Township of River Vale, NJ
Bergen County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Council of the Township of River Vale 5-23-2005 by Ord. No. 117-2005. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Tree preservation and removal — See Ch. 142, Art. XXXVII.

§ 225-1 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to control and regulate the indiscriminate or excessive removal, large-scale, clear-cutting and destruction of trees and to control, regulate and prevent conditions which cause an increase in stormwater runoff, sedimentation, soil erosion, loss of wildlife habitat, air or noise pollution or inhibit aquifer recharge or impair the ambiance or physical appearance of a neighborhood. The regulations contained in this chapter are designed to limit such adverse impact while not interfering with the right of a River Vale property owner to appropriately remove trees in accordance with the regulations set forth hereinbelow.

§ 225-2 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the following definitions:
ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
The Township Engineer, Construction Code Official or Department of Public Works Superintendent.
[Amended 10-26-2015 by Ord. No. 306-2015]
LANDMARK TREE
A tree nominated by a property owner on whose property the tree(s) is located, which said property owner considers to be special by virtue of history, unusual size or age or of a rare species and as so designated by the Planning Board.
LANDMARK TREE REGISTER
A register of all landmark trees which shall be promulgated by the Planning Board after notification to the person on whose property such a tree or trees are located. The Planning Board shall promulgate and update the landmark tree register at a public hearing on public notice to all property owners affected.
PERSON
An entity whose existence is recognized by law, including, but not limited to, any individual, partnership, corporation (for-profit, nonprofit or municipal and its agencies), firm, association, or any combination of the foregoing.
TREE
Any living woody perennial plant having a trunk diameter of at least four inches measured at four feet above the natural ground level. If a plant has multiple stems, then the aggregate of the stem diameters and/or the aggregate of the circumferences shall be used in determining whether the plant is a tree.
[Amended 10-26-2015 by Ord. No. 306-2015]

§ 225-3 Governed acts.

A person may remove or otherwise destroy any tree on any land within the Township only in accordance with the terms and conditions of this chapter. Caution should be taken, particularly during periods of construction, to avoid the placement of materials, machinery or temporary soil deposits within the dripline area of any tree located on any land within the Township.

§ 225-4 Permit required.

No person, directly or indirectly, shall, without first obtaining a permit or approval as provided for hereinbelow, remove or otherwise destroy any tree on lands located in River Vale as set forth in this section.
A. 
"Removal" shall include, but not be limited to, damage inflicted to the root system by machinery, storage of materials and soil compaction, change of natural grade above or below the root system or around the trunk; damage inflicted on the tree permitting fungus, pests or other infestation; excessive pruning or thinning leading to a failure to thrive; paving over the root system with any impervious materials within such proximity as to be fatally harmful to the tree; or application of any toxic substance.
B. 
The following acts are hereby regulated and shall require the below-referenced permit:
[Amended 10-26-2015 by Ord. No. 306-2015]
(1) 
A tree removal permit shall be required prior to the cutting for removal of more than one tree on a tax lot within any twenty-four-month period. Any tree removal conducted in conjunction with the issuance of a soil moving permit or building permit shall require the replacement of two trees for every tree removed regardless of the number removed. All tree replacement shall be in accordance with § 225-5D. Donations to the Shade Tree Fund may be approved when the required replacement is not feasible.

§ 225-5 Application for permit.

A. 
A person desiring to remove or otherwise destroy a tree as provided for in § 225-2 hereinabove shall apply to the Township Engineer or his or her designee for a permit to remove or otherwise destroy a tree. This application should be in narrative form within a letter and specify:
(1) 
The name and address of the owner of the premises.
(2) 
The name and address of the applicant for the permit, if other than the owner, accompanied by the owner's consent to said application.
(3) 
A description by lot and block number of the premises for which the permit is sought.
(4) 
If the tree is a landmark tree, the tree's register number.
B. 
The application for a permit should be accompanied by a sketch containing the following:
(1) 
A description of the premises upon which the tree removal or destruction is to take place by street address and lot and block number;
(2) 
The size of the lot;
(3) 
The location upon the lot where the destruction or removal of the tree or trees is proposed to take place;
(4) 
The identity of and the number of trees to be destroyed or removed;
(5) 
The purpose of the destruction or removal of the trees;
(6) 
The proposal, if any, for replacing any destroyed or removed trees or other landscape improvement; and
(7) 
The location of all streams on the lot or adjacent properties.
C. 
The Township Engineer or his or her designee shall apply the following standards in evaluating the permit for the tree removal or destruction. Said Township Engineer or his or her designee shall visit the location and inspect the land and trees which are the subject of the application in order to determine the effect of the destruction or removal upon:
(1) 
The drainage or other physical conditions on the land and adjacent property;
(2) 
The stability of the soil of the subject land, with particular concern as to whether erosion will be created by the tree removal; and
(3) 
The growth and development of the remaining trees on the land and adjacent property.
D. 
All tree replacements, including those for an approved tree removal permit, shall meet the following:
[Added 10-26-2015 by Ord. No. 306-2015]
(1) 
Reforestation for replacement of all nonexempt tree removal is two trees for every tree removed.
(2) 
Replanted trees shall be at least 2 1/2 inches in diameter caliper, measured at breast or chest height, and shall be nursey stock, balled in burlap and staked upon planting per municipal standards provided by the Municipal Engineer or in accordance with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Parks and Forestry, New Jersey Forestry Services, as detailed in the most recent Program Guidelines.
(3) 
Trees for reforestation shall be indigenous of the site from which trees have been removed, consistent with the species found and/or being considered for removal, and in accordance with the above-stated publication.
(4) 
The location of replanted trees shall be determined by the following schedule of preference when at all possible:
(a) 
In the development location where the trees are removed.
(b) 
Within the building or tax lot containing the removed trees.
(c) 
Within the street rights-of-way bounding the site and/or in the same block.
(d) 
At the discretion of the Township Engineer or his/her designee, a contribution may be made (for all or a portion of the required replanted trees) to the Township's Shade Tree Fund based on current market values as determined by the Township Engineer of the required replacement trees in lieu of on-site reforestation.

