[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Palmyra 5-14-2012 by Ord. No. 2012-3. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Flood damage prevention — See Ch. 126.
Land development — See Ch. 158.
Parks and recreation areas — See Ch. 190.
Sewers — See Ch. 215.
Soil removal — See Ch. 226.
Stormwater management — See Ch. 236.
Streets and sidewalks — See Ch. 237.
Weed control — See Ch. 300.
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 259, Trees, which consisted of Art. I, Trimming of Shade Trees, adopted 7-24-1906 as Ch. 66, Art. I, of the 1971 Code, and Art. II, Protection of Trees and Shrubbery, adopted 11-13-1972 by Ord. No. 7-1972 as Ch. 66, Art. II, of the 1971 Code.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
- The process by which decisions of the Tree Officer are reviewed and resolved when a property owner wishes to dispute the decision.
- The Shade Tree Advisory Board of the Borough of Palmyra including any of its agents, employees and duly appointed members. Also referred to herein as the "PSTAB."
- The Borough of Palmyra.
- BOROUGH TREE
- Any tree, as hereinafter defined, which is situated in or along any public property, park, field, public right-of-way, easement or encumbrance. Tree situation is evidenced by 50% more of the root collar or base of the trunk at the entry point to the ground being upon Borough land, regardless of the location of the crown, roots, tilt of the trunk, or other part of the tree in relation to the property line.
- COMMERCIAL BUFFER AREA
- A landscaped buffer area along all commercial side yard and rear yard lot lines.
- DIAMETER BREAST HEIGHT (or "DBH")
- The diameter of a tree measured as a point on the tree four feet and six inches from ground level.
- A device placed on or about a tree with the purpose of preventing injury to such tree.
- HAZARD TREE
- A tree that has structural defects in the roots, stem or branches and which may cause the tree or part of the tree to fail, and where such failure may cause property damage or personal injury. Risk levels are assessed at low, medium or high in accordance with the USDA Publication No. NA-TP-03-03 entitled "Urban Tree Risk Management."
- Any person engaged in the business of landscaping as a primary occupation.
- LAND USE BOARD
- The Land Use Board of Palmyra.
- LARGE TREES
- Tree species attaining a height of 50 feet or more at maturity.
- MEDIUM TREES
- Tree species attaining a height of 25 feet to 50 feet or more at maturity.
- Duly appointed members of the PSTAB.
- OVERGROWN TREE
- A tree that has exceeded a confined space as evidenced by less than 15% of the dbh as clearance between the root collar at ground level and a confining border such as a curb or sidewalk. (Example: A tree with 20 inches dbh would require three inches between the root collar where it enters the ground and the sidewalk or curb.)
- Any individual, association of individuals, partnership, corporation, limited liability company, developer, or entity other than the Borough.
- PRIVATE TREE
- Any tree, as hereinafter defined, which is situated in land other than Borough Land. Tree situation is evidenced by 50% or more of the root collar or base of the trunk at the entry point to the ground being upon private land, regardless of the location of the crown, roots, tilt of trunk, or other part of the tree in relation to the property line.
- RIGHT-OF-WAY ("ROW")
- The property in the Borough owned by the Borough of Palmyra or over which the Borough of Palmyra has an easement as shown on the Tax Map of the Borough of Palmyra or by a review of the land records maintained by the County Clerk or the Borough.
- SMALL TREES
- Tree species attaining a height of less than 25 feet at maturity.
- Any road, avenue, street or highway in the Borough dedicated to the public use.
- Any living woody, deciduous or coniferous species, of any age after germination, which at maturity is expected to have a circumference of more than 10 inches, or three inches diameter, measured at dbh. Any species not qualifying as a "tree," under this definition, shall be considered a "stem" and shall not fall within the provisions of this chapter.
- TREE GUARD
- A permanent enclosure used to protect the trunk of a tree from injury.
- TREE OFFICER
- An individual appointed annually by the Mayor with the advice and consent of the Council, who may, but need not be, a certified tree expert, or a certified arborist. No person shall be reappointed or redesignated as Tree Officer unless the individual has completed the NJ DEP CORE Training within 12 months of the initial appointment.
- TREE PERMIT
- A permit issued by the Tree Officer, for the planting, maintenance or removal of a tree or trees on Borough land.
