Borough of South River, NJ
Middlesex County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of South River 4-10-1996 by Ord. No. 1996-5 (Ch. 190 of the 1977 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
General penalty — See Ch. 1, Art. I.
Fees — See Ch. 155.
Environmental/Shade Tree Commission — See Ch. 22, Art. IV.
Property maintenance — See Ch. 258.
Soil removal — See Ch. 284.
Excavations in streets — See Ch. 289, Art. VI.
Weed control — See Ch. 394.

§ 319-1 Legislative intent.

A. 
It is the intent of this chapter to promote the general welfare of the people of the Borough of South River by providing for the protection, regulation, planting and cutting of trees in such a way as to protect and preserve the environment by controlling the tree life in the Borough of South River. Shade and ornamental trees must be protected in this rapidly growing area since they provide shade and beauty and grace to our Borough. Trees also act as barriers to surface water flow and soil erosion which, without the proper control, could become a serious problem in the Borough.
B. 
It shall further be the policy of the Borough to improve and coordinate the plans for the protection, regulation and planting of trees and forest management with the overall environmental plans of the Borough in cooperation with the federal and state governments.
C. 
It shall further be the policy of the Borough in implementing this chapter for the protection, regulation, planting and cutting of trees to foster, promote, create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can thrive in harmony with each other and achieve social, economic and technical progress for present and future generations for the citizens of the Borough of South River.

§ 319-2 Legislative findings.

A. 
With an evergrowing population in the Borough of South River, it is absolutely essential to our citizens to remove pollution from our air. It takes approximately 20 mature trees to clean the air of gases produced from vehicular traffic consuming five gallons of gasoline. Healthy trees greatly assist in this battle against air pollution since moist tree foliage traps dust and soot particles until the rain washes them away and they produce oxygen.
B. 
Properly planted and nurtured trees are also needed to create sound barriers to help in the reduction of the noise level made by vehicular traffic, trains and ultimately the noise which will be created by air traffic.
C. 
Properly maintained trees can also increase property values and will generally improve the overall aesthetic appearance of homes, neighborhoods and the community as a whole.

§ 319-3 Definitions and word usage.

Whenever used in this chapter, unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context or unless a different meaning is stated in a definition applicable to only a portion of this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
AESTHETIC IMPROVEMENT CUT
The removal, to the extent possible, of the minimum number of smallest size and undesirable specimens of trees so as to permit land development while retaining the maximum number of larger and better specimens of trees.
CLEAR CUTTING
The removal of all standing trees on a lot or portion of a lot.
DIAMETER BREAST HEIGHT
The diameter of a tree measured at a point on the tree 4 1/2 feet from ground level. This phrase may appear in this chapter as the abbreviation "DBH."
MANAGEMENT PLAN
The written information required in this chapter and containing the proposed methods and procedures to be employed in conjunction with a tree removal project and tree preservation.
PERSON
Any individual, firm, copartnership, association, corporation or developer other than the Borough and public corporation.
PROFESSIONAL FORESTER
One who has a minimum of a bachelor's of science degree in forestry from a four-year college accredited by the Society of American Foresters.
SELECTIVE CUTTING
The removal on a selected basis while leaving other trees of various sizes and ages to meet a particular objective.
SILVICULTURE
The management of any forested tract of land to ensure its continued survival and welfare whether for commercial or noncommercial purposes.
SLASH
The forest debris remaining after a tree removal operation.
SUBDIVISION
The division of a lot, tract or parcel of land into two or more lots, tracts, parcels or other divisions of land for sale or development. The following shall not be considered "subdivisions" within the meaning of this chapter if no new streets are created and no modifications to Borough facilities are involved: divisions of property by testamentary or intestate provisions; divisions of property upon court order, including but not limited to judgments of foreclosure; consolidation of existing lots by deed or other recorded instrument; and the conveyance of one or more adjoining lots, tracts or parcels of land owned by the same person or persons and all of which are found and certified by the administrative officer to conform to the requirements of the municipal development regulations and are shown and designated as separate lots, tracts or parcels on the Tax Maps of the Borough. The term "subdivision" shall also include the term "resubdivision."
THINNING
The removal of undesirable, competitive, diseased or damaged trees so as to cultivate and improve the development of remaining trees on a lot.
TOPPINGS
The uppermost 20% of a tree constituting its crown.
TREE
Any deciduous or coniferous species which reaches a typical mature height of 10 feet and a typical mature DBH of four inches or greater. Any species not qualifying as a "tree" under this definition shall be considered a stem and shall not fall within the purview of this chapter.

