Heritage Oak Trees in Texas: What You Need to Know

Heritage trees are similar to protected trees, but are subject to much stricter regulations. Trees that measure more than 24 inches in diameter are considered heritage trees and can only be removed after a variation is approved. Protected trees and heritage trees are both subject to specific removal and development-related impact regulations. In the city of Austin, if a tree that is 8 inches in diameter or larger must be removed, there are a few things you can do depending on the type of tree.

If a protected tree is not developmentally related but is affected by utility problems, diseases, or other conditions, a request for revision of the tree ordinance is required. Heritage trees larger than 24 inches, but smaller than 30 inches, require an administrative variation from the director of the Department of Developmental Services before removal. In the city of Houston, any tree that is less than 8 years in diameter can be removed without mitigation permission or jurisdiction. If you want to remove a tree of 8 or more, other than a protected or heritage tree, all you have to do is mark its removal on the site plan.

The only exception is if the tree is damaged and removed within 7 days of the damage, and the tree causes an “imminent danger to life or property”. When it comes to removing heritage trees, the only way to do so is to request a variation in the zoning code. In certain situations where tree felling is authorized, the city will require mitigation measures, often by planting replacement trees. It's important to have a good understanding of the city's tree rules to determine what can be built on lots with large trees.If a protected tree is dead or poses a hazard to people or property, you can remove it without a permit.

The city of Austin also offers workshops that provide guidance on how to apply for a tree permit and useful tips on tree care.

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