City of Albany, NY
Albany County
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[HISTORY: Adopted by the Common Council of the City of Albany 7-18-1983 by L.L. No. 2-1983 as Ch. XXIV of the 1983 Code. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Amended 5-6-1985]

§ 345-1 Definitions.

[Amended 6-6-1988]
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
CITY
The City of Albany, situated in the County of Albany, New York.
[Added 9-9-2004 by Ord. No. 17.42.04]
CLEAR-CUTTING
The cutting or removal of trees or other vegetation where more than 50% of the existing trees or vegetation per acre is removed over any five-year cutting cycle.
OWNER
Includes the legal owner of real property fronting on any street of the City and any lessee of such owners.
[Added 9-9-2004 by Ord. No. 17.42.04]
PARK
Includes all public parks.
[Added 9-9-2004 by Ord. No. 17.42.04]
PARK TREES
Trees, shrubs, bushes and all other woody vegetation in public parks having individual names and all areas owned by the City or to which the public has free access as a park.
PERSON
Includes any individual, firm, association, corporation, public utility, partnership and the lessees, trustees, receivers, agents, servants, heirs, assigns and employees of any such person.
[Added 9-9-2004 by Ord. No. 17.42.04]
PUBLIC STREETS or STREETS
Includes all roads, streets, avenues, boulevards, alleys, parkways and public rights-of-way, or any portion thereof, located in the City.
[Added 9-9-2004 by Ord. No. 17.42.04]
STREET TREES
Trees, shrubs, bushes and all other woody vegetation on land lying between property lines on either side of all streets, avenues or ways within the City.

§ 345-2 Administration.

[Amended 9-9-2004 by Ord. No. 17.42.04]
The Department of General Services shall administer this article.

§ 345-3 Powers and duties of administrative authority.

It shall be the responsibility of the Department to study, investigate, counsel and develop and/or update annually and administer a written plan for the care, preservation, pruning, planting, replanting, removal or disposition of trees and shrubs in parks, along streets and in other public areas. Such plan will be presented annually to the Common Council and, upon its acceptance and approval, shall constitute the official Comprehensive City Tree Plan for the City of Albany. The Department, when requested by the Common Council, shall consider, investigate, make findings, report and recommend upon any special matter or question coming within the scope of its work.

§ 345-4 Maintenance and removal of trees and shrubs within streets or public grounds.

A. 
The City shall have the right to plant, prune, maintain and remove trees, plants and shrubs within the lines of all streets, squares and public grounds, as may be necessary to ensure public safety or to preserve or enhance the symmetry and beauty of such public grounds.
[Amended 9-9-2004 by Ord. No. 17.42.04]
B. 
The City may remove or cause or order to be removed any tree or part thereof which is in an unsafe condition or which, by reason of its nature, is injurious to sewers, electric power lines, gas lines, waterlines or other public improvements or is affected with any injurious fungus, insect or other pest.

§ 345-5 Permit required.

[Added 9-9-2004 by Ord. No. 17.42.04]
A. 
It shall be unlawful and it is hereby prohibited for any person other than the Commissioner of the Department of General Services, Assistant Commissioner or his duly authorized agent to cut, trim, prune, spray, brace, plant, move, remove or replace any tree in any public street or public park within the City, or to cause the same to be done, unless and until a written permit to do so shall have been first obtained from the Commissioner of the Department of General Services. The applicant must obtain a permit from the Department of General Services, and the Commissioner must approve the suggested worker. Said worker must follow standards promulgated by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Permit fees shall be promulgated by the Department of General Services. Any such permit may be declared void and a fine imposed by the Commissioner if its terms are violated.
[Amended 1-5-2009 by Ord. No. 72.122.08]
B. 
Permitted work shall conform to the American National Standard for Arboricultural Operations - Pruning, Repairing, Maintaining, and Removing Trees, and Cutting Brush - Safety Requirements. A copy of said guidelines can be obtained from the Department of General Services.
C. 
Once a permit is granted, said person is required to have the vehicle and equipment that is used in conjunction with the permitted work marked with the name and telephone number of said person.