§ 225-6 Issuance of permit for tree removal; time requirements.

The Township Engineer or his or her designee shall accept for filing the permit application referenced in § 225-2 hereinabove. Said application shall be date and time stamped when received, and the applicant shall be furnished a copy of said application with said date and time stamped. Thereafter, the Township Engineer or his or her designee shall within 15 business days of receipt of the completed application for the removal of a nonlandmark tree(s):
A. 
Visit and inspect the location of the application as provided for hereinabove; and
B. 
Decide whether the destruction or removal of the trees, which is the subject of the application, will cause or contribute to drainage problems, soil erosion or the loss of tree species; and
C. 
Grant or deny the requested permit in whole or in part. The failure of the Township Engineer or his or her designee to act upon the application for the removal of a nonlandmark tree(s) within said 15 business days shall constitute approval of said application and entitle the applicant to the permit requested unless an extension of the fifteen-day period has been agreed upon between the applicant and the Township Engineer or his or her designee in writing before the period expires. In the case of a landmark tree, the Township Engineer or his or her designee shall refer a completed application to the Planning Board. The Planning Board shall grant or deny the requested permit within 30 business days of the filing of the application by the applicant. Any applicant may request an informal hearing in support of a permit, and all decisions to deny the permit must be in writing, setting forth the reasons for such denial.

§ 225-7 Appeal.

Within 10 days of receipt of decision of the Township Engineer or his or her designee or the Planning Board, which denies approval for the tree removal or otherwise destruction, the applicant may appeal in writing to the Township Council. The governing body shall decide the appeal within 30 days of receipt of the notice of appeal. The failure of the governing body to decide the appeal within 30 days shall constitute reversal of the decision by the Township Engineer or his or her designee or the Planning Board. In any event, the applicant shall be notified of the governing body's action or failure to act by written notice from the Township Clerk.

§ 225-8 Exceptions.

Excepted from the provisions of this chapter are the following:
A. 
The removal of any tree as ordered by the Enforcement Officer.
[Amended 10-26-2015 by Ord. No. 306-2015]
B. 
Any tree located on publicly owned land and removed by the appropriate public agency with the consent of the Enforcement Officer.
[Amended 10-26-2015 by Ord. No. 306-2015]
C. 
Any tree that poses imminent danger to life or property. If prior notification of the removal of said tree pursuant to this chapter has not been given to the Enforcement Officer prior to removal, then notification must be provided within three days of such removal.
[Amended 10-26-2015 by Ord. No. 306-2015]
D. 
Any dead tree or substantially diseased tree as a result of natural causes or storm damage where:
[Amended 10-26-2015 by Ord. No. 306-2015]
(1) 
The person desiring to destroy or remove the tree is the owner of the land upon which the tree is located;
(2) 
The person notifies the Enforcement Officer of the desire to remove the tree; and
(3) 
The Enforcement Officer verifies that the tree is dead and substantially diseased as a result of natural causes.
E. 
Accident- or storm-damaged trees where removal is in response to an emergency.
F. 
Tree removal covered by approved site plan. However, a copy of any site plan application, which provides for the removal of a landmark tree, must be provided to the Township Engineer or his or her designee to allow the Planning Board as provided for in § 225-2 to provide its review and comment, if any, to the Planning Board.
G. 
The removal of any trees which are a part of an approved woodlot management program pursuant to the provisions of the New Jersey Farmland Assessment Act of 1964.

§ 225-9 Violations and administrative penalties.

[Amended 10-26-2015 by Ord. No. 306-2015]
A. 
The Enforcement Officer or his/her designee is designated as the enforcing agent for this chapter. Upon review of as-built plans or site inspection of any development application or soil movement activity, the Township Engineer shall inform the Enforcement Officer of any violations.
B. 
Any individual, corporation or association violating any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be punishable by a fine not exceeding $1,000 per offense. The cutting, destruction or removal of each tree shall constitute a separate offense.

§ 225-10 Annual report.

The Township Engineer or his or her designee and the Planning Board shall make an annual report to the Township Council as to permits granted and denied in each calendar year pursuant to this chapter. Such report shall be submitted by February 1 of each year as to the preceding year's activities.

§ 225-11 Fees.

[Added 10-26-2015 by Ord. No. 306-2015]
A. 
The fee for a tree removal permit shall be set forth as follows:
Number of Trees
Fee
6 to 10*
$150
11 to 20
$250
21 to 50
$500
51 and over
$1,000 plus an additional $100 for each additional 5 trees or part thereof.
NOTE:
*
There is no fee for removal of five or fewer trees in any twenty-four-month period.
B. 
Notwithstanding the fee schedule, no permit fee shall be required for the removal of a dead or hazardous tree, provided that the applicant and/or property owner satisfies all the other requirements of this chapter.