Both of these proposed bills are a severe infringement on basic private property rights in Montgomery County, MD. They are in conflict with current common law regarding tree responsibility and do nothing more than create MORE FEES AND LESS TREES!
Specifically, there should be NO FEE required from the County in order to remove a tree on private property. Bill 35-12 would require any property owner seeking to improve their property to pay an unknown fee if they remove any existing tree canopy from their property. These fees will first be used to support the government staff necessary to implement this new regulation, and also to acquire land where trees could be planted elsewhere. It does NOTHING TO REPLACE THE CANOPY on private property. Currently, if an owner wants to remove a tree on their property for whatever reason - they have the right to do so without requesting a permit or paying a fee. This is a basic property right for citizens in Montgomery County and should not be taken away because legislators want to regulate trees on private land as if they were public property.
Bill 41-12 is an attempt to add another bureaucratic layer to the current process for care, maintenance and removal of trees in the County Right-of-Way. Currently, the process involves the Maryland State Department of Natural Resources and two County agencies. If a property owner receives approval to remove a tree, they MUST REPLACE IT! This process is already in place, and it is working. The bill is another attempt to gain unknown fees for the County, and will NOT RESULT IN THE REPLACEMENT OF ANY ADDITIONAL TREES ON THE PROPERTY OR ADJOINING RIGHT-OF-WAY! The most egregious tree-trimming in our County right-of-ways is perpetrated by the utility companies, and yet they would be exempt under this legislation.
In summary, we all want to preserve and protect our trees - but not at the expense of our rights as private property owners. This legislation does nothing to preserve or replace trees; it only increases the fees we pay to the County. We urge the County Council and County Executive to OPPOSE BILLS 41-12 AND 35-12. These bills cannot be amended or changed – if there is an identifiable concern, then the County Council and County Executive need to start over and work with ALL concerned citizens of Montgomery County to develop a reasonable and balanced solution.