Native woodlands are one of the most valuable natural resources within the City of Novi. The City’s Woodland Protection Ordinance is dedicated to the protection, conservation and management of these wooded areas. The provisions endorsed by the ordinance have allowed for the preservation, enhancement and creation of woodlands existing in Novi today. The City also maintains a Regulated Woodland Map that serves as a general guide toward environmentally sound and responsible land development.
Recently City staff and consultants completed an extensive assessment of the City’s woodlands and a revised Regulated Woodland Map. The City’s Woodland Protection Ordinance has also been updated and provides strong guidelines and clear direction for woodland conservation and replacement strategies. The updated ordinance features better measures to preserve the natural beauty of our community, while still protecting personal property rights.
Both the Regulated Woodland Map and the Woodland Protection Ordinance are available online by clicking on the links above. Hard copies are available to all citizens at the office of the City Clerk. You may also find helpful information reading the Frequently Asked Woodland Questions below.
Specimen and Historic Trees
One of the ways that Citizens can help protect our woodland resources is to nominate a tree as a specimen or historic tree. Specimen trees may be any tree that falls into one or more of the following classifications:
- Prominent within a distinct scenic setting
- Prominence due to unusual form or botanical characteristics
- Unusual age or size for the species.
Trees can also be nominated if they hold some historic significance. Historic trees are trees that may be associated with any of the following categories:
- A notable person or historic figure
- Art, literature, law, music, science or cultural life
- Early forestry or conservation
- Native American history, legend or lore.
Anyone can nominate a Specimen or Historic Tree for consideration by the Planning Commission. The Specimen & Historic Tree Nomination Form can be accessed by clicking on the link below. Trees adopted as Specimen or Historic Trees are protected from removal. Many trees have already been adopted since the program began in 1988. City Staff are currently working on an update for the Specimen & Historic Tree Map, which will be available on the website upon completion.
Specimen & Historic Tree Nomination Form
For further information, please contact the Community Development Department at the Novi Civic Center, or contact the City’s Landscape Architect, David Beschke, RLA, at (248) 735-5621.
Frequently Asked Questions Woodland Protection
1. How is a regulated woodland defined?
A regulated woodland is a stand of vegetation deemed to be of high quality as a natural resource due to wildlife habitat, health and diversity of the vegetation, tree size, species and density. Factors such as the value of the woodland as a scenic asset, wind block or noise buffer are considered. Woodlands may also be regulated if they contain historic or specimen trees. Individual trees of 36” caliper or greater are automatically protected against removal.
2. What is the purpose of regulating woodlands within the City of Novi?
Growth, land development and increasing demands on natural resources have encroached upon or eliminated many natural woodland resources over the years. If preserved or conserved in an undisturbed condition, mature woodlands provide important environmental, aesthetic, recreational and economic assets to existing and future residents of the City of Novi.
3. How do I know if regulated woodlands exist on my property?
Any property with mature vegetation stands within the city could fall under the Woodland Protection Ordinance. The larger areas of woodlands of high quality have been mapped on the City’s Regulated Woodland Map. It is important to note that the map serves only as a general guide. Specific determination of the limits of a regulated woodland are made on a site specific basis by the City’s woodland consultant or Community Development staff.
4. How can I get a copy of the Woodland Protection Ordinance and Regulated Woodland Map?
Both the ordinance and map are available on this website by clicking on the links above. Hard copies of both documents are available at the City Clerk’s office located on the second floor of Novi Civic Center.
5. Can I remove trees and understory vegetation on my property?
All trees and understory vegetation within mapped regulated woodlands are protected against land clearing or tree removal. There are conditions under which exceptions can be granted for reasonable vegetation removal. For instance, the removal of dead, damaged or hazardous trees may be allowed with the written permission of appropriate City staff. The complete listing of exceptions can be found in Section 37-27 of the Woodland Protection Ordinance. Please note that trees within wetland areas typically would not be allowed to be removed unless they pose a hazard. If dead, diseased or hazardous trees are located within a road right-of-way, you should contact either the City of Novi or the Road Commission for Oakland County, dependant upon the road jurisdiction. If you are unsure if your woodland is regulated, please contact the Community Development Department at (248) 347-0415 for assistance.
6. How do I proceed if I want to clear or develop my wooded parcel?
Should a property owner wish to develop a portion of their wooded property, the Woodland Protection Ordinance specifies that they either detail the size and condition of their trees or provide an affidavit that no regulated woodlands exist. The Woodlands and Wetlands Affidavit is available by clicking here or at the City Clerk’s office. Trees that are 8” or more in width (caliper), measured at the trunk 4 ½ feet above the ground, must be surveyed for location and included on a base plan along with their species and general condition. The City will inspect the property to make a final determination on the extent of the regulated woodland. The presence of regulated woodland on your property does not mean that the land cannot be developed. Removed regulated trees are required to be replaced on the site in the form of 3” caliper trees. If adequate space for replanting does not exist on the site, the owner can contribute an equal value into the City Tree Fund. The Fund is used for replanting trees on public properties throughout the City.
7. What is the approval process for development within a regulated woodland?
Typically the owner/applicant will need to submit a site plan with all pertinent information on the site and the improvements and impacts proposed. The Site Plan Design Manual is available at the Community Development Department that fully details all information required. Depending on the size and intensity of the project, the plans will be reviewed by the City’s professional planners, engineers, landscape architect and/or environmental staff. Reviews are provided to the applicant and the project goes before the Planning Commission for review and acceptance. In some cases, approval may also be necessary by the City Council.
8. Should I disagree with the status of regulated woodlands on my property, what is the process to be considered?
Your first step would be to contact the Community Development Department. Upon arrangements, qualified City staff or the City’s Woodland Consultant may conduct an on-site visit to observe woodland conditions. A letter of findings will be provided to the property owner. In the event that the owner might still disagree with the findings, consideration would be undertaken through the Community Development Director or the appropriate body through which approvals may be necessary (i.e. the Planning Commission).
9. Are there any penalties for removing vegetation in a regulated woodland without a permit?
Removing vegetation from a regulated woodland without a permit is a civil infraction and penalties may be assessed. Restitution may be necessary, and plantings may be required to be replaced to restore the woodland.
10. Can I plant additional vegetation in a regulated woodland?
The addition of plantings in a regulated woodland may be permissible with prior approval. Only native species are allowed in order to protect the environmental quality of our local woodlands. Mechanized equipment such as trucks, tractors, tree spades, etc. cannot be used within the limits of the regulated woodland.
For more information regarding regulated woodlands, please contact the City of Novi Community Development Department at 248-347-0415.