[HISTORY: Adopted by the Village Board of the Village of Waterford as Chapter 24 of the 1998 Code. Amendments noted where applicable.]
It is hereby declared to be the policy of the Village of Waterford to regulate the planting, maintenance and removal of trees, plants and shrubs in the Village in order to promote, protect and enhance the public health, safety and general welfare of its people. The purpose of this chapter is to preserve, protect and plant trees, plants and shrubs, as valuable resources which enhance the aesthetics of property, prevent soil erosion, filter airborne pollutants, reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide, produce oxygen, provide protection against severe weather, aid in the control and drainage and restoration of soil subsequent to construction or grading, and reduce stormwater runoff.
The Village of Waterford hereby proclaims that an annual Arbor Day shall be set aside and celebrated on the last Friday of the month of April. The observance and celebration of Arbor Day shall include educational activities and the planting of trees, and in conjunction with those purposes a school principal may request one free tree from the Department of Natural Resources for each fourth grade pupil in the school, pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 118.025.
Designation. The Director of the Village Public Works Department is appointed to perform the duties of the Village Forester. The Village Public Works Department is appointed to carry out the duties assigned by the Village Forester.
Duties and responsibilities. The Village Forester shall administer and enforce this chapter, and shall exercise the powers granted by Wis. Stat. § 27.09. It shall be the responsibility of the Village Forester 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 in parks, along streets and in other public areas. Such plan will be presented annually to the Village Board and upon its acceptance and approval shall constitute the official comprehensive Tree Plan for the Village of Waterford. The Forester, when requested by the Village Board, shall consider, investigate, make findings, report and recommend upon any special matter or question coming within the scope of the Forester's work.
Authority. The Village Forester shall have the authority and jurisdiction to regulate the planting, maintenance and removal of trees on streets and other publicly owned property to ensure safety or preserve the aesthetics of such public sites. The Village Forester shall have the authority and it shall be his duty to supervise or inspect all work done under a permit issued in accordance with the terms of this chapter. The Village Forester shall have the authority to affix reasonable conditions to the granting of a permit in accordance with the terms of this chapter.
This chapter provides full power and authority over all trees, plants and shrubs located within street rights-of-way, parks and public places of the Village of Waterford; and to trees, plants and shrubs located on private property that constitute a hazard or threat as described within. The Village shall have the right to plant, prune, maintain and remove trees, plants and shrubs located in any public place, as may be necessary to ensure public safety or to preserve or enhance the beauty and symmetry of such public place. This section does not prohibit the planting of trees within tree lawns by adjacent property owners, provided that permit requirements are complied with.
As used within this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings set forth in this section:
- The Village Forester, who is the actual individual or his or her agent assigned to enforce this chapter.
- Any public or private individual, group, company, firm, corporation, partnership, association, society or any other combination of human beings, whether legal or natural.
- PUBLIC PLACE
- All grounds owned by the Village of Waterford, County of Racine, State of Wisconsin.
- PUBLIC TREE
- Any tree, shrub, bush, or other woody vegetation located in a 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/or pedestrian traffic.
- TREE LAWN
- That part of a street or highway, not covered by sidewalk or other paving, lying between the property line and the curb or that portion of a street or highway usually used for vehicular traffic.
- The Village of Waterford.
Permit requirement. No person shall plant, replace, prune, alter, remove or perform surgery on a public tree or disturb the land within the dripline of a public tree, or cause such work to be performed by others, without first obtaining a written permit for such work from the Village Forester, unless acting under contract with the Village. A person shall not be required to obtain a permit to fertilize or water trees in a tree lawn abutting his or her property.
Time. Any person who applies for a permit shall make the application in writing, on a form provided by the Village, no less than 24 hours prior to the time the work is to be performed.
Standards. The Village Forester shall issue the permit required if, in the Forester's judgment, the proposed work is desirable and the proposed method and workmanship are satisfactory. Any permit granted shall contain an expiration date, and the work shall be completed in the time and manner provided for in the permit. A permit shall be void if its terms are violated.
Annual public utility and contractor permits. Public utilities and contractors may apply for and obtain, in accordance with this chapter, an annual forestry permit subject to the following additional conditions, unless waived for just cause by the Village Forester:
File evidence of possession of liability insurance in the minimum amount of $300,000 for bodily injury or death and $100,000 property damage indemnifying the Village or any person injured or damaged resulting from work done pursuant to the permit; and maintain that liability insurance for the permit period.
