Borough of Indiana, PA
Indiana County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Indiana 8-8-2006 by Ord. No. 2006-04; amended in its entirety 4-7-2015 by Ord. No. 2015-01. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Grass, weeds and other vegetation — See Ch. 234.
Property maintenance — See Ch. 327.
Subdivision and land development — See Ch. 405.
This ordinance shall be known and may be cited as the "Indiana Borough Shade Tree Commission Ordinance."
Definitions. For the purpose of this ordinance, the following terms, phrases, words, and their derivations shall have the meaning given herein, unless the context clearly indicates a different meaning. When not inconsistent with the context, words in the plural include the singular, and words in the singular include the plural.
BOROUGH
The Borough of Indiana.
BOROUGH ARBORIST
The Arborist of the Borough of Indiana appointed or contracted by the Council.
COMMISSION
The Shade Tree Commission of Indiana Borough.
COUNCIL
The governing body of Indiana Borough.
DEPARTMENT
The Department of Planning/Zoning or Code Enforcement of the Borough.
DIRECTOR
The heads of the Departments of Planning/Zoning or Code Enforcement of the Borough.
HERITAGE TREE
Any tree that has a trunk with a circumference of 36 inches or more measured at 54 inches above the natural grade; or has any of the qualities, attributes, or associations noted below.
A. 
A notable specimen because of its size, form, shape, beauty, age, color, rarity, genetic constitution, or other distinctive features;
B. 
A prominent community landmark;
C. 
A specimen associated with a historic person, place, event or period;
D. 
A representative of a crop grown by ancestors and their successors that is at risk of disappearing from cultivation;
E. 
A tree associated with local folklore.
MANAGER
The Manager of the Borough or his/her designee.
NEW TREE
Any tree planted by the Borough in a public right-of-way, except a replacement tree.
PERMIT
A permit, in writing, as issued by the Commission through the Department of Zoning and Code Enforcement.
PERSON
Any individual, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company, public utility, or organization or entity.
PROPERTY LINE
The outer edge of a street, highway, public way or right-of-way when any part thereof is open to the use of the public, as a matter of right, for the purposes of vehicular or pedestrian traffic.
PUBLIC AREA
Includes all grounds, including, but not limited to, public streets, avenues, boulevards, lanes, or alleys, tree lawns, parks and parklets, rights-of-way, easements, or other areas under control of the Borough.
PUBLIC HIGHWAY
All publicly maintained ways.
PUBLIC TREE
All trees, shrubs, and all other vegetation, living or dead, occupying or designated by the Borough as occupying a public place on all streets, avenues, boulevards, lanes, or alleys, parks, rights-of-way, easements, or other areas under control of the Borough.
REPLACEMENT TREE
A tree planted in a location formerly occupied by another tree.
RULES AND REGULATIONS FOR ARBOR WORK
A separate publication providing specific guidelines and procedures for tree maintenance practices or other operations, which may impact public trees. Such practices or operations can include, but are not limited to: planting, transplanting, pruning, cabling or bracing, removing, applying fertilizer or any chemical substance, excavating within any tree protection zone, or otherwise disturbing any tree located in public areas or trees under control of the Borough.
SHRUB
A perennial, woody plant that is never tree-like in habit and produces shoots from or near the base.
TREE
A perennial, woody plant that is usually single stemmed, at least 12 to 15 feet tall, and having a distinct head in most cases.
TREE DRIPLINE
A line derived by the horizontal line extending along a radius from the trunk of a tree to the outermost tips of branches.
TREE LAWN
The part of a street or highway, not covered by sidewalk or other paving, lying between the property line and that portion of the street or highway usually used for vehicular or pedestrian traffic.
TREE PROTECTION ZONE
The three-dimensional area within the drip-line including from the crown to the root system of each public tree.
UNIQUE TREE
A tree whose species or growth habit is highly unusual, extraordinary, or rare.
A. 
Creation. There shall be created a board to be known as the Shade Tree Commission of Indiana Borough, hereinafter known as the "Commission." The Commission has exclusive custody and control of public trees. The Commission, or its designee, also has authority to enter upon private property with due cause to inspect trees, shrubs, and other vegetation to determine if the subject trees, shrubs, or other vegetation constitute a hazard to public safety, are creating a nuisance situation, or are in violation of some other ordinance or statute.
