City of Pawtucket, RI
Providence County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Council of the City of Pawtucket, approved 10-18-1991 as Ch. No. 2228. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Moving of buildings — See Ch. 147.
Excavations — See Ch. 198, Art. I.
Poles and wires — See Ch. 313.

§ 371-1 Applicability. [1]

The provisions of this chapter shall apply to all property within the City of Pawtucket.
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code; see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I.

§ 371-2 Purpose.

This chapter will serve to protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Pawtucket by regulating tree management activities.

§ 371-3 Enhancement of community.

The protection of this valuable natural resource will serve to enhance the community in the following ways:
A. 
Aid in the prevention of air, noise and visual pollution.
B. 
Aid in the stabilization of soil.
C. 
Enhance property values.
D. 
Provide glare and heat protection.
E. 
Enhance the aesthetics and general quality of life of the city.

§ 371-4 Title.

This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Pawtucket Tree Ordinance."

§ 371-5 Definitions and word usage.

A. 
When not inconsistent with the context, words used in the present tense include the future and words in singular number include the plural number. The word "shall" is always mandatory and not merely directory.
B. 
For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms, phrases, words and their derivatives shall have the meaning given herein:
APPLICANT
A person who is applying for a license or permit required by this chapter.
APPROVAL
Written assent from the Pawtucket Parks Commission or the City Forester pursuant to a duly executed application for approval made on a form promulgated by the City of Pawtucket.
[Added 11-17-1992 by Ch. No. 2284]
CITY FORESTER
The Municipal Arborist, City Forester, Landscape Architect, Director, Division of Grounds Maintenance Services, Supervisor of Urban Forestry Operations or other qualified designated official of the city assigned to carry out the enforcement of this chapter.
DRIP LINE
A vertical line extended from the outermost portion of a tree canopy or crown to the ground.
[Added 11-17-1992 by Ch. No. 2284]
DROP CROTCH PRUNING
The reduction of tops, sides, under branches or of individual tree limbs to be taken as specified in the International Society of Arboriculture, Western Chapter, dated May 9, 1988, revised June 6, 1988.
[Added 11-17-1992 by Ch. No. 2284]
HISTORIC TREE
Any public tree which has been designated by the Pawtucket Parks Commission to be of notable historic value or interest because of its type, age, size or historic association.
[Added 11-17-1992 by Ch. No. 2284]
PARKS
Includes any city public spaces designated for recreation and/or conservation.
PERSON
Any person, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company or organization of any kind, including public utilities and city departments.
PROPERTY LINE
The boundary between private and city-owned land.
PROPERTY OWNER
The person owning such property as shown by the records of the Recorder of Deeds of the City of Pawtucket.
PRUNING STANDARDS
Officially recognized by this chapter and those designated to enforce it as those standards set forth by the International Society of Arboriculture, Western Chapter, dated May 9, 1988, as revised by that organization from time to time and as amended by this chapter.
[Added 11-17-1992 by Ch. No. 2284]
PUBLIC PLACE
Includes any other ground owned by the city.
PUBLIC TREES
Includes all trees now or hereafter growing on any street, park or any other public place.
STREET OR HIGHWAY
The entire width of every public way or right-of-way when any part thereof is open to the use of the public, as a matter of right, for purposes of vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
(1) 
A regularly updated one hundred percent (100%) identification and inventory of Pawtucket's historic and protected trees.
(2) 
A comprehensive maintenance plan for Pawtucket's urban forest.
(3) 
A comprehensive tree removal plan.
(4) 
A comprehensive tree planting plan.
TREE
Any living, self-supporting woody plant that has a well-defined stem(s) with a caliper of at least two (2) inches [seven and sixty-two hundredths (7.62) centimeters] at five (5) feet [one and six-tenths (1.6) centimeters] from the ground level.
TREE LAWN
That part of a street or highway not covered by sidewalk or other paving, lying between the property line and that portion of the street or highway usually used for vehicular traffic.
TREE REMOVAL
Includes any act that will cause a tree to die within a three-year period.
TREE WELL
Opening in the ground area surrounding the base of the tree trunk not covered by sidewalk and paving. Tree well openings shall have a minimum pit size of three by three (3 x 3) feet.
TRIMMING
The removal of nonessential branches less than two (2) inches in diameter.
[Added 11-17-1992 by Ch. No. 2284]

§ 371-6 Jurisdiction of Parks Commission.