§ 319-4 Protection of trees against damage from electric wires.

Any person, firm or corporation having control over any wire for transmission of electric current along a public street or road shall at all times guard all trees through which or near which such wires pass against any injury from wires or from electric current carried by them.

§ 319-5 Contact of trees with injurious chemicals.

No person, firm or corporation shall permit any brine, gas or liquid chemical to come in contact with the stem or roots of any tree or stem upon a public street or road or upon Borough property which shall cause injury to said tree.

§ 319-6 Hitching of animals; injury by animals.

No person, firm or corporation shall hitch or fasten an animal to any tree or stem upon a public street or road or to any guard or support provided for the same nor permit an animal to bite or otherwise injure any such tree or stem.

§ 319-7 Protection of trees.

A. 
No person shall do or cause to be done upon trees in any right-of-way, public street or road within the Borough of South River any of the following acts:
(1) 
Cut, trim, break, move, climb with spikes, disturb the roots or otherwise intentionally injure, misuse or spray with harmful chemicals or remove any living tree four inches or more DBH or remove any device installed to support or protect such trees.
(2) 
Plant any tree.
(3) 
Fasten any rope, wire, electrical equipment, sign or other device to a tree or any guard about such a tree or stem.
(4) 
Close or obstruct any open space provided at the base of a tree which open space is necessary to permit the access of air, water or fertilizer to the roots of such tree.
(5) 
Pile, heap or store any building material, soil, debris or any other matter or make any mortar or cement within a distance of two feet of a tree.
B. 
During the period of construction or repair of any building or structure or in the construction or repair of a street, road and highway not yet dedicated to the Borough, the owner thereof and/or the contractor shall take every precaution to place guards around all nearby trees on Borough land or within public roads or rights-of-way so as to effectively prevent injury to such trees. The owner and/or contractor shall each be responsible for the placement of such guards or guardrail, and failure to make adequate provision for the protection of the trees shall subject the owner and builder to a penalty as hereinafter provided.

§ 319-8 Trees on public streets or roads.

Where a person desires to control the growth of trees on a public street or road or right-of-way by removing them or pruning the trees, then the person shall apply for approval to the Environmental/Shade Tree Commission and shall outline the work to be performed. Upon receiving a written application, the Environmental/Shade Tree Commission shall approve or deny the same.

§ 319-9 Exemptions.

The following shall be exempt from the requirements of this chapter:
A. 
Commercial nurseries and fruit orchards.
B. 
Christmas tree plantations.
C. 
Properties devoted to the practice of silviculture.
D. 
The proposed cutting of trees on tracts of land one acre or less in area, provided that no more than 75% of the existing trees are removed from the lot upon which a single-family dwelling has been erected or is to be erected, except lots within proposed major subdivisions.
E. 
Removal of trees on private property which are dead, dying or diseased or trees which have suffered severe damage or any tree or trees whose angle or growth makes them a hazard to structures or human life.
F. 
Pruning and removal of trees by utility companies to provide for line clearance of utility wires.
G. 
Approved game management practice, as recommended by the State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife.
H. 
All lots which contain three or fewer trees upon which a single-family dwelling has been erected or is to be erected, except lots within proposed major subdivisions.
[Added 4-24-1996 by Ord. No. 1996-11]

§ 319-10 Management plan approval.