§ 345-6 Indemnification.

[Added 9-9-2004 by Ord. No. 17.42.04[1]]
The person so issued a permit by the Commissioner of the Department of General Services under this article shall protect, indemnify and hold harmless the City of Albany from any and all claims that may arise or that may be made for damages, loss, injury or death resulting from the acts of said person.
[1]:
Editor's Note: This local law also renumbered former § 345-5 as 345-7.

§ 345-7 Topping of trees.

[Amended 9-9-2004 by Ord. No. 17.42.04]
It shall be unlawful as a normal practice for any person, firm, public utility or City department to top any street tree, park tree or other tree on public property. "Topping" is defined as the severe cutting back of limbs to stubs larger than three inches in diameter within the tree's crown to such a degree so as to remove the normal canopy and disfigure the tree. Trees severely damaged by storms or other causes or certain trees under utility wires or other obstructions where other pruning practices are impractical may be exempted from this article to the determination of the City.

§ 345-8 Climbing spurs or spiked shoes.

[Added 9-9-2004 by Ord. No. 17.42.04[1]]
The use of climbing spurs or spiked shoes in the act of pruning trees is prohibited.
[1]:
Editor's Note: This local law also renumbered former §§ 345-6 and 345-7 as §§ 345-9 and 345-10, respectively.

§ 345-9 Pruning to remove interference with streets or sidewalks.

The City shall prune the branches of any tree overhanging any street or right-of-way within the City so that such branches shall not obstruct the light from any street lamp or obstruct the view of any street intersection and so that there shall be a clear space of eight feet above the surface of the street or sidewalk. The City shall remove all dead, diseased or dangerous trees, or broken or decayed limbs which constitute a menace to the safety of the public. The City shall have the right to prune any tree or shrub on private property when it interferes with the proper spread of light along the street from a streetlight or interferes with visibility of any traffic control device or sign.

§ 345-10 Removal of dead or diseased trees from private property.

The City shall have the right to cause the removal of any dead or diseased trees on private property within the City, when such trees constitute a hazard to life and property or harbor insects or disease which constitute a potential threat to other trees within the City. The City will notify, in writing, the owners of such trees. Removal shall be done by said owners at their own expense within 60 days after the date of service of notice. In the event of failure of the owners to comply with such provisions, the City shall have the authority to remove such trees and charge the cost of removal on the owner's property tax notice.

§ 345-11 Injury and damage prohibited.

[Added 9-9-2004 by Ord. No. 17.42.04[1]]
It shall be unlawful for any person to break, injure, deface, mutilate, kill or destroy any tree or set fire or permit any fire to burn where such fire or the heat thereof will injure any portion of any tree in any public street or park in the City, nor shall any person, apply, attach or keep attached to any such tree, any wire, rope (other than one used to support a young or broken tree), sign, paint or any other substance, structure, thing or device of any kind or nature whatsoever, without having first obtained a permit from the Department of General Services to do so.
[1]:
Editor's Note: This local law also renumbered former §§ 345-8 and 345-9 as 345-12 and 345-13, respectively.

§ 345-12 Interference with City.

It shall be unlawful for any person to prevent, delay or interfere with the City or any of its agents while engaging in and about the planting, cultivating, mulching, pruning, spraying or removing of any street trees, park trees or trees on private grounds, as authorized in this article.

§ 345-13 Protection of trees during construction.

Contractors occupying City streets for building purposes shall place such proper guards about all trees liable to injury as shall effectually protect them.

§ 345-14 Public utilities.

