Town of Somers, NY
Westchester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Somers 11-10-2005 by L.L. No. 13-2005.[1] Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Critical environmental areas — See Ch. 84.
Environmental quality review — See Ch. 92.
Excavations — See Ch. 94.
Scenic resource protection — See Ch. 138.
Site plan review — See Ch. 144.
Steep slopes protection — See Ch. 148.
Wetlands and watercourse protection — See Ch. 167.
Zoning — See Ch. 170.
[1]
Editor's Note: This local law also repealed former Ch. 156, Tree Preservation, adopted 10-17-2002 by L.L. No. 8-2002.
The Town of Somers finds and declares that the preservation of trees within the Town is necessary to protect the health, safety, and general welfare of the Town of Somers because trees provide shade, impede soil erosion, aid water absorption and retention, inhibit excess runoff and flooding, enhance air quality, offer a barrier to noise, provide a natural habitat for wildlife, provide screening, enhance property values and add to the aesthetic quality of the community. It is the purpose of this chapter to prevent indiscriminate destruction of trees within the Town of Somers while respecting the rights of residents and owners to maintain and improve their properties. The Town also recognizes that the forest resource in the Town is a renewable resource and proper felling of trees improves the value of landscape and safety of citizens. The proper felling of trees shall include professional techniques that control soil erosion and sediment-laden runoff.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meaning indicated:
DEAD TREE
A tree that is lifeless. Evidence of lifelessness may include unseasonable lack of foliage, brittle dry branches, or lack of any growth during the growing season.
DIAMETER AT BREAST HEIGHT (DBH)
A standard measurement of trees made at 4 1/2 feet above ground level on the uphill side.
REGULATED BUFFER ZONE
Areas of vegetative screening measured from each property line of a residentially zoned property towards the interior of such property as follows:
A. 
R120 Residence District: 40 feet.
B. 
R80 Residence District: 30 feet.
C. 
R40 Residence District: 20 feet.
D. 
R10 Residence District: five feet.
SILVICULTURE
The art and the science of controlling the establishment, growth, composition, health, and quality of forest to meet diverse needs and values of the many landowners, societies and cultures.
[Added 9-10-2009 by L.L. No. 8-2009]
TREE
Any self-supporting woody plant of a species which grows at maturity to an overall height of a minimum of 10 feet, has a single trunk or multiple trunks which are, in combination, with a sum of 12 inches at dbh (diameter at breast height).
TREE REMOVAL
The partial or complete removal of a tree by digging up, cutting, pushing, pulling down, or damaging the tree to permanently alter or destroy it.
A. 
The Town Board will designate the Town Engineer to administer and enforce this chapter.
B. 
The Town Engineer shall:
(1) 
Receive and keep accurate records of tree removal permit applications.
(2) 
Inspect the trees described in each application based on standards for granting permits described herein, both before and after removal takes place.
(3) 
Grant with conditions or deny tree removal permits according to the standards in this chapter, giving reasons for denial and specifying conditions for such tree removal as specified below.
(4) 
Carry out such related duties as may be specified from time to time by the Town Board.
A. 
General regulations. A tree removal permit will be required before removal of any of the following:
(1) 
Any tree within the regulated buffer zone as defined in § 156-2 of this chapter.
(2) 
Any tree that is located within 30 feet from the center line of a road designated by the Town of Somers as a scenic road or other designated scenic feature, as identified in Chapter 138 of the Code of the Town of Somers.
(3) 
Any tree within the common lands of a conservation easement or parcel, as described in § 170-13 of the Code of the Town of Somers.
(4) 
Any tree within the Town of Somers Business Historic Preservation District, as defined in § 170-14 of the Code of the Town of Somers.
(5) 
Any tree within any wetland and wetland buffer as defined in Chapter 167 of the Code of the Town of Somers.
(6) 
Any tree on a very steep or extremely steep slope as defined in Chapter 148 of the Code of the Town of Somers.
(7) 
More than the number of trees listed below on a single property of the indicated size within any calendar year:
(a) 
More than two trees in a R-10 parcel within any calendar year as defined by the Town Zoning Map and Chapter 170 of the Code of the Town of Somers.