A. 
Except for the exemptions set forth in this chapter, no tree shall be cut or otherwise removed from any lands in the Borough of South River unless a management plan as described in this chapter has been approved by the Planning Board and a permit based thereon issued by the Code Enforcement Officer of the Borough of South River. The application for such a permit shall indicate the name and address of the owner of the premises, the name and address of the applicant for the permit, if other than the owner, accompanied by the owner's consent to said application, and a description by lot and block number of the premises for which the permit is sought. The form of said application shall be obtainable from the Code Enforcement Officer. A complete application for a tree removal permit consists of the following:
(1) 
The fully completed application form.
(2) 
The management plan as described in this chapter.
B. 
If, however, an application which requires a management plan under this chapter is before the Zoning Board of Adjustment, the Zoning Board of Adjustment shall retain jurisdiction with respect to the management plan.
C. 
The Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment, as the case may be, shall act on the application within 45 days of its receipt or within such additional time as is consented to by the applicant. The Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment, as the case may be, may refer the application to the Environmental/Shade Tree Commission for its report and recommendations. The Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment, as the case may be, may rely on the report and recommendations of the Environmental/Shade Tree Commission in reaching its decision to approve the management plan, disapprove the management plan or approve the management plan subject to such conditions as have been recommended by the Environmental/Shade Tree Commission in accordance with the terms of this chapter. Failure of the Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment, as the case may be, to act within 45 days of the date of the application or any extension thereof shall be deemed to be an approval of the management plan, and, thereafter, the Code Enforcement Officer of the Borough of South River shall issue a tree removal permit based thereon.
D. 
All action taken by the Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment, as the case may be, pertaining to a management plan shall be in the form of a resolution to which the tree removal permit issued by the Code Enforcement Officer shall refer. Any such tree removal permit shall be valid for the time proposed by the applicant to complete the project; provided, however, that no permit shall be valid for a period of more than five years from the date of approval. The Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment, as the case may be, upon showing of good cause by the applicant, my recommend the extension of any such permit for an additional period of one year, provided that the applicant submits an updated management plan to show tree removal activities to date. Further, the Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment, as the case my be, may require as a condition of any such extension that the applicant employ current techniques and procedures incorporated into this chapter since the date of original approval.

§ 319-11 Management plan information.

The management plan submitted in conjunction with a tree removal permit application shall contain the following information:
A. 
A description of the premises upon which tree removal is to take place by street address and Township Tax Map lot and block number.
B. 
The acreage of the lot upon which tree removal is to take place.
C. 
The location upon the lot where tree removal is to take place.
D. 
A survey of the species size and quantity of trees which are to be removed. On timber harvesting and/or silviculture projects involving more than 10 acres, the application may make an estimate of the total quantity of trees and size of trees to be removed based on the number upon one typical acre.
E. 
Specific proposals for replanting or reforestations, if applicable.
F. 
A description of the type of tree removal project, that is:
(1) 
Thinning.
(2) 
Selective cutting.
(3) 
Clear cutting.
(4) 
Aesthetic improvement cut.
G. 
Location of streams and watercourses.
H. 
Location of slopes of greater than 10% where any tree removal is proposed.

§ 319-12 Preparation of management plan.

A. 
All management plans submitted pursuant to this chapter dealing with the harvesting of timber and/or silviculture shall be based upon and be in accordance with the standards and recommendations of the New Jersey State Bureau of Forestry pertaining to the type of tree removal project proposed.
B. 
All management plans submitted pursuant to this chapter dealing with the development of land for housing, commercial or industrial use shall be subject to all the provisions set forth in the management plan.

§ 319-13 Toppings and slash.

All toppings and slash that are generated by the falling of individual trees shall be removed from the site for disposal.

§ 319-14 Clear-cutting.

A. 
There shall be no clear-cutting permitted on slopes of 10% or greater in grade; however, selective cutting or thinning is permitted.
B. 
There shall be no clear-cutting permitted within major subdivisions where the existing lots will be on one acre or less, unless otherwise approved.
C. 
Where lots are one acre or less within major subdivisions, 75% of the trees may be removed. However, a management plan is required for their removal and the 25% that will remain.

§ 319-15 Control of trees in land development.

Where an owner of real property plans to develop his property as a subdivision, planned unit development, multiple-residence development or an undeveloped building lot on which a house is to be constructed, he shall not remove any live trees until compliance with this chapter is satisfied and only under the following circumstances:
A. 
Any tree protected by this chapter that is seriously damaged or removed by the developer shall be replaced prior to the issuance of a certificate of occupancy.
B. 
All replacement trees must comply with the specifications for the planting of shade trees for the Borough of South River provided in § 319-19 of this chapter.

