ruthj98

Help me get city's approval for a tree removal.

My house was built in a subdivision which was previously a wooded lot. At that time the builder for the development was requested to leave as many trees as possible. Well that was in 1962. So two Sugar Maple trees were left in my backyard when my house was built (plus other trees in my front yard). The backyard is 50 feet wide by 30 feet deep.

So today the diameter of those trees are 21 inches and 24 inches (at chest height). They are about 14 feet from each other. The one that is 21 inches in diameter is six feet from my house. I think that the tree is too close and between the two of them, my yard is full of roots! Pretty much nothing grows to its potential. Nothing! (My husband planted a service berry shrub about 7 years ago. It looks the same today!)

The city has a strict bylaw when it comes to trees. They do not want to approve removal of any healthy tree. I've had an arborist come to my home. He thinks the city will not give me approval to destroy the tree and that I will have to try to appeal. And even then, it may not happen.

I want this tree removed! I will pay for the tree permit and arborist's report (required). If down the road I am successful in getting approval to remove this tree, it is going to cost me $9,000!

When I appeal, and have to face my city councillors, what can I say that will persuade them to agree to the tree removal?


Comments (71)

  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    The tree application does not even ask why you want a tree to be removed. It just asks for basic information, pictures and an arborist's report and replanting plan! =bad sign!

  • nicholsworth Z6 Indianapolis

    have you heard of an ombudsman?..I've never used one..could be different where you are..


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  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    Ombudsman? Good suggestion! I had one encounter with an ombudsman over ten years ago when my father-in-law was being treated unfairly while he was in hospital. They were able to help in that situation.

    So I did call the ombudsman's office. They said that they are not able to change any bylaws. I would have to work with my Councillor on that. They could only help in small ways like making suggestions to change the application form or trying to speed up the process. I suppose involving the ombudsman, even in a small way, could be beneficial. Social media may be helpful also. I don't think most people are aware of the tree bylaw and how restrictive it is. I could buy a house with a pool in the backyard and decide to have it removed. But not so with trees. One should know that in my area, you will have to keep the tree/s. So you had better love the tree/s as much as the property that you are purchasing.

  • nicholsworth Z6 Indianapolis

    this is quite a battle for you..hang in there..

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  • whaas_5a

    Have another arborist over and inquire specifically if they can identify whether the fork is a hazard or not.


    You can find quite a few images online but here is an example of what could happen.

    For all you know this rot is already taking place.




    newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada thanked whaas_5a
  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    Whaas, thank you for the photo. I have contacted another arborist. He is willing to do the arborist's report that is required for the permit application. He will not charge a fee for the report. He will give me an estimate to remove the tree, and would like us to use their company if tree removal is granted. He will be coming next week. I am very curious as to what he is going to say. I will ask him about the fork in the tree and whether it is hazardous. I'll keep you posted!

  • bengz6westmd

    I've seen similar sugar maples that were cabled to keep from splitting, tho I think hardly anyone cables trees anymore.

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  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    I think if I were to prune my tree for the estimate of $2,100, plus tax, plus cabling, then I would prefer to remove the tree. Trees are expensive to maintain! The think the key is to plant the right tree in the right location.

  • edlincoln

    You do know trees increase the value of a property. I've never understood the "can't grow stuff under it because of the roots" argument. Personally, I'd rather have a mature sugar maple then lots of tiny little shrubs that have to be watered and babied.


    You could kill the tree of course...if you have no respect for the law. It's always risky to do blatantly illegal things. Aside from the risk you will get caught, there is the risk you will give other people (neighbors, kids) the idea ignoring laws that are inconvenient is OK.


    Anyway, you have an argument with the closer of the two trees.

    newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada thanked edlincoln
  • hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

    What would happen if you had it cut down without asking for permission?

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  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    edlincoln, you make some good points. I know our neighborhood would look totally different without the assorted trees within it. Unfortunately for me, I am one of those that also enjoys little shrubs and perennials. The trees can suck the life out of them. I am not going to kill the tree. I can't do that. Have to admit I did think about it.

    hoovb, people have certainly cut down trees without permission. First you have to get someone to do it. I recently met a lady that said her neighbors cut down some trees on their property. No permit. No one informed the authorities. No fine. This is what our bylaw says:

    A person who is convicted of an offence is liable:
    A. To a minimum fine of $500.00 and a maximum fine of $100,000.00 per tree; and
    B. A special fine of $100,000.

