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“Nationals October 2019

Annapolis fees add 60% onto cost of tree removal for Eastport homeowner

| July 12, 2020, 04:25 PM

Rams Head

Remember that saying “no good deed goes unpunished”? An Eastport homeowner learned that lesson when he decided to follow the rules and apply for a permit to remove a tree that was threatening his house.

Content Continues Below

Rams Head

A City of Annapolis resident was concerned about a large split trunk tree on his heavily wooded lot and the proximity to his home. With a predicted severe hurricane season, he got an estimate to get the tree removed. The estimate from the tree company was $1900. However, it proved to be unaffordable as his company had furloughed him for a month and when he returned to work, it was with a 25% reduction in his work schedule. He saved money for several weeks and finally saved enough to remove the tree.

He went to the City of Annapolis and filed an application to remove the tree ($100 permit fee) and figured he was good to go.  But not so fast.

Enter the City of Annapolis Urban Arborist. The City environmental policy requires replacement of trees when they are removed. The Urban Arborist calculated that the size of the removed tree wold require the replanting of three mature trees. When the homeowner explained that his yard was heavily wooded and there was little room to plant mature trees that had a chance to survive, the Arborist presented an alternative.

Pay the City $350 per tree as a payment in lieu of replanting the trees which reflected the cost of acquiring a tree, locating a place elsewhere in the City to replant the tree, and the labor to plant it adding $1050 to the cost of removing the tree endangering the home.  But apparently, the Urban Arborist was willing to negotiate.

This fee is about equal to the cost of purchasing a tree of sufficient size to meet our requirements and the labor to plant it.  The standard fee is $350/tree.  I would be willing to reduce that to $200/tree if you would like to go this route.

The $1900 cost to remove the tree had increased to $3050 due to permit fees and the established cost to replace the trees– that is a 60% increase.

We spoke with the homeowner, who has not removed the tree, and he joked, “I’ll be damned if I’m personally paying $600-$1,050 to plant trees around the city.  I mean they at least should come with a plaque on them saying I donated them. With a global pandemic and everyone hurting financially, there’s just no way.”

While the City is not mandated to reduce fees during a pandemic, more concerning is the surreptitious reduction of the $350 fee to $200. Does the City regularly negotiate fees and reduce them by 40% as a policy?

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Rams Head

Category: Local News, NEWS, Post To FB

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