Want to ask a question? Click here

Why can I not cut down a tree on my own property if my lot is over 2 acres?

Ken Little
StarNews
Tree-lined street

Wilmington is known for its tree-lined streets. (StarNews file photo)

The full question:

“Living in the city of Wilmington, why can I not cut down a tree on my own property if my lot is over 2 acres, but if my lot is under 2 acres, I can cut down as many trees as I want (per Wilmington City Code Section 18-449)?”

And the answer:

Assistant City Attorney R. Lynn Coleman referred to what is sometimes known in Wilmington as the “Land Development Code.”

Wilmington City Code, Chapter 18, includes within Article 8, sections entitled “Landscaping and Tree Preservation,” “Tree Preservation” and “Tree Removal.”

Warning: the city code language can be dense as a thicket.

Section 18-471, which is part of Division III on Tree Removal, provides that “no person, directly or indirectly, shall remove any tree from public or private property without first obtaining a tree removal permit from the city manager.”

“This is the beginning point, even though it shows up well into the Article and comes sequentially in the Code after the exemptions, which are set out in Section 18-449,” Coleman said in an email response to the reader question.

She further explained:

“Therefore, any tree cutting within the city limits must be preceded by obtaining a permit to remove the tree; however, if the property falls within one of the exemptions listed in Section 18-449 (b) or (c) [single-family detached residentially zoned and used lots of two acres or less; or bona fide agricultural land use], then the permit requirement does not apply.”

Notwithstanding the exemption for single-family detached residentially zoned and used lots of 2 acres or less, if the subdivision within which the lot lies was required to install street trees or buffers or other types of mandatory landscaping as a development condition or in order for the subdivision to be approved, those required plantings, whether trees or bushes, cannot be removed even if the property owner obtains a tree-cutting permit, Coleman continued.

“It is likely that the exemption for single-family detached residentially zoned and used lots of 2 acres or less was included in the ordinance to allow the average urban city dweller to control the look and feel of their home environment without interference from their local city officials, unless the situation should fall under some other safety or police power concern such as minimum housing regulations and maintaining a nuisance as defined in our ordinances,” Coleman said.

User-contributed question by:
Bill

Got a comment about this post or know more about the answer? Click here to let us know!


Bookmark and Share

2 Responses to “ Why can I not cut down a tree on my own property if my lot is over 2 acres?”

  1. On February 21, 2012 at 6:06 pm Ann Cravis wrote:

    If trees and there roots are dangerously close to a home and could cause extensive damage during storms or in there growth is it permissable to cut them down?

  2. On February 21, 2012 at 6:59 pm Jim Ware wrote:

    The Wilmington City Code does allow for waivers for maintenance of trees that pose a hazard.

    More information can be found by reading the code at http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientId=14101



X
Ask a question
X

Ask a question

If you’re looking for answers about living in coastal North Carolina, you’ve come to the right place. If we don’t have the answer to your question, we’ll find out or try to find someone who does. Hey, that’s our job! So, ask your question below and we’ll do our best to find the answer. Once we do, we’ll post it in an appropriate category.





Can we use your name to credit you by name (no e-mail or other contact information) with this question when we post an answer?
Yes
Your question:

Post a comment
X

Talk to us!

Have a comment about this post or know more about the answer? Use this form to let us know. Note that all comments are moderated and must be approved before they are posted, although you may see your own comments the first time you post them.





Your comment: