Tree Removal and Permit Requests

What Trees on My Property Require Tree Removal Permits?
  • Any tree with a Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) of eight (8) inches or more, regardless of location or condition.  This includes storm-damaged trees that have not fallen, dead trees that have not fallen and healthy trees.
  • Any tree with a diameter of three (3) inches or more located in a wetland, watercourse buffer or on a steep slope.  This includes storm-damaged trees that have not fallen, dead trees that have not fallen and healthy trees.
  • Trees of any size that have been preserved or planted as a requirement of Site Development Plan approval or as part of a Restoration or Replanting Agreement.

What About Trees Planted in the Village Easements?

Trees planted in the Village easement (by the sidewalk or near the street) belong to the Village and you cannot obtain a Permit to remove them.  You may not prune these trees without permission from the Village.  If you have a question about a Village-owned tree that you think needs to be evaluated, pruned or removed, please contact the Department of Public Works or the Village Administrator.

When Don’t I Need a Tree Removal Permit?
You don’t need a permit to remove:
  • A tree that is not protected (i.e. less than 8” DBH or less than 3” DBH in a wetland, watercourse buffer or on a steep slope)
  • A downed tree or a tree that has fallen but is leaning on a structure or another tree.
  • A tree that is being removed as part of an approved Site Development Plan.

What if My Tree Has Been Damaged by a Storm but Hasn’T Fallen?
Storms can damage trees in ways that they can’t recover from even if the tree does not fall.  In such cases you must still apply for a tree removal permit.  A Certified Arborist can determine whether the tree can be saved or should be removed.

What if My Tree is Unhealthy or Dangerous?
Tree Removal Permits require that your tree be evaluated by a Certified Arborist – a professional who is trained to identify problems and evaluate tree health.  To obtain a permit, you will need to include a Certified Arborist Letter with the paperwork.  These letters are required because the TPC uses the arborist’s evaluation as an important part of our decision-making process.  We also use the information provided by the Certified Arborist to help in guiding our decision as to whether to require re-planting of new trees.  There are two exceptions to the Certified Arborist Letter requirement, as indicated in the answer to the question: “What are the exceptions to the Certified Arborist Letter Requirement?” below.

Why Do I Need a Certified Arborist to Tell Me That My Tree is Unhealthy or Dangerous When I Can Tell by Looking at it?
Sometimes a tree may have a flaw that you can’t see, or sometimes you notice something that does not actually make the tree dangerous.  Sometimes specific treatments can save a tree.   A Certified Arborist is trained to know what to look for and can identify outward signs of inward problems and administer non-destructive tests to determine whether a tree is hollow.  A Certified Arborist uses an objective set of criteria to determine the degree to which a tree may be dangerous – a checklist developed by the International Society of Arboriculture that scores the overall tree health and its proximity to people and/or property.  The Certified Arborist uses this information to determine whether to recommend treatment, pruning, cabling, or removal of a tree. Certification credentials ensure that the arborist’s knowledge is up-to-date, that he/she knows and follows the most recent Best Practices and that his/her evaluation methodology is comprehensive and standardized. 

What Are the Exceptions to the Certified Arborist Letter Requirement?
There are two exceptions to the Certified Arborist Letter requirement.  The first exception is for an application to remove a dead tree.  If the tree is obviously dead, the TPC will waive the requirement for an arborist’s letter, although you still will need a permit to remove the tree. Submit your Tree Removal Permit Application form with a clear statement that the tree is obviously dead.  Site inspection by the Tree Commission must confirm that the tree is dead before a permit will be issued.

The second exception is for an application to remove a healthy tree.  Although you still need a permit to remove a healthy tree, you should submit your application with a clear statement that the trees are basically healthy and why you want to remove them.  When healthy trees are removed, replanting will usually be required to restore, at least in part, the ecosystem services that are being removed.  In such cases, a replanting plan must be agreed to in writing before a permit will be issued.

How Do I Find a Certified Arborist?

Arborists certified by the International Society for Arboriculture are listed on the ISA website:  The listings have contact information and indicate what company the arborist works for.  Or you can ask your contractor whether he or she is a Certified Arborist or if they have a Consulting Arborist.

What if My Arborist Tells Me That it is an Emergency?
Your arborist may tell you that a tree is an imminent hazard and must be removed within the next 24 hours.  In that case, your Tree Removal Permit application should be designated as an Emergency at the time of filing and it will be evaluated within a period of 1 business day.  For the details of the Emergency procedure, please refer to § 202-7 in Village Code. Emergency tree removals need both Arborist letters and photographic documentation.  Only an arborist can tell if there is an Emergency, but if you have any doubts or believe that there is danger to the public, please contact the Irvington Police Department at 914-591-8080.