- TREE PIT
- A specially prepared area of land, which is surrounded by paving, curbs, sidewalks, or other impervious surfacing, and with specific requirements for protection and pedestrian safety.
- TREE REPLANTING REQUIREMENT
- A requirement to plant new trees when trees are removed, or under other conditions of this chapter.
- TREE TOPPING
- The severe cutting back of limbs to stubs larger than three inches in diameter within the tree's crown, to such a degree so as to remove the normal canopy and disfigure the tree except where other pruning practices are impracticable or impossible with respect to trees severely damaged or causing obstructions to wires or cables subject to cable and utility company exemption.
- URBAN TREE RISK MANAGEMENT
- A publication of the USDA Forest Service No. NA-TP-03-03 of complete title "Urban Tree Risk Management: A Community Guide to Program Design and Implementation."
- UTILITY AND CABLE COMPANY
- Public utility or cable television companies entering the Borough for the purpose of erecting, installing, moving, removing, altering, or maintaining any structures or fixtures necessary for the supply of electric light, heat or power, communication, or cable television, cellular communications, or internet services.
The following shall be exempt from the requirements of this chapter:
State of New Jersey roads and ROWs located in the Borough;
County of Burlington roads and ROWs located in the Borough;
Any living woody, deciduous or coniferous species which does not qualify as a "tree" under the definitions of this chapter; and
Utility and cable companies undertaking emergency tree work to restore service or spot work to prevent interruption of electrical, telephone, telegraph, cable TV, Internet, or other wire or cellular services, provided that such utility or cable company has complied with notice provisions.
The Mayor, with the advice and consent of the Council shall annually appoint six members and two alternate members for the Palmyra Shade Tree Advisory Board. The initial term for each member shall be for the balance of the year 2012 and thereafter for a one-year term commencing January 1 until December 31 of each successive year. The Members of the PSTAB shall be residents of the Borough and shall serve without compensation. Any vacancy shall be filled for the remainder of the unexpired term by the Mayor with the advice and consent of Borough Council.
[Amended 3-16-2015 by Ord. No. 2015-1]
Power and duties. The PSTAB organized under this chapter shall serve as an advisory board and shall:
Investigate complaints made about Borough trees located on Borough property or within the public rights-of-way.
Make recommendations to the Tree Officer regarding the planting, trimming, spraying, moving, removing, and protection of Borough trees as well as private trees that are dangerous to public safety.
Preparing the Borough's Community Forestry Management Plan annually.
Assisting the Tree Officer in administering the TREE CITY USA program for the Borough.
The Mayor with advice and consent of the Council shall annually appoint a Tree Officer. The initial term of the Tree Officer shall be for the balance of the year 2012 and thereafter for a one-year term commencing January 1 until December 31 of each successive year. Upon initial appointment, the Tree Officer may, but need not be, a member of the New Jersey Society of Certified Tree Experts, or an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist. No person shall be reappointed or redesignated as Tree Officer unless the individual has completed the NJ DEP Core Training under the New Jersey Shade Tree and Community Forestry Assistance Act within 12 months of the initial appointment.
Power and duties. The Tree Officer shall have the following duties:
Receive and review any recommendations from the PSTAB.
Exercise full and exclusive control over the regulation and care of Borough trees including the planting, trimming, spraying, and protection thereof.
Regulate and control the use of the ground surrounding the Borough trees, so far as may be necessary for their proper growth, care and protection.
Move or require the removal of any tree, or part thereof, dangerous to public safety.
Administer treatment to or remove any tree situated upon private property which is believed to harbor a disease or insects readily communicable to neighboring healthy trees in the care of the Borough and enter upon private property for that purpose, with the consent of the owner thereof, provided that the suspected condition is first confirmed by certificate issued by or on behalf of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.
Work with the PSTAB regarding the satisfaction of all requirements to comply with the TREE CITY USA program and the Borough's Community Forestry Management Plan.
The Borough shall have the exclusive right to plant, prune, maintain, move or remove any Borough tree. Without the express written permission of the Tree Officer, no person shall plant, prune, maintain, move or remove any Borough tree.
Except as set forth below, the Borough shall pay all costs associated with Borough trees.
