Permitting Procedures For Tree Removal in Florida
If you are looking to remove a tree on your property, it is important to know what is allowed. Florida law does not allow you to remove a tree without obtaining documentation from an arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture or a Florida licensed landscape architect.
To obtain the necessary documentation, you must call and schedule an appointment to meet with an arborist. They will be able to give you an idea of what is allowed and if you need a permit.
Trees in the Zoning Code
When trees are in the zoning code, they must be preserved and a permit may be required for tree removal. The zoning code also specifies the number of street trees that a residential or commercial zoning lot must have.
The zoning code defines protected trees, native growth protection areas, critical area buffers, and other designations. The protected trees and native growth protection areas are generally located on the perimeter of a property and within a twenty-foot area along each side of the property.
A permit is not necessary for the removal of trees that are eight inches or greater in caliper and do not pose an immediate threat to people or property. However, permits are required for tree trimming or pruning and moving of larger trees.
A tree ordinance is one of the few ways that a community can have input on development standards. It takes time and a thorough approach to develop an ordinance that is consistent with community goals.
Trees in the Public Right of Way
Trees in the public right of way are usually on public property, like streets or sidewalks. Who is responsible for these trees varies from county to county, so you’ll need to check the local ordinance.
Until recently, Florida laws made it a requirement to get a permit before cutting down a tree on your property. But in 2019, a new law banned this regulation, offering homeowners more freedom to trim, prune, or remove trees on their own.
However, you must still have a permit from an arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture or a Florida-licensed landscape architect. This person will conduct a risk assessment to determine whether the tree poses a hazard to people or property. If they find it does, they will issue you a document stating that the tree needs to be removed. You’ll need to post this certificate at the site of the tree removal.
Trees in the Roadway
Trees are an important part of a roadside right-of-way. They help create a sense of enclosure, provide shade, increase sight distances, shelter pedestrians, add beauty and seasonal interest, enhance air quality, contribute to wildlife habitat and improve traffic safety.
However, trees can also present safety hazards. For example, a tree growing too close to a sidewalk can heave the walk, making it unsafe to use.
Likewise, trees can reduce visibility, particularly for drivers approaching intersections. A recent study in California tested the effects of street trees, parked cars and newspaper racks near intersections.
The results showed that if street trees were properly selected, adequately spaced and pruned for high branching, they did not significantly diminish visibility. Parking cars and newspaper racks, on the other hand, made a significant impact on visibility. A number of studies have also found that tree placement on roads can be an effective tool for reducing speed by creating an “edge effect” that prompts drivers to slow down.
Trees in the Street
If a tree on your property is causing problems for you, such as dropping leaves that litter your yard, flowers that discolor your driveway or fruit that rots and discolors your foundation, it may be time to consider taking action. You can either trim it back or remove it entirely from your property – or you can get a permit to do so.
The legislature passed a new law in 2019 that provides homeowners with more freedom to cut down and trim trees on their private property without having to worry about local regulations. This is a big deal because until recently, most county and local ordinances determined who could remove a tree and what they had to do to ensure the tree was safe.
The statute specifically prohibits local governments from requiring homeowners to do anything for a tree unless it is an unacceptable risk to persons or property. This means that homeowners need a document from an arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture or a Florida licensed landscape architect that says the tree is dangerous and needs to be removed.