B. 
Membership. The Commission shall consist of five members, all of whom shall be residents of the Borough.
C. 
By resolution, the members of the Commission shall be appointed by the Borough Council of Indiana for terms of five years. These terms shall be staggered so that one member's term expires each year.
D. 
A vacancy on the Commission, which occurs for reasons other than the expiration of a term, shall be filled by Borough Council for the unexpired portion of the term.
E. 
A member may remain on the Commission after expiration of his or her term until a replacement is duly appointed.
F. 
The Commission members shall serve without pay, but may be reimbursed for expenses previously authorized by the Council, from the funds budgeted annually for such purposes.
G. 
Organization, Recordkeeping, and Meetings. The Commission shall elect a chairperson and such other officers as they deem necessary. The Commission will meet with whatever frequency they consider necessary to accomplish the work at hand, but no less frequently than every month. A written record shall be kept of all meetings, and made available to the Council for its reference. The Commission shall submit annually a full report of its activities, and a summary of approved expenses for the last fiscal year of the Borough.
H. 
Responsibilities.
(1) 
The Commission shall study the problems and determine the needs of the Borough in connection with a tree planting, maintenance, and removal program. It will also assess the need for regulations pertaining to tree preservation, tree protection and tree replacement specifications and guidelines for new construction and renovations projects.
(2) 
The Commission shall study, investigate, counsel, and develop and update as required, and administer a written plan for the care and maintenance, preservation, pruning, planting, re-planting, removal or disposition of trees within the control of the Borough, including tree preservation, tree protection and tree replacement specifications and guidelines for new construction and renovation projects. Such plan will be presented as required to the Council, and upon its approval by Resolution, shall constitute the official comprehensive Tree and Environmental Plan for the Borough of Indiana.
(3) 
The Commission shall prepare a list containing the type and kind of trees to be planted along or upon the Borough streets, avenues, boulevards, lanes, or alleys, parks, rights-of-way, easements, or parts of the Borough streets, avenues, boulevards, lanes, or alleys, parks, rights-of-way, easements, as well as all other areas under control of the Borough.
(4) 
The Commission shall disseminate, or cause to be disseminated, news and information regarding the selection, planting, maintenance, value, and importance of the trees within the corporate limits of the Borough or public property.
(5) 
The Commission may, with approval of Council, solicit and accept grants and contributions on behalf of the Borough. All funds obtained by the Commission shall be expended for the specific purpose(s) or under the stipulations set by the contributor or the Commission with specific approval of Council.
(6) 
The Commission shall provide regular and special meetings at which the subject of the planting, maintenance, and removal of the trees in the Borough may be discussed by the members of the Commission, officers, and personnel of the Borough, and all others interested in the Tree/Environmental Program.
(7) 
The Borough Arborist, Chairman of the Commission or his/her designee may review land development plans and major capital renovation projects such as roadway construction or repair, or pipe installation or replacement, etc., to determine the impact of such plans on public trees and to make recommendations on steps needed to mitigate such impacts. All land development plans or landscape plans shall show all existing trees. Trees proposed to be saved and removed shall be indicated. Every possible effort shall be made to preserve desirable trees. All public trees adjacent to said projects shall also be shown on the plans along with the required Tree Protection Zone.
The Commission is hereby authorized, but is not limited, to perform the following activities in regard to trees:
A. 
The Chairman of the Commission or his or her designee and/or the Borough Manager or his or her designee is hereby authorized to remove or prune, or direct to be removed or pruned, any tree or part of a tree that poses a hazard to public safety as further described in § 427-4F, § 424-4G, § 427-4H, and § 427-4I.
B. 
Adopt policies to control tree pruning, cabling, spraying, root cutting, and other work on trees in public areas by contractors, abutting property owners and/or others. With such policies in place, the Commission may issue permits as described in § 427-6 of this chapter.
C. 
