Chapter 18.45
TREE PRESERVATION AND PROTECTION

Sections:

18.45.010    Short title.

18.45.020    Purpose and intent.

18.45.030    Definitions.

18.45.040    Applicability of regulations.

18.45.050    Exemptions from tree permits.

18.45.060    Permits and permit requirements.

18.45.070    Permit standards and conditions for all minor tree removal and major tree clearing.

18.45.080    Tree retention, preservation, and tree replacement requirements.

18.45.090    Tree protection standards.

18.45.100    Tree maintenance standards and best pruning practices.

18.45.110    Tree preservation modification and departure options.

18.45.120    Performance guarantees, liability, insurance and licensing.

18.45.130    Enforcement, violations and penalties.

18.45.140    Appeals.

18.45.150    Severability.

18.45.010 Short title.

This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the tree preservation and protection regulations of the City of Covington. (Ord. 02-21 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 05-20 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 04-08 § 2)

18.45.020 Purpose and intent.

The intent of this chapter is to establish regulations and procedures for preservation of trees, to preserve the character of the community, to successfully retain desirable trees on developing and redeveloping sites, and to maintain a viable tree canopy for the City of Covington. Specifically, the regulations contained in this chapter are intended to accomplish the following goals and objectives:

(1) Promote the public health, safety and general welfare of the residents of Covington;

(2) Implement the purposes of the State Growth Management Act relating to conservation of natural resources;

(3) Support and implement the City of Covington comprehensive plan, specifically the land use element and natural environment element;

(4) Implement the goals of the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA);

(5) Improve the aesthetic quality of the built environment by reducing impacts on critical areas and the natural environment;

(6) Minimize erosion, siltation, water pollution, and surface and ground water runoff;

(7) Preserve significant trees for the reduction of noise and air pollution, wind protection, animal habitat, slope stabilization and retention of ground water;

(8) Assist with removing at-risk trees;

(9) Provide for delivery of reliable utility services, for reasonable development of property, for reasonable preservation or enhancement of property values, and for increases in privacy for residential sites;

(10) Promote building and site planning practices that are consistent with the City natural topography, soils, and vegetation features;

(11) Provide an appropriate amount and quality of tree retention related to future land uses;

(12) Provide for increased areas of permeable surfaces that allow for infiltration of surface water into ground water resources, reduction in the quantity of storm water discharge, and improvement in the quality of stormwater discharge; and

(13) Provide for regulations that are clear, understandable, user friendly, easy to administer, and cost effective to enforce. (Ord. 02-21 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 05-20 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 04-08 § 2)

18.45.030 Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the words and phrases below shall be defined as set forth herein. If not defined in this chapter, the definitions provided in Chapter 18.20 CMC shall be applicable. In the event of a conflict between the definitions set forth in this chapter and the definitions set forth in Chapter 18.20 CMC, the definitions in this chapter shall govern. Words used in the singular include the plural, and words used in the plural include the singular. Words used in the masculine gender include the feminine gender and vice versa.

“At-risk tree” means any significant tree determined by a qualified arborist through a tree risk assessment as a likely source of imminent danger to life or property, or determined to have a structural defect, combination of defects, or disease, resulting in the loss of a major structural component of that tree in a manner that is likely to:

(1) Damage a residential or accessory structure, place of employment or public assembly, or approved parking for a residential structure or accessory structure or place of employment or public assembly;

(2) Damage an approved road or utility facility; or

(3) Prevent emergency access by first responders.

“Best management practices (BMPs)” means adherence to tree health care standards detailed in the current edition of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A300 and the current edition of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) BMPs including the special companion publication to the ANSI A300, Best Management Practices for Utility Pruning of Trees.

“Brushing” means an allowed practice of removing ground cover, shrubs and vegetation not defined as a tree to create better visibility on a site for purposes of public safety, surveying or marketing.

“Caliper” means the diameter of a tree trunk, applied only to new or replacement nursery-grown trees, which shall be measured six inches above the ground for trees with a caliper up to and including four inches. For trees with a caliper greater than four inches, measured six inches above the ground, the caliper shall be measured at 12 inches above the ground.

“Canopy” means the part of the tree crown composed of leaves and small twigs or the collective branches and foliage of a group of trees’ crowns.

“City” means the City of Covington, King County, Washington.

“Clearing” or “land clearing” for purposes of this chapter means the direct and indirect removal of trees, including topping and limbing, from any public or private undeveloped, partially developed, or developed lot, public lands, public right-of-way, or utility easement. This shall also include any destructive or inappropriate activity applied to a tree that will result in its death or effectively destroy the functionality. “Clearing” shall not include landscape maintenance, brushing, or pruning consistent with accepted horticultural practices which does not impair the health, survival, or function of trees.

“Critical root zone (CRZ)” means the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) definition of CRZ, which is an area equal to a one-foot radius from the base of the tree trunk for each one inch of the tree diameter at four and one-half feet above grade (referred to as diameter at breast height). Example: A 24-inch-diameter tree at four and one-half feet above grade would have a critical root zone radius (CRZ) of 24 feet. In this example, the total protection zone, including trunk, would be 50 feet in diameter.

“Crown” means that portion of the tree stem that is occupied by branches with live foliage.

“Development” is the division of a parcel of land into two or more parcels; the construction, reconstruction, conversion, structural alteration, relocation, or enlargements of any structure; any mining, excavation, landfill, stockpiling, clearing or land disturbance; and any use or extension of use of the land.

“Diameter breast height (DBH)” is a tree’s diameter in inches at four and one-half feet above the ground at the lowest point surrounding the trunk, and is used to measure existing trees on a site. Where a tree splits into several trunks below DBH, the DBH for the tree is the square root of the sum of the DBH for each individual trunk squared (example with three trunks: DBH = square root of [(stem 1)2 + (stem 2)2 + (stem 3)2]).

“Dripline” of a tree is the outermost circumference of the tree canopy, from which water drips onto the ground. The “dripline area” is taken to include the soil and roots that lie within that circumference.

“Excessive canopy raising” means the excessive removal of lower canopy limbs (especially on conifers), by reducing the live crown ratio (the ratio of live crown to total tree height) lower than 60 percent of the original crown. Excessive canopy raising can pose a high risk. A tree’s hinge point changes under wind load forces. Articulation occurs significantly higher on the upper stem not accustomed to these load forces, which significantly increases chances of upper stem failure.

“Ground cover” means any living plant material that is normally terrestrial and grows low to the ground, as well as other small trees less than four inches in DBH and not defined as a tree. Ground covers are intended to stabilize soils and protect erosion.

“Heritage tree(s)” means a significant tree that is equal to or greater than 32 inches DBH.

“Imminent danger” means a condition which could cause serious or life-threatening injury or death at any time.

“Invasive tree” is a species that was introduced by humans to locations outside of the tree’s native range that spread and persist over large areas. Invasive species negatively impact natural ecosystems by displacing native species, reducing biological diversity, and interfering with natural succession. Tree species known to be invasive in the Pacific Northwest are listed below. The City may determine that additional tree species should be classified as invasive if the species clearly exhibits the detrimental characteristics of invasive species.

Common Name

Species Name

Norway maple

Acer platanoides

Sycamore maple

Acer pseudoplatanus

Horse chestnut

Aesculus hippocastanum

Tree-of-heaven

Ailanthus altissima

European white birch

Betula pendula

English/European hawthorn

Crataegus monogyna

English holly

Ilex aquifolium

Princess tree

Paulownia tomentosa

White poplar

Populus alba

Sweet cherry

Prunus avium

Cherry laurel

Prunus laurocerasus

Portugal laurel

Prunus lusitanica

Black locust

Robinia pseudoacacia

European mountain ash

Sorbus aucuparia

Siberian elm

Ulmus pumila

“ISA” means International Society of Arboriculture.

“ISA TRAQ,” tree risk assessment qualified, is a designation administered by the International Society of Arboriculture.

“Landmark tree” means a significant tree that is equal to or greater than 22 inches DBH and less than 32 inches DBH.

