City of Ithaca, NY
Tompkins County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Common Council of the City of Ithaca 12-5-1990 as part of Ord. No. 90-18 (Ch. 71 of the 1975 Municipal Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Shade Tree Advisory Committee — See Ch. 112.
Parks and recreation — See Ch. 336.
Site development plan review — See Ch. 276.
Streets and sidewalks — See Chs. 285 and 342.
Subdivision of land — See Ch. 290.

§ 306-1 Purpose.

This chapter regulates the planting, maintenance, protection and removal of trees and shrubs on public streets, parks and other city-owned property; provides for a Shade Tree Advisory Committee;[1] and establishes the office of a City Forester in the Department of Public Works. This chapter also provides for the issuing of permits for the planting, maintenance, protection and removal of trees and shrubs in city-owned places.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 112, Shade Tree Advisory Committee.

§ 306-2 Title.

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

§ 306-3 Definitions.

The following terms shall have the meanings provided in this section unless their context requires otherwise:
CALIPER
The diameter in inches of the tree trunk 12 inches above the base of the tree.
CITY AGENCY
Any department, board, commission, committee or other entity within the government of the City of Ithaca.
DBH (diameter at breast height)
The diameter of tree trunks at a height of four feet six inches from the finished grade at the base of the tree.
PERSON
Any corporation, firm, partnership, association, trust, estate, one or more individuals and any unit of government or agency or subdivision thereof, except for a city agency.
TREES AND SHRUBS
Any woody plants which have self-supporting, aboveground parts which are viable year round.

§ 306-4 City Forester.

A. 
The office of the City Forester is hereby established in the Department of Public Works.
B. 
The City Forester, in consultation with the Shade Tree Advisory Committee (STAC) and the Board of Public Works, shall have the authority to implement and enforce the provisions of this chapter.
C. 
In furtherance of the purposes of this chapter, the Board of Public Works, in consultation with the City Forester and the STAC, shall have the authority to adopt rules and regulations regarding arboricultural specifications and standards of practice and such additional rules and regulations as the Board determines are necessary. These regulations shall govern the planting, maintenance, removal, fertilization, pruning and protection of trees and shrubs on public streets, parks or other city property.
D. 
In the absence of the City Forester, the duties of that office shall be the responsibility of the Supervisor of Parks and Forestry within the Department of Public Works.

§ 306-5 Planting, maintenance and removal regulations.

A. 
No person or city agency shall plant, spray, fertilize, prune, remove, replace or otherwise disturb any tree or shrub on any public street, park or other city-owned property without first submitting a written request therefor and obtaining written permission from the City Forester. Requests for written permission shall be acted on within five business days of filing the written request with the City Forester. All work for which such permission is given shall be done in accordance with the Department of Public Works rules and regulations adopted pursuant to § 306-4 of this chapter.
B. 
Persons or city agencies conducting regular maintenance work on trees or shrubs may be granted general permits to cover their work on a yearly basis.
C. 
Except as provided in Subsection D, whenever a person or city agency obtains written permission pursuant to Subsection A of this section to remove a tree or shrub from any city-owned land for the purpose of construction or for any other reason, such person or agency shall subsequently replace the tree or shrub within one year of the issuance of the tree-removal permit in a location to be determined by the City Forester somewhere in the city or have the city replace such tree or shrub at the expense of the person who obtained such permission. Such replacement shall meet the standards of size, species and placement as provided for in the tree removal permit issued by the City Forester. Unless the City Forester, for good cause, determines otherwise, trees shall be replaced by the caliper inch, such that for every inch of diameter (DBH) removed, an equal number of caliper inches shall be replaced (e.g., the removal of one twelve-inch DBH tree shall necessitate the planting of six two-inch caliper trees or four three-inch caliper trees, etc.).
D. 
It is the responsibility of the City Forester to determine if trees or shrubs on city-owned property are hazardous and to remove dead or hazardous trees or shrubs from city-owned property. If replacement is recommended by the City Forester, the city shall replace the tree or shrub within one year of removal.
E. 
Wherever it is necessary to remove a tree or shrub from a public right-of-way in connection with the paving of a sidewalk or the paving or widening of a street, the city or responsible agency or person shall replant such tree or shrub or replace it. If conditions prevent planting in the right-of-way, this requirement may be satisfied by planting on the adjoining property if the property owner agrees.
F. 
Requests from private citizens that new street trees be planted near their property shall be accommodated in accordance with planting priorities set by the City Forester in consultation with the STAC and the Board of Public Works.
G. 
Specifications governing tree species, size, spacing and method and location of planting shall be approved by the City Forester. Inspection of the trees by the City Forester shall be carried out, whenever possible, prior to planting in order to ensure tree health and quality. Whenever any person is required to replace a tree pursuant to this chapter, a one-year guaranty of the tree's health shall be provided for such replacement trees.
H. 
Excavation within the street right-of-way for the purpose of compliance with this section shall not be undertaken without a permit from the City Engineer.

