The Town of Somerset was originally a streetcar community of Washington, DC and remains a closely built neighborhood of single-family homes. Balancing individual property rights with the greater good of the community is a delicate process of ensuring public safety and respecting neighboring properties. The town strives to achieve this balance through its permitting process.
Permits are required for:
Installing or replacing exterior components for HVAC systems and generators;
Any construction, including new homes, additions, porch stoops, garages, accessory buildings, fences, and walls; and
Tree removal. A Town of Somerset permit is required for removal of any trees on private property that are four inches (4") or more in diameter as measured four and one half feet (4.5') above the average surrounding ground. No permit is required for tree pruning on private property. However, residents are not allowed to prune the Town trees lining our streets. Tree contractors must have a Maryland tree expert license number. The town has its own arborist for the oversight of Town trees. If a tree falls down because of a storm, please contact the Mayor or Town Manager.
Fees Click here for the Fee Schedule to see the fees associated with permit requests. Please note that payments for fees and deposits must be received at Somerset Town Hall before applications will be considered. Applicants can pay for fees and deposits by check made payable to Town of Somerset and sent to Somerset Town Hall at the address below.
Somerset Town Hall 4510 Cumberland Avenue Chevy Chase, MD 20815
*Deposits can only be paid with a check made out to Town of Somerset.
**Maximum deposit required is $2,000, unless tree reforestation deposit is required.
***Tree reforestation deposits are in addition to any construction deposits.
Please refer to the checklist on the application itself to determine if you will also need a Montgomery County permit. The Town of Somerset will not consider permit applications until all county permits are issued. The Town of Somerset strongly suggests that you set up a pre-permit meeting with the Town of Somerset before beginning the permit process with the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) and the County in order to avoid the possibility of having to return to them to apply for a revision.
Any tree on private property within the Town with a diameter of four inches (4’’) or more, as measured four and one half feet (4 1/2’) above ground will require a Town Permit. If the tree is dead - neighbors review will not be required. Section 8-201 of the Town Code
If your property is in the Somerset Historic District, please visit the website for Montgomery County’s Historic Preservation Commission at the link below and become familiar with the process. Town of Somerset strongly suggests that you set up a pre-permit meeting with the Town of Somerset before beginning the permit process with HPC and the County in order to avoid the possibility of having to return to them to apply for a revision. There may be a fee charged for this meeting. Contact the Town Manager to arrange such a meeting. Following your pre-permit meeting with Somerset, take your plans to the County Historic Preservation Office for further instructions. Once you are in their system, they will send your plans to the Local Advisory Panel (LAP). In Somerset, members of the town’s council are acting as the LAP. As such, council members will not be making a decision on the building permit. Once the Historic Commission approves the plans and issues the Historic Area Work Permit, they will forward the plans to the Montgomery County permitting office for their permit approval. Once you have both of the county permits, you apply for a Town of Somerset permit and put yourself on the schedule for a Town Council meeting where a decision will be made. Historic Website Link
An example of a town's Right of Way (ROW): A town owns a public street that goes through a residential neighborhood. The town also owns a few feet past the pavement and or sidewalk on both sides of the street. If a residential street is 30 – 36 feet wide the town may own a total of 46 – 50+ feet wide area. So, yes, the town may own part of your front yard. Virtually all public streets are like this, from local residential streets on up to interstate highways, which may have ROWs that are hundreds of feet wide.
Building permits require approval by the Town Council. Normally the Council will vote on your application during the meeting at which it is presented. Meetings are the first Monday of every month.
Tree removal permits on private property require approval of the Town Council if three or more trees are being removed. Normally the Council will vote on your application during the meeting at which it is presented. If one or two trees are being removed, the mayor approves or rejects the permit application. The town arborist reviews tree removal requests and makes recommendations.
Permit requests that require council approval must be submitted to the town manager no later than the 15th of the month prior to the next Council meeting (Council meetings are the first Monday of every month).
For an additional fee, a late application (submitted after the 15th of the month) may be submitted no later than the 22nd of the month preceding the next Council meeting.
The Council may, at its discretion, hold a special session to expedite an application for an additional fee, greater than the late fee. A written request must be submitted a minimum of seven days prior to a meeting being considered so that residents may be given adequate public notice.
The Town Council may grant a waiver of permit requirements only after a duly noticed public hearing where good cause has been shown on the grounds as listed in the town code. The criteria for granting a waiver are listed in the Somerset Town Code section of the respective permit. Applicants may appeal the Council’s decision by filing an appeal within 30 days to the Circuit Court of Maryland. Please describe your waiver request in the description section of the application: Town of Somerset Permit and Waiver Application