    I imagine the company that would remove a tree without a permit would be fined along with the homeowner.

  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    An arborist came to view the tree. He thought that the city would probably approve the removal of this tree due to its proximity to the house, codominant stems and some die back. I'll believe it when I have it on paper! I'll find out in about two months.

  • nicholsworth Z6 Indianapolis

    I'm interested to see what happens..

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  • whaas_5a

    Best time to take it down is when the soil is frozen so timing might be perfect

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  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    I will let you know whether the application will be approved. Yes, good time to remove a tree (in winter) prior to the spring time rush. Only thing is that if we want to save about $800, we will have to remove our wooden deck. So the weather would have to cooperate!

    Arborist also thinks that we would only have to replace the tree with ONE large growing tree. There is a specific list to choice from. He suggests the slower growing large trees. I will have to ask him which trees those might be. Even then, I will not plant any large tree in my backyard! I only have a narrow spot of my property in the front yard that I could plant a tree. I'd feel bad for the neighbor since it would be close to their property and would eventually shade their property, but not mine. I am wondering whether I would be allowed to plant a memorial tree in a park. Would cost me a bit more, but it would be off my property and a lovely thing to go a visit. Anyways, let's just wait and see how this all unfolds.

  • John D Zn6a PIT Pa

    newhostalady


    Planting a memorial tree in a park is a good idea to pursue. Maybe you could plant a dozen noses, the seed, and be proud of your effort. I'd plant the same Sugar Maple. You're in a good position to get a bunch of them cheap. You could maybe find a few seedlings growing in your beds.

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  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    The bylaw requires that the replacement tree is of a good size---like nursery stock. Tree needs to be from a specific approved list. Yes, Sugar Maple is one on that list. But no more trees on my property! For the memorial tree in a park---don't know hether I would be able to pick the tree. They add a little plaque to it also.

  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    Having another arborist come and view the maple tree for removal. After we get a price for removal, we will pick one of the two tree companies to do the work and make the application to destroy the tree. Then it will be a waiting game.

  • nicholsworth Z6 Indianapolis

    after an approval I have an idea..I'm a dreamer according to my sister..here goes..is the wood valuable?..would anyone remove your tree for free if you gave them the wood?..

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  • brandon7 TN_zone

    Nicholsworth, your sister is right!

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  • nicholsworth Z6 Indianapolis

    brandon7..hahaha..yeah I'm always thinking what if ???..doesn't always work out..

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  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    Hmmm, I thought the tree company would take the wood away. I also thought that they would perhaps sell it to gain more funds and that we would benefit some from that also. Now you've got me thinking! I have seen large pieces of wood lined up on the boulevard free for the taking in the past but not for a long time. I had better ask the arborist about the wood! Thanks.

  • nicholsworth Z6 Indianapolis

    I just reread my comment and it doesn't sound right..I did an edit..what I wondered was would anyone remove your tree for free or for a small charge if you let them sell the wood..it's hardwood and large so I wondered if it was valuable..brandon thinks I'm a dreamer and I could be lol but I was thinking why not ask about the wood on the off chance that someone could want it..lots of my neighbors that had trees removed kept the wood or gave it away..the tree company we use charges an extra fee to remove the logs..in their estimate there's a tree removal price including removing the brush..then a price to take the logs..some of the trees were "skinny" and none of them were valuable hardwoods..

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  • John D Zn6a PIT Pa

    A tree that close to the house requires someone who know what he's doing ( a professional ) and who's also insured.

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  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    Nicholsworth, I didn't ask the company whether they would do the job for free, but I did ask what they do with wood, and if we wanted to keep it, would the estimate be more expensive or less. They said they do cut up the wood for firewood and sell it later on when seasoned. He said there wasn't much profit in it for the amount of work that needed to be done from cutting the tree, moving it to the truck, unloading it, splitting it, piling it by cord or face cord and then aging it. If we wanted them to leave the wood in stumps, we would save a few hundred dollars. These pieces would be heavy (12 to 16 inches high). So if we were to keep them, we would save about $300, then sell them for ? or give away for free. How many people would be able to carry these pieces away? I don't have a good place to keep them for too long.

