Tree Preservation Bylaw

Concord’s Tree Preservation Bylaw passed by a large majority of voters at 2017 Town Meeting. The Bylaw requires that residential property owners preserve trees that are over six inches in diameter in a lot’s setback area during major development projects.

The Bylaw only applies when demolition, new construction, or major expansion of an existing dwelling takes place. If it is not practical to save a particular tree, the owner or developer can still remove it, and plant new trees elsewhere to compensate. Alternatively, the owner can pay into a Tree Fund, which the Town will use to buy and plant trees in Concord’s residential neighborhoods.

The Planning Board has approved​ Rules and Regulations that spell out how to apply for a Protected Tree Impact and Removal Permit prior to demolition or construction, requirements for maintaining preserved and replanted trees, fines for unauthorized removals, exclusions for invasive species and diseased trees, and many other details. 

The Bylaw’s terms strike a balance between property rights and the public’s interest in preserving the character of Concord’s neighborhoods. Property owners who do not initiate demolition or major construction within the next 12 months are not subject to the bylaw; they can still cut down trees on their lots without getting a permit, replanting or making any payments. Meanwhile, developers will have a financial incentive to retain a significant number of trees on a lot as they renovate houses, or build new ones. 

The purpose and intent of the Tree Preservation Bylaw (Tree Bylaw) is to encourage the preservation and protection of trees on residential lots during significant demolition and/or construction activity by (a) designating areas of a lot where trees must be protected, and (b) requiring mitigation for trees removed via replanting or collection of fees to support the Town’s tree planting and maintenance efforts.