[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Tuckerton 11-19-2001 by Ord. No. 23-2001. Amendments noted where applicable.]
There is hereby established in the Borough of Tuckerton a Shade Tree Commission which shall be known as the "Shade Tree Commission of the Borough of Tuckerton." The Commission shall consist of five members and two alternate members. Members and alternate members shall be appointed by the Mayor, shall be residents of the municipality, and shall serve without compensation except as hereinafter provided.
The purpose of the Commission shall be for the regulation, planting, care and control of shade and ornamental trees and shrubbery upon and in the streets, highways, public places, parks and parkways of the Borough, except state highways unless the Department of Transportation shall assent thereto, and except county highway, parks and parkways, unless the County Shade Tree Commission or County Department of Parks and Recreation shall assent thereto.
The first Commissioners shall be appointed within 60 days after the ordinance providing for the Commission shall become effective, and their terms of office shall commence upon the day of their appointment and be for the respective periods of one, two, three, four and five years beginning on January 1 next succeeding such appointment. The terms of each appointee shall be designated in his appointment. All subsequent appointments, except to fill vacancies, shall be for the full term of five years, to take effect on January 1.
Alternate members shall be designated at the time of appointment as "Alternate No. 1" and "Alternate No. 2" and shall serve during the absence or disqualification of any regular member or members. The term of each alternate member shall be five years commencing on January 1 of the year of appointment; provided, however, that in the event two alternate members are appointed, the initial term of Alternate No. 2 shall be four years and the initial term of Alternate No. 1 shall be five years. The terms of the first alternate members appointed pursuant to this section shall commence on the day of their appointment and shall expire on the fourth or fifth December 31 next ensuing after the date of their appointments, as the case may be. An alternate member may participate in discussions of the proceedings but may not vote except in the absence or disqualification of a regular member. A vote shall not be delayed in order that a regular member may vote instead of an alternate member.
The Commission shall organize within 30 days after the appointment of its total membership for the remainder of the then-calendar year, and thereafter annually by the election of one of its members as Chairman and the appointment of a Secretary, who need not be a member. The salary of the Secretary, who may be compensated even if a member of the Commission, shall be fixed by the governing body of the municipality; the salary of all other employees shall be fixed by the Commission. All salaries shall be fixed as nearly as practicable in accordance with the salary schedule, if any, of the municipality for corresponding positions.
Any vacancy occurring by reason of the death, resignation or removal of any Commissioner shall be filled for the unexpired term by the authority having power to make the original appointments.
The Shade Tree Commission shall have the power to:
Exercise full and exclusive control over the regulation, planting and care of shade and ornamental trees and shrubbery now located or which may hereafter be placed in any public highway, park or parkway, except such as are excluded pursuant to § 74-1 of this chapter, including the planting, trimming, spraying, care and protection thereof.
Regulate and control the use of the ground surrounding the same 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.
Care for and control such parks and parkways, encourage arboriculture; make, alter, amend and repeal, in the manner prescribed for the passage, alteration, amendment and repeal of ordinances by the governing body of the municipality, any and all ordinances necessary or proper for carrying out the provisions hereof.
Administer treatment to, or remove, any tree situate upon private property which is believed to harbor a disease or insects readily communicable to neighboring healthy trees in the care of the municipality and enter upon private property for that purpose, with the consent of the owner thereof, provided the suspected condition is first confirmed by certificate issued by or on behalf of the Department of Agriculture.
Except as hereinafter provided, the initial cost of all trees planted by the Commission, the cost of planting the same, the cost of the posts and boxes or guards used for the protection thereof, and the cost of the removal of any tree or part thereof dangerous to public safety shall, if the Commission shall so determine, in accordance with uniform rules and regulations promulgated for this purpose, be a charge upon the real estate in front of which such tree or trees shall be planted or removed as an improvement thereof. Such cost if it is so determined that it is to be paid by the owner shall, unless paid directly to the Commission, be certified by it to the Collector of Taxes of the municipality, shall thereupon become and be a lien upon said real estate, shall be included in the next tax bill rendered to the owner or owners thereof, and be collected in the same manner as other taxes against that property.
