[Adopted 8-1-2006 by Ord. No. 2963 (Ch. 225 of the 1978 Code)]
Whereas, the preservation, protection and planting of trees aids in the stabilization of soil by the prevention of erosion and sedimentation; reduces stormwater runoff and the potential damage it may create; aids in the removal of pollutants from the air and assists in the generation of oxygen; provides a buffer and screen against noise and pollution; provides protection against severe weather; aids in the control of drainage and restoration of denuded soil subsequent to construction or grading; provides a haven for birds and other wildlife and otherwise enhances the environment; protects and increases property values; conserves and enhances the Township's physical and aesthetic appearance; and generally protects the public health and safety, as well as the general welfare.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- DRIP LINE
- The circular area surrounding a tree, the radius of which area shall be the distance from the trunk of the tree to the outermost branches of the tree.
- LANDMARK TREE
- Any tree designated and identified as such by the Township Forester pursuant to the standards set forth in this article.
- PRIVATE TREE
- Any tree growing on private property other than in Township right-of-way or public property.
- SIGNIFICANT TREE
- Any healthy woody perennial plant having a diameter greater than 18 inches measured at a point four feet above the ground.
- TOWNSHIP FORESTER
- A certified tree expert by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection designated by the Township.
Permit required. No person shall cut or remove, or cause or permit to be cut or removed, any landmark or significant tree on any land within the Township unless the person shall have first obtained a permit therefor in accordance with the regulations and provisions of this article.
Any person desiring to cut or remove any landmark or significant tree or trees within the Township shall file an application therefor with the Township Forester on a form to be provided for that purpose. The application shall identify:
The tax lot and block of the tract of land upon which the tree or trees are located;
The name and address of the owner or duly authorized agent of the owner;
The reasons for requesting a permit to cut or remove same, including the condition of such tree or trees as dead, poor or good;
An original and two copies of a tree removal plan consisting of a map showing the location of the tree or trees to be removed, the species of such tree or trees, and the diameter of such tree or trees measured at a point four feet above the ground;
Indemnify and hold the Township harmless against any and all liability, damages and costs resulting from or arising out of the applicant's cutting or removal of any tree or trees; and
The Township Forester shall review the application, which shall, upon filing, be deemed to constitute consent from the applicant to the Township Forester and/or such person or persons as he/she may designate in writing for entry upon the land for the purpose of inspection. The applicant shall place a one-inch-wide red, yellow or blue ribbon around the trunk of the tree or trees to be removed at a height of four feet above the ground so that the tree or trees may be inspected by the Township Forester. In reviewing any such application, the Township Forester may at his/her discretion consult the Shade Tree Advisory Committee, the Township Engineer, Construction Official or other individual, as he/she may deem necessary or advisable. Except as otherwise hereinafter provided in Subsection B(3), within 20 business days excluding Saturday, Sundays and legal holidays from the filing of an application hereunder, the Township Forester shall endorse his/her decision upon the application and, in case of partial or complete disapproval, shall set forth the basis for such decision. In addition, where appropriate, the Township Forester shall indicate on such application any guidelines and preventive measures to be taken to preserve from injury or destruction trees not sought to be cut or removed. Among the conditions which the Township Forester may impose on a permit are requirement of replanting trees, shrubs or ground covers if trees that provide buffer, reduce soil erosion, or serve other beneficial purposes are to be removed. Any application approved, in whole or in part, shall automatically become a permit in accordance with the terms of endorsement. Any permit not acted upon within three months from the date of such approval shall automatically expire.
Upon the filing of any application for cutting or removal of landmark or significant trees located on any lot or tract for which an application for a building permit or subdivision or site plan review is required to be submitted to the Construction Code Official, the Township Planning Board or the Board of Adjustment, the applicant shall furnish the Township Forester with a copy of the building permit application or subdivision plat or site plan therefor, and the Township Forester may withhold his/her endorsement pending receipt of written notice of official action with respect to such building permit, subdivision plat or site plan application. Within 20 business days excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays of the receipt of such notice, the Township Forester shall act upon the application as provided in Subsection B(2) above.
Standards. The following standards for review of applications by the Township Forester shall apply.
Permitted removal. No trees shall be permitted to be removed unless, at minimum, the tree is:
Located within the building footprint of a proposed principal building;
Dead or poses a safety hazard;
Located within 15 feet of any building;
Located within the area of a proposed driveway, walkway, utility line, accessory building or any other structure;
Located in a front yard area proposed to be landscaped; and/or
Specifically permitted to be removed in a site plan approved pursuant to the Municipal Land Use Law (N.J.S.A. 40:55D-1 et seq.).