“Landscape architect” means an individual currently licensed by the State of Washington as a landscape architect.

“Land use application” means an application, supplied by the Department, which must be completed and accompany any submittal packet for the desired development permit.

“Limits of disturbance” means the boundary between the area of minimum protection around a tree and the allowable site disturbance as determined by a qualified arborist.

“Multi-stemmed tree” means a tree that has one trunk at ground level but that splits into two or more trunks above ground level. Trees whose trunks diverge below ground level are considered separate trees.

“Normal and routine maintenance” means the standard practice and care of trees and vegetation normally required to maintain life, including watering, feeding or fertilizing, spraying, pruning and trimming according to best management practices, and removing of dead or unhealthy branches.

“Nuisance tree” is a species that is known to be weak-wooded and unstable, or one that exhibits other traits that render it prone to creating nuisance conditions for persons and property located in close proximity to such trees. Tree species categorized as nuisance trees in the City are listed below. The City may determine that additional tree species should be classified as nuisance trees if the species clearly exhibits the detrimental characteristics of nuisance species.

Common Name

Species Name

Red alder

Alnus rubra

Black cottonwood

Populus trichocarpa

“Protected tree” means a tree and associated understory vegetation that are identified for retention and protection on an approved tree protection and replacement plan and/or permanently protected by easement, tract, or covenant restriction.

“Pruning” means cutting back of limbs larger than one and one-half inches in diameter.

“Qualified arborist” is an individual who is a certified professional with academic and field experience that makes them a recognized expert in urban forestry and tree protection during development. A qualified arborist shall be a member of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) and/or the Association of Consulting Arborists and shall have specific experience with urban tree management in the State of Washington. Additionally, the qualified arborist shall be a certified arborist or board-certified master arborist, as certified by the ISA, and be ISA tree risk assessment qualified and have the necessary training and experience to use and apply the appraisal methodology prescribed in the current edition of the ISA Plant Appraisal Guide.

“Remove” or “removal” is the act of removing a tree by digging up, cutting down, or any act which causes the tree to die within a period of three years, including, but not limited to: damage inflicted on the root system by machinery, storage of materials, or soil compacting, or changing the ground level in the area of the tree root system; damage inflicted on the tree permitting infections or infestation; excessive pruning; topping; paving with concrete, asphalt, or other impervious material within the dripline; or any other action which is deemed harmful to the tree.

“Risk” in the context of trees is the likelihood of a tree failure occurring combined with the severity of the associated consequences of such failure to a target.

“Significant tree,” for purposes of this chapter, means a tree that is in a healthy condition, not a nuisance tree, and is a noninvasive species, which is:

(1) Any deciduous tree that is 12 inches or more in diameter at DBH;

(2) Any coniferous tree that is six inches or more in diameter at DBH;

(3) A required replacement tree of any size;

(4) Any tree that is six inches or more at DBH that is located within critical areas or the shoreline jurisdiction unless the tree is determined to be an at-risk tree;

(5) Any landmark trees; or

(6) Any heritage trees.

“Target” or “risk target” means people, property, or activities that could be injured, damaged, or disrupted by a tree.

“Tree” means any woody plant characterized by one main stem or trunk and many branches, or multi-stemmed trunks, which have a diameter individually or cumulatively of four inches DBH or larger.

“Tree appraisal” is a method of calculating the value of a tree, which shall be based on the “trunk formula method” as set forth in “The Guide for Plant Appraisal” authored by the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers.

“Tree enhancement plan” means a plan prepared by a qualified arborist and required of all commercial or industrial properties when any tree removal or tree clearing takes place. The tree enhancement plan shall combine tree retention and preservation of existing trees pursuant to CMC 18.45.080(1) with the tree replacement and replanting requirements of CMC 18.45.080(2). The tree enhancement plan shall incorporate trees in as many areas as feasible such as tree tracts, boundary trees, perimeter landscaping, parking lot landscaping, street and driveway trees, facade landscaping, or other viable stands of trees, considering the type of commercial or industrial development.

“Tree harvesting” means tree logging, felling, cutting, or taking of trees, standing or down, on privately or publicly owned land for sale or for commercial, industrial, or other use, governed under RCW 76.09.470.

“Tree inventory” means a detailed list of all trees of four inches DBH or larger, located on a site for which a tree permit is required, and which is prepared by a qualified arborist. A tree inventory shall be included on a site plan drawn to scale, and provide the number, size, approximate height, specific location, and tree species of all trees of four inches DBH or larger, with a summary of all significant trees in sufficient detail for the City to review.

“Tree owner” means the owner of the real property where 51 percent or more of the diameter of the trunk of the tree at ground level is located.

“Tree risk assessment” means the systematic process conducted by a qualified arborist or tree risk assessor to identify, analyze, and evaluate tree risk. Tree risk assessment shall be conducted in accordance with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A300 and the current edition of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) BMPs: Tree Assessment.

“Tree risk management” means the application of policies, procedures and practices used to identify, evaluate, mitigate, monitor, and communicate tree risk.

“Tree topping” is an extreme form of crown reduction that removes whole tops of trees or large branches and/or trunks from the tops of trees, leaving stubs or lateral branches that are too small to assume the role of a terminal leader, which is the vertical stem at the top of the trunk. Tree topping severely cuts back large trees to a predetermined size in a manner that:

(1) Leaves large exposed wounds that can become infested;

(2) Ruins tree structure;

(3) Removes too much foliage, disrupting the tree energy storage;

(4) Stimulates vigorous new growth, which is prone to breakage;

(5) Increases tree maintenance costs; or

(6) Destroys a tree’s appearance and value.

“Tree tract” is a separate portion of land, specifically set aside for the preservation, retention or protection of existing trees or the planting of new trees to maintain a beneficial tree canopy in a subdivision or on a development site and that meets minimum tree preservation requirements of this code. The tree tract shall be a separate designated lot(s) or tract(s) shown on the subdivision plat map, site development plan, or binding site plan and shall be recorded on the property title with the King County Recorder’s Office with appropriate description of purposes and restrictions. Restrictions applied to the tree tract will reserve the tract for the protection and preservation of trees in perpetuity. Tree tracts can be used for other open space uses when such use is compatible with trees and will not impact tree health. The tract shall be dedicated to, and owned and maintained by, the home owner(s), property owners association, or comparable entity.

“Understory vegetation” means small trees, shrubs, and ground cover plants growing within the dripline or critical root zone (CRZ) of a significant tree.

“Viable (tree)” means a significant tree that a qualified arborist has determined to be in good health with a low risk of failure, is relatively windfirm if isolated or exposed, is a species that is suitable for its location, and is therefore worthy of long-term retention. (Ord. 02-21 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 05-20 § 2 (Exh. A); amended at request of department 2/08; Ord. 04-08 § 2)

18.45.040 Applicability of regulations.

(1) The provisions of this chapter shall be applicable to all uses or future uses located within residential, commercial, and industrial zones, and property located outside the public right-of-way, including but not limited to parcels, tracts, and easements owned by public agencies such as parks and stormwater ponds. This chapter is not applicable to the removal of trees that do not meet the definition of a significant tree unless otherwise specified herein.

(2) When any other chapter of the Covington Municipal Code conflicts with this chapter or when the provisions of this chapter are in conflict, the provision that provides more protection to the environment, critical area or shoreline judication shall apply, unless the provision conflicts with Federal or State laws or regulations. Provided, in the event of a conflict between the definitions set forth in this chapter and the definitions set forth in Chapter 18.20 CMC, the definitions in this chapter shall prevail.

