[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Watertown 12-18-2000 by L.L. No. 1-2000. This local law superseded former Ch. 287, Trees, adopted as Ch. 72 of the 1949 Code, as amended. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter regulates the planting, maintenance, protection and removal of trees located on public streets, parks and other city-owned property and designates a Street Tree Advisory Board. This chapter also provides for the issuing of permits for the planting, maintenance, removal and protection of trees on city-owned property.
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as "Trees."
For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms shall be defined as follows:
- CITY AGENCY
- Any department, board, commission or other entity within the government of the city of Watertown.
- 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.
- PARK TREES
- Trees 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.
- 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.
- STREET TREES
- Trees and all other woody vegetation on land within the city right-of-way on either side of all streets, avenues or ways within the city.
A Street Tree Advisory Board shall be designated by resolution of the City Council, in consultation with city staff, consisting of members of the community interested in promoting the benefit, growth and health of the urban forest. Board members should include persons with expertise in the field of urban forestry and city staff from the city Planning Office, Department of Public Works or the Department of Parks and Recreation or other appropriate city personnel.
Editor's Note: By a resolution of 12-18-2000, the City Council designated Tree Watertown as the city's official Street Tree Advisory Board.
It shall be the responsibility of the Street Tree Advisory Board to study, investigate, counsel and assist city staff with the development of a plan for the care, preservation, pruning, planting, replanting, removal or disposition of trees in parks, along streets and in other public areas. The Street Tree Advisory Board shall also assist the city in the preparation of its street tree planting program, including recommendations on tree species, tree planting locations and other related matters.
The Street Tree Advisory Board, when requested by the City Council, shall consider, investigate, make finding, report and recommend upon any special matter or question coming within the scope of its work.
The Street Tree Advisory Board shall choose its own officers, make its own rules and regulations and keep a journal of its proceedings.
All members of the Street Tree Advisory Board shall serve without pay.
The Department of Public Works Tree Crew shall have the right to plant, prune, maintain and remove trees within the lines of all streets, alleys, avenues, lanes, 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.
The Superintendent of the Department of Public Works or his urban forestry designee may remove, or cause or order to be removed, any city-owned 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, water lines or other public improvements, blocks visibility, or is affected with any serious injurious fungus, insect or other pest.
No unauthorized person or city agency shall plant, prune, remove, maintain, cut, break or otherwise injure any portion of any tree planted or growing in any street or public place without first submitting a written request and obtaining written permission from the Superintendent of the Department of Public Works or his urban forestry designee.
Whenever a person or city agency obtains written permission pursuant to Subsection C of this section to remove a tree from any city-owned land for the purpose of nonresidential construction or development, excluding hazardous or unsafe trees, or if any person or city agency removes any city-owned tree without permission, such person or city agency shall subsequently replace the tree(s), or have the city Department of Public Works replace the tree(s) at the expense of the person or city agency who obtained such permission. Replanting shall occur within one year of the removal of the tree. Such replacement shall meet the standards of size, species and placement as provided for in the tree removal permit as issued by the Superintendent of the Department of Public Works or his urban forestry designee and as recommended by the Street Tree Advisory Board. Unless the Street Tree Advisory Board or the Superintendent of the Department of Public Works or his urban forestry designee, 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.).
In furtherance of the purposes of this chapter, the Street Tree Advisory Board, in consultation with the city Planning Office and the Department of Public Works, shall have the authority to adopt and modify rules and regulations regarding arboricultural specifications and standards of practice, to be known as the "Arboricultural Specifications Manual." This manual shall govern the planting, maintenance, removal, pruning, fertilization and protection of trees on public streets, parks or other city property. The Arboricultural Specifications Manual shall be kept on file and shall be available in the city Planning Office, the Department of Public Works and the city Clerk's office.
The Department of Public Works Tree Crew shall be responsible for the care of the public trees in a manner as set forth in the Arboricultural Specifications Manual.
This chapter does not prohibit the planting of street trees on city property by adjacent property owners, provided that written permission is obtained from Superintendent of Public Works or his urban forestry designee and the selection and location of said trees is in accordance with the city's Arboricultural Specifications Manual. The city does, however, have the authority to relocate or remove any tree that is improperly planted according to the specifications mentioned above.
The city shall have the right to cause the removal of any dead or diseased trees or tree limbs on private property within the city, when such trees or limbs constitute a known hazard to the public right-of-way or other public 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, including the stump, shall be done by said owners, at their own expense, within 60 days after the date of service of notice.
In the event of an emergency situation, or in other situations where a tree is found to be in a state which could potentially cause immediate harm to life or property, the city has the right to order the immediate removal of the tree. In such cases, the property owner shall immediately remove the tree.
In the event that a tree requiring removal is found on a property line shared with the city, a determination shall be made by the city as to the percent of ownership for both the city and the private party involved. The city will then remove the tree at its expense and charge a portion to the shared owner based on the percentage as determined above.
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 or park trees, as authorized by this chapter.
It shall be unlawful for any person, other than the city Department of Public Works, to engage in the business or occupation of pruning, treating or removing street trees, park trees or other city-owned trees, who does not have at least one employee, foreman or supervisor who is a certified arborist licensed through the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). Certification shall not be required of any public service company or member of the Street Tree Advisory Board doing such work in the pursuit of their public service endeavors.
It is, however, recommended that public service company employees and members of the Street Tree Advisory Board involved in tree care attain such certification. Additionally, the city of Watertown Department of Public Works is encouraged to have at least one employee who engages in public tree care to be certified by the ISA or in the process of receiving certification at all times.
Any person or firm engaging in the business or occupation of pruning, treating or removing street or park trees within the city must first file evidence of possession of liability insurance in a standard amount required by the city for bodily injury and property damage indemnifying the city or any person injured or damaged resulting from the pursuit of such endeavors as herein described. Workers' compensation insurance shall also be required in an amount set forth by law.
In the event of a violation of § 287-5, Subsections C, D and G or in the event of the failure of property owners to take such action as may be required in accordance with the provisions of § 287-6, Subsections A, B and C, the Superintendent of Public Works may cause the work to be done which is necessary to remedy said violation and, in that event, shall bill the owner therefor and shall thereupon file a certificate of the actual cost thereof, not exceeding the expense of labor, equipment and material, with the city Comptroller, who shall certify the same to the Assessor, and the same shall thereupon be assessed by the Assessor upon the property of such owner and shall be levied and collected at the same time as and as a part of the city tax.
In addition to any other remedies the city may have, any person, firm or corporation violating §§ 287-5C, 287-5D, 287-5G, 287-6A, 287-6B, 287-6C, 287-7, 287-8A of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be subject to a fine of not less than $50 nor more than $250. Each day of continued violation is a separate and distinct offense.