Tree Preservation Commission

Why We Have Tree Preservation Laws
The Village of Irvington finds that the existence of trees within the Village makes a fundamental contribution to the health, safety and general welfare of Irvington citizens and the community at large. Trees, in addition to their aesthetic benefits, are essential to riparian habitat, wildlife, energy conservation, temperature moderation and the healthy ecology of the area; trees help improve air quality and reduce global warming. These benefits to the community and environment increase as trees mature. Maturation of trees protects surface water quality, provides shade, offers windbreaks, controls water pollution by reducing soil erosion and flooding, offers a natural barrier to noise, yields advantageous microclimates and fundamental ecological systems. Trees, together with shrubs, contribute to property values of residential and commercial establishments, and preserve and enhance the natural beauty and appearance of the Village and its historic, non-urban character.

Indiscriminate damage to and destruction of trees, especially mature and/or specimen trees and shrubs, cause barren and unsightly conditions, adversely affect air quality and noise levels, increase surface drainage problems and soil erosion, increase municipal expense to control drainage, impair the stability and value of developed and undeveloped property and negatively impact the health, safety, environment, ecosystems and general welfare of the inhabitants of the Village of Irvington. The unregulated destruction of trees contributes to the degradation of the natural beauty, environmental quality and historic character of the Village.

Chapter 202 of the Village Code seeks to promote the benefits described above by regulating and promoting a healthy and mature tree and shrub population and to promote the preservation of the present tree population throughout the Village for the benefit of the Village, its citizens and the environment. Thus, when tree removal occurs, restoration of the lost canopy should be achieved by means of re-planting whenever feasible.

The Tree Commission has been established to protect and preserve trees within the Village, whether municipal, commercial or residential, and to ensure review, regulation and inspection of any activity affecting trees that might adversely affect the health, safety and general welfare of the community. 

The activities of the Tree Commission through review and approval of tree permits, outlining municipal tree policies and providing tree education, help the village and its residents to better serve as stewards of our air, water, land and living resources. It is our joint obligation to protect the environment for the use of this and future generations.

Update to Village Tree Preservation Code Passed by Board of Trustees
On October 1, 2012, the Board of Trustees held a Hearing on the proposed Tree Preservation code update (which had been worked on by the Tree Commission over the last several years). After the Public Hearing was closed, the Trustees voted 5-0 to adopt the new code update.

The code update developed by the Tree Commission is focused on several key areas:
  • Make the code clearer, more easy to read and understand.
  • Address unwanted loopholes in the code, such as now disallowing the "topping" of trees (and other damaging activities that will result in tree death).
  • Clarify and update the process of permit application, permit approval, and emergency removals.
  • Clarify and update the replanting, appeals, violations and restoration requirements.
  • Update the fines for violations.

This modernized code thoughtfully address many issues and concerns that have arisen in regards to the village Tree Preservation code over the last decade. As such, it can serve as a great model for other municipalities to study and borrow ideas from. To make such reference and potential editorial re-use as simple as possible, we have posted the .doc and .pdf versions of the new local law below:

Section 202 Tree Preservation (DOC)
Section 202 Tree Preservation (PDF)

When Do I Need a Tree Permit?

Thinking of chopping down a tree?

Removal of trees on private property requires a Tree Removal Permit for any tree 8” DBH or larger. (DBH = diameter at breast height – measured at 48” from the ground.) - Chapter 202, Tree Preservation, of Village Code.

Permit applications and instructions are available at the Village Clerk’s office and on the village website. The application fee is $10 per tree.

Some requirements & conditions apply:
  1. attach an arborist report concerning the condition/health of the tree(s).
  2. provide a map of property with tree(s) clearly indicated and numbered.
  3. flag affected tree(s) with red tape or ribbon for ease of inspection.
  4. if 5 or more trees will be removed, a re-landscaping plan is required.

Once an application has been filed, members of the Tree Commission will perform a site visit to inspect the tree(s). This may take up to 30 days. A majority vote of the Commission for approval will result in a Permit being issued by the Village Clerk. Permits should be posted on the property in plain sight for up to 3 days before cutting occurs. Permits are valid for 90 days.

Why should I bother with getting a permit?
As the home or property owner, you are the responsible party and thus may be fined for the illegal tree removal in addition to being responsible for restitution planting. The tree service company may also be fined.

What about village street trees?
Some trees, typically within 10 feet of a roadway, may actually be on village easement and therefore as homeowner, you are not allowed to remove that tree. However, you may request the tree in question be “condemned” by the village by contacting the village DPW. They will perform a site inspection to determine if it is a village tree or not, and whether removal is needed.

What about if it’s an EMERGENCY?!
There are several ways to deal with emergency situations. You can file an emergency permit request with the Village Clerk. This gives the Tree Commission 24 hours (one working day) to perform a site inspection. If approved, the Village Clerk will contact you directly before the end of the next business day.

Alternatively, if a tree has fallen or is in immediate danger of falling onto your house, onto utility lines or onto the ground, it may be removed without waiting for a permit approval.  In this case, you must still file for a permit post-fact, within 5 days of the emergency tree removal. There is still a $10 fee per tree when applying, and please indicate to the Clerk’s office that it was an emergency removal. You must provide photo documentation of the fallen tree. An arborist report will also be required if the tree has not fallen but was removed due to determination as being a "danger tree."

Uncertain what to do about a specific tree?
Rely upon an ISA certified arborist to inspect your tree(s). For older, specimen or heritage trees, consider requesting a report with both resitograph testing (mapping potential trunk rot) as well as a thorough hazard analysis. And remember, a second opinion is ALWAYS recommended for major trees.

Tree Care After A Storm
Permits are required for removal of standing trees, but not for fallen trees or trees leaning on a building , car or so forth. See tree permit overview (above).

Trees damaged in a storm can often be cared for and made safe once again. See this article from the ISA (International Society of Arborists):

Care of Trees After a Storm (PDF)


  • Alan Richardson, Chair
  • Michael Bradley
  • Richard Weiler
  •              (Village Board liaison)
Tree Permit Application and Related Files