Tree Removal Permit
If you believe there is an emergency situation with a tree on your property, please jump to the bottom right of this page for guidance on the appropriate actions to take.
Tree Removal Permit Applications: Important Information
Urban Forest Trees (see here for definition) located on private property shall not be removed without first obtaining a Tree Removal Permit. Please see the instructions on the right-hand side of this page for how to apply for this permit and to understand how your application will be processed.
The standard application fee is $50. If all trees in the application are dead, the fee is $25. Up to five trees may be included on one application.
The Urban Forest Manager will make one of the following determinations after inspecting the tree:
- Dead/Hazardous: Your tree will receive a permit immediately after the Urban Forest Manager’s inspection of the tree. Nothing more will be required after the permit is issued. A tree is only considered hazardous if there is a significant structural defect and removal is the only reasonable option for mitigating the risk posed by the tree.
- Denied: If the tree is determined to be in good health, outstanding in size, contributing significantly to urban forest canopy cover, and for which no compelling need to remove the tree is presented, the permit will be denied. Please see the city code for more details on the criteria for how this determination is made: Code Section 12.12.080.A.1
- Preliminary Permit Approval: If a tree is not dead or hazardous and also does not meet the conditions for a denial, it will be granted Preliminary Approval. A 15-day appeal period will then commence, during which any Takoma Park resident has the right to appeal the Urban Forest Manager’s decision to permit removal of the tree. Additionally, the applicant must fulfill a replacement planting requirement. See below for further discussion of these two provisions.
Replacement Planting Requirement
Trees that receive preliminary approval, require replacement planting in order to receive a permit. Larger and healthier trees that are removed require a greater number of replacement trees, as per the code-defined formula. A replacement planting plan must be provided within six months of preliminary approval, or the permit application will be automatically withdrawn. The following are the ways you may fulfill your requirement:
- Agree to plant the required trees
- Pay a fee-in-lieu of planting equaling $312 per required 1.5-inch tree
- A combination of both tree planting agreement and fee-in-lieu payment.
If you choose to plant the required trees, below are the conditions that must be met:
- You must plant the number of trees indicated in your preliminary approval notice, or an equivalent basal area of larger trees
- Trees must be between 1.5-inch and 3-inch caliper (trunk diameter).
- Trees must be planted on private property in the City of Takoma Park.
- Trees must be of the same size category (Small, Medium, or Large) as the tree that was removed.
- Trees must be selected from the Takoma Park Approved Tree Species List.
- Documentation of the completed planting must be provided within six months after your permit is issued. The Urban Forest Manager will inspect to confirm the planting has been completed.
- You cannot use a publicly subsidized program, including the City’s Tree Takoma program, to plant your required trees. If you would like to use the Tree Takoma program or another public tree planting program, you must opt to pay the fee-in-lieu to satisfy your requirement.
Note that the code-defined formula refers to the “basal area” of the removed tree and the replacement trees. This is the two-dimensional cross-sectional area of the trunk. The city uses a 1.5-inch caliper tree as the standard for calculating the number of trees required to fulfill the replacement planting requirement. However, you may plant larger trees up to 3-inch as long as the appropriate basal area percentage is achieved. Please contact the Urban Forest Manager if you are considering planting trees larger than 1.5-inch caliper.
If you do not have space to plant trees or want to simplify the process, you may opt to pay a fee-in-lieu of planting. All fee-in-lieu payments go into the City’s Tree Fund, which supports tree planting in public space and through subsidized planting programs for private properties.
The City maintains a list of ‘Undesirable’ tree species as part of the Administrative Regulation on Noxious Growth and Undesirable Trees. A permit for the removal of an Undesirable tree cannot be denied or appealed, but it still requires an application and inspection. The replacement planting requirement still applies but it will be half the regular amount. See below for the list of undesirable species:
- White Mulberry (Morus alba)
- Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin)
- Ailanthus or Tree-of-Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
- Bradford Pear (Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’)
- Ginkgo or Maiden Hair Tree (Ginkgo biloba) female only
- Russian Olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia)
- Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellate)
- Norway Maple (Acer platanoides)
Removal of More Than 10 Trees
If an application includes a request to remove more than 10 trees, the applicant must comply with a city code requirement that a community meeting be conducted to present information to the public regarding the proposed tree removal. An application for the removal of more than 10 trees will not be reviewed until after this community meeting has occurred. Follow this link to the city code to read more about this requirement: Code Section 12.12.080. Contact the Urban Forest Manager for more information on how to satisfactorily post and conduct this meeting.