§ 319-16 Land development procedures.

A. 
If property is developed as a subdivision, site plan, planned unit development or multiresidential development which requires the approval of the South River Planning Board or South River Zoning Board, then the developer shall be required to submit plans indicating proposed locations of roads, lots, improvements, existing trees and size of said trees for review and approval of the appropriate agency. The proposed plan should indicate trees to be removed and wooded areas to remain.
B. 
The developer shall submit three sets of plans to the appropriate Board to enable the Engineering Department to make recommendation to the appropriate Board with regard to the adequacy of tree preservation.
C. 
An application for approval before the Planning Board or Zoning Board shall require that the developer, as a condition of such approval, follow the recommendations of the Engineering Department or follow those recommendations which the Planning Board or Zoning Board deems advisable under the circumstances. The manner of designating the trees to be saved shall be left to the discretion of the Board. At any time after receiving approval, if the developer changes the road pattern, lot layout or site improvements, then he shall submit revised tree preservation plans to the Planning Board or Zoning Board.
D. 
Prior to the issuance of a building permit by the Zoning Officer, the developer shall designate on a given lot the trees to be retained, which designation shall be based upon the proposed location of the house or building, driveway and other accessory uses and structures, it being understood that in that area the developer shall not designate any tree for preservation.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II).
E. 
Prior to the issuance of the certificate of occupancy, the Construction Official shall receive a release from the Borough Engineer or his designee indicating that all trees designated for preservation shall, in fact, be in existence. In the event that the developer has removed any trees designated for preservation without prior approval, then the developer shall replace the trees with trees of equal kind to the satisfaction of the Borough Engineer.
F. 
Where a person is to build on an individual lot, then that person shall be required to obtain the approval of the Code Enforcement Officer as set forth in this chapter.

§ 319-17 Responsibility of developer.

A. 
Where the South River Planning Board or Zoning Board has given approval to a subdivision or site plan which contains, as a condition of such approval, a tree management plan, then the developer shall be responsible for the preservation of designated trees and the planting of trees as shown on the approval plan. The developer shall plant one shade tree for every 50 feet of frontage on the proposed or existing right-of-way. All types and locations of shade trees to be planted shall be shown in the written recommendations submitted to the South River Planning Board or Zoning Board and shall be planted in accordance with the specifications for planting shade trees as hereinafter provided.
B. 
Where by reason of weather, season or other circumstances it is impossible for the developer to plant a tree in accordance with this chapter, a person may deposit in escrow with the Borough Clerk in the amount per tree as provided in Chapter 155, Fees, to cover the cost of purchasing, planting and maintaining the tree for one year. No street shall be accepted for dedication by the Municipal Council until the Borough Engineer notifies the Municipal Council that the developer has complied with this chapter.

§ 319-18 Planting requirements for off-street parking spaces.

Where a building permit has been requested from the South River Construction Official for the construction of a building requiring off-street parking for 10 or more vehicles, then the owner or builder shall be required to plant shade trees around the perimeter of such parking space in accordance with this chapter. Where the season or weather prevents such planting, the owner or builder may deposit with the Clerk of the Borough of South River a sum sufficient to guarantee the planting of such trees.

§ 319-19 Specifications for planting shade trees.