The Borough may notify in writing any property owners of any private tree(s) which may, for any reason, threaten public safety, and require the removal of any such tree(s), or pruning of such tree limbs, at the owner's expense and in accordance with the requirements of this chapter with such removal to occur within 30 days of the date of such notice. The Borough may remove such tree(s), or prune such tree limbs, in the event of owner's failure to cause such removal, and the costs thereof shall be included in the next property tax bill rendered to the owner and shall be a lien against the property owner's property until payment. The Borough Tree Officer shall give reasonable notice of its intention to remove or prune, or cause the removal or pruning of any tree(s), or part thereof, unless public safety requires immediate removal, in which case no notice shall be necessary.
The Borough shall have the power to administer treatment to or remove any tree(s) situated upon private land which is believed to harbor a disease or insects, or is within the recommended radius of a tree which is believed to harbor a disease or insects, readily communicable to neighboring healthy trees in the care of the Borough. The Borough shall have the right to enter upon private land for that purpose, with notice to the property owner thereof, provided that the suspected condition is first confirmed by a certificate by or on behalf of the Department of Agriculture. The cost of such treatment or removal shall be borne by the property owner and, if not paid within 30 days from the presentation of the bill, shall be included in the next property tax bill to the property owner and shall be a lien against the property owner's property until payment.
All sewer service mains from private improvements to the point of tap at the public sewer main are the responsibility of the property owner to maintain regardless of the origination of any tree roots or other tree-related problem. The Borough shall not be responsible for clearance of tree roots, or replacement of sewer piping, or any other affiliated expense of sewer service mains. In the event that repair or replacement of the sewer main pipe would destabilize a Borough tree(s) and cause it (them) to become a hazard tree(s) according to the USDA Forestry guidelines, then the property owner must remove and replace the Borough tree(s) at the property owner's expense. The replacement tree must comply with the planting requirements of this chapter.
Overhead utility lines. Property owners shall not prune or cause to be pruned any portion of any tree within 10 feet vertical or horizontal distance of a utility wire, inclusive of electric, cable and telephone wiring. Issues pertaining to such wires shall be reported to the utility company.
Sidewalk repairs and replacements.
Property owners are responsible for the maintenance of sidewalks at all times. In the event that sidewalk work for repair or replacement becomes necessary for any reason, the property owner must obtain a permit from the Borough Code Enforcement Officer. The permit process shall include a review by the Tree Officer of any Borough tree(s) within the ROW.
In the event that repair or replacement of the sidewalk, in like and kind, would destabilize the Borough tree(s) and cause it (them) to become a hazard tree(s) according to USDA Forestry Guidelines, then the property owner must remove and replace the Borough tree(s), on a one-for-one basis, at the property owner's expense unless the property owner meets both of the following two requirements of proof:
Proof satisfactory to the Tree Official that one, or a combination of the following options cannot be done to avoid creating a hazard tree condition:
Regrade soils and the sidewalk, but the new sidewalk slope shall not exceed 1:12 ratio, or current ADA handicapped accessibility standards, and the soil height shall not be increased more than six inches.
Proof that the Borough tree(s) meet the definition of an "overgrown tree."
The property owner must provide such proof along with any notice to the PSTAB that the Borough tree(s) require removal at Borough expense. The Tree Official will then determine whether the Borough shall remove the Borough tree(s) at Borough expense, provided that the property owner meets both of the requirements of proof set forth above.
Any replacement tree(s) must comply with the planting requirements of this chapter.
Approved trees for planting. The Tree Officer shall maintain a list of approved small, medium or large trees for planting on Borough property and ROWs. The Tree Officer may, at his discretion, consult with the PSTAB as to the addition or deletion of any such approved trees.
Confining elements. When practicable, the planting distance from curbs or curblines and sidewalks or other paved areas shall be in accordance with the three size classes listed under Definitions, as follows: for a small tree, shall be one foot and three inches; for a medium tree shall be two feet and for a large tree shall be four feet.
Distance from utilities. The distance from the center of the tree to the vertical plane through a utility line shall be as follows:
Tree collar damage prevention. There shall be kept clear of lawn, vegetation and weeds an area of a minimum of one foot around the base of newly planted trees. The intent of this section is to prevent injury to the newly planted trees from lawn mowers and trimmers.
