City Tree Policies
Maintaining a Viable Urban Forest
Under the watchful eye of the Department of Public Works (DPW), the City of Sterling Heights has distinguished itself as an urban forest amid the maze of suburbs that make up southeastern Michigan.
A total of 26 consecutive Tree City U.S.A. awards and the successful removal of thousands of Ash trees from city streets infested with Emerald Ash Borers serve as proof that the city places an emphasis on the health of its urban forest. Residents can play a key part in the City’s beautification through their voluntary efforts to reforest the City’s tree population that was previously decimated by the Ash tree removal program.
Tree Removal & Planting Process
The ultimate objective of the City is to maintain a viable urban forest. This is achieved through periodic inspection and maintenance, preservation of healthy street trees as well as removal of City street trees, only when extreme circumstances exist. Please refer to the following to better understand the City's street tree removal policies and services.
Residents with specific complaints or concerns regarding a street tree growing in the public right-of-way may request a tree inspection. The DPW conducts tree inspections at no cost to the resident. Requests for tree inspections are initiated by calling the DPW at 586-446-2440. Upon completion of the inspection, residents are contacted by telephone or written notice with a determination.
2. Removal of City Street Trees
The Sterling Heights DPW will, at its sole discretion, remove street trees within the city right-of-way at no charge to the homeowner for the following reasons:
- Street tree is dead, dying, or diseased.
- Street tree is deemed hazardous. To be considered a hazardous tree, there must be a danger that the structural integrity of the tree itself is such that it is not sturdy enough to withstand high winds or adverse conditions, which could cause it to fall.
- Street tree is of a prohibited species as provided for in Chapter 51 Article I, Section 51-7. Prohibited species include Box Elder, Catalpa Tree, Elm, Horse Chestnut, Poplar, Silver Maple, Tree of Heaven and Willow.
Right-of-Way Less Than 5 Feet
Residents requesting the removal of a street tree, which is conflicting with the sidewalk in a public right-of-way, where the dimensional width of that right-of-way is less than 5 feet, will have the tree removed by the City at no cost to the homeowner. There will be no replacement tree allowed as provided for in Chapter 51 Article I, Section 51-6(6).
3. Sidewalk Warranty
Flags of sidewalk replaced as part of the City's Sidewalk Replacement Program due to street tree root damage, are warranted for a 10-year period. Should tree roots from the City street tree raise the sidewalk again within 10 years, those flags of sidewalk will be replaced at no charge to the homeowner. The determination as to if the sidewalk requires replacement will be made on the basis of the existing sidewalk replacement criteria.
4. Tree Stumps
The City or a resident’s contractor shall remove all stumps located within the City right-of-way following the removal of a tree. Stumps are to be ground out to a depth of 6 inches below grade or to a depth that is sufficient to plant a replacement tree if required. The homeowner is responsible for restoration of the area.
Street Tree Planting / Replacement
Except as provided in step number 2 above, homeowners who have a City street tree removed in accordance with this policy are required to purchase a street tree replacement. Trees are available from the City and are planted in the spring and fall of each year.
Purchasing Replacement Trees
Residents needing a replacement tree can purchase that tree from the city. For a cost of $310 the City will purchase a replacement tree of your choice from the approved tree list and will plant it in front of your home. DPW employees plant trees in the spring and fall of each year when they are available from the nursery. Each tree is guaranteed for a period of 1 year, from the date of planting, except in cases of mechanical injury or vandalism.
Homeowners wishing to purchase and plant a city street tree in the right-of-way on their own, are reminded that the Chapter 51-6 of the Code of Ordinances provides general regulations and guidelines for anyone working in the road right-of-ways with replacement trees. These regulations include tree trunk minimum diameter specifications, 30 foot tree-to-tree spacing, tree trimming, soil materials, etc.
Additionally, residents should be aware that trees must be planted at least 10 feet from a fire hydrant/drive way and 5 feet from a manhole cover.