On July 30th, County Executive Isiah Leggett signed the Tree Canopy Bill into law. This law will establish new trees across the County to help ensure a better future for the County’s residents and environment. We’ve collected here a list of the most common questions asked about the Tree Canopy Law.
The Tree Canopy Law requires property owners to plant new trees during development. Planting trees helps offset the impacts of development on the natural environment.
The law goes into effect March 1st, 2014.
For the Tree Canopy Law, development is when a property owner is required to get a sediment control permit in order to complete the work they are planning for their property. When development on a property is enough to require a sediment control permit, then the property owner has to abide by the Tree Canopy Law.
Most small tree projects on residential properties, like removing one or two trees, or trimming trees, do not require sediment control permits, and therefore, are not a part of this law.
The Tree Canopy Law applies to any project that requires a sediment control permit. This includes:
These requirements were not changed by the Tree Canopy Law.
No. Unless a sediment control permit is required, you are not bound by this law. The Tree Canopy Law does not apply when hazardous trees are removed, or to build most decks or gardens. However, many swimming pools do require a sediment control permit and would be included in the law.
Trees contribute to the economic and social vitality of every community. They clean the air and water, reduce the cost of cooling and heating homes and businesses, increase biodiversity and increase our general sense of well-being. There is a wide array of benefits from trees and tree canopy.
The Tree Canopy Law sets the fee at the current rate set by the Department of Permitting Services for bonding a tree in the right-of-way. As of September 2013, the rate is $250.00 per tree.
Fees collected from the Tree Canopy Law will be used to establish new trees as close to the disturbed area as possible. The Tree Canopy Law limits the use of the fees to only planting trees. County staff cannot be hired with the funds nor can other tree budgets be supplanted by these funds. The intention is to add to existing resources.
What about farm land? Will farmers have to pay fees?
No, most agricultural activities do not require a sediment control permit and therefore, the Tree Canopy Law does not apply. A few activities on farms, such as building a new house, do require a sediment control permit and are subject to the Tree Canopy Law.
Where do you get a sediment control permit?
Sediment control permits are processed through the Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services. The Tree Canopy Law will be handled along with the sediment control permit.
How is the Tree Canopy Law Different from the Forest Conservation Law?
The Forest Conservation Law (FCL) generally applies to properties over 40,000 square feet when a sediment control permit is required or when subdivision occurs. Both laws require mitigation for disturbance to environmental resources but they apply to different types of activities. The Tree Canopy Law does not apply to any activity that requires mitigation under the Forest Conservation Law (FCL). Some activities are exempt from mitigation under the FCL. In this case, both laws apply but mitigation is only required under the Tree Canopy Law.