Conflict with other laws. Notwithstanding anything in this article to the contrary, no tree removal shall be permitted where prohibited by any zoning or other municipal, state or federal statute, ordinance or regulation.
The fee for a tree removal permit shall be $50 per tree, which shall be accompanied by application(s) for removal of said tree(s).
The Township will waive the permit fee for any tree(s) when the property owner replaces the tree(s) on the same or on another property. The replacement tree(s)' size(s) and species must be approved in advance by the Township Forester. If the replacement tree is placed on property other than the applicant's property, the location must be approved in advance by the Township Forester.
Any property owner who commits to replacing a tree or trees but fails to do so within one year of the date of the permit shall be subject to the penalty provisions of this article and shall be liable for the costs for the Township to replace the tree(s) at a location chosen by the Township Forester. The cost shall include actual expenses, plus an administrative surcharge of 15%.
Hardship appeals. In the event that an applicant believes the standards set forth in § 665-22C above constitute a hardship that prohibits a reasonable use of all or substantially all of the property in question and the Township Forester partially or completely disapproves such application, the applicant may seek relief from the Director of the Department of Parks and Public Property of the Township of Nutley.
In the event that such relief is sought, the applicant shall submit an additional two copies of the documents required to be submitted, together with three copies of a written statement as to the reasons for the claimed hardship. In addition, the applicant shall submit a fee for the hearing of the matter in the amount of $50. The Director, upon submission of a complete application for appeal, shall schedule a hearing in connection with the requested relief. The applicant shall cause to be served upon all adjacent property owners of the property in question, at least seven days prior to such hearing, a notice by certified, return receipt requested mail or by acknowledged personal service which shall include the time, date and location of such hearing together with a brief statement of the relief requested. Proof of service of notice shall be required to be submitted prior to the hearing. At the hearing, the applicant shall present witnesses under oath and any adjacent property owners may do the same. All witnesses shall be subject to cross-examination. The decision of the Director shall be binding.
Excepted from the provisions of this article shall be:
Any tree cut or removed in accordance with a management plan developed by a recognized state or federal environmental protection authority, provided that a copy of such plan is filed with the Township Forester.
Any tree located on Township-owned land and removed by the public agency or its representative.
Dead or diseased trees or trees that present an imminent threat to life or property as determined by the Township Forester or other qualified New Jersey-certified tree expert.
Mitigation for tree removal shall be required as follows:
In the event of tree removal pursuant to § 665-22C(1)(d), no mitigation shall be required if the tree has been planted for at least five years, there has been no damage to the tree by construction or otherwise by any person, and there has been no soil moving within 15 feet of such tree within such five years; otherwise, mitigation shall be required pursuant to this section.
For each tree for which mitigation is required pursuant to this section, the following shall apply: For each tree removed pursuant to the standards of this article, the applicant shall plant a tree at least six feet in height at the time of planting.
Mitigation in any instance is not to be considered a penalty but rather an implementation of the purposes of this article. Mitigation shall not be a substitute for, but shall be in addition to, any penalty imposed for violation of the provisions of this article.
Provisions of this article shall be enforced by the Township Forester, Construction Official and Police Department.
Any person violating any provision of this article shall, upon conviction, be subject to a fine of up to $1,000. Each tree cut or removed in violation of this article shall be considered a separate violation.
The legal removal of trees will invoke an automatic suspension of any existing building permits associated with a property and freeze the issuance of any future permits until the case is adjudicated and unwanted effects of the removal mitigated.
The Township Forester, upon request, shall determine whether any tree qualifies as a landmark tree. A tree may qualify as a landmark tree if it meets one or more of the following criteria:
The tree species is rare;
The tree is more than 100 years of age;
The tree is of a superior height or has a substantial trunk diameter or dripline diameter for a tree of its species so as to designate it as a specimen tree which is defined as a tree in good health and condition for that species; or
The form of the tree foliage is classical for a tree of its species.
All trees designated as landmark trees shall be shown on an official Township Map with appropriate code marks signifying each tree's designation, number, specie, age, size and other distinguishing characteristics for ready reference and period monitoring.
If the owner(s) of the property on which a landmark tree is located consents thereto, the Township may identify such tree as a landmark tree by the placement of suitable marker thereon.
If and when any landmark tree is removed, the Township Forester shall arrange for the necessary changes to be made to the official landmark tree inventory records and Township Map.