Neighborhood Forest Overlay (NFO)

What is a Neighborhood Forest Overlay (NFO)?   An NFO is a new planning tool to allow a neighborhood of as few as 10 property owners to voluntarily decide how their urban forest will be managed and protected.

For information on the application process, contact Current Planning at 214-670-4209.

If a petition is signed by property owners of fewer than 75 percent of the lots within the proposed district, the application fee must be paid. If a petition is signed by property owners of 75 percent or more of the lots within the proposed district, the application fee is waived. If the proposed overlay is authorized pursuant to Section 51A-4.701(a)(1), the application fee is waived. The committee of at least 10 property owners will work with the Current Planning office and the City Arborist office in forming the overlay.

Fee Structure: All applications relating to neighborhood forest overlay districts:

0-1 acre $500.00

Over 1 acre to 5 acres $1,200.00

Over 5 acres to 25 acres $2,400.00

Over 25 acres $2,400.00

Petition, initiation, and process: (1) Except as provided in this subsection, the procedures for zoning amendments contained in Section 51A-4.701, “Zoning Amendments,” apply. (2) A neighborhood forest overlay may only be placed on an area: (A) containing lots that are primarily smaller than two acres in size; (B) developed primarily with single family or duplex structures; and (C) that is zoned either: (i) as a residential district; or (ii) as a planned development district, conservation district, or form district (or portion thereof) that is restricted to single family or duplex uses. An overlay: (A) must contain at least 50 lots in a compact, contiguous area, or be an original subdivision if the subdivision contains fewer than 50 single family or duplex structures; or (B) may contain less than 50 lots, but no less than 10 lots, if the lots are located alongside a primary natural area or if the lots maintain a current forest cover of mature large and medium trees, including significant trees, or trees established prior to the original subdivision. (4) A neighborhood forest overlay may contain vacant lots and lots greater than two acres in size even though those lots will not be subject to the overlay regulations. Vacant lots within the boundaries of a neighborhood forest overlay, however, are not subject to the unrestricted zone exception in Section 51A-10.134(b). The Overlay Establish the regulations per the approved city ordinance. The NFO establishes that the Article X urban forest conservation regulations (protection, removal, and replacement requirements) apply to the properties which have been excepted from Article X regulations since the beginning of the ordinance in 1994. The regulations must reflect the existing forest conditions within the neighborhood. Identify the species, size, conditions, and general history of the trees as they are integrated into your community. Choose the options for tree protection which best reflect the tree locations and neighborhood characteristic you wish to protect and in which you can find agreement between you as homeowners.

1. Tree Conservation Area 60% required

70% required

2. Additional options (a) Tree canopy cover goal option The purpose is to be able to apply a tree mitigation reduction on the lot based on the amount of remaining tree canopy coverage over the property. The percentage goal for the NFO is based on the median of the tree canopy coverage in the tree conservation area on each lot within the proposed overlay. This is similar to a provision in Article X, but varies for the tree canopy coverage reduction. (b) Minimum front yard tree option Lots in the NFO must maintain a minimum number of trees in the front yard as determined by the committee. Replacement is not required in circumstances related to a defense to prosecution. AFTER THE NFO IS CREATED….. Site Assessment Plan is required prior to any development, construction, or permitting in the tree conservation area on the lot. The plan precedes any permit to conduct work in the TCA on the property. The overlay regulations do NOT prohibit the removal or alteration of unprotected trees, or landscape ornamental and small trees, or other landscape shrubs, grasses, or other materials that do not qualify as a protected tree. Also, emergency tree and limb removal is authorized before a SAP if deemed necessary by the owner based on public safety demand, based on Section 51A-10.140, defenses to prosecution. It is recommended the owner documents the condition as is practicable to do so. Work disturbance which is controlled in the TCA is significant soil compaction, trenching, tilling, excavation, paving, grading, chemical mixing, or pruning exceeding 10% tree canopy reduction subject to site assessment review. The Structure Proximity Area is the immediate 5 feet area extending from the dwelling in which a request for the tree removal is not challenged by the building official. Trees outside of the SPA may require additional review before removal. All protected trees in the tree conservation area must be maintained according to ISA best management practices and ANSI standards for tree maintenance and care and city regulations in 10.136. The Site Assessment Plan precedes all other permits, including building permits, and is focused on the preservation of the trees identified in the conservation area. A decision for tree removal must be shown to be in the public interest in accordance to Article X. The factors for decision are found in Section 10.132.

TREE CONSERVATION AREA APPROVAL PROCEDURE 1. Site Assessment Plan (SAP) is submitted to the building official. 2. Obtain approval of the Site Assessment Plan, and any applicable approved tree removal application, building permit, or other authorizations. 3. Implement designed tree protections per the SAP for inspection. 4. Conduct site work in the TCA while maintaining tree protection. 5. Complete tree mitigation or replacement per ordinance. 6. Receive the final inspection and approval by the building official.

Go to and find the link to the Landscape and Tree Manual. Find Section 10 (18 pages).

For additional information on the NFO, you can always call Philip Erwin, Chief Arborist 214-948-4117