(3) If there is any conflict between this chapter and Chapter 16.05 or 18.65 CMC requirements the most restrictive applies. Should a conflict occur between the provisions of this chapter or between this chapter and the laws, regulations, codes, or rules promulgated by any other authority having jurisdiction within the City, the requirement which most supports the provisions of Chapter 18.65 or 16.05 CMC shall be applied, except when constrained by Federal or State law, or where specifically provided otherwise. (Ord. 02-21 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 05-20 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 04-08 § 2)

18.45.050 Exemptions from tree permits.

The activities below are exempt from both the minor tree removal permit and major tree clearing permit requirements of CMC 18.45.060, 18.45.070, and 18.45.080; provided, replanting pursuant to CMC 18.45.080(2) is still required, unless specifically detailed below. This section is not applicable to the removal of trees that do not meet the definition of a significant tree unless specified. The use of the exemptions listed below for the removal of replanted trees and landscaping as required pursuant to Chapter 18.40 CMC and Chapter 18.31 CMC is prohibited, unless the property is being redeveloped. No permit shall be required for tree removal pursuant to the exemptions listed within this section, unless such tree removal disturbs any critical area or critical area buffer, or within the identified shoreline jurisdiction, or unless such actions cause a major adverse impact to runoff and diversion of stormwater or streams, erosion, risk of landslide, infiltration of pollution into ground water, or other major adverse impacts to safety and security of the property or adjacent properties, as determined by the Director.

(1) Emergency Removal. Removal of trees necessary to protect public safety or public or private property from imminent danger in response to emergencies declared by the City, County, State or Federal governments shall be allowed and in such cases the written approval requirement herein shall be waived and no tree replacement shall be required.

(2) Emergency Removal of an At-Risk Tree or Trees. Removal of an at-risk tree following a tree risk assessment and recommendation by a qualified arborist that the tree is a safety risk and should be removed. For a tree to be considered an at-risk tree it must be defective either in some part or as a whole, with risk for failure and a target that is threatened. Trees are declared at risk if a tree risk assessment has been completed and mitigation is required to prevent a failure from causing damage affecting the target. The City may, at its sole discretion and in consideration of ISA tree risk assessment guidance, waive the qualified arborist requirement if City staff conducts an on-site inspection and determines that a tree clearly and obviously constitutes a risk. City staff should consider the following conditions when conducting a tree risk assessment:

(a) Whether the tree is dead, diseased, decayed, dying, burned, or otherwise damaged;

(b) Whether the tree has multiple weak branch attachments, broken and/or hanging limbs;

(c) Whether the foliage is sparse and/or discolored;

(d) Whether there is evidence of root rot/exposed, undermined or pruned roots or a restricted root area;

(e) If leaning, what the degree of such lean is and whether roots are broken or the soil heaving or cracking;

(f) Whether the tree top is broken on conifers; and

(g) Whether there are targets such as buildings, parking, or traffic or pedestrian facilities below the tree and whether those target(s) can be moved.

Upon such inspection, staff may determine that further review by a qualified arborist is required before making a determination as to whether a tree constitutes a risk.

(3) Normal and Routine Maintenance of Existing Trees. Any normal and routine maintenance of existing trees, but not to include utility easements; provided, that said maintenance does not involve removal of healthy trees and is not detrimental to the health of any trees. Trenching or digging to a depth of greater than one foot within the critical root zone and tree topping is not allowed.

(4) Commercial and Wholesale Nurseries and Tree Farms. Removal of trees which are being grown within commercial and wholesale nurseries or tree farms to be sold as landscape or Christmas trees. No tree replacement shall be required.

(5) Removal of an invasive tree if located outside of a designated critical area and associated buffer, or outside shoreline jurisdiction. No tree replacement shall be required.

(6) Removal of a nuisance tree if located outside of a designated critical area and associated buffer, or outside shoreline jurisdiction. No tree replacement shall be required.

(7) Removal of Trees on City-Owned Property for Installation of Utilities and Public Facilities and/or Maintenance of Property. Removal of trees on any City-owned property, right-of-way, or tract for installation of any public infrastructure, including streets, utilities or public facilities, or for maintenance and operation of any existing facilities.

(8) Removal of trees where the trunks are located within 10 feet of an existing building that will remain on a site.

(9) The removal of three trees on lots less than or equal to 7,200 square feet and one additional tree for every 7,200 square feet of lot area up to a maximum of six significant trees per lot within a 36-month period.

(10) Removal of significant trees in emergency situations involving immediate danger to life or property or substantial fire hazards as determined by the City in its sole discretion. This includes trees damaged by fire, natural causes, or accidental damage caused by human interference. No tree replacement shall be required. (Ord. 02-21 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 05-20 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 04-08 § 2)

18.45.060 Permits and permit requirements.

Unless exempted under CMC 18.45.050, any person(s) engaged in removal of trees or tree clearing in the City shall first obtain either a minor tree removal permit or major tree clearing permit as outlined below and shall meet the prescribed tree preservation or tree enhancement requirements in this chapter. If any future development or construction is anticipated, such permits shall be reviewed and issued in conjunction with any required land use permit, engineering design permit, site development permit, binding site plan, subdivision, or building permit. A separate permit shall be required for each individual site on which the tree removal or land clearing is proposed. If no development or construction activity is currently anticipated, individual tree removal or tree clearing permits may be applied for, reviewed, and issued according to this section as separate, freestanding permits. All critical area regulations set forth in Chapter 18.65 CMC and all shoreline regulations set forth in Chapter 16.05 CMC are applicable. Additionally, within the shoreline jurisdiction, a shoreline exemption permit may be required in conjunction with the tree removal permit in some cases.

(1) Minor Tree Removal Permits.

(a) Minor tree removal permits are those permits involving removal of significant trees on any lots less than one acre in size, or on property or easements granted to public utilities, unless the activity falls within an exemption listed in CMC 18.45.050, in which case no permit is required;

(b) The minor tree removal permit required by this subsection shall be in addition to any other permit(s) which will or have been issued by the City or any other governmental agency with jurisdiction over all or part of the proposed activity or land which is part of the activity;

(c) A minor tree removal permit, with prescribed fee, shall require an application and site plan with two copies on a form to be provided by the Director, in accordance with permit submission requirements outlined in subsection (3) of this section;

(d) The Director shall review the minor tree removal permit application and accompanying site plan and take action to approve, approve with conditions, or deny the permit. The City may ask for more detailed submittal information to meet the requirements of this code;

(e) A minor tree removal permit shall be a Type I permit governed by Chapter 14.30 CMC;

(f) A minor tree removal permit may be applied for as a freestanding permit by itself or in conjunction with any other associated land use application, engineering design permit, site development permit, binding site plan, subdivision, or building permit application.

(2) Major Tree Clearing Permits.

(a) Major tree clearing permits are those permits involving any removal of significant trees on sites one acre in size or greater, unless the activity falls within an exemption listed in CMC 18.45.050, in which case no permit is required;

(b) The major tree clearing permit required by this subsection shall be in addition to any other permit(s) which will or have been issued by the City or any other governmental agency with jurisdiction over all or part of the proposed activity or land which is part of the activity;

(c) A major tree clearing permit, with prescribed fee, shall require an application and site plan with two copies on a form provided by the Director, in accordance with permit submission requirements outlined in subsection (3) of this section;

(d) The Director shall review the major tree clearing permit application and accompanying site plans and take action to approve, approve with conditions, or deny the permit. The City may ask for more detailed submittal information to meet the requirements of this code;

(e) A major tree clearing permit shall be a Type II permit governed by Chapter 14.30 CMC;

(f) A major tree clearing permit may be applied for as a freestanding permit by itself or in conjunction with any other associated land use application, engineering design permit, site development permit, binding site plan, subdivision, or building permit application.

(3) Permit and Application Submission Requirements.

(a) Minor Tree Removal Permit Submission Requirements. Minor tree removal permits shall be submitted on application forms provided by the Director and shall contain the following information outlined below:

(i) Completed application form, with one copy and appropriate fee;

(ii) The legal description or tax parcel number, and street address for the site;

(iii) If critical areas and their buffers, as defined in Chapter 18.65 CMC, or shorelines, as defined in Chapter 16.05 CMC, exist on the property, then their exact location shall be identified on a topography map showing contours at not greater than five-foot intervals, as determined by a land surveyor. Any proposed tree cutting, land clearing, landscaping, and replanting activity, within or near such critical areas or shoreline, shall be included on such map;

(iv) A scaled site plan that clearly depicts the limits of disturbance, existing trees and their critical root zones, the location of any critical area or shoreline within 200 feet of the property and the applicable buffers and setbacks, property lines, structures, north arrow, and date;

(v) A tree inventory completed by a qualified arborist, identifying the species type, size, approximate height, location, and number of both existing trees and those specific trees to be removed;

(vi) A statement explaining the scope of work and time schedule for tree removal;

(vii) Information showing the location of existing and proposed improvements, if any, including but not limited to structures, roads, utilities, driveways and trails;

(viii) The approximate location of all critical areas and critical area buffers, and shoreline jurisdiction areas; and

(ix) Any other information, such as erosion and sediment control plans, if applicable, that the Director deems necessary and reasonable for an effective evaluation of the application for a minor tree removal permit.

