Downers Grove Ordinance 2019-8383
An ordinance amending construction site management permits and provisions concerning the protection of trees and shrubs.

At its November 12, 2019 meeting the Village Council adopted amendments to the building code to strengthen protection of parkway trees during construction projects by implementing the following changes to the building permit review and inspection process:

  1. Hold an on-site pre-demolition meeting to discuss tree preservation regulations, construction expectations and potential issues which may impact adjacent parkway trees (Section 24.106)

  2. During site management inspection discuss parkway tree protection (Section 7.602)

  3. Require the installation of a sign on the tree protection fencing, for all trees, stating that the fencing cannot be relocated or removed for any reason. (Section 7.1801(e))

  4. Inspect the parkway tree as part of the water service pre-tap inspection to make sure that the
installation of the water service does not negatively impact the tree. (Section 24.106)

  5. Require the builder to pass the water service pre-tap inspection prior to performing any trenching or augering. (Section 24.106)

  6. Require the builder to submit a Tree Risk Assessment Qualified Report (TRAQ) for review and
approval prior to the issuance of a building permit. This report shall be completed by a Tree Risk Assessment Qualified Professional and shall take into account utility conflicts and other issues which may affect the tree. (Section 24.106)

  7. Increase the amounts of the value of parkway trees, fees to be paid to the Village for damage or loss of a parkway tree and fines for damaging or destroying a parkway tree. (Section 24.107)

Parkway Tree Fees/Fines Prior Fees/Fines Amended Fees/Fines
Code Violation, 1st Offense $500 $2,000
Code Violation, 2nd Offense $1,000 $3,000
Code Violation, 3rd & Subsequent Offense $2,500 $5,000
Unlawful Removal of Tree $100 per inch/trunk diameter $275 per inch/trunk diameter

After effectsDamage to parkway tree

Pierce Downer's Heritage Alliance Chair Ken Lerner provided the following comments to Council:

1. PDHA is pleased to see the Village recognizing that there are continuing issues with regard to tree protection during construction projects, and views these proposed changes as a step in the right direction.

2.  The requirement to place a sign on parkway tree protection fencing is a positive step, and a good way to raise public awareness of the Village’s dedication to protection of parkway trees. The signs should include a description of the fencing requirements, so that any passerby can tell at a glance whether they are being complied with.

3.  The increase in fines for violations indicates the Village’s serious focus on the issue, and is appropriate in light of the monetary scale of current construction projects.

4.  Consider making the proposed requirements in section 24.7.B apply to any site with parkways trees regardless of their size. In particular, consider making requirements 1 – Attend a meeting to discuss the prevention of injury to trees in the public right-of-way, construction expectations and potential issues – and 3 – Requiring inspection and pre-approval before trenching or augering within a critical root zone – apply to all projects, rather than being limited to situations where there is a very large (24-in) tree in the parkway. Those processes should be part of any construction project.  Notice and face to face consultations offer the opportunity to avoid unintended tree damage, make suggestions to reduce such damage, reinforce good practices, and show the Village’s commitment to tree protection.

5. Will documentation be available to the public about fines that have been levied in specific cases, and why they were levied?  To someone concerned about tree protection, concerned about the record of a particular builder, or simply curious as to the level of enforcement of these requirements, this could be valuable information.

6. These amendments should be instituted immediately, but the Village also should initiate a process to provide appropriate protective measures for ALL trees on a construction site, not just parkway trees.  Just as the size, placement, and other qualities of a building affect the neighbors and neighborhood, so does the presence of trees.