(b) 
More than four trees in a R-40 parcel within any calendar year as defined by the Town Zoning Map and Chapter 170 of the Code of the Town of Somers.
(c) 
More than six trees in a R-80 parcel within any calendar year as defined by the Town Zoning Map and Chapter 170 of the Code of the Town of Somers.
(d) 
More than eight trees in a R-120 parcel within any calendar year as defined by the Town Zoning Map and Chapter 170 of the Code of the Town of Somers.
(e) 
More than two trees in zoning districts outside of residential and historic district zoning as defined by the Town Zoning Map and Chapter 170 of the Code of the Town of Somers.
(8) 
Any tree identified for preservation as part of a resolution of site plan or subdivision approval and/or identified for preservation on the final approved site plan or subdivision plat.
[Added 10-11-2012 by L.L. No. 6-2012]
B. 
Exceptions. Notwithstanding the foregoing, no permit shall be required for the removal of:
(1) 
Any dead tree.
(2) 
Trees posing a danger to a structure or to a vehicle or pedestrian traffic.
(3) 
The removal of trees that is needed to control against forest fires.
(4) 
The removal of trees that is necessary to maintain rights-of-way of public utilities, provided that such removal is conducted according to lawful easements, statutory requirements and franchise agreements, and provided that the agency files with the Town Engineer a plan showing the areas of removal before commencing such operations, except when required emergency removal makes such filing impractical.
(5) 
Any trees planted by the applicant in which the applicant can present a proof of planting.
C. 
Standards. The Town Engineer shall grant or grant with conditions a tree removal permit unless one of the following conditions for denial is found to exist:
(1) 
The removal will have significant adverse impact on ecological systems, including erosion potential and wildlife habitat.
(2) 
The removal will have significant adverse impact on other properties or roadways, including impact on drainage.
D. 
Approvals granted by the Planning Board and the Town Engineer shall be deemed tree removal permits when tree removal or preservation is specifically proposed in conjunction with an application submitted to such agencies. These agencies shall apply the criteria, procedures and standards of this chapter and shall consider how tree removal might be reduced by changes to the application being considered. The opinion of the Town Engineer may be sought to assist such agencies in their determinations. These agencies shall record on their determinations the specific tree removal which they approve.
A. 
Except when tree removal is being proposed as part of an application to the Planning Board, the applicant shall file with the Town Engineer a tree removal permit application. The application shall include:
(1) 
Name and address of the applicant.
(2) 
Name and address of the property owner, if different.
(3) 
Address and Town Tax Map designation of the property.
(4) 
Purpose of removal.
(5) 
Color photographs or slides showing the areas and environment where trees are to be removed, with sufficient detail to identify the remaining trees in the area after work is completed.
(6) 
A survey or sketch of that section to be disturbed, showing the number, location and common name of all trees to be removed, the tree caliper and the distance of each from nearby structures, roads, or other landmarks which will enable the trees to be easily identified.
(7) 
Silviculture treatments qualifying under this chapter on lands within a NYS Agricultural District, lands enrolled in the NYS Forest Tax Law (NYS RPT, § 480) and/or lands managed under a Watershed Forestry Plan by the Watershed Forestry Program/Watershed Agricultural Council.
[Added 9-10-2009 by L.L. No. 8-2009]
(a) 
For these lands, the administrative procedure and application process will not unreasonably restrict silviculture treatments, as per NYS AML, § 305 and its subdivisions.
B. 
Submission of a tree removal permit application shall constitute permission for the Town Engineer and/or a professional consultant especially retained for the purpose by the Town to enter upon the property described in the application, at reasonable times, with prior notice to and agreement by the applicant, which agreement shall not be unreasonably withheld, to carry out the inspections required in this chapter and to otherwise enforce its provisions.
C. 
The Town Engineer shall approve, approve with conditions or deny a tree removal permit application within 21 days after receipt of a complete application. If no action is taken by the Town Engineer within 21 days after receipt of the complete application, it shall be deemed to be approved as submitted.
D. 
