Hillside Protection Zoning Overlay



The tree-covered hills throughout Forest Hills neighborhoods represent the essence of the area’s natural beauty. Even more importantly, trees play an essential role in holding the ground together on the hillsides, ridgetops, and steep slopes throughout the City.

Much of the soil in Forest Hills is colluvial, which naturally washes away over time anyway. When trees on a steep slope are cut, it may further destabilize the soil because the trees’ roots were helping to hold the soil onto the hillside.

Because so much of the land in Forest Hills lies on hillsides and steep slopes, the City’s Zoning Ordinance includes passages aimed especially at preserving and protecting trees and steep slopes. It defines Hillside Protection Overlay districts and provides guidelines for development in higher elevations and areas with steep slopes.

The guidelines were established to protect the natural beauty and topography of the land in the face of development. As an “overlay” district, any development or land disturbance within the area must comply with the technical and development standards outlined in the Zoning Ordinance. Without guidelines, development can increase the amount of runoff after a rainstorm, which leads to greater erosion and the potential for the slope to become destabilized.

Trees play an important role in enhancing the visual quality of life and protecting property values in the City. Portions of the Zoning Ordinance stress the need for planting, maintaining, and preserving trees in an effort to limit the destruction and ensure the survival of mature trees. That’s because mature trees contribute significantly to reducing stormwater impact and reducing erosion through their extensive root systems.

If you plan to make any changes to parts of your property that lie on hillsides or steep slopes, be sure to consult with the City Manager, who will work with you to develop a plan than minimizes the loss of trees and lessens the impact on the environment.

Frequently Asked Questions