    I agree with John, that one would want to have a professional, insured person/company to do the job. Too risky to take a chance on an unknown person or small company.

    And for the record, I like dreamers!

  • John D Zn6a PIT Pa

    newhostalady

    If I had a truck and got the opportunity to get big heavy logs I'd take a plank or two and maybe a wheelbarrow. I'd roll the logs up the plank or lift them from the wheelbarrow.

    Which reminds me of a story that;s maybe 40 years old. A fellow worker asked me if I'd help him cut and haul firewood on a Saturday afternoon. I said sure and we went out. It was a wooded area about a 1000 feet from the road. So we got up there and he sawed down this big oak tree maybe 18" diameter. He sawed, I hauled. I carried them to the truck till I was exhausted, so I rolled them and got tired again. And then I spotted a sledge and two steel wedges nearby. So I split the logs and hauled them to the truck, and I split them again. By the time the truck was full the wood was ready for the fireplace. Well almost.

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  • nicholsworth Z6 Indianapolis

    aww thanks newhostalady!..I AM full of wishful thinking lol..I'm sure removing your tree will take skill and special equipment which isn't usually free haha..to get desirable lumber from mature trees I would imagine they need space to drop them full length..not cutting it down bit by bit which is probably the only way to get yours out..we gave our wood to a neighbor and 2 of my nephews..they came soon but it wasn't in our way before they picked it up..let us know what happens..

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  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    John, wish you could take some wood away from my tree too!

    John, I had to imagine how far 1,000 feet away was. And when I did---oh my gosh, that was a long way to haul those logs to! You must have been exhausted and sore the next day. I suppose you never volunteered to do that again! Ahhh, the good old days of youth and strength!

    Nicholsworth, they will cut the trunk into lengths of 12 to 16 inches. If they also move them to a part of our yard, then maybe we could have them leave them. My husband says that there will be a lot of logs---more than I can imagine. He also says that if I could find some people interested in taking some away, then what would happen if they get hurt? He says they could sue us because it happened on our property. Well, I don't know then.

  • John D Zn6a PIT Pa

    newhostalady

    I mislead you. We drove up most of the 1000 feet in the truck and he parked about a hundred feet from the tree. I guess after he felled it he should have backed in closer to the tree, but he didn't. He was sure happy that his wood was quartered.

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  • nicholsworth Z6 Indianapolis

    it was easy for us to give our logs away..my 2 nephews are young and strong and not going to sue me!..the neighbor that took some wood lives behind us..there's no fencing so he just rolled the wheelbarrow from our yard to his..to be honest if I had to remove a large tree now my husband would probably want to pay more and let them remove all of the wood..we recently paid a delivery fee to have new chairs delivered..when we were younger we would have said "we have a truck"..paying for convenience seems worth it now..

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  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    John, even if you had to carry the wood 100 feet, that was quite a job you did! Those pieces are heavy! You're the kind of guy that makes for a good friend.

    Nicholsworth, I know what you mean about paying someone else to deliver items or even have the tree service haul the wood away. Just don't have the strength or energy to do what we used to do before. But still a part of me says we'd save the $300 that we would need to pay the tree service to haul it away. That's a decent amount of savings!

  • nicholsworth Z6 Indianapolis

    newhostalady..that's a big savings!..I WOULD be tempted to let them leave the wood..you could buy some nice plants with that amount of money..

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  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    I agree! I am so tempted. But first I've got to get that tree permit!

  • hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

    Peruse your local Craigslist or similar for a while to see if people are asking for/offering free firewood. That might give you an idea of if you can give it away or not.

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  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    Good idea hoovb! I did have a look. Does look like there would be people to take it away. I'm thinking it might be a good idea to post an ad a week or two prior to the tree being cut down. That way I could possibly line up a couple of people to take some away without having the load sitting around too long.

  • John D Zn6a PIT Pa

    I wouldn't run the ad till the wood is available. You could chase off your potential customers when your tree man changes your date.

    I wouldn't have anything cut shorter than 16" ( 400 mm ). Preferably 18". The shorter the logs the more splitting you have to do, even tho it might be slightly easier. From my experience maple is easy to split, although I never split sugar maple.

    I was worried that it may be illegal to burn wood in your area. But I guess if there are ads looking for wood then there's a market for free wood. Ads looking to get rid of wood doesn't mean there are "customers" for it.