[Added 9-9-2004 by Ord. No. 17.42.04]
A. 
Any person doing business as a public utility subject to the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission of the State of New York and any constituted public agency authorized to provide utility service shall be given a permit from the Commissioner of the Department of General Services, valid for one year from the date of issuance, permitting such person to trim, brace, remove or perform such other acts with respect to trees growing adjacent to the public streets of the City, or which grow upon private property to the extent that they encroach upon such public streets, as may be necessary to comply with the safety regulations of said Commission and as may be necessary to maintain the safe operation of its business. Such utility shall be held to comply with all regulations contained in this article.
B. 
Any public utility authorized to do work under this article shall give reasonable notice to any landowner whose property abuts the subject area, prior to the start of any permitted work.
C. 
No person shall apply, attach or keep attached to any tree, any wire, rope (other than one used to support a young or broken tree), sign, paint or any other substance, structure, thing or device of any kind or nature whatsoever, without having first obtained a permit from the Department of General Services to do so.

§ 345-15 Safe pedestrian travel.

[Added 9-9-2004 by Ord. No. 17.42.04]
At all times, persons covered under this article shall maintain a safe pedestrian environment, allowing for safe pedestrian access through and/or around the affected area for the public at large.

§ 345-16 Standards of workmanship for pruning and removal.

[Added 9-9-2004 by Ord. No. 17.42.04[1]]
A. 
Cleanup of branches, logs or any other debris resulting from any tree pruning or removing shall be promptly and properly accomplished. The work area shall be kept safe at all times until the cleanup operation is completed. Under no condition shall the accumulation of brush, branches, logs or other debris be allowed upon a public property in such a manner as to result in a public hazard.
B. 
Under no condition shall it be considered proper to leave any severed or partially cut branches in the upper portion of any tree being worked on after the tree workers leave the scene of the operation.
C. 
Whenever large tree sections are being cut in a treetop that may endanger the public or property, such sections shall be secured by ropes and lowered safely in a controlled manner.
D. 
Unless the tree work area is totally barricaded or otherwise kept safe while pruning or removing trees, at least one responsible tree worker shall serve to coordinate safe operations on the ground at all times when work operations are in progress.
[1]:
Editor's Note: This local law also renumbered former §§ 345-10 through 345-12 as 345-17 through 345-19.

§ 345-17 Planting of trees along private property.

[Amended 9-9-2004 by Ord. No. 17.42.04]
Owners desiring to have trees planted along their property shall submit to the Commissioner of the Department of General Services a tree request form with a check payable to the City Treasurer for 1/2 the cost of the tree. The Commissioner of the Department of General Services reserves the right to make a final designation of kind or species of tree and the location where the same is to be planted. It shall be the responsibility of the owner to maintain the tree in accordance with this article.

§ 345-18 Site plan review required for clear-cutting.

[Amended 6-6-1988]
A. 
On all parcels in the City of Albany in excess of one acre in size, no clear-cutting shall be permitted without the approval of the Planning Board of the City of Albany by the process known as "site plan review."
B. 
In conducting site plan review of a proposed clear-cutting, the Planning Board shall consider whether:
(1) 
The clear-cutting is for a recognized silvicultural purpose.
(2) 
There are adequate buffers on the shorelines of lakes, ponds, rivers or streams; along major travel corridors; and, if necessary, along property boundaries around dwellings on adjacent lands, so as to preserve water quality and visual quality, to control noise and to prevent drainage or erosion problems.
(3) 
Habitats of rare and endangered species and other key wildlife habitats will be protected.
(4) 
Regeneration of timber is assured.
(5) 
If proposed and if allowed by the Board, any use of pesticides and herbicides will be strictly controlled.
(6) 
Harvest will be controlled by qualified personnel by contract, marked stand, direct supervision or other adequate means.
(7) 
Wood roads and skid trails will be located and equipment will be operated so as to minimize erosion on slopes and elsewhere.
(8) 
The storage, mixing or bulk handling of fuel, chemicals or other hazardous materials will be strictly controlled.
(9) 
The Timber Harvesting Guidelines for New York (New York Section of the Society of American Foresters, June 1975) will be adhered to.