[Added 11-17-1992 by Ch. No. 2284]
A. 
The Pawtucket Parks Commission, hereinafter referenced to as the "Commission," shall have jurisdiction over all forestry functions, including the planting, care and removal of trees, shrubs and other plants on the properties for which it is responsible. It shall do all acts necessary and proper for the care, management, improvement, maintenance and protection of the public parks and street trees under its jurisdiction.
B. 
The duties of said Commission shall be interpreted to include but not be limited to the protection, maintenance, removal and planting of trees on public property, and to make such recommendations from time to time to the City Council as to desirable legislation concerning the tree program and activities for the city.

§ 371-7 Appointment, duties and authority of City Forester.

A. 
Appointment and qualifications of the City Forester. The City Forester shall be appointed by the Pawtucket Parks Commission and confirmed by the City Council. Said person shall have a minimum of a two-year college degree and two (2) to four (4) years of experience with a private tree company and/or a municipal forestry department and shall have a Rhode Island arborist license.
[Added 11-17-1992 by Ch. No. 2284]
B. 
Duties of the City Forester.
(1) 
The City Forester shall affirm and endorse the purpose and intent of this chapter and shall cause the provisions of this chapter to be enforced.
(2) 
The City Forester shall, with the advice of the Pawtucket Parks Commission and the approval of the Pawtucket City Council, prepare and enact an annual Systematized Tree Management and Planting Program for the City of Pawtucket which shall be prepared as an integral part of a Master Systematized Tree Management and Tree Planting Plan which shall be adopted every five (5) years starting with the inception of this chapter.
(3) 
The City Forester is further charged with keeping informed of environmental and technical changes that could affect the city's public and protected trees.
(4) 
It shall also be the duty of the City Forester to implement such rules, regulations and permit and penalty procedures as are deemed necessary to carry out the intent and enforcement of this chapter.
(5) 
The City Forester shall communicate and work with all civic and public interest groups interested in or devoted to tree care, preservation or planting.
C. 
Authority of the City Forester.
(1) 
The City Forester shall have the authority and jurisdiction of regulating and enacting the maintenance, removal and planting of public and protected trees to ensure public safety, preserving the aesthetics of public sites with regard to trees and protecting the value and health of Pawtucket's urban forest as a whole.
(2) 
The City Forester shall consider the existing and future utility and environmental factors when recommending a specific species for each of the streets and other public sites and when issuing permits for tree work, removal or planting.
(3) 
The City Forester shall have the responsibility of regularly updating the Master Systematized Tree Management and Planting Program.
(4) 
The City Forester shall have the authority to review all requests for permits for any planting, removal, pruning and/or trimming or cutting of trees in any public area, with the exception of an historic or protected tree. He or she shall also have the authority to grant or deny and to attach reasonable conditions to all permits with the exception of those specifically exempted herein.
(5) 
The City Forester shall enforce such rules, regulations and permit and penalty procedures as are deemed necessary to enforce the intent of this chapter.

§ 371-8 Authority of the city to treat or remove trees on private grounds.

A. 
The City Forester or his or her agents, under the power herein given, may cause or order to be removed, trimmed or treated any tree or part thereof on private grounds which is in an unsafe condition so that it poses a threat to the public or public property or which by reason of its nature is injurious to sewers or other public improvements or right-of-way, or is afflicted with an injurious fungus, insect or other pest so as to constitute a threat to the health of the city's urban forest.
B. 
The City Forester or his or her agents shall have the power to enter upon any private grounds in the city to treat or cause or order to be treated any tree infested by a parasite insect or pest, when it shall be deemed necessary in his or her opinion to do so to prevent the breeding of any parasite or animal pest, and to prevent danger therefrom to persons or property, or to trees planted in the public streets or other public places. Due notice shall be given to the property owner prior to any action on the part of the City Forester.
C. 
It shall be unlawful for any person to hinder, prevent, delay or interfere with the City Forester or any work being done by an employee of the city while engaged in the lawful execution of this chapter. This shall not be construed as an attempt to prohibit the pursuit of any legal or equitable remedy in a court of competent jurisdiction.

§ 371-9 Duty of property owners to prune trees.

It shall be the duty of person(s) owning or occupying real property bordering on any public street or thoroughfare, upon which property there may be trees, to prune in such manner that they will not obstruct or shade street lights, obstruct the passage of pedestrians on sidewalks, obstruct vision of traffic signs or obstruct the view of any street or intersection so as to pose a threat to pedestrian or vehicular safety. The minimum clearance of any overhanging portion thereof shall be eight (8) feet [two and forty-four hundredths (2.44) meters] over sidewalks and twelve (12) feet [three and sixty-five hundredths (3.65) meters] over all streets and thoroughfares and/or at the discretion of the City Forester.