Firesafety. No street trees, or other woody plant material shall be planted, or allowed to branch into the ROW within:
Traffic and pedestrian safety. No street trees, or other woody plant material shall be planted, or allowed to branch into the ROW within:
Twenty feet of the midpoint of the curb corner at any intersection.
Seven feet of a curb cut.
A location where the roadbed curves, in such a manner to block the view of drivers exiting any curb cut.
Twenty-five feet of a streetlight.
Thirty feet of a stop sign, traffic light.
Six feet of other traffic signs.
The area between five feet and 15 feet behind a parking meter where car doors are anticipated to open.
A zone where such tree or woody plant material does not allow a clear three-foot-wide pedestrian walkway to be maintained.
A zone within five feet from the curb at bus stops, for the full length of the bus in the stopped position.
It shall be a violation of this chapter for any person to do any of the following to a Borough tree:
To remove any such tree without the written permission of the Tree Officer.
To deface, write graffiti upon, paint, or vandalize any such tree.
To cut, break, injure, disturb, install nails or other metal objects into, to put stickers upon, to put writings upon, or otherwise interfere in any material manner with any such tree.
To cut the roots of any such tree without the written permission of the Tree Officer.
To conduct any excavation within four feet of any such tree (without the express written permission of the Tree Officer).
To engage in any tree topping of any such tree.
To build fires or station any kettle, road roller, fuel oil dispensing truck, or other engine in any street or other public place in such a manner that the heat, vapors, fuel or fumes may injure any such tree.
To install mulch to more than six inches deep at the base of any such tree.
To utilize motorized trimmers and lawn mowers in such a way to damage the bark or cambium layer of any such tree.
To apply soil in excess of three inches deep on top of the soil at the area under the dripline of any such tree.
To remove or damage any guard or device placed to protect any such tree.
To place salt or other substances injurious to plant growth in any street, park, and public place in such a manner to injure any such tree.
To fasten any rope, wire, sign, or other device to any such tree or to any guard about such tree.
To close or obstruct any open space about the base of any such tree which would prevent access of air, water, and fertilizer to the roots of any such tree;
To place or maintain in any street or ROW or park, any stone, cement, or other sidewalk or other substance which may impede the free access of air and water to the roots of any such tree, and, where any such tree is surrounded by pavement of stone, placement of cement or asphalt or any other substance tending to impede the free access of air and water to the roots of any such tree.
Any person who violates any of the above provisions or any other provisions of this chapter or who fails to comply with the terms and provisions of any permit issued pursuant hereto shall upon conviction in Municipal Court thereof, be liable for a fine not to exceed $1,000 and may be incarcerated for up to 30 days in the discretion of the Court. Each day that a violation shall continue shall constitute a separate offense.
Property owners may appeal decisions of the Tree Officer under the following procedures:
The property owner must submit an appeal in writing to the Clerk of the Borough of Palmyra inclusive of their reasons and third party evidence upon which the appeal will be based. Examples of third party evidence are photographs, surveys, authoritative documents, expert reports or other evidence in support of the appeal.
The Shade Tree Sub-Committee of the Borough Council shall have 30 days from the date of receipt of the written documents from the Borough Clerk to review the information and shall either grant or deny the property owner's appeal with the reasons stated. If additional information is subsequently submitted, then the Shade Tree Sub-Committee of the Borough Council shall have an additional 30 days from the date of submission of the additional information to either accept or reject, with reasons stated, the property owner's appeal.
In the event that the above conditions are met, and the Shade Tree Sub-Committee of the Borough Council has rejected the property owner's appeal, then the property owner may present the same request and the same information to the governing body by delivering same to the Administrator. The governing body shall have 30 days from the date of receipt of the written documents from the Administrator to review the information and shall either grant or deny the property owner's appeal with the reasons stated.
In the event that the above conditions are met, and the governing body has rejected the property owner's appeal, then, and only then, will all administrative remedies be considered exhausted, and the property owner may pursue other legal options.
The cost of obtaining and submitting any reasonably requested information shall be at the expense of the property owner regardless of the outcome of the appeal.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to make the Borough, any Borough employee, the PSTAB, any PSTAB member, or the Tree Officer responsible for the death or injury of any person, or for injury to any property or tree. Liability for any such death, injury or property damage shall be governed by relevant provisions of the New Jersey Tort Claims Act (N.J.S.A. 59:1-1).