Trees in Public Space
For concerns with trees located in public space, please contact the Urban Forest Manager directly. Do not apply for a Tree Removal Permit! See here for Montgomery County’s web map showing property lines: MCATLAS
During the 15-day appeal period, a resident may submit their request to appeal the decision to provide preliminary permit approval in writing to the Urban Forest Manager. This will trigger an appeal hearing before the Tree Commission. This can be a lengthy process and involves substantial expense in legal fees paid by the City to the City Attorney and time spent by the Tree Commission and the Urban Forest Manager. Potential appellants are encouraged to contact the Urban Forest Manager first to see if their concerns can be addressed through an explanation of why the preliminary permit approval was provided for a particular tree.
Permit denials may be appealed by the applicant in a similar manner.
The Urban Forest Manager’s determination that a tree is dead and/or hazardous may not be appealed.
The Historic Preservation Commission of Montgomery Planning maintains their own permitting process for removing a tree larger than 6″ diameter inside the Historic District. See the following link for information on when and how to obtain a Historic Area Work Permit (HAWP): Historic Area Work Permit
How to Apply for a Tree Removal Permit:
- Start your Tree Removal Permit Application using the MyTKPK web portal by following this link:
- Click ‘Create Account’ and enter your information if you have not previously used the system. If you have already created an account then log in with your email address.
- Follow the prompts to provide the required information and submit. Note that an application is good for up to five trees. If you have more than this number you will need to submit multiple applications.
- An email will automatically be sent notifying you that the invoice for the application fee is ready to be paid. Click the application number link in the email (W000001-010121) or log back into MyTKPK to view your in-progress application. There will now be a button titled ‘View Invoices’ next to your application. Click this and follow the prompts to pay the invoice. With the inspection fee paid, your request will now be in the queue for the Urban Forest Manager to review.
- Note! You may need to adjust your internet browser settings to allow ‘pop-ups’ from the MyTKPK page for the invoice payment page to load properly.
- Tie a piece of ribbon or string around each tree to be inspected to clearly identify it for the Urban Forest Manger’s visit.
- Please allow 3-5 business days for the Urban Forest Manager to conduct the inspection. You will receive a response by email with the City’s determination and any required next steps.
- Note that you may not remove the tree(s) until you have received notice from the City of Takoma Park stating that you have received your permit. Depending on the condition of the tree you may have to provide a replanting agreement or fee-in-lieu payment before receiving your permit.
Important Links and Resources
MyTKPK Web Portal for Tree Removal Permit Applications
City of Takoma Park Municipal Code Chapter 12.12: Urban Forest
Definition of an Urban Forest Tree
Administrative Regulations Regarding Tree Removal Permits (PDF)
Takoma Park Approved Tree Species List (PDF)
Tree Removal Permit Application (PDF) [Please use the MyTKPK Web Portal instead if possible!]
Tree Permit Staff Contact
Marty Frye, Urban Forest Manager
Emergency Tree Situations
If you feel that there is an imminent likelihood of your tree failing and causing significant harm to life or property, you may stop the Tree Removal Permit application process and do the following:
- Contact a tree company with a Maryland Licensed Tree Expert qualified in Tree Risk Assessment to look at the tree and provide recommendations on risk mitigation actions.
- If the Licensed Tree Expert confirms that there is an ‘imminent’ likelihood of tree failure and ‘high’ or ‘extreme’ risk associated with the tree, you may take emergency action to address the hazard without first applying for a Tree Removal Permit. If the Licensed Tree Expert determines otherwise, please resume applying for a Tree Removal Permit.
- In these cases, you must contact the Urban Forest Manager to notify them of the emergency situation as soon as time allows, while prioritizing the risk mitigation actions first. Please provide the tree location, approximate trunk size, details about the tree that are creating an emergency situation, and the name and contact information of the tree company that has confirmed the tree’s imminent likelihood of failure.
- Emergency action is typically only warranted when a tree’s roots are actively heaving out of the soil or its trunk is actively cracking and breaking apart.Trees with stationary leans that have been present for some time or trees that are dying but without an imminent likelihood of failure would not fall into this category.
- See the following code language for additional information on the provisions allowing for emergency action without a permit: 12.050.B.1. and 12.04.010.