(b) Major Tree Clearing Permit Submission Requirements. Major tree clearing permits shall be submitted on application forms provided by the Director, with any land use application, engineering design permit, site development permit, binding site plan, subdivision, or building permit on the same site; or by itself as a freestanding permit for any major tree clearing, land clearing or grading permit when no land use or building permit is anticipated. Permit submissions shall contain the following information:

(i) Three copies of the completed application form and appropriate fee;

(ii) The legal description or tax parcel number, and street address for the site;

(iii) If critical areas and their buffers, as defined in Chapter 18.65 CMC, or shorelines and their buffers and setbacks, as defined in Chapter 16.05 CMC, exist on the property, then their exact location shall be identified on a topography map showing contours at not greater than five-foot intervals, as determined by a land surveyor. Included shall be any proposed tree cutting, land clearing, landscaping, and replanting activity, within or near such critical areas or shoreline;

(iv) A scaled site plan that clearly depicts the limits of disturbance, existing trees and their critical root zones, the location of any critical area or shoreline within 200 feet of the property and the applicable buffers and setbacks, property lines, north arrow and date, showing the location of existing and proposed improvements;

(v) A tree inventory completed by a qualified arborist with the date of inventory, showing the location, number, size, height, species, and condition of existing trees, and designating any trees to be removed, proposed scope of work, a north arrow, and scale;

(vi) The location, number, height, caliper, and species of any replanted trees on site that were planted pursuant to any tree replanting or tree enhancement plan requirements;

(vii) Erosion and sediment control plans and mitigation;

(viii) A tree protection plan with fencing details during construction;

(ix) A proposed time schedule for tree clearing, replanting, land restoration, and implementation of erosion control measures;

(x) A discussion and calculations demonstrating that the conditions and standards set forth in CMC 18.45.070 and 18.45.080 are satisfied;

(xi) A performance guarantee consistent with Chapter 14.105 CMC; and

(xii) Any other information which the Director deems necessary for an effective evaluation of the application for a major tree clearing permit.

(4) Permit Review – Administrative Provisions and Authority.

(a) Decision Types. Minor tree removal permits are a Type I decision, and major tree clearing permits are a Type II decision as defined in Chapter 14.30 CMC.

(b) Extent of Authority Within Permit Review Process. The Director shall have the authority to approve, modify, approve with conditions, or deny such permits in accordance with the intended purposes of this chapter as well as the standards and requirements set forth in this section and CMC 18.45.070 and 18.45.080. If the Director determines that the application complies with all criteria and standards set forth in this chapter, then a minor tree removal or major tree clearing permit shall be issued.

(c) Length of Permit Validity. Permits granted hereunder as a freestanding permit and not associated with another land use or building permit shall be valid for 180 days. One 180-day extension is allowed by the Director for reasonable, extenuating circumstances, and must be requested in writing prior to the expiration date. Otherwise a new permit shall be required. Permits granted hereunder which are associated with and accompany another land use, site development, or building permit shall be valid for the length of time associated with the accompanying land use permit, engineering design permit, site development permit, binding site plan, subdivision, or building permit.

(d) Suspension or Revocation Allowed. Approved permits may be suspended or revoked by the Director on the basis of inaccurate or misleading information within the application therefor or upon the violation of any provision of this chapter.

(5) Tree Protection and Tree Fencing Standards. The following tree protection, fencing, and tree care standards shall be implemented and followed prior to, during, and subsequent to any subdivision, development, redevelopment, construction, tree clearing, or tree replacement as part of the conditions of any permit, unless exempt from the provisions of this chapter:

(a) No tree clearing shall be allowed on a site until all required permits have been obtained;

(b) A tree protection area, corresponding to the critical root zone of a significant tree, shall be identified by a qualified arborist during the construction stage, and temporary fencing in accordance with subsection (5)(d) of this section shall be installed around the tree protection area prior to any tree clearing and/or grading. Fencing shall remain throughout construction. No disturbance to the tree protection area is authorized and, if any sign of disturbance is observed within the tree protection area by the City, a stop work order may be issued until corrections are made and any damage is restored;

(c) No impervious surfaces, fill, excavation, or storage of construction materials shall be permitted within tree protection zones or within the surrounding construction fencing required herein;

(d) Construction fencing shall be placed at a minimum of five feet from the boundary of the significant tree’s critical root zone or tree tract. The location and material of the fence must be shown on the approved tree enhancement plan, tree clearing permit or clearing and grading plan. The fence material must be in place before any clearing, grading, tree cutting, or construction begins on the site and must remain in place until construction and final inspection are complete. The fence must be maintained in satisfactory condition throughout construction and repaired immediately if damaged, and failure to maintain said fence may result in a stop work order being issued until such time as the tree protection fence is repaired. The fence must meet one of the following standards:

(i) Five-foot high, orange, plastic, secured to the ground with seven-foot metal posts or T-posts; or

(ii) Five-foot high, steel or chain link, attached to concrete blocks.

(e) A tree designated for preservation shall not have the soil grade altered within its critical root zone or within six feet of its trunk, whichever is greater. The grade may be lowered if a qualified arborist with the concurrence of the Director determines the impact of lowering the grade within the area described in this subsection will not adversely affect the health of the tree;

(f) Trees shall not be designated for preservation if they are dead, diseased, or an at-risk tree;

(g) Grade level changes described in subsection (5)(e) of this section shall be done according to a plan prepared by a qualified arborist that includes measures to reduce adverse impacts on trees;

(h) No work shall be allowed within the critical root zone unless approved by the Director with appropriate mitigation measures;

(i) Any trees which are staked at the time of planting shall have stakes removed when no longer needed for stability, but in no case longer than three years after planting, unless new staking measures are approved by the Director; and

(j) Alternative tree protection methods may be used if determined by the Director to provide equal or greater tree protection.

(6) Permit Fees. Fees for minor tree removal permits and major tree clearing permits shall be as specified in a fee resolution or by another method approved by the Covington City Council.

(7) Additional Permit Restrictions or Requirements.

(a) Bald Eagle and Other Federal and State Requirements. All permittees and their agents must comply with all applicable Federal and State laws, rules and regulations, including, without limitation, the Endangered Species Act, the Bald Eagle Protection Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, as now existing or hereinafter adopted or amended.

(b) Reporting Requirements for Removal of At-Risk Tree(s). Emergency removal of at-risk tree(s), without a permit, and as allowed herein, shall be reported to the City on a form provided by the Director within 21 days of the emergency removal.

(c) Permits and Written Reports for Public Utilities Pruning or Removal of Trees. Pruning for aboveground utility facilities and lines are allowed, but such utilities and/or their contractors shall submit a written statement to the City, in lieu of a permit, prior to tree pruning, indicating that no trees will be removed during pruning, and that any tree pruning will not cause significant structural defect to the trees. If trees are to be removed, the minor tree removal permit procedures shall apply, unless exempt, but replanting with appropriate trees for ROW or utility easement locations shall be required of the public utility, unless the Director determines in writing such replanting is inappropriate.

(d) Critical Areas and Shoreline Jurisdiction Exceptions and Limitations. Any removal or clearing of trees, ground cover, or other vegetation from critical areas or from the shoreline jurisdiction shall be governed by Chapters 16.05 and 18.65 CMC, as now existing or hereinafter adopted or amended and must comply with all limitations and restrictions for alterations of critical areas and critical area buffers in Chapter 18.65 CMC and for alterations of shoreline jurisdiction areas in Chapter 16.05 CMC.