Provide the Village Forester with seven days' advance notice of the work to be performed.
Perform the work in conformance with this chapter and written guidelines and directives of the Village Forester.
Every property owner or occupant shall be responsible for the normal care, including watering, of trees located on such property.
Willful injury or disfigurement of any tree growing within the Village shall be a violation of this chapter.
A protective barrier shall be placed outside the root zone of any public tree prior to construction activities, and shall remain in place until all construction activity is terminated.
Every owner of any tree overhanging any street or highway within the Village shall prune the branches so that the branches will not severely obstruct the light from any street lamp or obstruct the view of any street intersection or street sign and so that there shall be a clear space of 13 feet above the street surface and 10 feet above the sidewalk surface.
Tree pruning which is necessary for the maintenance of the transmission lines of a utility or cable TV franchise shall conform to the requirements of Wis. Stat. §§ 86.16, 182.017 and Municipal Code Chapter 104, § 104-10I (if applicable), and shall only be performed after 48 hours' notice to the Village, even when no public trees are affected.
Every owner of any tree shall remove all dead, diseased or dangerous trees, or broken or decayed limbs which constitute a menace to the safety of the public.
It shall be unlawful, as a normal practice, for any person or Village department to top any public tree. 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 as to remove the tree's normal canopy and disfigure the tree. Trees severely damaged by storms or other causes, or certain trees under utility wires or other obstructions where pruning is impractical, may be exempted from this chapter at the determination of the Village Forester.
The following are declared public nuisances under this chapter:
Any dead or dying tree.
Any otherwise healthy tree which is affected with any injurious fungus, insect or other pest.
Any tree which, by reason of location or condition, constitutes an imminent danger to the health, safety or welfare of the general public, including any tree or part thereof which is in an unsafe condition or which by nature is injurious to sewers, electric powers lines, gas lines, water lines, or other public improvements.
Any tree which obstructs the free passage of pedestrian or vehicular traffic, or which obstructs the view of any street intersection or street sign, or severely obstructs the light from any street lamp.
Right to inspect. The Village Forester and the Public Works Department have the authority to enter onto private property, after prior notification of the property owner, whereon there is located a tree that is suspected to be a public nuisance.
Abatement. The means of abating public nuisances under this chapter are as follows:
Any public nuisance under this chapter which is located on public property shall be pruned, removed or otherwise treated by the Village Forester in whatever fashion is required to cause the abatement of the nuisance within a reasonable time of its discovery.
Upon finding any public nuisance under this chapter which is located on private property, the Village Forester shall follow the procedures for notice and abatement set forth in Chapter 165, § 165-7, of this Municipal Code. Notice to abate a nuisance issued under § 165-7C shall specify whether the property owner shall prune, remove, or otherwise treat the tree.
When a property owner fails to comply with an order to abate a public nuisance issued under this chapter, and the Village Forester causes the nuisance to be abated, the costs of the service, including labor, equipment and materials, shall be charged to the property owner, and shall be assessed to the property in conformance with Wis. Stat. § 66.0627.
Immediate abatement. Notwithstanding the above, the Village Forester is empowered to cause the immediate abatement of any public nuisance which the Village Forester determines to be an immediate threat to any person or property.
The Village Board shall include in its annual budget the sum necessary to meet the expenses required by the enactment of this chapter and the implementation of the Tree Plan, which shall not be less than $2 per capita of the population of the Village of Waterford. The Village Board may, in its discretion, levy a separately denominated tax for the purpose of setting out shade and ornamental trees as provided in Wis. Stat. § 61.47.
Any person who violates any provision of this chapter or fails to comply with any order issued pursuant to this chapter, upon being found guilty of the violation, shall be subject to a fine not to exceed $200 for each separate offense. Each day during which any violation of the provisions of this chapter shall occur or continue shall be a separate offense.
If a public tree is injured, mutilated or dies as the result of the violation of any provision of this chapter, the cost of repair or replacement of such tree shall be borne by the person in violation.
Any person who is aggrieved by any action or decision by the Village Forester or Public Works Department may appeal to the Village Board. The Board, after a hearing, may reverse, affirm or modify the order, requirement, decision or determination of the Village Forester upon notice to the appellant, and to that end shall have all of the powers of the Village Forester.