Somerville City Council’s Revised Tree Ordinance in Effect

ree Removals on Private Property Now Require Permits (with some exceptions)

On June 27, 2019, the Somerville City Council passed a Tree Preservation Ordinance (Ord. #2019-15) with new requirements for the removal of trees on private property. The ordinance went into effect on August 1, 2019, and incorporates and updates the prior City of Somerville Tree Ordinance, which set requirements only for the removal of public trees.
The new Tree Preservation Ordinance requires that any noninvasive tree on private property that measures greater than eight inches in diameter at breast height (DBH) – trunk diameter measured 4 ½ feet from the ground – be replaced with trees(s) that equal the same caliper inches as the diameter of the tree(s) removed, or that a payment be made to the City’s Tree Fund. Homeowners who live in the property do not need to meet the replanting or payment requirements as long as the home is not more than three units; but they must still apply for a permit and provide plans regarding the proposed tree removal(s). The ordinance also includes exemptions for emergency situations such as dead or dying trees and trees that are deemed hazardous. A permit is not required for the removal of trees under 8 inches DBH or the removal of invasive tree species.
The new ordinance was proposed by the City’s Urban Forestry Committee, and discussed by the City Council over a series of public meetings in spring 2019.
Under the new ordinance, trees removed from private property without receiving the required permit or approval, except for exempt circumstances, will result in daily fines to the property owner until a complete application is submitted.
For the full text of the ordinance as well as detailed information for property owners, or to apply for a permit, visit All tree removal requests and approvals are handled by the City’s Tree Warden. If you have any questions, please email, or contact 311.