Maintain existing public trees. In carrying out maintenance work, the Department shall adhere as closely as possible to the Borough Rules and Regulations for Arbor Work. While maintenance of public trees is the responsibility of the adjacent property owner, there may be instances where tree work is contracted directly by the Borough. In cases where such maintenance of public trees is to be carried out by a private contractor hired by the Borough, it is the responsibility of the Director, Borough Arborist or authorized designee to see that the rules and regulations for Arbor Work are adhered to. It is mandatory that at least one ISA Certified Arborist be on the job site at all times for pruning operation only. The designation of ISA Certified Arborist is through the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), Champaign, Illinois, and shall be the only certification accepted.
[Amended 4-17-2018 by Ord. No. 2018-07]
D. 
The Director or Borough Arborist shall monitor contractors employed by utility companies and others for any work on, or in the vicinity of public trees, or in the Tree Protection Zone of public trees.
E. 
Working in collaboration with the Commission, the Department of Public Works may plant new trees or replacement trees in accordance with the comprehensive tree and environmental plan for the Borough as referred to in § 427-3H(2) of this chapter.
F. 
Notification by Commission. Whenever the Commission proposes to plant, transplant or remove trees on any street, notice of the time and place of the meeting at which such work is to be considered shall be given in one newspaper of general circulation in the Borough once a week for two weeks immediately preceding the time of the meeting. The notice shall specify in detail the streets or portions upon which trees are proposed to be so planted, replanted, or removed.
G. 
Deal with potentially hazardous trees on private property. The Code, Planning, or Public Works Department Directors, the Borough Arborist, or an authorized designee may order the removal, partial removal, or treatment of any tree(s) on private property which in his/her opinion is sufficiently diseased, damaged, or in such condition as to constitute a potential hazard to the public, or to trees on public property. This includes: branches, limbs, or foliage that are closer than eight feet above a sidewalk, or closer than 16 feet above the roadway of a street or alley; and any branches, limbs, or foliage that obstruct or shade the streetlights, traffic signals or signs, or view of any street or alley intersection. When a tree or portions of a tree on private property is infected with an infectious disease such as Dutch Elm Disease, Oak Wilt, a severe insect infestation, or another disease that constitutes a hazard to the public or to trees or other property, whether public or private, the property owner shall immediately be notified of the hazard and requested to eliminate it. Property owners shall be notified by mail and be given 30 days from receipt of the notice to comply with the order. The property owner may appeal the decision to Borough Council by means of the Public Safety Committee and shall have 10 days after receipt of the order to appeal the decision. The decision of the Council shall be appealable as provided by law. Appeals to the Council shall be recorded in the minutes of Borough Council, and shall include a determination of the facts of the case. Following a determination by the Council that a certain action shall be taken with respect to a tree, the property owner shall have 10 days to comply. If the property owner fails or refuses to comply, the property owner shall be subject to the penalty specified in § 427-8 of this chapter. In addition, the Director, Borough Arborist or an authorized designee is authorized to remove said hazardous tree(s) or portions thereof. All costs for such work plus 10% additional shall be assessed and, if not paid, shall be a lien against the property in accord with § 427-8 of this chapter.
[Amended 4-17-2018 by Ord. No. 2018-07]
H. 
Deal with potentially hazardous trees in public areas. When trees in public areas that, in the opinion of the Director, or Borough Arborist, or an authorized designee, are seriously damaged, diseased, disfigured or constitute a hazard to the public or to trees on private property, the tree(s) may be removed or pruned by the Director, Borough Arborist, or an authorized designee. This includes: branches, limbs, or foliage that are closer than eight feet above a sidewalk, or closer than 16 feet above the roadway of a street or alley; and any branches, limbs, or foliage that obstruct or shade the streetlights, traffic signals or signs, or view of any street or alley intersection. If the tree in question is the responsibility of the abutting property owner, the property owner shall be notified by mail and be given 30 days from receipt of the notice to comply with the order. The property owner may appeal the decision to Borough Council and shall have 10 days after receipt of the order to appeal the decision. The decision of the Council shall be appealable as provided by law. Appeals to the Council shall be recorded in the minutes of Borough Council, and shall include a determination of the facts of the case. Following a determination by the Council that a certain action shall be taken with respect to such a tree, the property owner shall have 10 days to comply. If the property owner fails or refuses to comply, the property owner shall be subject to the penalty specified in § 427-8 of this chapter. In addition the Director, Borough Arborist, or an authorized designee is authorized to remove or treat said hazardous tree(s) or portions thereof. All costs for such work plus 10% additional shall be assessed and, if not paid, shall be a lien against the property in accord with § 427-8 of this chapter.
