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Posted on: August 3, 2020

Tree Ordinance

Tree Ordinance

For 30 years, the City of Portage has been designated a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation. The designation is awarded to cities that have excelled at efforts in urban forestry. This designation is significant since trees have many positive benefits for the environment and health of the people who live in the community including: Section 164.D.1 – Removed “Except for Heritage Trees” and “including single-family condominium common areas…” This one-acre area with a habitable building exception would still apply to multi-family and nonresidential land uses.

  • Remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
  • Reduce the costs of electricity and fuel for cooling and heating purposes.
  • Reduce stormwater runoff by intercepting rainfall.
  • Remove Ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide from the air we breathe.
  • Enhancement of property values, improve health and well-being and provide wildlife habitat.
  • Lower summer air temperatures.

Recognizing the important benefits trees bring to the community, an ordinance to preserve our local trees is being considered by the Portage Planning Commission. The ordinance would require a property owner to obtain a permit to remove a tree 6-inches in diameter or greater (protected tree) if located outside of an approved construction area. If removed, the protected tree must be replaced or the cost to replace the tree could be deposited into a tree fund managed by the city. If the tree is designated as a heritage tree (larger, mature tree), the proposed ordinance would require more than one replacement tree. There are several exceptions that would not require a permit.

Based on input from Planning Commission members and citizen comment received during the public hearing process, additional revisions have been made to the ordinance language, which is available at portagemi.gov/567. The substantive changes are listed below:

  • Added Sections 164.D.2 and 3.
  • 164.D.2: This provision excepts lots/parcels less than 5 acres if occupied by a single-family or two-family attached residential dwelling and zoned for such uses from the permit requirement, including heritage trees.
  • 164.D.3: This provision excepts lots/parcels 5 acres or greater if occupied by a single-family or two-family residential dwelling and zoned for residential use if less than 50% of the trees will be removed in a 2-year period. This “less than 50%” provision would prohibit clear cutting during a 2-year period.
  • Clarified in Section 164.E.2 that an application is also applicable to a two-family attached dwelling.
  • Section 164.H.2.c – reduced the size of a replacement tree from 2.5 inches to 2.0 inches
  • Section 164.H.2.d – reduced the number of replacement trees if a heritage tree is removed. The prior ordinance language required 10 replacement trees if a 48-inch heritage tree was removed. The proposed revision would require 6 replacement trees.
  • Section 164.H.2.f – Deleted “including installation” in an effort to reduce the amount of Tree Fund contribution if an applicant selected that option.
  • Section 164.H.4 – this is a new section that provides an applicant credits for preserving trees (even 2-inch size trees) within the developed portion of the site. For example, if six, 24-inch trees are preserved, the applicant is given a 16 tree credit, which can be applied towards the number of required replacement trees. So if the applicant removes 16 protected trees, s/he wouldn’t be required to replant any trees.
  • Section 24-168 – the cost of replacement trees and application fees has been added as a remedy in the Violation section in an effort to deter tree removal if a permit would otherwise be required.  

The Planning Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposed ordinance on September 17, 2020 at 7 PM. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, two options are available to participate in the discussion:

  1. Attend the meeting in City Council Chambers, Portage City Hall, 7900 South Westnedge Avenue. If you choose to attend the meeting in person, you will be required to wear a mask and adhere to the Centers for Disease Control social distancing guidelines in an effort to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The maximum number of people allowed in the chambers at any one time is 10.
  2. Participate remotely by watching the meeting on cable channel 995 for Spectrum and channel 99 for AT&T. If you want to ask a question or make a comment, please call (844) 854-2222 and enter Access Code 529853#. When prompted, press *6 to enter the queue.


For further information about the proposed Tree Preservation and Replacement Ordinance, please contact the Department of Community Development at 329-4477.


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