(e) Permits Required for Removal of Trees in Tree Tracts, Tree Conservation Easements or as Part of Tree Enhancement Plans. Any trees required as part of any tree tract, tree conservation easement or tree enhancement plan under provisions of this chapter shall remain permanently unless a minor tree removal permit or major tree clearing permit under this section is obtained and replacement trees are planted in accordance with standards of this chapter. (Ord. 02-21 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 05-20 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 06-17 § 5 (Exh. C); Ord. 04-08 § 2)

18.45.070 Permit standards and conditions for all minor tree removal and major tree clearing.

Unless otherwise approved by the Director pursuant to any applicable exemption(s), all minor tree removal and major tree clearing permits within the City shall conform to the following standards and conditions and shall be governed by such criteria for their issuance, denial, or revocation:

(1) The tree clearing activity shall not significantly create or contribute to blowdowns, landslides, accelerated soil creep, settlement, subsidence or other hazards associated with strong ground motion and soil liquefaction;

(2) No topping of trees, as defined herein, shall be allowed as part of any regulated activity;

(3) The tree clearing activity shall not create or contribute to flooding, erosion or increased turbidity, siltation or other forms of pollution in any waters of the State;

(4) Tree clearing activity shall be conducted so as to expose the smallest practical area of soil to erosion for the least possible time, consistent with the anticipated construction schedule;

(5) Timber harvesting and conversion of forested lands to nonforestry use within the City of Covington shall not be permitted until such time as a valid forest practices application, permit and notification, under the State Forest Practices Act and Rules, have been submitted, evaluated and issued by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. If, prior to tree harvesting or conversion of forested lands to nonforestry use, a lot owner has not received a permit for future conversion of the site to some nonforestry use or other permitted land use activity, the City shall prohibit application for any land use, development or engineering permit(s) for that site for a period of 10 years. This condition applies to the site, not site owner, and runs with the land. All landowners of timbered or forested lands falling within applicable regulations of RCW 76.09.470 shall notify the City of Covington and the State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and show proof of full compliance with RCW 76.09.470. Upon being contacted by a landowner under RCW 76.09.470, the City of Covington shall notify the State DNR and ensure compliance with such regulations; and

(6) To assure protection of the critical root zone, visual marking of the critical root zone with fencing shall be installed and remain in place throughout any construction. Those trees or ground cover designated for preservation shall not be damaged by scarring, grade changes, dumping or storage of materials, back filling or compaction of soil around trees, or by any other activity that can damage roots or trunks. Land clearing equipment and machinery shall at all times remain outside the critical root zone of any tree designated for retention, except where such area encompasses any road or constructed pathway, during which approved mitigation will be required for encroachment into such critical root zone. (Ord. 02-21 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 05-20 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 04-08 § 2)

18.45.080 Tree retention, preservation, and tree replacement requirements.

(1) Tree Retention and Preservation for All Zones. The following tree retention and preservation percentages apply to all uses or future uses located within residential, commercial, and industrial zoned properties unless exempt pursuant to CMC 18.45.050:

(a) R-1 Zoned Lots. A minimum of 30 percent of the significant trees shall be retained within areas unconstrained by critical areas and outside shoreline jurisdiction.

(b) R-4 and R-6 Zoned Lots. A minimum of 25 percent of the significant trees shall be retained within areas unconstrained by critical areas and outside shoreline jurisdiction.

(c) R-8 and R-18 Zoned Lots. A minimum of 20 percent of the significant trees shall be retained within areas unconstrained by critical areas and outside shoreline jurisdiction.

(d) CC, GC, MC, MHO, NC, TC, and I Zoned Lots. A minimum of five percent of the significant trees shall be retained within areas unconstrained by critical areas and outside shoreline jurisdiction.

(e) Lakepointe Urban Village Area (RCMU, MR, R-12 and R-6) – Per Section 18.4 and Exhibit N of the Lakepointe Urban Village Development Agreement (Ord 02-2017, as amended), on-site tree retention within the Lakepointe Urban Village is governed by this chapter, except tree retention requirements under this chapter shall be aggregated and assessed to the Lakepointe Urban Village site as a whole and provided that a minimum of 20 percent of the existing canopy area outside of critical areas and their buffers shall be retained, and at least 15 percent of the significant trees located within the existing tree canopy area of the commercially zoned land shall be retained at a 2:1 ratio.

(2) Tree Replacement Required. Any significant tree lawfully removed pursuant to the provisions of CMC 18.45.050, Exemptions from tree permits, or CMC 18.45.060, Permits and permit requirements, shall be subject to the following replacement requirements unless specified within this chapter:

(a) Each significant tree shall be replaced by one replacement tree;

(b) Each landmark tree shall be replaced by two replacement trees;

(c) Each heritage tree shall be replaced by three replacement trees;

(d) Replacement coniferous trees shall be at least four feet in height;

(e) Replacement deciduous trees shall have a caliper of at least two inches;

(f) In order to restore and enhance a site as nearly as practicable to its preremoval character and function, replacement trees shall be primarily conifer and native species to Washington;

(g) Nonnative replacement trees shall be recommended by a qualified arborist as having characteristics suitable to the proposed location of planting, or shall be otherwise approved by the City;

(h) The condition of replacement trees shall meet or exceed current American Nursery and Landscape Association or equivalent organization standards for nursery stock;

(i) Financial guarantees for replacement trees may be required consistent with the provisions of Chapter 14.105 CMC;

(j) Installation of required replacement trees shall be in accordance with the International Society of Arboriculture best management practices for arboriculture including, but not limited to, soil assessment, sampling, amendments, and conservation, which ensure the tree’s long-term health and survival;

(k) The Director may consider smaller-sized replacement trees if the applicant can demonstrate that smaller trees are more suited to the species, the site conditions, and the purposes of this section, and that such trees will be planted in sufficient quantities to meet the intent of this section;

(l) Replacement trees that are less susceptible to laminated root rot shall be considered for tree replacement. Douglas fir trees shall not be allowed as a replacement species, but may be planted on tree farms. Leyland Cyprus, Arborvitae, and Vine Maple tree species shall not be counted towards required tree replacement. The following less susceptible trees may be used as replacement trees:

(i) Coast redwood,

(ii) Incense cedar,

(iii) Ponderosa pine,

(iv) Jeffrey pine,

(v) Lodgepole pine,

(vi) Knobcone pine,

(vii) Sugar pine,

(viii) Western white pine,

(ix) White bark pine,

(x) Limber pine,

(xi) Sitka spruce,

(xii) Western red cedar,

(xiii) Alaskan cedar, and

(xiv) All hardwoods;

(m) All replacement trees shall, upon planting, be designated as significant trees regardless of their size. Replacement trees shall not be removed after planting. Exemptions to allow for tree removal, as provided in CMC 18.45.050, do not apply to replacement trees;

(n) Tree replacement in conjunction with tree removal within critical areas shall be consistent with the replacement ratios required in this section;

(o) Tree replacement within the shoreline jurisdiction, as regulated by Chapter 16.05 CMC, has the potential for different replacement ratios. Additionally, a shoreline letter of exemption is likely to be required for tree removal and planting within the shoreline jurisdiction.

(3) Incentives. The following incentives are available for higher levels of landmark or heritage tree preservation and for tree replacement:

(a) Landmark Trees or Heritage Trees. The permanent preservation of a healthy landmark or heritage tree pursuant to this section shall receive a tree retention credit as follows:

(i) One hundred fifty percent tree credit for a landmark tree or 200 percent credit for a heritage tree pursuant to the following provisions:

(A) Preservation of a landmark or heritage tree must be part of a continuous canopy adjacent to an environmentally critical area and associated buffer;

(B) Preservation of a landmark or heritage tree must be part of a continuous canopy adjacent to a public park and/or other protected open space; or

(C) Preservation of a landmark or heritage tree must be part of any other on-site and/or off-site continuous canopy.