A tree removal permit shall expire 24 months after it is granted.
Conditions may be imposed upon the granting of a tree removal permit, including, but not limited to:
A. 
Days and hours of removal operations, size, and number of trucks and routes to be followed.
B. 
Replanting or other mitigation to prevent erosion, provide screening, preserve ecological systems or remediate effects on neighboring properties.
C. 
Reasonable relocation of proposed surface or subsurface improvements.
D. 
Marking of trees to be removed in a way that the markings are visible both before and after tree removal.
E. 
In case of removal of more than the number of trees specified above in § 156-4A(7), a performance bond to assure compliance with this chapter and the conditions imposed, with such bond, if one of its purposes is to assure replanting, to have a minimum term of two years.
[Amended 10-11-2012 by L.L. No. 6-2012]
F. 
Such safeguards as are appropriate to mitigate the environmental impact of removal operations, including but not limited to a report from an arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture or a professional forester in the New York State cooperating consultant forester program (retained by the applicant).
G. 
Tree protection which ensures erosion and sediment control.
H. 
The effect of removal on the area as determined by accepted tree management practices, such as appropriate thinning to promote woodlot management ensuring the maintenance or improvement in the mix of age and species of tree. Tree spacing will be determined by the following example:
Space between trees can be determined by averaging their dbh and adding six, the resultant being the advisable space in feet. For example, a twelve-inch dbh tree and a twenty-two-inch dbh tree should be 23 feet apart.
Tree A:
12 dbh
Tree B:
22 dbh
Sum:
34
Average:
34/2 = 17
Add:
+6
Distance apart:
23 feet
A tree removal application shall be accompanied by a fee to be set in a fee schedule determined by the Town Board.
A. 
Penalties for offenses.
[Amended 7-11-2013 by L.L. No. 5-2013]
(1) 
Any person committing an offense against any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000 for an individual per tree and $5,000 for a corporation per tree, or by imprisonment for a period not to exceed one year, or both. The continuation of an offense against the provisions of this chapter shall constitute, for each day the offense is continued, a separate and distinct offense hereunder.
(2) 
In addition to any other penalty authorized by this chapter, any person, partnership or corporation convicted of an offense of the provisions of this chapter shall be required to restore the site to the condition existing prior to commission of the offense to the extent possible or as deemed appropriate by the Town’s engineering staff. Specifically, a replanting plan prepared by a landscape architect shall be required pursuant to which for every tree removed in violation of this chapter multiple trees shall be replanted in number determined by the diameter at breast height (dbh) of the tree(s) removed. For example, if three trees at 12 inches dbh were unlawfully removed, then the replanting plan shall include a minimum of 12 trees at three inches dbh to be replanted. The Town Board shall be empowered to grant relief in whole or in part from this requirement for good cause shown on application to the Town Board.
(3) 
In addition to the above-provided penalties, the Town of Somers may maintain an action or proceeding in a court of competent jurisdiction to compel compliance with or to restrain by injunction a violation of any provision of this chapter or the terms and conditions of any permit granted hereunder.
B. 
The foregoing provisions for enforcement of the regulations in this chapter are not exclusive but are in addition to any and all laws applicable thereto.
A. 
Any applicant aggrieved or affected by the determination of the Town Engineer with respect to an application for a tree removal permit may, within 10 business days of such determination, appeal to the Zoning Board of Appeals, stating the reason for such appeal. The Zoning Board of Appeals shall conduct a hearing on the appeal within 60 calendar days of receipt of such appeal and shall, based upon the standards contained herein and the facts of the matter, deny, grant, or grant with conditions the permit being sought.
B. 
Any person or persons jointly or severally aggrieved by a decision of the Zoning Board of Appeals pursuant to this chapter may apply to the Supreme Court for review by a proceeding under Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules. Such proceeding shall be instituted within 30 days after the filing of a decision of the Zoning Board of Appeals in the office of the Town Clerk.
Should any paragraph, section or portion of this chapter be declared by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid or unlawful, the same shall not affect the remainder of this chapter as a whole or any part thereof other than the part or parts so declared to be invalid.