Is a Permit Required for Pruning?
Routine maintenance pruning does not require a permit.  However, destructive tree pruning practices, like tree topping or excessive canopy removal, are explicitly prohibited.  Damage to the root zone of a protected tree is also prohibited.  For details, please refer to the Definition of Destructive Pruning in the Village Code §202-2.

What is the Process for Granting a Permit?
A Tree Removal Permit Application should be filled out and submitted to the Village Clerk’s Office.  The permit forms are available on line or can be obtained in person.  The form requires information to be provided by the homeowner as well as the tree removal contractor, and both parties must sign the application.  The Certified Arborist letter should be appended (if required) or can be sent via e-mail.  TPC members visit the site to evaluate both the health of the tree and the “lay of the land” – they must be allowed access to your property in order to properly evaluate your application.  It’s also important to have the tree(s) clearly marked (flagging tape is the most convenient and your contractor is likely to have some; red or orange are the “conventional” colors).   You must also include a survey or diagram that clearly maps tree locations on the property.  Inclusion of adjacent streets or any other details that will help us find the tree are useful.  Trees indicated on the map should match the numbering and species ID information that appears in the application form.

The Permit is a Piece of Paper
If the permit is approved, it will be issued with a sign that is to be posted in a visible location before tree removal begins.  This sign is to provide your neighbors with notification that trees have been approved for removal so they will not be taken off-guard when the chain saws start. Your tree removal contractor must have a copy of the Permit on-site at the time of tree removal, and the contractor must produce it upon request.  

If You Remove 5 or More Trees at One Time, You Must Provide a Landscaping Plan With Your Permit Application.
When 5 or more trees are removed at one time, we require you to provide a landscaping plan that makes a good-faith effort to restore a portion of the ecosystem services and canopy that you are removing.  New trees don’t have to be planted in the same locations as the tree(s) you’re removing – they can be installed anywhere on your property where the conditions are right.  The Landscaping Plan must include a list of new trees to be planted (quantity, botanic name, common name, cultivar name, size at installation) and a drawing of some kind showing where the new trees are to be planted.  This plan will become part of the approval, so it must be followed and will be verified after planting is completed according to the terms of the signed agreement.  In general, we prefer the use of native tree species if possible - especially if native trees are being removed – and generally want you to replace hardwoods with hardwoods.  If you want advice on your landscaping plan, we encourage you to take advantage of the Village website, where we have posted lists of plants appropriate for various situations.  If, after consulting the website, you still need advice, the TPC can set up a meeting with you to discuss your application – we meet at least once per month.

How Much Does the Tree Removal Permit Cost?
The permit fee is $10 per tree, payable to the Village Clerk at Town Hall.

How Long Does a Tree Removal Permit Take to Obtain?
Each individual case is different, but if trees are in poor condition and have been adequately evaluated by a Certified Arborist, the process usually takes two weeks.  If documentation is lacking or the TPC disagrees with the assessment, the applicant may be asked to submit additional information, which may take a little longer.  

Can a Permit Be Denied?
If a permit is not approved, the TPC will communicate their detailed reasoning to the homeowner and will suggest options.  The TPC will also meet with the homeowner in person if further discussion is needed.

Can I Appeal a Denied Permit?
The appeal process is outlined in §202-12 of the Village Code.  The first step is to meet with the TPC to discuss the issues and try to find a path forward.  If an agreement cannot be reached, the denial may be appealed to the Board of Trustees, whose decision will be final.

What is the Penalty for Violating the Code?
Penalties are laid out in detail in §202-10 of the Village Code.  Both the homeowner and the contractor are subject to fines, and restoration may be required as well.

How Can I Find Out More Information About How to Take Care of My Trees or What Good Pruning Practices Are?
There are a lot of great on-line resources that will provide you with both general and specific information about tree care.  Among the ones we like are:

Trees Are Good – Tree Care Information
Arbor Day Foundation
Urban Horticulture Institute, Cornell Univ.
International Society for Arboriculture
Cornell Cooperative Extension
Penn State Cooperative Extension

I Want to Plant Some Trees – Which Species Should I Choose?
You can visit the Village website where the TPC has posted lists of preferred plants.  You can find these lists by clicking on the folder “Forms and Documents”, then click on “Boards and Committees”, and finally open the “Tree Commission” folder.  We have lists of native trees, trees for under wires and several others that you can use as a starting point.   Alternatively, visit the website of your tree care professional, where general and season-specific information is available.

Village Code, Chapter 202: Tree Preservation