Tree Removal & Maintenance

Tree Removal Permits

The process and requirements for removing a tree in the city of Rochester Hills may be subject to city ordinances. Please refer to the following criteria to ensure proper tree removal:

Permit Applications

Right-of-Way Tree Removal
Private Tree Removal

Developer Information

Developers Fact Sheet - Tree Conservation and Tree Placement. This document addresses commonly asked questions about site plan review regarding trees and related ordinances. 

Prohibited Tree List - Trees Prohibited under the City’s Street Tree Ordinance.

Trees in the Public Street Right-of-Way 

All trees located between the property line and the street are regulated by the Street Tree Ordinance and require a Right-of-Way Tree Removal Permit. Application fee is $50.

Trees on Private Property

Trees 6 inches in diameter and larger at 4 1/2' above the ground, are regulated by the Tree Conservation Ordinance and require a removal permit (subject to some exceptions). Application fee is $90.

Common Exceptions to Tree Removal Permit Requirement  

  • On occupied one-family parcels less than one acre, a permit is not required.
  • On occupied one-family parcels one acre or more for construction of appurtenances or structures accessory to existing structures, a permit is not required. 
NOTE: Neither of the above exceptions applies to public right-of-way trees or historic and landmark trees. These trees will require a permit.

For further information regarding the need for a Tree Removal Permit, contact the Building Department at 248-656-4615. For Tree Removal Permit requirements, contact the Forestry Division at 248-656-4673.

Tree Maintenance

For the purpose of street tree maintenance (trimming and removal), the Forestry Unit of the Parks and Natural Resources Department has divided the city into five tree management districts. Most of the maintenance work is scheduled during the winter months (November through March). The Forestry Unit also responds to requests from residents year-round for tree trimming/maintenance of any trees affecting city road right-of-way.

The Forestry Unit maintains a database, which records maintenance needs and work histories for trees growing on city road right-of-way and public property. Trees growing on city right-of-way are trimmed to facilitate vehicle and pedestrian passage and safety. No prior notification is given to the adjacent property owner. Public trees having structural defects that pose a significant hazard to city streets or walkways are trimmed or removed as necessary to reduce the hazard. Prior notification is given for removals.

The adjacent property owner is responsible for removing encroachments/ obstructions when trees or shrubs growing on private property interfere with the use of streets or pathways, as required by ordinance specifications. Property owners may be notified regarding what action is required of them.

Please refer to our Tree Trimming Guide to view diagrams outlining the city’s tree maintenance specifications for streets and walkways.

Fall/Winter 2019-2020 Program 

The Rochester Hills Natural Resources Division has an ongoing street tree maintenance program conducted by the Forestry Unit and contracted crews.

Under the program, trees or shrubs that impede the passage of vehicles along streets or pedestrians on pathways, interfere with safe sight distance requirements, or pose a hazard to the right-of-way will be addressed.

Although some work will occur in various locations throughout the city, the main emphasis of the 2019-2020 program will be to continue working on the northern portions of the city (Sections 3,4,6,9).

Anyone with questions about the program or its requirements may contact the Natural Resources Division at 248.656.4673.

Storm & Brush Clean-Up

It is the policy of the City of Rochester Hills to provide for the cleanup and/or removal of downed trees, limbs, and branches resulting from natural causes (rain, wind, ice, snow, etc.) when the downed trees, etc.: 
  • Are located on public property and may present a danger to the legitimate public use of such property. 
  • Are located on public property and may present a danger to the legitimate use of private property.
  • Interfere with the safe and unimpeded use of a public non-motorized pathway, public sidewalk, crossing or other non-motorized thoroughfare.
  • Interfere with the safe and unimpeded use of a public street, road, highway or thoroughfare. 

What Is Not in the Policy

It is not the policy of the City of Rochester Hills to provide for the cleanup and/or removal of downed trees, limbs and branches located on: 
  • Any property that is not defined as public property. 
  • Private property. 
  • Property held in common by a subdivision or condominium association. 

Blending the Public / Private Line

In such instances where downed trees, limbs or branches originate on private property and extend onto public property, it is the policy of the City of Rochester Hills to provide assistance for the removal and/or cleanup of: 
  • That portion of the tree, limb or branches that is actually located on the traveled portion of the street, road, pedestrian pathway, public sidewalk, etc.    
  • That portion of a standing tree that presents an imminent danger to the legitimate use of the street, road, pedestrian pathway, public sidewalk or public property. The city will seek reimbursement for the cost of repair and removal from the private property owner.
Nothing in this policy shall remove or abrogate the responsibility of any public utility for the removal and/or cleanup of downed trees, limbs, branches, etc., from a utility easement across or upon either public or private property.

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