Healthy, well-planted trees enhance the landscape of any property. Aesthetics aside, trees have other benefits including air quality improvement, soil erosion prevention, and energy conservation. However, trees can also burden property owners due to disease, lack of pruning, improper planting location, weather damage, and insect infestation. Many residents have concerns about how to manage their trees and those on surrounding property. Below is a list of frequently asked questions about trees. You are welcome to call the village office at 410-730-7327 and speak with a Covenant Advisor if you have additional questions. Or you may contact Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Q: Do I need permission to remove a tree?
A: Yes and no. The Hickory Ridge Architectural Guidelines do not require residents to obtain approval to remove a tree only if certain conditions are met:
- The tree is completely dead
- The tree is less than 6 inches in diameter (measured from a point two feet above ground level)
- There is only one tree being removed, regardless of size, and no other trees have been removed from the property within the last calendar year.
- Up to two trees may be removed, regardless of size, when they are within 15 feet of the house.
For all other situations, a resident is required to submit an Exterior Alteration Application to obtain approval before removing a tree.
Q: Does Hickory Ridge Community Association evaluate the condition of a tree?
A: No. A resident would need to seek the opinion of a certified arborist. Depending on the season, Hickory Ridge’s Covenant Advisor is only able to make a reasonable determination about whether a tree is dead.
Q: My neighbor’s tree is overhanging my property. Can I trim the branches?
A: Yes. Maryland has adopted the “Massachusetts Self-Help Rule” that says you must assume responsibility for the care and preservation of your own property. Therefore, you have the right to trim branches that encroach over onto your property; however, you may not do the following:
- May not destroy the tree by pruning;
- May not cute down the tree itself; and
- Must stop at the property line unless have neighbor’s consent (it’s best to have it in writing)
Q:What should I do if I am concerned that a neighbor’s tree will fall on my property?
A: If possible, speak with your neighbor about your concern. The neighbor might not even be aware of the situation. You may also send your neighbor a certified letter informing him or her of your concerns. If the tree problem isn’t addressed and damage does occur, your insurance company may be able to use that information while settling a possible claim.
Q: If my neighbor’s tree branch(es) or tree falls on my property, who is responsible for repair damages and tree removal?
A: In Maryland, when a tree or its branches fall it is considered an “Act of God.” This means the portion of the tree and the damage from it that is on your property is your responsibility to clean up and repair. The portion of the tree and damage on neighboring properties is their responsibility. Such accidents are normally covered by the affected owner’s insurance, and are usually resolved by reporting a claim.
Q: My street trees were removed by the County. Why haven’t the tree stumps been removed yet?
A: The Bureau of Highways- Tree Division keeps a list of all tree removals and will return as soon as possible to grind down the remaining tree stumps. Stump removal can take up to a year, depending on the current workload and backlog. The County asks for your patience in this matter. If you believe a tree stump may have been forgotten, please contact Highways at 410-313-7450 or email@example.com.
Q: Who is responsible for handling street tree branches which are starting to encroach on my private property?
A: Please note, property owners generally have the right to self-remedy if tree roots or branches encroach on or threaten to damage their private property. The County does not generally assist in removing plant material from private property. In addition, the County will not trim branches around privately owned wires and cables. BGE, Verizon and Comcast have the right and obligation to maintain their own wire and cables. If a resident is worried about tree branches growing too near utility wires, please contact the appropriate utility company directly.
Q: How do I get a healthy street tree removed?
A: Street trees are planted in accordance with regulations set by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Healthy street trees cannot be removed without their permission. Please see details about Roadside Tree Law at the Maryland DNR website for more information.