§ 345-19 Penalties for offenses.

[Amended 6-6-1988; 9-9-2004 by Ord. No. 17.42.04]
A. 
Any person offending or violating any of the above rules and regulations for the planting, protection and care of trees and shrubs shall be guilty of a violation, and a stop-work order shall be issued until said violation is rectified. An administrative surcharge of $75 will be charged for the lifting of said stop-work order.
[Amended 5-19-2008 by Ord. No. 25.42.08]
B. 
Any and all persons found guilty of a violation shall be liable to a fine which shall not exceed $500 in amount or to imprisonment not to exceed 15 days, or both, in the discretion of the court. In the case of an unlawful clear-cutting, a fine not to exceed $500 per acre affected or imprisonment not to exceed 15 days, or both, may, in the discretion of the court, be imposed. In addition, any and all persons found guilty of a violation shall be liable to the City of Albany for restitution in the amount of $125 per inch of diameter of said damaged or destroyed tree(s).
[Amended 5-19-2008 by Ord. No. 25.42.08]
C. 
Except as provided otherwise by law, such violation shall not be a crime, and the penalty or punishment therefor shall not be deemed, for any purpose, a penal or criminal penalty or punishment and shall not impose any availability upon or affect or impair the credibility as a witness or otherwise of any person found guilty of such offense.
D. 
In addition, any person who removes a tree in any public street or park with or without a permit from the Commissioner of the Department of General Services, or who damages a tree such that it must be removed, is legally and financially responsible for replacement. The removed tree may be replaced with another of equal DBH (diameter breast height) or with two or more trees such that the sum of the DBHs of the replacement trees equals or exceeds that of the removed tree. The Commissioner of the Department of General Services will designate the location of the replacement tree or trees, not necessarily in the same location as the removed tree.

§ 345-20 Exemption.

[Added 9-9-2004 by Ord. No. 17.42.04]
This article shall not apply to property owners and said property owners' manual trimming of tree branches which are located over public streets or sidewalks, said branches being three inches or less in diameter and no more than eight feet above the surface of the street or sidewalk.

§ 345-21 Promulgation of rules and regulations.

[Added 9-9-2004 by Ord. No. 17.42.04[1]]
This article is further subject to § 323-75 of the Code of the City of Albany, stating that the Commissioner of the Department of General Services is hereby authorized to promulgate and amend a fee schedule and additional rules, regulations and specifications necessary to supplement and effectuate the purpose and intent of this article.
[1]:
Editor's Note: This local law also redesignated former §§ 345-13 through 345-16 as 345-22 through 345-25, respectively.

§ 345-22 Severability.

Should any section, clause or provisions of this article be declared by the courts to be invalid, the same shall not affect the validity of the article as a whole or parts thereof, other than the part so declared to be invalid.

§ 345-23 Purpose.

This Common Council, recognizing the need for encouraging and promoting programs relating to conservation of natural and ecological resources and, by appropriate action, to coordinate the same to the current economic problems, does hereby determine the authority herein granted to be in the public interest; and that in furtherance of the aforesaid and in accordance with the General Municipal Law of the State of New York, this Council does herewith authorize the use of available unimproved lands owned by the City for the cultivation of the soil upon such lands for planting and maintaining gardens and growing food crops thereon.

§ 345-24 Authorization to enter into agreement for services.

The Mayor of the City of Albany is hereby authorized to enter into an agreement for ground preparation of approximately 500 gardens, seed purchases, gardening classes, food preparation and such other related services as may be required.

§ 345-25 Promulgation of rules and regulations.

Such rules and regulations as may be needed shall be promulgated and established for public guidance, including setting such fee as may be deemed necessary for the exclusive use of a designated plot of land for the purpose intended. Such fee shall entitle a resident to preparation of the plot for planting, seeds required for a basic garden, instruction by qualified personnel, etc.