(ii) One hundred twenty-five percent credit for a landmark tree or 150 percent tree retention credit for a heritage tree pursuant to the following provisions:

(A) Preservation of a landmark or heritage tree must provide relief from identified environmental impacts;

(B) Preservation of a landmark or heritage tree must provide perimeter connectivity and/or off-site screening;

(C) Preservation of a landmark or heritage tree must be able to be incorporated into required landscaping; or

(D) An isolated cluster of landmark or heritage trees.

To qualify for this incentive, all landmark or heritage trees proposed for permanent preservation shall be outside of any environmentally critical area and associated buffer.

(b) Retention of Trees in Excess of Requirements and Located Outside Critical Areas and Associated Buffers. The permanent preservation of a healthy significant tree pursuant to this section shall receive a tree replacement credit as follows:

(i) Every additional significant tree retained over the required retention percentage required by subsection (1) of this section shall be rewarded a tree credit equal to one replacement tree.

(ii) Every additional landmark tree retained over the required retention percentage required by subsection (1) of this section shall be rewarded a tree credit equal to two replacement trees.

(iii) Every additional heritage tree retained over the required retention percentage required by subsection (1) of this section shall be rewarded a tree credit equal to three replacement trees.

(c) Retention of Healthy Trees Not Meeting Size Requirements in the Definition of a Significant Tree. The permanent preservation of a healthy tree pursuant to this section shall receive a tree replacement credit as follows:

(i) A tree replacement credit shall be awarded for the retention of a coniferous tree not meeting the definition of a significant tree, but is a minimum of four feet in height.

(ii) A tree replacement credit shall be awarded for the retention of a deciduous tree not meeting the definition of a significant tree, but has a minimum caliper of two inches.

(4) Location for Tree Replacement – On Site. The location of replacement trees shall be located on site unless an alternative replacement location is appropriate and warranted, approved by the City in the City’s sole discretion, and the alternate site is consistent with a report produced by a qualified arborist and peer reviewed by a qualified professional to ensure land capability. Unless approved for one or more of the alternatives set forth in subsection (5) of this section, replacement trees shall be planted on the site from which significant trees are removed and may be approved for the following areas on site:

(a) On-site replacement trees approved to be located within delineated environmentally critical areas and associated buffers shall receive a 150 percent credit toward the tree replacement requirement. The planting of replacement trees within a delineated critical area and associated buffer may be allowed if such replacement is consistent with Chapter 18.65 CMC.

(b) On-site replacement trees approved to be planted adjacent to a critical area buffers shall receive a 125 percent credit toward the tree replacement requirement.

(c) On-site replacement trees approved to be located within the perimeter of a stormwater facility shall receive a 100 percent credit toward the tree replacement requirement.

(d) On-site replacement trees approved to be located in places other than subsections (4)(a), (b), and (c) of this section shall receive a 100 percent credit toward the tree replacement requirement.

(5) Location for Tree Replacement – Alternatives Sites Subject to City Approval. The location of replacement trees shall be consistent with a report produced by a qualified arborist. Replacement costs, including materials plus labor, shall be at the applicant’s expense. When on-site replacement cannot be completely achieved, the following alternatives may be considered, subject to City approval:

(a) Off-Site Tree Replacement.

(i) The number of replacement trees shall be the same as described in subsection (2) of this section. Replacement costs (material plus labor) shall be at the applicant’s expense.

(ii) Allowable sites for receiving off-site replacement plantings may include public lands, open space areas, open space tracts, delineated environmentally critical areas and associated buffers. The planting of replacement trees within a delineated critical area and associated buffer may be allowed if such replacement is consistent with Chapter 18.65 CMC. A receiving site shall be within the Covington city limits, if the City determines off-site planting is appropriate and warranted. Trees to be replaced shall be subject to the financial guarantee provisions of Chapter 14.105 CMC.

(iii) Allowable sites for receiving off-site replacement plantings may include private properties and other properties owned by a homeowner association, including but not limited to open space areas, open space tracts, recreational tracts, delineated environmentally critical areas and associated buffers. An agreement between the receiving site and the sending site shall be executed and recorded against the title of both properties, and an easement shall be granted to the City allowing entry to the property to ensure compliance with the provisions of this chapter and survivability of the trees. Trees to be replaced shall be contained within a tree protection easement and subject to the financial guarantee provisions of Chapter 14.105 CMC.

(b) Fee in Lieu. It is the City’s intent to preserve and replace trees on site. A fee in lieu of tree replacement may be allowed, subject to approval by the Director. The Director may allow up to 30 percent of the required replacement trees to be converted to a tree unit credit basis through payment of a fee in lieu of tree replacement. All fees shall be paid to the City prior to final site plan or final plat approval, or the issuance of a tree removal permit, or any permit authorizing removal of trees to be replanted pursuant to this chapter, whichever applies. In no case shall a tree credit in lieu replacement be less than $1,000 per tree. Funds generated by fees in lieu of tree replacement shall be used to fund the City’s urban forestry program with eligible costs including staff costs, land acquisition for the purpose of planting trees, professional services, public works, and any other costs associated with the City’s urban forestry program including, but not limited to, tree planting, tree maintenance, tree irrigation, sidewalk repair limited to those sidewalks specially damaged by trees, tree inventory technology, or tree planning administration.

(c) Landscape Restoration. Where appropriate, other measures designed to mitigate the loss of trees by restoring all or parts of the forest landscape and its associated benefits may be considered. Measures, as determined by the Director, may include, but are not limited to:

(i) Creation of wildlife snags from trees that would otherwise be removed;

(ii) Replacement of certain ornamental trees with native shrubs and ground cover;

(iii) Replacement of at-risk or short-lived trees with healthy new trees that have a greater chance of long-term survival;

(iv) Daylighting and restoration of stream corridors with native vegetation consistent with Chapter 18.65 CMC; and

(v) Protection of nonsignificant trees to provide for the successional stages of forest development.

(6) Tree Replacement Guidelines and Requirements. The following order of preference shall be considered for tree replacement:

(a) Replacement trees should be planted to reestablish or enhance tree clusters where they previously existed;

(b) Where possible, replacement trees should be planted adjacent to environmentally critical areas and the shoreline jurisdiction. Replacement trees may be planted within a designated open space tract, environmentally critical area tract, or shoreline buffer where it is determined by a qualified arborist in conjunction with a qualified biologist that such planting enhances and complements existing vegetation and environmental functions;

(c) Replacement trees shall be planted in locations appropriate to the species’ growth habits and horticultural requirements;

(d) Replacement trees shall be located away from areas where damage is likely;

(e) Replacement trees shall be located to provide screening of the development from adjacent properties, where appropriate;

(f) Replacement trees shall be planted in areas that connect or are adjacent to a designated open space tract or environmentally critical area tract or other open space, where appropriate;

(g) Replacement trees shall be integrated into the required landscape plans, if any, for a development; and

(h) Replacement trees to be planted next to or under power lines shall be selected with consideration of the trees’ maturation and maintenance requirements.

(7) Tree Maintenance. All required retention trees, replacement trees, and relocated trees shown on an approved permit, whether located on site or off site, shall be maintained in healthy condition by the applicant throughout the life of the project, unless otherwise approved by the Director in a subsequent permit or approval. Healthy condition can be achieved by employing, as appropriate, the following preventative measures, consistent with best management practices for maintaining the health of the tree:

(a) Trees shall not be topped;

(b) Excessive canopy raising shall not be allowed unless necessary to protect life and property;

(c) Visible deadwood on trees to be protected or relocated shall be pruned;

(d) Fertilizer shall be applied to enhance the vigor of stressed trees;

(e) Use of soil amendments and soil aeration in tree protection and planting areas;

(f) Application of mulch over tree dripline areas; and

(g) Proper water availability during and immediately after construction. (Ord. 02-21 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 05-20 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 10-10 § 3 (Exh. C); Ord. 04-08 § 2)

18.45.090 Tree protection standards.

(1) Trees retained, preserved, or replaced within all applicable residential, commercial, or industrial zoned properties, whether part of a formal subdivision or any development or redevelopment permit, shall be preserved within tree tracts or a tree conservation easement, regardless of the size or number of lots. Property owners are responsible for the viability of protected trees, including normal care, maintenance, and pruning, so that such trees can achieve their 30-year maturity goals. Should a protected tree become an at-risk tree or become diseased to the point that it must be removed or die, the property owner is responsible for replacing the protected tree with a tree or trees that will achieve the original canopy coverage for which the protected tree was planted to achieve. Trees removed from either a tree tract or easement shall be replaced pursuant to the tree replacement requirements in CMC 18.45.080(2).

