting!
Resources and Links:
- Tree Protection Plan Permit Online Application
- Tree Protection Plan Permit Application Packet PDF
- Tree Protection Plan Manual PDF
- Pre-Approved Tree Protection Detail Drawings
- Preliminary Exploratory Excavation Standards
Marty Frye, Urban Forest Manager