Tree Ordinance & Tree Removal Permits

The Town of Summerville has had a Tree Protection Ordinance since the mid-1800s. The ordinance strives to protect the natural beauty of the Town and ensure the adequate preservation of trees.

Tree Advisory Protection CommitteeTree City USA

Tree Removal Approval

All trees (all species) six inches in diameter at breast height (DBH), including dead trees, require a permit to be removed. Permits for removal of trees for new construction projects are included in the building permit and reviewed as part of site plan review.

All trees 16 inches or greater must be approved by the Town’s Tree Advisory Protection Committee. The Committee also reviews any appeals to tree removals that have been denied by staff or a single member of the Committee. The Committee is made up of both staff members and citizens.

Click here to submit a tree removal permit. There is a non-refundable $5 application that must be paid online.

Criteria for Removal

Trees are typically approved for removal if they meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Diseased
  • Dead
  • Dying
  • Pose a safety hazard to nearby buildings (within 10 feet), utility lines or pedestrian or vehicular traffic
  • Prevent essential grade or all reasonable utility installations
  • Prevent all reasonable site configurations
  • Removal of trees is the only reasonable means by which: 
    • BuildingIMG_0058
    • Health
    • Public Safety
    • Subdivision
    • Zoning
    • Other Town requirements can be met
  • Located in the building footprint and up to ten feet around the perimeter of the construction site of an approved building and related driveway parking area when every measure has been explored to preserve existing trees has failed
  • The lot is of such density with existing trees that the removal of certain protected trees is considered beneficial

First Act of Summerville's First Town Council

The first act of Summerville's first Town Council (in 1847) was a tree ordinance that was passed in early 1848. The tree ordinance continues to be enforced today and is thought to be one of the oldest tree ordinances in the country.