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Trees and Urban Forestry

The City of North Charleston believes in Tree Protection. The reason is to prevent the clear cutting of building sites, a practice which destroys the balance of nature, leads to sedimentation and erosion, contributes to air and water pollution, and unnecessarily robs the community of valuable natural resources.

North Charleston’s Tree Protection Ordinance

Tree Removal Permit

Trees provide communities with many economic, ecological, and social benefits. Trees shade and cool, increase property values, prevent stormwater runoff and soil erosion, reduce energy use, clean the air and enhance wildlife habitats. These benefits are why it is important to create and sustain urban forest, maintain undeveloped land and plant trees for future generations.

Planting and protecting trees has become one of the City of North Charleston’s most important planning and environmental issues. The City adopted regulations to replace, protect, and preserve trees in 1991 following the considerable loss and damage of trees due to Hurricane Hugo. The tree preservation ordinance requires protection of trees on large tracts of woodlands and offsite mitigation if trees are destroyed during construction.

Because any healthy existing tree greater than ten (10) inches in DBH (diameter breast high) is a valuable natural resource, by virtue of its age, size and contribution to the environment, all said trees meeting this measurement shall be referred to as “significant trees” and protected to the extent practical and feasible.

Removal of existing significant trees shall be prohibited prior to securing a grading and/or building permit. However, in the event that a tree poses a severe or imminent threat to public safety or property, the zoning administrator or his designee may waive the requirements of this section. Written findings must later be issued, outlining the threat, which initiated the removal. The zoning administrator or his designee may require replacement of any trees, which are removed, where it is determined that the threat resulted from negligence.