Outlined below are guidelines that will assist you in the lawful removal of trees from public or private property in Lexington, Kentucky.
Tree Removal Permit Regulations for Residential Private Property
Tree on Private Property – Lexington residential property owners (that aren’t in the historic district) that want to remove a dead, diseased, or infested tree from their property can legally, and a permit is NOT required.
Tree on a Property in the Historic District – If your property is located in a historic district overlay, a permit IS required. The Office of Historic Preservation and the City’s Urban Forester must approve and endorse your certificate of appropriateness application form before removing the tree, or making significant alterations to property.
Tree in the Public Right of Way – For pruning, removal, and planting in the public right of way, a permit IS required. The care and upkeep of trees located in the public right of way – that is adjacent to private property between the curb and sidewalk – are the responsibility of the private property owner or resident.
* Note – The Urban Forestry Department oversees tree care, removal permitting, and can be reached at (859) 425-2558, email@example.com or lexingtonky.gov/trees. For public and private organizations, the Lexington Tree Board advises on matters of care, preservation, planting, removal, and replacement of trees in parks, along streets, and in public areas.
City of Lexington Street Tree Removal / Planting Permit Application Process and Certificate of Appropriateness Application
The following will help you fill out and submit a Street Tree Removal / Planting Permit Application (for a tree located between the curb and sidewalk, if it is not in a historic overlay or a historic district):
- Download the application, or apply online
- Fill out the application form
- Give as much pertinent information for the tree removal or planting as possible
- Sign the application form
- Return the application to the Division of Environmental Services
If you have any further questions regarding this application process, call LFUCG Environmental Services at (859) 425-2800.
Property In Lexington’s Historic District – Property owners within Lexington’s 15 historic districts (H-1 Overlay Zone) must obtain permits to make changes to the exterior of buildings and property sites. The Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) permit process is the way to do this.
To determine if your unique situation requires a Certificate of Appropriateness, contact the Historic Preservation Office at (859) 258-3265. If you require said permit, the following will help you submit for a tree removal permit in the historic district:
- Download the application form
- Fill out your information, description, and type of work to be done
- Sign page one of the form
- You may be required to submit photos or drawings of the work to be done
- Contact the Historic Preservation Office at (859) 258-3265 to arrange a meeting and determine what information you will be required to submit
- Applications can be faxed, mailed, or hand-delivered (they cannot be emailed)
- Drawings can be submitted in PDF format. When submitting hard copy sets, 10 full sets will be required
When preparing your application and graphics for submission, keep in mind that the Board of Architectural Review will require ten (10) sets of drawings/photos to understand and process your application.
Note: Avoid delays in your permitting process by meeting all submission requirements and deadlines for your application and/or supplemental material requested by the board.
Emergency Tree Removal Situations from Power Lines, Public Property, Sidewalks, or City Streets
The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG) Environmental Services is responsible for the care, trimming, and removal of all trees in the City’s public right of way (trees that are not adjacent to private property).
The following are emergent scenarios and how dead, dying, injured or hazardous trees are to be addressed:
Public Tree Blocking Road or Impeding Traffic – When a storm-damaged limb or toppled tree is found in the roadway or impeding traffic, LFUCG Environmental Services should be contacted at (859) 425-2800, or 311 (LexCall) during business hours.
If there is physical property damage, personal injury, or an after-hours emergency, call 911 for Emergency Services.
Tree Blocking Sidewalk or Driveway – If a fallen tree or large limb is blocking a sidewalk or driveway, the LFUCG Environmental Services should be contacted at (859) 425-2800 or 311.
LFUCG Environmental Services will dispatch a crew to cut and remove the entire tree, even if the tree originated from private property.
Tree Falls on Private Property – If a tree or branch from the public right of way falls onto your yard or private property, contact the LFUCG Environmental Services, they will dispatch a crew to cut and remove the entire tree or branch.
Power Line or Utility Interfering Tree – Kentucky Utilities will trim back or remove interfering trees. Residents should report trees that pose a hazard to utilities and power lines or power outages to Kentucky Utilities at (800) 981-0600 (press 1 – 1 for interfering tree emergencies).
For more info on how Kentucky Utilities manages tree interference or damage, visit lge-ku.com/customer-service/vegetation-management/recognizing-tree-hazards
Public or Private Overgrown Tree or Shrub – When a public tree, shrub, or other plant species has become an obstruction to street lights, pedestrians, public right of ways, or private property, contact the LFUCG Environmental Services at (859) 425-2800, or call 311 and report the situation to LexCall.
When a tree, bush, hedge, or other vegetation from private property is interfering with sidewalk or vehicular traffic, this vegetation is the responsibility of the property owner, but so notify LexCall at 311.
City of Lexington Resources and Contact Information
For further tree permit and certificate of appropriateness questions and information, contact the respective office(s) listed below:
Urban Forestry Department
200 East Main Street
Lexington, KY 40507
Historic Preservation Office
Board of Architectural Review
101 East Vine Street, Suite 220
Lexington, KY 40507
Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government(LFUCG) Environmental Services
200 E Main Street
Lexington, KY 40507
Fax: (859) 425-2859
Or download the LexCall app
City of Lexington Tree Ordinance Regulations
City ordinances regarding trees within Lexington, Kentucky are straightforward in their assignment of responsibility and how trees should be managed. The following excerpts from MuniCode: Lexington, Kentucky Chapters 12 and 17 further define when a tree becomes a nuisance and street tree responsibilities.
Chapter 12 – Article 2 – Public Nuisances(c)(4) c. and d.:
c. It shall be unlawful for the owner or occupant of any premises to permit any tree, brush, hedge or other vegetation to grow in a manner which interferes with normal sidewalk traffic or vehicular traffic within the public right-of-way.
d. All bushes, shrubs, plants, vines and other vegetation, whether classified as edible or not, must be maintained in a way to prevent the possible collection of trash, refuse, rubbish, garbage or debris and must not present a public safety risk and/or fire risk to the property or adjoining properties. Failure to maintain vegetation as indicated may result in its required removal.
Chapter 17B – Street Trees Section 17B-8. – Tree maintenance, public rights-of-way or designated tree planting easement.
- Owners of street trees shall provide reasonable care and maintenance to trees within the urban county government right-of-way or tree planting easement, including as appropriate, watering, pruning, insect control and removal of dead or diseased limbs, and removal of any vine or other invasive plant or growth that masks potential defects of the tree.
- It shall be unlawful for the owner or occupant of any building or lot to permit any tree, including street trees, to grow in a manner which interferes with a normal sidewalk located on such lot or within an urban county government right-of-way adjoining such lot, or street traffic, or to grow so as to pose a threat to safety or public rights-of-way due to obstruction of view, obstruction of passage, or in any other manner.
- The minimum clearance of any overhanging portion thereof shall be seven (7) feet over sidewalks and twelve (12) feet over all streets except truck routes which shall have a clearance of fourteen (14) feet.
For more information and all of the Lexington Kentucky’s municipal codes, visit library.municode.com/ky/lexington-fayette_county/codes/code_of_ordinances