Billboard Vegetation Removal/Trimming Permits

Under Revision

MDOT receives billboard vegetation removal/trimming permit applications from individuals, local governmental agencies, organizations, and businesses according to PA 106 of 1972, as amended, the Highway Advertising Act. Applications can be accepted at anytime.

Note: For billboard structure permits see the Highway Advertising (Billboard) Permits page.  

Applying for a permit is a three-step process:

  1. Billboard permit holders must obtain a billboard vegetation survey permit for each billboard location.
  2. A survey must be conducted for each sign.
  3. Billboard permit holders must apply for a billboard vegetation removal/trimming permit. 

Survey Applications
Permit applicants shall submit an Individual Survey Permit application or Annual Survey Permit application for every structure using the Construction Permit System (CPS) through the MDOT Permit Gateway (MPG) at www.Michigan.gov/MDOTMPG. This permit shall only cover the survey work, no additional work within the ROW shall be allowed under this permit. The following should be attached to the permit application:

  • Electronic Certificate of Insurance
  • Certification from the landowner, if the land where the cutting is to take place is not owned by MDOT

Conducting the Survey
After receiving a permit (Individual or Annual), an Advance Notice and plan to access the site shall be submitted, at least 5 days prior to work beginning, using the Construction Permit System (CPS) through the MDOT Permit Gateway (MPG) at www.Michigan.gov/MDOTMPG.

During survey related work, the permit applicant shall perform the following tasks: 

  • Mark the shoulder at the starting and ending locations of the vegetation removal area, and at the 5 second point if different.  Do not place markings over pavement markings.  These marks shall be annotated with the letters "VRA", and shall not exceed 2 square feet in size.  
  • Flag trees and individual shrubs proposed for removal with red plastic survey tape, and trees and individual shrubs proposed for trimming with blue plastic survey tape.  Each flagged tree shall have its corresponding number from the tree list clearly written on the flagging.  Mark shrub masses proposed for removal conspicuously with red plastic survey tape, and shrub masses proposed for trimming conspicuously with blue plastic survey tape.
  • Digital color photographs of the billboard face shall be taken as close to the traveled roadway as practicable.  A photograph shall be taken at the farthest point away from the billboard face (at the beginning of the vegetation clearing area) and a photograph shall be taken every 100 feet as one proceeds towards the billboard, including a photograph taken perpendicular to the billboard face.  The photograph size shall not exceed 300 KB.  Photos shall be taken after the proposed removal and trimming is marked.  
  • A list of all trees greater than one and three quarters (1¾) inches in diameter proposed for trimming or removal.  The listing shall be by species and diameter, as measured by industry standards.  Industry standards are defined as follows: Trees less than six (6) inches in diameter are measured at caliper, which is two inches above ground.  Trees greater than six (6) inches in diameter are measured at "diameter at breast height" (d.b.h.), which is 4.5 feet above ground.   Trees 10 inches or less must be measured to the nearest .5 inches.  Trees greater than 10 inches are measured to the nearest 1 inch.
  • A list of individual shrubs and shrub masses proposed for removal or trimming.   The listing shall be by species, height, and area by square footage.  This list shall itemize each flagged tree (individual or clump) with the numbers corresponding to the numbers on the proportional plan view (i.e., 1)  6" elm clump; 2)  6" sugar maple; 3)  3" black locust).  As noted above, each tree will have its number clearly written on the flagging.
  • A photo of the billboard with the MDOT five digit board identification number clearly visible.
  • The Billboard number shall be listed on each sheet submitted as part of the plans (proportional plans view, pictures, list, etc.)
  • A proportional plan view of the site shall be created.  The plan view shall include the following:
    • A representation of all trees and shrubs flagged and identified on the removal/trimming lists  
    • The continuous, clear and unobstructed view of 5 second shall be marked on the plans, and the limits of vegetation removal/trimming if different 
    • VRA pavement marks (see the attached sample sketch showing how to mark the vegetation removal area)
    • Roadway edge of pavement
    • Roadway name 
    • Right-of-Way boundary and type of ROW
    • Billboard location
    • Billboard Permit Number
    • Survey photograph locations with a north arrow
    • The speed limit of the roadway
    • How the site will be accessed
    • Location of the Billboard in regards to either the closest mile marker or crossroad

Note: MDOT may require the applicant to come back and remark the site.  