(2) There shall be no minimum tree tract size or percentage of land required to be devoted to tree preservation or tree enhancement. The tree tract shall be designed and sized appropriately to protect the critical root zone associated with all trees designated for retention, preservation, and replacement, at full mature age, pursuant to the provisions of CMC 18.45.080; however, the following measures are required:

(a) Location of Tree Tract or Tree Conservation Easement. Tree tracts or easements shall be located according to the priority location list in subsection (5) of this section.

(b) No portion of a tree tract shall be less than 20 feet in width.

(3) Designation. Any application and/or plan required for new development shall show all significant trees designated for protection. These areas may be shown by labeling them as “significant trees” or such other designation as approved by the Director. Protected vegetation, including protected trees, shall not be modified, harmed, or removed except as provided in this section.

(4) Preservation. An approval for new development shall require the significant trees to be retained are permanently preserved within a tract, easement, or other permanent protective mechanism. The location, purpose, and restrictions of these protected areas shall be shown on the face of the deed, plat, binding site plan, covenant, or similar document, and shall be recorded with the King County Recorder’s Office or its successor. The recorded document shall include the requirement that the protected areas shall not be removed, amended, or modified without the written approval of the City.

(5) Priority Location of Tree Tracts. Placement of tree tracts is encouraged in certain areas to enhance their viability and to complement natural and environmental features of the property. The priority locations below are encouraged for placement of all trees in designated tree tracts. When such tree tracts are located according to the following priority, a subdivision or development is eligible for up to a one percent reduction in the tree retention percentage requirement outlined in CMC 18.45.080.

(a) Priority Locations for Tree Tracts.

(i) Adjacent to identified critical areas and critical area buffers.

(ii) Adjacent to existing public or private parks.

(iii) Adjacent to existing trails or trail systems.

(iv) Adjacent to existing stands of significant trees on adjacent property boundaries.

(v) Adjacent to existing stormwater retention systems.

(vi) Adjacent to significant wildlife habitat areas.

(vii) Adjacent to contrasting land uses where establishing a tree buffer will enhance both properties and reduce potential impacts of dissimilar land uses.

(6) Maintenance of Tree Tracts. All tree tracts required under this code shall require a permanent maintenance agreement to be approved by the City on forms provided by the Director, which designates the private homeowners association, property owner association, or other private entity responsible for said maintenance of trees. All tree tracts shall provide a guarantee for reasonable accessibility for future tree maintenance.

(7) Pacific Northwest Native Trees Required. Any tree(s) to be planted as part of the requirements of this chapter to fulfill tree tract, tree conservation easement, tree preservation or tree enhancement plan standards for residential, commercial or industrial property, when sufficient trees do not exist on site, shall be Pacific Northwest native trees included on the City-published list; however, the Director may approve climate-appropriate, drought-tolerant alternatives if they demonstrate there is a reason not to use native trees. In addition, they shall be at least two-inch caliper and shall contain a mix of at least 60 percent coniferous trees.

(8) Three-Year Survivability. Any original or replanted trees required under a tree tract requirement, tree conservation easement or tree enhancement plan as part of the provisions of this chapter shall survive at a rate of 90 percent of the required trees for at least three years from either the date of issuance of the freestanding tree removal permit or tree clearing permit, the date of acceptance of final construction in a subdivision plat, the date of final occupancy for any development or redevelopment permit, or the date of final occupancy for any building permit, whichever is applicable. Required trees that do not meet the 90 percent survival rate for three years shall be replanted at the property owner’s expense. Such replanted trees shall then be required to again survive for three years or be replanted at the owner expense. A financial guarantee for all planting or replanting of required trees under this chapter may be required, as determined by the Director, on forms acceptable to the City as prescribed in Chapter 14.105 CMC. Tree planting or replanting shall occur between October 1st and May 1st of each year, unless written approval is granted by the Director and reasonable provisions are made for irrigation and survivability of replanted trees. Tree planting may be deferred to the next appropriate planting season upon written request and approval by the Director. (Ord. 02-21 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 05-20 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 04-08 § 2)

18.45.100 Tree maintenance standards and best pruning practices.

The Director shall prepare and distribute educational materials describing any required, recommended, or accepted tree maintenance and tree care standards for any tree tracts, preservation or enhancement trees, or replacement trees required under this chapter and any best pruning practices, policies, techniques, and procedures for any trees required under this chapter. (Ord. 02-21 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 05-20 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 04-08 § 2)

18.45.110 Tree preservation modification and departure options.

(1) The purpose of this section is to provide an opportunity for departure from the requirements of CMC 18.45.080 when the specific prescriptive standards of the code are difficult to meet, while encouraging creative or unique design of viable tree stands in the preservation of trees and tree tracts on all regulated sites. The Director shall have authority, consistent with the special conditions stated herein, to modify specific requirements and/or impose alternative standards and requirements in unique or special circumstances to assure the fulfillment of the stated purpose of this chapter and to allow for flexibility and creative design of viable tree stands in preservation of significant trees. Any modification or departure cannot reduce the requirements of Chapter 18.65 or 16.05 CMC.

(2) In order to grant a specific modification or departure from prescribed requirements for tree preservation or tree tracts, an applicant, through an alternative tree preservation and mitigation plan, must: (a) demonstrate reasonable efforts to save as many trees as possible, (b) submit a tree preservation and mitigation plan, prepared by a qualified arborist, that adequately mitigates for the loss of trees from proposed development, and (c) indicate how the alternative tree preservation and mitigation plan equally or better meets the intent and purpose of this chapter and its tree preservation goals. Alternative options for preservation and mitigation of trees shall include a combination of new tree planting and preservation of a reasonable number of existing significant trees on site, when feasible.

(3) A departure or modification of the prescriptive standards for tree preservation or tree tracts may be allowed when existing regulations, in the opinion and discretion of the Director, seriously restrict development of the site, or in instances where the replacement requirements contained within CMC 18.45.080(2) cause a demonstrated and legitimate hardship to the property owner, or if tree retention, preservation, and replacement requirements of CMC 18.45.080 cannot be achieved as demonstrated by a qualified arborist, or the regulations detract from the site’s ability to accomplish at least two of the following special site conditions:

(a) The ability to preserve natural or native plant areas;

(b) The ability to preserve unique wildlife habitat;

(c) The ability to preserve large numbers of significant, landmark, or heritage trees;

(d) Opportunities to support the value and functions of critical areas or critical area buffers;

(e) Instances where insufficient significant trees exist on a site that has a unique size, shape or topography;

(f) Instances where the only significant trees are isolated, scattered throughout a site, and/or not able to be concentrated in viable tree tracts;

(g) A site must comply with special vegetation or view easements or corridors; or

(h) Instances where a provision of required infrastructure and public safety access requires removal of significant trees. (Ord. 02-21 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 05-20 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 04-08 § 2)

18.45.120 Performance guarantees, liability, insurance and licensing.

(1) Performance Guarantees.

(a) Prior to the issuance of a major tree clearing permit pursuant to CMC 18.45.060, the applicant shall post with the City a form of performance guarantee/financial security, consistent with the provisions of Chapter 14.105 CMC, in the amount of 150 percent of the estimated cost of replacing and planting trees consistent with the tree preservation requirements, but in any event not less than $3,000. Said financial security shall be executed by the owner and/or applicant and a corporate surety authorized to do business in the State of Washington as a surety. All guarantees shall be in a form approved by the City Attorney and shall include penalty provisions consistent with this chapter for failure to comply with the conditions of the permit.