[Amended 4-17-2018 by Ord. No. 2018-07[1]]
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Subsection H, regarding immediate hazards on private property, and redesignated former Subsections I through L as Subsections H through K, respectively.
I. 
Deal with immediate hazards in public areas. When in the opinion of the Director, Borough Arborist, or an authorized designee, a tree or portions of a tree in public areas constitutes an immediate hazard to persons or property, and the tree in question is the responsibility of the abutting property owner, the abutting property owner shall immediately be notified of the hazard and requested to eliminate it. If the property owner fails to comply within five days after the notice, the Director, Borough Arborist, or an authorized designee is authorized to remove or order removal of the hazard without further notice or appeal. All costs for such work plus 10% additional shall be assessed and, if not paid, shall be a lien against the property in accord with § 427-8 of this chapter.
J. 
Review of land development plans.
[Amended 4-17-2018 by Ord. No. 2018-07]
(1) 
Concept plan. One copy of any concept (preliminary) plan shall be submitted to the Borough Arborist, or his/her designee, for a review of the proposed land development's effect on any public tree(s). Within 15 working days of the receipt of a concept plan, the Borough Arborist, or his/her designee, shall provide to the Planning/Zoning Official written comments on the effect of said land development on any public tree(s).
(2) 
Final plan. One copy of any final plan shall be submitted for review and approval to the Borough Arborist, or his/her designee, for a review of the proposed land development's effect on any public tree(s). Within 15 working days of the receipt of a final plan, the Borough Arborist, or his/her designee, shall provide to the Planning/Zoning Official written comments on the effect of said land development on any public tree(s).
K. 
Regulate activity within the tree protection zone of public trees.
(1) 
No activity is permitted within the Tree Protection Zone without a tree work permit issued in accordance with § 427-6 of this chapter. Within five working days of the receipt of the permit application, the Borough Arborist, or his/her designee, shall determine the need for and location of the Tree Protection Zone fencing around all public trees located on or adjacent to the site.
[Amended 4-17-2018 by Ord. No. 2018-07]
(2) 
Review of building permit applications. All applications for sidewalk permits, driveway permits and permits for demolition, construction or expansion that may affect the Tree Protection Zone of public trees shall be reviewed by the Director, in consultation with the Borough Arborist if necessary before a permit is issued.
(3) 
Where determined necessary by the Borough Arborist, or his/her designee, the property owner shall install or cause to be installed a staked construction fence at least 48 inches in height, consisting of posts measuring at least two inches by four inches in cross-section with two, two-inch-by-four-inch continuous planks attached thereto; or an alternative as approved by the Borough Arborist, or his/her designee, around all portions of the Tree Protection Zone, excluding any portions occupied by sidewalks, street cartway, curbs/gutters or a driveway. The fencing shall be positioned at the dripline of the tree unless a lesser distance is approved by the Borough Arborist or his/her designee.
[Amended 4-17-2018 by Ord. No. 2018-07]
The cost of planting, transplanting, or pruning or removing trees in and along the highways, streets and alleys in the Borough shall be paid for by the abutting property owner. However, at the discretion of the Shade Tree Commission, such work may be paid for through other funds, such as those budgeted annually for shade trees, or those awarded for such projects through proposals submitted, or donations made by public or private persons or agencies.
A. 
The Commission, and/or its designee are authorized to issue permits for certain work on public trees by persons not Borough employees, and to charge an administrative fee for issuance of such permits, fees and amounts to be set by resolution by Borough Council as deemed appropriate, such fees to be accounted for and added to the total budget for the public trees in the Borough. Outside contractors or property owners seeking a permit must follow the Rules and Regulations for Arbor Work and any and all other applicable rules and regulations. Permits must be displayed on the front door, or on a window adjacent to the front door of the property.
