Trees contribute to Bellevue’s visual character and its ecosystem. As expressed by Bridle Trails residents, and recognized by policies in the city’s Comprehensive Plan, trees play a key role in the identifying character of this unique neighborhood. Residents expressed concern that the amount of tree cutting on existing and vacant single-family lots was having a negative effect on neighborhood character and quality.
Tree Retention Requirements
Perimeter: All significant trees within the first 20 feet adjacent to all property lines must be preserved. Areas devoted to access, utilities, trails and similar needs are generally exempt from this requirement, but trees removed in these areas may need to be replaced.
Site Interior: In the remainder of the site, at least 25 percent of the total diameter inches of all significant trees must be preserved. This means that each significant tree in the site interior is measured, and the diameters are added together for a total. The combined diameters of the trees to be preserved must equal at least 25 percent of that total.
You are allowed to remove up to two significant trees on a lot within a three-year period without meeting the perimeter and interior tree retention requirements. When only eight trees remain, or eight or fewer trees exist on the property, you are required to replace any of the last eight significant trees with an equal number of trees somewhere on the lot.
Permits are Required
A permit will be required for the removal of any significant tree in the R-1 zoning district in Bridle Trails. A significant tree is at least eight inches in diameter, measured four feet above the existing grade. Refer to our Tree Removal page for permit application information.
Alternative Tree Retention Option
In some situations there will be conflicts with locating or remodeling a house or gaining access to a lot and meeting proposed perimeter and interior tree retention requirements. For example, the minimum single side-yard requirement for structures in the R-1 zone is five feet, which is significantly less than the 20-foot perimeter tree retention requirement. The Alternative Tree Retention Option (ATRO) will allow flexibility to develop a site as permitted under the dimensional requirements of the R-1 land use district while still meeting the intent of tree retention provisions. Under this alternative option the applicant must demonstrate that an equal number of significant trees are retained elsewhere, or that site development retains other natural vegetation and provides supplemental planting to promote the natural vegetated character of the site.