§ 306-6 Damage prohibited.

Unless specifically authorized in writing by the City Forester, no person or city agency shall intentionally damage, cut, carve, transplant or remove any tree or shrub on city-owned property; attach any rope, wire, nails, advertising posters or other contrivance to any such tree or shrub; allow any gas, liquid or solid substance which is harmful to any such tree or shrub to come in contact with it; or set fire or permit any fire to burn when such fire or heat thereof will injure any portion of any tree or shrub on city property. Written authorization for any action governed by this section may be obtained in the same manner as provided in § 306-5 of this chapter.

§ 306-7 Protection.

A. 
Without written permission from the City Forester, no person or city agency shall:
(1) 
Undertake any construction or development activity (including but not limited to the excavation of any ditches, tunnels, or trenches or the laying of pavement) within the dripline of any city tree or shrub.
(2) 
Move or park vehicles associated with any construction or development activity which may affect any tree or shrub on city property.
B. 
Guarding during construction or excavation.
(1) 
Unless the City Forester, for good cause, determines otherwise, all trees or shrubs on any public street or other city-owned property directly impinging on any excavation or construction of any building, structure or street work shall be guarded as follows:
(a) 
For trees or shrubs with a crown spread of eight feet or less, a substantial fence, frame or box not less than four feet high and eight feet square shall surround the tree or shrub.
(b) 
For a tree or shrub with a crown spread over eight feet, a fence not less than four feet high shall be placed at least at the tree or shrub's dripline or at a distance prescribed by the City Forester.
(2) 
All building material, soil or debris shall be kept outside these barriers.
C. 
No person or city agency shall deposit, place, store or maintain upon any public place of the city any stone, brick, sand, concrete or other materials which may impede the free passage of water, air and fertilizer to the roots on any tree or shrub growing thereon, except by written permit of the City Forester.
D. 
Any written permission required by this section may be obtained in the same manner as provided for in § 306-5.

§ 306-8 Obstruction of streets.

A. 
It shall be the duty of any person owning real property bordering on a public street to ensure that trees and shrubs on that property are pruned in a manner that will not obstruct or shade streetlights, obstruct the passage of pedestrians on sidewalks, obstruct vision of traffic signs or obstruct the view of any street or alley intersection. If trees are interfering with utility wires, it is the obligation of the appropriate utility company to correct the situation.
B. 
Should any person owning real property bordering on any public street fail to comply as hereinabove provided, the City Forester shall order the owner to take corrective action within 15 days after receipt of written notice. The order required herein shall be served by mailing a copy of it to the last known address of the property owner.
C. 
When a person to whom an order it directed shall fail to comply within the specified time, it shall be lawful for the city to prune such trees or shrubs or to pay for such pruning, and the cost thereof shall be assessed to the owner.

§ 306-9 Coordination of review.

When plantings are to be done on projects that also require site development plan review (Chapter 276), the City Forester and the site development plan review officer shall coordinate review of the proposed planting plan.

§ 306-10 Emergency work.

A. 
This chapter shall not govern any emergency activity immediately necessary to protect life, safety or property or to maintain access to any property. Any such activity shall incorporate reasonable efforts to protect trees and shrubs on city property from unnecessary damage.
B. 
Any person or city agency engaged in any action covered by Subsection A shall make a reasonable effort to notify the City Forester prior to commencing that action and shall, in any event, provide written notice of the emergency and the work done to the City Forester within three calendar days of commencing that work.

§ 306-11 Appeals.

Should a dispute arise in the administering of this chapter, an appeal can be requested by petitioning, in writing, the City Forester. The City Forester will have five working days to reply in writing. Should this provide an unsatisfactory resolution, a second appeal can be requested by petitioning the Superintendent of Public Works. In such event, the Superintendent of Public Works shall consult with the City Forester. The Superintendent will have 10 working days from the filing of the second appeal to reply in writing. Should this also provide an unsatisfactory resolution, a third appeal can be requested by petitioning the Board of Public Works. The Board of Public Works will act upon the petition within 30 days from the date of receiving the petition.

§ 306-12 Penalties for offenses.

Any person who violates or fails to comply with any of the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a violation and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined a sum not more than $250 plus the cost of rectifying damage to any tree or shrub on city-owned property.