B. 
All Tree Work Contractors who wish to perform work on street trees or trees in public locations in the Borough of Indiana must be registered with the Indiana Borough Department of Zoning and Code Enforcement and will be placed on the Borough's approved tree work contractors list when proof of all registration requirements have been submitted to the Borough and verified, fees and amounts to be set by resolution by Borough Council as it deems appropriate. Such fees shall be accounted for and added to the total budget for the public trees in the Borough. Tree work contractors who perform work on public trees and have failed to register with the Indiana Borough Department of Zoning and Code Enforcement will be subjected to penalties in accord with § 427-8 of this chapter. Permits shall be required for the following acts:
(1) 
Planting, transplanting, pruning, removing, applying fertilizer, or any chemical substance or biological pesticide or otherwise disturbing any tree located in public areas or within any tree protection zone.
(2) 
Trimming, pruning, or removing any tree on private property, or portions of such a tree, if the tree or parts of it may reasonably be expected to fall in public areas and cause damage to persons or property, or interfere with pedestrian or vehicular traffic using the public right-of-way or public easements.
(3) 
Placing in public areas or within any tree protection zone, either above ground or below ground level, a container for trees, shrubs, or other plants.
(4) 
Transplanting any tree located in public areas or within any tree protection zone.
(5) 
Attaching any rope, wire (non-electric wire), sign, poster, banner, or other object or device to any tree in any public area or to any guard about such tree.
(6) 
Removing or tampering with any object or device set for the protection or treatment of any tree in any public area or within any Tree Protection Zone.
(7) 
Damaging or cutting roots two inches in diameter or larger by tunneling, trenching, or digging in public areas or within any tree protection zone for the purpose of installation or repair of sidewalk, curb, driveway, gas or plumbing pipes or conduits, electric lines, etc.
(8) 
Storage of construction materials within the tree protection zone.
(9) 
Soil compaction within the tree protection zone.
(10) 
Creating construction site access, whether permanent or temporary, within any Tree Protection Zone.
(11) 
Construction of a curb cut and/or driveway within the tree protection zone.
C. 
Permits shall be in writing and shall specify which of these activities is to be permitted and the time period in which it may be carried out, which shall not exceed 90 days. All work shall be performed in accordance with the Rules and Regulations for Arbor Work and any and all other applicable rules and regulations which the Commission or Department shall make available to the applicant. Whenever possible, the Director or Borough Arborist, or authorized designee will ascertain that the applicant is following the rules and Regulations for Arbor Work and any and all other applicable rules and regulations, and, in the case of observed or reported violations, may revoke the permit. Revocations may be appealed to the Borough Manager within five days of the notice of revocation, at which time the Manager may, at his/her discretion, present the matter to Council for fact-finding.
D. 
Nothing in this part shall be construed as exempting abutting property owners or public utility companies, or any other person or agency from any of the requirements of this chapter.
E. 
Extended-term pruning permits may be applied for by persons desiring to perform volunteer pruning on young public trees. In order to qualify for an extended-term pruning permit, the applicant must prove that they have completed a pruning training program approved by the Shade Tree Commission of Indiana Borough. Those persons issued an extended-term pruning permit shall be required to notify the Commission, in writing, as to what type of pruning will be performed, along with a list of the trees involved, prior to any pruning being performed. The Shade Tree Commission of Indiana Borough will decide each request on a case by case basis and inform the applicant within a reasonable amount of time of their decision.
It shall be unlawful for any person to:
A. 
Cut, break, climb with spikes, disturb the roots of, or otherwise injure or destroy trees in any public area or within any tree protection zone or to authorize such actions. It shall not be considered a violation to trim trees or perform other activities with a valid permit from the Borough specific to the tree(s) involved in accord with § 427-6A of this chapter.
B. 
Cause or authorize any wire or other conductor or device charged with electricity to be hung in, or from, or attached to, in any way, any tree in any public area, or to any guard about such tree. This also applies to the Tree Protection Zone if the wire or conductor is placed in such a manner that it may injure or kill the tree.
