Appealing an Arborist's Decision

Document Violations of Tree Protection Ordinance

Identify those sections of the Tree Protection Ordinance which you feel are being violated on the site.  List each of these separately and provide the site evidence for each.

Some of the most common violations which you will want to check for are:

  • Trees are not represented correctly on the site plan.
  • There could be potential damage to the trees designated on the plan as "saved".
  • Trees designated as “saved” on site plan are actually marked for removal.
  • There could be potential damage to boundary trees.
  • Trees in the setbacks should not be impacted and should be protected.
  • Fencing for the Tree Protection Zone is inadequate, non-existent or incorrectly placed.
  • The Tree Protection Zone is violated by placement of building materials, trash equipment or other materials within the Zone.

If appropriate, provide a sketch on a copy of the site plan of your alternative solutions that might save a tree or mitigate losses.

 

Take Pictures

A picture tells a thousand words... this could not be more true when preparing for your appeal.  Take as many pictures as you can -- before, during and after the tree permitting, cutting, construction process, etc.  You may not even need  some of the pictures for your appeal, but keep them anyway as sometimes other trees not included in the permit are cut down or harmed during contruction and you will need these pictures as proof.

With your appeal, submit photographs of the site and of any specific trees or areas on the site that do not meet the Tree Protection Ordinance requirements.   This is especially important if you are trying to illustrate disregard for tree protection fencing, siltation, or storing of construction materials in the root protection area.  Label each photo you plan to show to the Tree Commission with the the section of the ordinance to which the picture pertains. Make a clear case for each ordinance violation with photos, citation of the ordinance, and comparison to the approved site plan versus the conditions on the site.  The Tree Commission must be able to determine clearly and quickly what the violations are on the site based on your presentation.

Helpful Hints:

Show the scale:  Photographs are more meaningful when its clear what the scale is.  If you can (although this is not always possible given that you may be restricted from going onto the property), use a vertical and horizontal scale in each photo that shows any distances/measurements that are part of your appeal.  Scales can be created by using a wooden 1x2 painted with numbers for each foot of distance. Use the scales to make these measurements easily visible in the photos so the Tree Commission can see the actual conditions on the site.  If you are unable to use a scale, try to take your pictures so that the size of the objects in your photo are easy to understand, i.e. have a person standing in your photograph to represent an object around 5 1/2 or 6 feet as a basis of comparison.  Document how far away the person is standing from the tree or other object you are showing in your picture.

Timestamp your photos:  If your camera allows a date and time to be stamped on the pictures, make sure to use this feature.  If not, make sure to record the date each photo was taken.

 

   

Ask for Support!

Preparing for an appeal for the first time can seem overwhelming and may give you serious reservations about even filing an appeal.  However, if you ask for help, filing an appeal and testifying on behalf of the trees it isn't as burdensome as it may seem .  Volunteers with The Tree Next Door can give you advice, help you locate a private arborist to help testify your case, and may even attend the appeal hearing with you.  So, don't feel like you have to go it alone.  Contact us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to talk with someone who has previously taken a case before the Tree Conservation Commission.

Also, enlist the support of concerned neighbors and your own civic association.  Consider bringing a signed petition by neighbors supporting the appeal, although the Tree Commission will decide the case based on the law, not the neighbors’ wishes.  However, if you are appealing a tree cutting permit, having the support of neighbors (and even better, their attendance at the hearing) may have some influence on the property owner to seek a compromise or agree to standards that exceed the Tree Ordinance’s requirements.

   

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