(b) The City shall withhold issuance of a major tree clearing permit until the required performance guarantee/financial security is approved by the City Attorney and filed with the City. The City may enforce said guarantees according to their terms and pursuant to any and all legal and equitable remedies.

(c) The performance guarantee shall be released pursuant to a prescribed timeline in the agreement to assure survival of any trees preserved or replanted.

(2) Liability. The owner of private property for which a major tree clearing permit application is submitted may be required to enter into a hold harmless/indemnification agreement and covenant not to sue approved by the City and recorded with King County prior to the issuance of the permit. Said agreements shall be negotiated and in a form approved by the City Attorney, and shall run with the land and be binding on the applicant and his/her successors, heirs and assigns for such period of time as shall be determined appropriate by the City. Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to impose any liability upon the City or upon any of its officers or employees, or to relieve the owner or occupant of any private property from the duty to keep in safe and healthy condition the trees upon their property.

(3) Insurance. Prior to issuing a permit or approving an application, the City may require the applicant to provide a certificate of general liability insurance, with limits of liability in an amount acceptable to the City Attorney, from an insurance company authorized to do business in Washington State, insuring against injury to persons and damage to property, and may require that the City be named as an additional insured.

(4) Licensing. Any person, individual, or corporation, unless an employee or direct agent operating under authority of the City, involved in any tree removal, tree clearing, or tree replanting as part of tree preservation or enhancement related to this chapter, shall first have obtained a valid and current business license from the City of Covington. (Ord. 02-21 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 05-20 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 04-08 § 2)

18.45.130 Enforcement, violations and penalties.

(1) Enforcement, Interpretation, and Administration. It shall be the duty of the Director or Director’s designee to enforce and interpret the provisions of this chapter. The Director shall have authority to interpret the intent, purpose, provisions, conditions, and standards contained herein; to issue permits and impose conditions on such permits; to enforce the provisions and requirements of this chapter; to establish administrative procedures and guidelines necessary to administer the provisions of this chapter; to conduct inspections; and to prepare the forms necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter.

(2) Violation. It is a violation of this chapter for any person to remove a significant tree without a permit within the City, except for tree removal authorized by an exemption pursuant to CMC 18.45.050, or cause or permit the same to be done, contrary to the provisions of this chapter.

(a) Whenever the City has determined that a violation of this chapter has occurred or is occurring, enforcement shall be in accordance with Chapter 1.30 CMC.

(b) Each day any person allows a violation of this chapter to continue shall be considered a separate violation.

(c) Public Nuisance. Any violation of the provisions of this chapter or a violation of a permit issued hereunder is declared to be a public nuisance and may be abated through proceeding for injunctive or similar relief in superior court or other court of competent jurisdiction.

(3) The Director may suspend work or revoke a permit, as appropriate, if it is found that:

(a) Land clearing or tree removal is not authorized by a valid permit;

(b) Inaccurate information was used to obtain a permit;

(c) The permittee is not complying with any terms of the permit or approved plans;

(d) Work, in the Director’s judgment, creates an imminent danger to property or public safety; is adversely affecting or about to adversely affect adjacent property or rights-of-way, a drainage way, watercourse, environmentally critical area, or stormwater facility; or is otherwise adversely affecting the public health, safety, or welfare;

(e) Due to adverse weather, the work poses a danger to the property or to neighboring properties;

(f) Any land clearing or tree removal is being done prior to or outside of other required land use, engineering, building, or site development permits or regulations; or

(g) The required project surety has been expended to the point that it no longer provides assurance of the completion of the project in compliance with the terms of the permit.

(4) Joint and Several Liability. The property owner(s) and the tree removal company removing the trees, if applicable, may be jointly and severally liable for violations or any penalties imposed pursuant to this chapter.

(5) Prohibition of Further Approvals. The City shall not accept, process, or approve any application for a subdivision or any other land use, building or development permit, or issue a certificate of occupancy for property on which a violation of this chapter has occurred until the violation is cured by restoration or other means accepted by the Director and by payment of any penalty imposed for the violation.

(6) Mitigation for Unlawful Tree Removal. In addition to the monetary penalty outlined in Chapter 1.30 CMC and in subsection (7) of this section, any tree damaged or removed in violation of Chapter 18.45 CMC shall be subject to the following tree replacement requirements, which shall be performed in accordance with the terms of CMC 18.45.080(2):

(a) Each significant tree damaged or removed in violation of Chapter 18.45 CMC shall be replaced by three replacement trees;

(b) Each landmark tree damaged or removed in violation of Chapter 18.45 CMC shall be replaced by four replacement trees;

(c) Each heritage tree damaged or removed in violation of Chapter 18.45 CMC shall be replaced by five replacement trees.

In cases where the violation was unintentional and constitutes violator’s first violation of this chapter, the Director may allow the violator to pay the amount of the penalty that would be applicable pursuant to subsection (7) of this section as payment in lieu of completing the mitigation requirement set forth in this section.

(7) Penalties. Any person, firm, or corporation who violates or fails to comply with any term or provision of this chapter or of an exemption, a minor tree removal, or major tree removal permit issued under this chapter shall be deemed to have committed a violation and such violation shall be enforced in accordance with the procedures set forth in Chapter 1.30 CMC. In addition to the penalties set forth in Chapter 1.30 CMC, violators may be assessed a monetary penalty of up to $300.00 per inch of DBH of any significant tree, up to $600.00 per inch of DBH of any landmark tree, or up to $900.00 per inch of DBH of any heritage tree removed or damaged in violation of this chapter. If the DBH cannot be measured, the monetary penalty may be assessed per inch based on the diameter of the remaining tree stump. If the stump has been removed, a monetary penalty in the amount of $28,800 may be assessed, unless the violator can provide sufficient evidence of the DBH of the illegally removed tree such that a more specific penalty may be assessed. These additional penalties shall only be assessed by the City under the following circumstances: (a) there is evidence that the violation was intentionally committed; (b) the violator has previously violated the terms of this Chapter 18.45 CMC; or (c) the violator fails to comply with the terms and conditions of the tree removal permit or the notice and order of violation issued pursuant to Chapter 1.30 CMC.

(8) To the extent that any provision of this chapter conflicts with the provisions set forth in Chapter 1.30 CMC, the provisions set forth in this chapter shall govern. (Ord. 02-21 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 05-20 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 04-08 § 2)

18.45.140 Appeals.

(1) Minor Tree Removal Permits (Type I Decision). Minor tree removal permits are Type I decisions with no administrative appeal as specified in Chapter 14.30 CMC.

(2) Major Tree Clearing Permits (Type II Decision). Major tree clearing permits are Type II decisions and may be appealed to the Hearing Examiner as specified in Chapters 2.25 and 14.45 CMC.

(3) Appeal of Director Interpretation and Determination of this Chapter. The Director determination or interpretation while administering or enforcing any and all provisions of this chapter, including issuance, conditioning or denial of any permit, or tree preservation plan, or tree enhancement plan, may be appealed to the City Hearing Examiner in accordance with Chapters 2.25 and 14.45 CMC.

(4) Hearing Examiner Modification of Director Decision. The City Hearing Examiner may modify or amend the Director determination or interpretation based on the following criteria:

(a) Whether the violation involved tree removal for monetary gain;

(b) Whether the appellant has previously violated or intentionally violated provisions of this chapter;

(c) Whether the Director determination or interpretation substantially exceeds or understates the actual intent and purpose of this chapter; or

(d) Whether the violation was intended or was in reckless disregard of provisions of this chapter.

(5) Appeals of Penalties Issued Pursuant to CMC 18.45.130. Appeals of any penalties issued pursuant to this chapter shall be made and processed in accordance with the provisions set forth in Chapter 1.30 CMC. (Ord. 02-21 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 05-20 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 02-09 § 12; Ord. 04-08 § 2)

18.45.150 Severability.

If any section, paragraph, subsection, clause or phrase of this chapter is for any reason held to be unconstitutional or invalid, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this chapter. (Ord. 02-21 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 05-20 § 2 (Exh. A); Ord. 04-08 § 2)