A. 
Specifications and requirements.
(1) 
Trees to be planted along road rights-of-way as a requirement of subdivision approval shall be approved by the Environmental/Shade Tree Commission, balled or burlapped and not less than 2 1/2 inches in caliper, measured one foot above the ball, nor less than 10 feet high. They must be well branched, the branches to start not less than six feet from the crown of the root system. The leader branch for each specimen tree should be intact at time of delivery and planting. Only trees with a columnar form and habit should be planted in the downtown area. The following types of trees shall be planted: London or Oriental plane; red maple; silver linden; European linden; ash; thornless honey locust; Schwedler's maple; Bradford Callery Pear; littleleaf linden; and Norway maple.
[Amended 5-24-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-15]
(2) 
Trees should start 15 feet from the point of curvature of the curb, located on the tangent side of the curb, and shall be approximately 50 feet apart. Trees should be staggered when planted on opposite sides of the same street. No tree shall be located in such a manner as to limit the sight distance along the road below the specified minimum in the highway specifications. Trees shall not be planted between the curb and sidewalk, or curb and Borough right of way, whichever distance shall be greater, except those trees planted by the Borough of South River in the downtown business district. Trees shall be planted a minimum of three feet from any sidewalk or tree grates used in the downtown area.
[Amended 5-24-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-15]
(3) 
In general, excavation for planting shall be large enough to accommodate the natural spread of the root system and at least one foot deeper and two feet wider than the ball of earth supplied with the tree. The pit shall be rock free and refilled with one part topsoil, one part clean fill and one part humus and the parent soil discarded. Hardpan shall be loosened an additional 12 inches from the bottom and sides of the pit. Trees shall be adequately fertilized and watered at the time of planting and mulched with three inches of approved mulch immediately after planting.
(4) 
Trees shall be staked and guyed immediately after planting. Stakes shall be of cedar or oak, eight feet long and no less than two inches in diameter. Trees shall be guyed to the stakes using No. 10 wire covered with rubber hose, or its equal. The wire shall be attached to the stake in such a manner that it will not slip or come into contact with the tree trunk. The trunk of the tree may be protected with tree-wrapping paper. Said staking shall remain until directed by the Borough Engineer or a certified and/or equally qualified professional.
[Amended 5-24-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-15]
(5) 
Removal of debris is required. The property must be left in a neat and orderly condition in accordance with good and accepted planting and tree surgery practice.
(6) 
Trees shall only be planted from March 15 through May 15 or between September 15 and November 15 unless specific authorization of the Borough Engineer or a certified and/or equally qualified professional shall be given.
[Amended 5-24-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-15]
(7) 
Notice must be given to the Borough Engineer or a certified and/or equally qualified professional 30 days prior to the start of planting in order that the plants and trees may be inspected and approved for tree variety, condition, size and quality. All work shall be subject to the general supervision and approval of the Borough Engineer.
[Amended 5-24-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-15]
B. 
Any tree improperly planted or not meeting these specifications will be subject to removal. Any tree that does not survive or is in an unhealthy condition at the end of one year shall be replaced within 60 days following written demand for such replacement or within a more extended period as may be specified. It shall be the responsibility of the Borough Engineer to determine if a tree is subject to removal under the provisions of this chapter.

§ 319-20 Fees.

There shall be no fee payable for the processing or issuance of a tree removal permit.

§ 319-21 Appeals.

A. 
An applicant may appeal to the South River Borough Council from a decision of the Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment denying a tree removal permit or from any other action or requirement of the Planning Board under the terms of this chapter. Said appeal shall be made within 30 days of the date upon which notice of denial or other action of the Planning Board is served upon the applicant.
B. 
The Borough Council shall consider the findings of the Planning Board and the testimony of the applicant and may thereafter take the following actions:
(1) 
Affirm the decision of the Planning Board.
(2) 
Overrule the decision of the Planning Board and direct that a tree removal permit be issued.
(3) 
Overrule the decision of the Planning Board denying the permit but conditioning the issuance of said permit upon the satisfaction of such conditions as the Borough Council shall impose.
(4) 
In special circumstances and upon a showing of good cause by the applicant, waive a requirement of this chapter where said waiver will not frustrate the basic intent and purpose of this chapter.

§ 319-22 Permit revocation.

The Borough Council, through the Code Enforcement Officer of the Borough, may revoke a permit where there has been a false or misleading application or there is a noncompliance with the approval management plan.

§ 319-23 Violations and penalties; additional remedies.

Any person who shall violate the provisions of this chapter shall be liable to the penalties provided in Chapter 1, Article I, General Penalty. The Judge before whom any person is convicted of violating any of the above provisions of this chapter shall have the power to impose any fee or term of imprisonment not exceeding the maximum stated herein. Each and every day such a violation continues shall be deemed a separate and distinct offense. In addition to the foregoing, the Borough of South River may institute and maintain a civil action for injunctive relief restraining the continuance of any unlawful tree removal project.