C. 
Intentionally cause or authorize in any public area or within any tree protection zone, any oil, gasoline, herbicide, paint, brine, hot water, steam, or other gas, liquid or solid substance deleterious to the tree to contact any tree or to enter the soil about the base or root system of a tree in any manner that may injure or kill it.
D. 
Interfere, cause or authorize an interference with the Borough or any of its agents or employees while they are engaged in planting, inspecting, maintaining, or removing trees.
E. 
Supervise or authorize construction, alterations, repairs or demolition activities in the vicinity of any tree in any public area or within any Tree Protection Zone without first placing sufficient guards or protectors as shall prevent injury or destruction of said tree arising out of said activities. The placement of guards or protectors shall be in accord with the Rules and Regulations for Arbor Work or upon written authorization of the Director or Borough Arborist.
F. 
Place or maintain upon the ground any asphalt, cement, stone, or other material or substances in such a manner as may obstruct or further obstruct free access of air and water to the roots of any trees in any public areas or within any tree protection zone.
G. 
Pile any building material or make any mortar or cement within six feet of any tree in any public area or within any Tree Protection Zone.
H. 
Hitch or fasten any animal, bicycle, or vehicle to any tree in any public area.
Any person violating the provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction before a Magisterial District Judge of appropriate jurisdiction, be liable to pay costs of prosecution and a fine as follows:
A. 
For willingly injuring or killing a living tree in any public area or within any Tree Protection Zone by cutting, carving, debarking, breaking, by the use of herbicides, use of a vehicle or in any other manner wherein it is determined by the District Judge that such damage or destruction was intentionally inflicted, a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $1,000, plus the cost of prosecution and value of the destroyed or damaged tree; and/or the cost of repair or replacing each damaged tree plus 10% additional, shall be levied. The value of the tree or trees removed or damaged shall be determined by the Borough Arborist or other ISA Certified Arborist selected by the Borough using a valuation method approved by the International Society of Arboriculture (such as The Guide for Plant Appraisal, Ninth Edition, 2000, or its most current replacement). If the person found guilty of violating this subsection is an abutting property owner, the total costs and fines shall be assessed against the property in accordance with Section 2730 of the Borough Code of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
B. 
For failure of a property owner to remove, partially remove or treat a tree on public or private property, as ordered in accord with this chapter in § 427-4G and § 427-4I the guilty person shall be fined not more than $100 per day. Each day the property owner remains in violation shall constitute a separate offense. Total fines shall not exceed $1,000.
C. 
For all other violations, where it is determined by the District Judge that such damage or destruction was not willfully inflicted, a fine of not less than $25 nor more than $100, plus the cost of repairing or replacing each damaged tree plus 10% additional, shall be levied. If the person found guilty of violating this part is an abutting property owner, the total costs and fines shall be assessed against the property in accordance with Section 2730 of the Borough Code of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
D. 
For failure by a contractor to register with the Indiana Borough Departments of Planning/Zoning, and Code Enforcement before performing work on street trees or public trees, the penalties shall be as follows: First offense, a written warning will be issued and kept on file with the Indiana Borough Departments of Planning/Zoning, and Code Enforcement; second offense, a fine of $100 shall be levied; third offense and any subsequent offenses, a fine of $500 shall be levied.
[Amended 4-17-2018 by Ord. No. 2018-07]
With the exceptions of the procedures provided for in § 427-6 and § 427-8, any action of the Commission may be appealed to and heard by the Council. To be effective, an appeal must be filed within 30 days after the decision of the Commission. The appeal shall be in writing and shall clearly specify the reasons for which a hearing is requested. The decision of the Council shall be final unless that decision is appealed within 30 days from the date of the notice of the decision as provided for by administrative code.
Nothing contained in this chapter shall be deemed to impose any liability upon the Borough, its officers or employees, nor to relieve the owner of any private property of the duty to keep any tree, shrub or plant upon his property or under his control in such a condition as to prevent it from constituting a hazard or an impediment to travel or vision upon any Borough street, avenue, boulevard, lane, alley, or public parks, rights-of-way, easements, as well as all other areas under control of the Borough.