§ 371-10 Protection of trees.

A. 
During development, redevelopment, razing or renovating, no trees shall be cut, damaged, destroyed or removed except by specified permit.
(1) 
All trees removed, destroyed or severely damaged shall be replaced at the expense of the permittee. The total caliper of all trees planted in the course of restoration shall in no event be less than the total caliper of all trees removed. Replacement shall be made with two-and-one-half- to six-inch caliper trees and/or as directed by the City Forester.
(2) 
If sufficient tree planting locations are unavailable within the contract area, the replacement trees shall be planted within one-fourth (1/4) mile of the contract area as determined by the City Forester except by special permit of the City Forester.
B. 
All trees within thirty (30) feet [nine and one-tenth (9.1) meters] of any excavation or construction of any building, structure or street work shall be guarded through the length of the project with a good substantial fence, frame or box not less than four (4) feet [one and two-tenths (1.2) meters] high and eight (8) feet [two and four-tenths (2.4) meters] square, or equivalent. All equipment, building materials, chemicals, dirt or other debris shall be kept outside the barrier at all times.
C. 
No person shall intentionally damage, cut, carve or transplant any tree; attach any rope, wire, nails, advertising posters or other contrivance to any tree; allow any gaseous, liquid, chemical or solid substance that is harmful to such trees to come in contact with them; or set fire or permit any fire to burn when such fire or the heat thereof will injure any portion of any tree without first obtaining a written permit from the City Forester.
D. 
No person shall deposit, place, store or maintain any stone, brick, sand, fill dirt, concrete or other materials that may impede the free passage of water, air and fertilizer to the roots of any tree growing therein, except by written permit of the City Forester.
E. 
No person shall preclude the percolation of water or nutrients and gaseous exchange vital to a tree's survival by placing any impervious materials (asphalt, macadam, concrete) within the confines of the tree-well opening.

§ 371-11 Permit required for planting trees in public places.

A. 
Any person desiring to plant a tree upon any public street or public place must first obtain a permit from the City Forester. Any permit shall be granted to a date certain and shall include consideration of appropriateness of species, location, size and public safety.
B. 
Should the plantings(s) be performed by persons other than the City Forester or his or her agents, the proposed method and workmanship for planting as prescribed by the City Forester shall be adhered to.
C. 
A planting plan is required where more than six (6) trees are to be planted.
(1) 
Any person desiring to plant more than six (6) trees on public streets or on public places shall, in addition to applying for a permit, submit a plan or written statement in duplicate to the City Forester, who shall return one (1) copy to the applicant and keep one (1) copy on file with the city. The City Forester shall consult with the Pawtucket Parks Commission prior to issuing a permit to plant.
[Added 11-17-1992 by Ch. No. 2284]
(2) 
All planting plans shall show accurately:
(a) 
The proposed park or public place site, or proposed street width, with any curbs, parking strips, driveways, sidewalks and adjacent structures accurately defined to scale.
(b) 
The proposed location of each proposed tree, together with the location of each existing tree within the proposed site in scaled relation to the other features of the plan.
(c) 
The species of each and every tree proposed to be planted and of those already existing within the proposed site either indicated on the plans or referenced with a number with a key list.

§ 371-12 Emergencies.

The requirements of this chapter may be waived by the Mayor in the case of emergencies, such as windstorms, ice storms or other disasters, so that they, in no way, shall hinder private or public work to restore order in the city. This work shall follow maintenance standards as outlined by the City Forester.

§ 371-13 Moving large objects.

No person shall move any building or any other large object that may injure public or protected trees or parts thereof without first obtaining the written approval of the City Forester and abiding by his or her requirements.

§ 371-14 Permit conditions.