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  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    HI John. I didn't see your post until now. You've made good points. Apparently the tree company says they would leave the wood in 12 to 16 inch pieces. Don't know whether we have a choice about that. But wouldn't bigger pieces be heavier, and therefore, more difficult to move?

    Wood can be burned in our area. Many homes have fireplaces. Good point about there not necessarily being customers for the wood. I agree that ads mean there are people looking to get rid of wood. One can't tell how much demand there is.

  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    Tree application for a permit to remove the tree has now been submitted. I'll hear the city's decision in a few weeks.

  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    APPLICATION DENIED. Will appeal, but it's not hopeful.

  • nicholsworth Z6 Indianapolis

    newhostalady..I'm sorry..you've done so much research and put so much thought into this situation..I have no clue what else you could do.. :-(


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  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    Thanks nicholsworth! I'm going to put my thinking cap on! They're not going to get rid of me that easily!

  • nicholsworth Z6 Indianapolis

    newhostalady..I hope you find a way to support your plan that they can't deny..

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  • Bill_minn_3b {West Central MN}

    NHL,

    I don't know how things work in your world but in mine, it helps to show up at the meetings, when they discuss your request. Not only do they see the person making the request but you can give the board direct input, if asked, or at least give a final argument before voting is done.

    newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada thanked Bill_minn_3b {West Central MN}
  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    You make a good point Bill. I will absolutely follow your advice! I WILL be at any meeting to discuss my tree. I am not good at public speaking, but have asked my husband to voice our concerns about the tree. I will speak up to add any additional information that I can. Thanks Bill!

  • Current Resident

    Wait a minute - this tree is on your property, and requires city approval to remove?

    I wish I had that problem! Our city is the most gungho remover of trees you can imagine - I think its called job security]. ] they are forever taking down reasonably ok trees in street terraces and parks just cos its not a perfect specimen, or not a "good" species of tree, or its an ash that they dont want to bother with treating for emerald borer. the summer temps in my house went up 10 degrees after they removed the ash in front of my house.

    that said 6 ft is too close to a house - if you can get some statements from experts re best practices re placement of trees that would help. It needs to be more than just esthetics and you dont like the tree. You might also want to get together w fellow citizens to work on revising your ordinance to be more specific about situations were removal is ok and where its not.

    newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada thanked Current Resident
  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    My city denied my application, but we appealed their decision. Went through a six month process of appeal. The end result: NO! You are not allowed to cut down your tree! The end!


    The saddest thing is that the city had no intention of allowing our tree to be removed, but gave us the choice to pay for a tree application and arborist's report and make us think we may be able to do so. They might as well say "No healthy trees are allowed to be destroyed." And it doesn't matter if the tree is responsible for damaging your home. They don't care because there is "no financial implication to the city."

  • alley_cat_gw

    This may sound stupid but if the tree belongs to you shouldn't you have the right to kill it? How would they deny removal then?
    Btw...any plumbing issues?

    newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada thanked alley_cat_gw
  • nicholsworth Z6 Indianapolis

    newhostalady..I just now saw your most recent comment..I'm sorry that your application was denied..the city WAS misleading to string you along rather than be honest from the beginning and just say "you cannot remove the tree"..all I can say is try to forget it (easier said than done) and enjoy your garden :-)

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  • alley_cat_gw

    I love trees as much as the next person...
    What I wouldn't like is being forced to have one growing over my roof I didn't want!
    I live on the coast and we have a thousand ft. buffer zone. Trees are critical. But even here they will work with you if you agree to a replacement .
    Hypothetically, what would happen if you wanted to build a sunroom there or a small addition?

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  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    "This may sound stupid but if the tree belongs to you shouldn't you have the right to kill it? How would they deny removal then?"

    Trees are considered an environmental asset and we do need trees to live. They are also considered an asset by helping storm runoff, providing a noise barrier, providing shade and homes for wildlife etc. So cutting down any tree should be given serious consideration. I believe that when a tree damages your property or diminishes its value, removal should be considered.

    If you remove a tree illegally, there are fines that are imposed.

    Plumbing issues? No.

    Nicholsworth, I have not given up yet!

    If you go through the appeal process, I have since learned, that one needs to replace a minimum of five trees. If we want to build an addition, then the tree can be removed. We will be responsible for replanting three trees.

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