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Bloomfield Hills updates tree ordinance

By Lisa Brody


In an effort to maintain and preserve the city's signature tree canopy, the Bloomfield Hills city commission unanimously approved updates in the city's woodlands ordinance to provide guidance to residents on how to identify when a tree can be removed from their property and on replacement trees at their meeting on Tuesday, August 10.


The city's woodlands ordinance, adopted in 2012, with the goal to preserve trees and green spaces in Bloomfield Hills, states that “Urban growth, new development, redevelopment, and increased demand on natural resources can encroach upon, damage or even eliminate many of the trees and other forms of vegetation that distinguish our city. Healthy trees and woodlands constitute important physical, aesthetic, recreational, and economic assets to present and future residents of the city.”


In 2019, an amendment to the ordinance added to the city code enforcement the authority to address dead, diseased and dying trees and vegetation on private property, notably when they cause issues in right-of-way areas.


The ordinance is very detailed in its specifications for size, type of trees, and how many trees per year a homeowner can remove from his or her residence. However, city manager David Hendrickson said at the meeting on August 10 that some residents are taking down more than the amount of trees permitted and not always replacing them with ordinance-approved trees. The ordinance allows up to 10 percent, or four trees, whichever is greater, to be removed from a property without a permit. Any amount of diseased or undesirable trees can be removed, as well as tress with less than an eight-inch caliper, without a permit.


“If a permit wasn't required in the ordinance, there must be a required way for people to replace the trees they removed,” Hendrickson said.


The amended approved ordinance now requires homeowners to photograph damaged trees they are removing, or parts of trees; a dead or dying tree means having less than 50 percent of its canopy during the growing season; and a diseased tree is determined to have a terminal disease.


Homeowners living on less than an acre-and-a-half can only remove two trees now without a permit; on parcels of more than an acre-and-a-half, up to three trees without a permit from the city. Everything must be documented.


For replacement purposes, it states arborvitae and other coniferous is not acceptable, as they are only seeking deciduous trees.


Those illegally removing trees must pay into the city's tree fund, may be fined, and will be required to properly replace the removed trees.

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