A. 
A permit shall be a written document that authorizes the bearer thereof to perform the proposed work as outlined on such permit. The permit shall be issued only by the City Forester or his/her representative.
B. 
A permit shall be obtained by filling out an application. Upon approving the application, the City Forester or his/her representative shall issue said permit.
C. 
A permit shall be required for planting, spraying, pruning, cutting above ground, removing or otherwise disturbing any tree on any street, park or other public place.
D. 
The City Forester shall issue any permit provided for herein if the proposed method and workmanship shall be of a satisfactory nature and the project shall be consistent with this chapter. Any permit granted shall contain a definite date of expiration, and the work shall be completed in the time allowed in the permit and in the manner as therein described. Any permit shall be void if its terms are violated.
E. 
The City Forester shall be notified by the bearer of said permit upon satisfactory completion of designated work.
F. 
Plantings:
(1) 
The application required herein shall state the number of trees to be set out or planted in public places, the location, grade, species, cultivar or variety of each tree, the method of planting and such other information as the City Forester shall find reasonably necessary to a fair determination of whether a permit should be issued.
(2) 
The City Forester shall have the right to make the final determination as to location, species, cultivar or variety of each tree and the method of planting before issuing said permit.
G. 
Maintenance. The application required herein shall state:
(1) 
The number and kinds of trees to be sprayed, fertilized, pruned or otherwise preserved.
(2) 
The kind of treatment to be administered.
(3) 
The composition of the spray material to be applied.
(4) 
Such other information as the City Forester shall find reasonably necessary to a fair determination of whether a permit should be issued.
H. 
Removal, replanting and replacement.
(1) 
Wherever it is necessary to remove a tree in connection with the paving of a sidewalk or the widening of the portion of a street or highway, the city shall replant the tree or replace it. This requirement will be satisfied if an equivalent number of trees of the same size and species as provided in the Arboricultural Specifications and Standards of Practice are planted within one-fourth (1/4) mile of the original tree location.
(2) 
No person shall remove a public tree for the purpose of construction or any other reason without first filing an application and procuring a permit from the City Forester. The City Forester may require replacement of a removed tree as a condition to the issuance of a permit. Such replacement shall meet the standards of size, species and placement as provided for in a permit issued by the City Forester. The person or property owner shall bear the cost of removal and replacement of all trees removed.

§ 371-15 Registration of tree experts.

To protect the public, the city shall require any person who removes or maintains trees on public property as a business to:
A. 
Be properly licensed to perform such work.
B. 
Be certified by the State of Rhode Island or any other agency that regulates arboricultural practices.
C. 
Be covered by workers' compensation to the extent required by Rhode Island law and public liability and personal property insurance in minimum amounts hereinafter mentioned adequate to cover and save harmless the City of Pawtucket and its agents from all suits, claims or actions of every class and nature for or on persons, or property damage caused or claimed to be caused, directly or indirectly, by the conduct of the work contemplated, or by or in acts of strangers, or any conditions due to the elements or any defects or insufficiencies in any method, material, ways, machinery, equipment or apparatus used in connection with the work.
D. 
Carry public liability insurance with limits of not less than five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000.).
E. 
Be bonded.
F. 
Be insured (medical).

§ 371-16 Interference with City Forester.

No person shall hinder, prevent, delay or interfere with the City Forester or any of his or her assistants while engaged in carrying out the implementation of this chapter; provided, however, that nothing herein shall be construed as an attempt to prohibit the pursuit of any remedy, legal or equitable, in any court of competent jurisdiction for the protection of property rights by the owner of any property within the city.

§ 371-17 Appeals. [1]

A. 
Any adjustment of the standards required by this chapter or an appeal of a decision of the City Forester shall be taken to the Parks Commission. The Parks Commission, upon receipt of such request on forms provided by the City Forester, shall have the authority and duty to consider and act upon the request. This application shall clearly and in detail state what adjustments or requirements are being requested, reasons such adjustments are warranted, and shall be accompanied with such supplementary data as is deemed necessary to substantiate the adjustment. The Parks Commission may approve, modify or deny the requested adjustment, based upon protection of public interest, preservation of the intent of this chapter and possible unreasonable and unnecessary hardships involved in the case.
B. 
The Commission shall act on the application as expeditiously as possible and shall notify the applicant in writing within five (5) days of the action taken.
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code; see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I.

§ 371-18 Violations and penalties.

A. 
Any person violating or failing to comply with any of the provisions of this chapter shall be subject to court action and, upon conviction thereof, shall be subject to a fine of up to three hundred dollars ($300.) and/or the value of the trees removed or damaged.
B. 
In addition, the person shall replace the tree and/or repair damage with a size and species permitted by the City Forester.
C. 
Each tree affected by noncompliance with this chapter shall constitute a separate violation.
D. 
Violation of this chapter shall be the basis of withholding a final inspection permit until such violation is corrected to the satisfaction of the City Forester and/or Parks Commission.
[Added 11-17-1992 by Ch. No. 2284]