Vegetation Removal Applications
After completing the survey, the permit applicant may apply for a permit to remove or trim vegetation.  A vegetation removal/trimming permit is required for each viewing side. An Individual Permit Application shall be submitted electronically in the Construction Permit System (CPS) through the MDOT Permit Gateway (MPG) at www.michigan.gov/mdotmpg with the following:

  • Digital Color Photographs
  • Proportional plan view  
  • Removal/trimming lists of all trees and shrubs flagged and identified
  • Provide the firm and names of the individuals who have conducted the survey for this permit ‚Äč

After a vegetation removal permit is issued, an Advance Notice shall be submitted at least 5 days prior to beginning field operations within the State highway Right-of-Way and the approved Advance Notice received before proceeding with permitted work. The removal and/or trimming work will need to be completed within 90 calendar days after issuance, unless otherwise indicated.  All approved vegetation removal and vegetation mitigation operations shall be performed under the direct supervision of an ISA certified arborist.  

Upon completion of vegetation removal, a Completion Notice shall be submitted within seven (7) calendar days, so the final inspection may be made.

Within 5 years after the issuance of the permit the sign owner can apply to manage vegetation regrowth at the same location. They may trim or remove any vegetation regrown that was originally trimmed or removed under the billboard vegetation permit.

An Individual billboard vegetation permit application shall to be submitted each time the owner wants to manage the regrowth at a cost of $150.00. There will not be any additional fees required.

Billboard Vegetation Removal Application Decision
After application review a decision will be made and the permit applicant notified.  The following are possible decisions and the additional information needed for each decision:  

  • Approved permit application:
    • A $500.00 permit fee, and any additional review or inspection fees, as determined necessary by MDOT
    • Value of Vegetation 
    • $50,000 electronic Blanket Performance Bond or $5,000 electronic Individual Performance Bond
    • Certificate of Insurance, submitted electronically
    • Upon receipt of the decision letter, the permit applicant has 30 calendar days to provide the requested information. 
  • Approved with modifications to the permit application:
    • A $500.00 permit fee, and any additional review or inspection fees, as determined necessary by MDOT
    • Value of Vegetation
    • $50,000 electronic Blanket Performance Bond or $5,000 (this amount may vary depending on the site location) electronic Individual Performance Bond
    • Certificate of Insurance, submitted electronically
    • Revised plans showing the limitation/modification
    • Upon receipt of the decision letter, the permit applicant has 30 calendar days to provide the requested information and/or appeal the decision.   
  • Denial of the permit application:
    • Upon receipt of the decision letter, the permit applicant has 30 calendar days to appeal the decision.      
  • Approved Management Vegetation Regrowth application:
    •  A $150.00 application fee

Upon receiving the requested information, the individual permit for vegetation removal will be issued.  If the requested information is not provided within the 30 calendar days, the following will occur:

  • After 30 calendar days (less than 90 calendar days): the applicant shall be required to pay an additional $150.00 to continue processing.   
  • After 90 calendar days: the file shall be closed.   

Denial and Appeal
Unacceptable proposals will be returned to the Applicant with a denial letter.  Upon receipt of the denied application, the permit applicant has 30 calendar days to appeal the decision.  

Permit applicants may appeal a denial, limitation, or mitigation issues.  A written request for review & reconsideration must be filed within 30 calendar days of MDOT's decision with the Transportation Service Center (TSC).  The written notice of the appeal shall state the specific reasons for the appeal, the rationale behind the appeal, and the specific remedy sought.

Billboard Vegetation Removal Appeal Process 

MDOT permits these types of facilities or operations in a manner which does not significantly compromise the integrity of state highway right of way systems, while simultaneously providing assurance to the general traveling public for the safest transportation environment possible.

Questions?
Contact your local Transportation Service Center (TSC).