Six years since the Town of Chevy Chase adopted an ordinance to regulate tree removal and some instances of tree trimming, the town will review its procedures in the wake of last summer’s derecho storm.
That storm caused significant tree damage across the region, but especially in Chevy Chase and parts of Bethesda. It was one of the hardest hit areas according to a County Office of Emergency Management official who made a presentation about the department’s response last week at a citizens advisory board meeting.
Town of Chevy Chase Town Manager Todd Hoffman said that damage, which by one estimate took almost a month to clear, spurred enough resident input to merit a Town meeting on the ordinance on Wednesday.
“It’s going to be a very factual presentation. What we do and how the ordinance has been working,” Hoffman said. “Beyond comments based on the derecho, we haven’t gotten any specific concerns outside of that in relation to this meeting.”
The ordinance requires canopy trees (defined as a tree with a trunk at least 24 inches in circumference at four-and-a-half feet above the ground) to go through a strict review process before removal.
Other communities with tree ordinances have faced issues with limbs from weak or rotting trees falling on homes and cars during powerful storms — trees some say should have been removed or at least trimmed back despite hopes to maintain a tree canopy.
The Town of Chevy Chase is recognized as a member of Tree City USA.
The public hearing on the Town’s tree ordinance will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Town Hall (4301 Willow Lane.) Hoffman expects the Town Council to take public comments to a worksession in which the ordinance might be adjusted.