In every case where the property of an abutting owner will be chargeable with the cost of planting of any shade tree or trees, the Commission shall give notice of the meeting at which it is proposed to consider said planting by publishing the notice at least once, not less than 20 days before the meeting, in a newspaper circulating in the municipality, or by personal service of a copy of the notice upon the abutting owner at least 10 days before the meeting. The notice shall specify the street, streets, or portions thereof, on which such planting is proposed and require all persons who may object thereto to present their objections in writing at the office of the Commission at or before the meeting. Before final action shall be taken, all objections so filed shall be considered. The Commission shall give reasonable notice of its intention to remove, or cause the removal of, a tree, or part of a tree, dangerous to public safety, unless public safety requires immediate removal, in which case no notice shall be necessary.
During the month of December in each year, the Shade Tree Commission shall certify to the governing body of the municipality the estimated sum necessary for the proper conduct of its work during the ensuing fiscal year, which shall include the sums estimated to be expended for such of the following items as it is anticipated expenditure will be made for, namely:
Payment of wages and salaries of employees;
Expenses of Commission members in discharging official duties, including expenses incident to attendance at professional meetings;
Purchase of trees and shrubbery; and
Purchase of necessary equipment and materials and the cost of services for the prudent promotion of the work.
The governing body of the municipality shall annually appropriate such sum as it may deem necessary for said purposes.
The Commission may prescribe a fine for the violation of each of its ordinances in an amount not exceeding $1,500 for each violation, and the courts which now or hereafter shall have jurisdiction over actions for the violation of ordinances of the municipality in which the Commission has been or shall be appointed shall have jurisdiction in actions for the violation of such ordinances as the Commission shall enact. The ordinances shall be enforced by like proceedings and process, and the practice for the enforcement thereof shall be the same as that provided by law for the enforcement of the ordinances of the municipality in which the Commission exists. The officers authorized by law to serve and execute process in the aforementioned courts shall be the officers to serve and execute any process issued out of any court under this chapter. A copy of any ordinance of the Commission, certified to under the hand of its Secretary or Chairman shall be received in any court of this state as full and legal proof of the existence of the ordinance, and that all requirements of law in relation to the ordaining, publishing and making of the same so as to make it legal and binding have been complied with, unless the contrary be shown.
In addition to the penalties authorized by Subsection A of this section, the Commission may require a person who removes or otherwise destroys a tree in violation of a municipal ordinance to pay a replacement assessment to the municipality. The replacement assessment shall be the value of the tree as determined by the appraisal of a trained forester or certified tree expert retained by the Commission for that purpose. In lieu of an appraisal, the Commission may adopt a formula and schedule based upon the number of square inches contained in a cross section of the trunk of the tree multiplied by a predetermined value per square inch, not to exceed $27 per square inch. The square-inch cross section shall be calculated from the diameter at breast height and, if there is a multiple stem tree, then each trunk shall be measured and an average shall be determined for the tree. For the purposes of this section, "diameter at breast height" shall mean the diameter of the tree taken at a point 4 1/2 feet above ground level. The Commission shall modify the value of the tree based upon its species variety, location and its condition at the time of removal or destruction.
Any public utility or cable television company that clears, moves, cuts or destroys any trees, shrubs or plants 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 services upon any lands in which it has acquired an easement or right-of-way shall not be subject to any penalty imposed by a Commission pursuant to Subsections A or B of this section. This subsection shall not exempt any public utility or cable television company from any penalty or replacement assessment imposed for negligent actions.
All moneys collected in any municipality, either as liens or penalties, for any violation of a rule or regulation of a Shade Tree Commission or as a charge against real estate, under any provision of this chapter shall be forthwith paid over the municipal officer empowered to be custodian of the funds of the municipality.