[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Atlantic Highlands 12-13-1995 by Ord. No. 21-95. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The regulation, planning, care and control of shade and ornamental trees upon and in streets, highways, public places, parks and parkways of this municipality, other than county parks and parkways, shall be managed by and under the control and the authority of a Commission which shall be known as the "Shade Tree Commission of the Borough of Atlantic Highlands," in accordance with N.J.S.A. 40:64-1 et seq.
The Shade Tree Commission shall consist of five members and a maximum of two alternate members who shall be appointed by the Mayor, shall be residents of the Borough, and shall serve without compensation except as hereinafter provided.
The first Commission shall be appointed within 60 days after this chapter shall be effective, and said Commission shall organize within 30 days after the appointment of its membership for the remainder of the then calendar year and, thereafter, annually.
The Commission shall select one of its members as Chairman annually, and the Commission shall appoint a Secretary, who need not be a member of the Commission. The salary for the Secretary shall be fixed by the Borough Council.
The term of office of each member shall commence upon the day of appointment, and, in the case of the original Commission, the five members shall be appointed for one-year, two-year, three-year, four-year and five-year appointments, respectively. Said terms on the original appointment shall be from the day of appointment until December 31 of the next calendar year. The names of the appointees and their specific terms must be set forth in the appointment by the Mayor.
The terms of office of the alternate members shall commence upon the day of appointment, and said appointees will be designated as "Alternate No. 1" and "Alternate No. 2," and, in the case of the original appointees, Alternate No. 1 will serve from the day of appointment until December 3 of the next calendar year, and Alternate No. 2 will serve from the day of appointment until December 31 in the second calendar year. The names of the appointees and their specific terms shall be set forth in the appointment by the Mayor.
All subsequent appointments after the original appointments, except to fill vacancies, shall be for full terms of five years, or for two years as to the alternates, each to take effect on January 1.
Any vacancy occurring by reason of death, resignation or removal of any Commissioner shall be filled for the unexpired term by the Mayor.
Said Commission shall possess and be vested with the powers as per N.J.S.A. 40:64-5, including:
To exercise full and exclusive control over the regulation, planting, and care of shade and ornamental trees now located or which may hereafter be planted in any public highway, park or parkway, including the planting, trimming, spraying, care and protection thereof.
To regulate and control the use of the ground surrounding the same so far as may be necessary for their proper growth, care and protection.
To move or require the removal of any tree or part thereof on public or private property that is dangerous to public safety.
To make, alter, amend and repeal, in the manner prescribed for the passage, alteration, amendment and repeal of ordinances by the Borough Council, any and all ordinances necessary or proper for carrying out the provisions hereof.
To administer treatment to or remove any tree on public or private property which is believed to harbor a disease or insects readily communicable to neighboring healthy trees and to enter upon private property for that purpose, provided that the suspected condition is first properly confirmed.
To study and recommend methods of funding, outside of municipal taxation, by grants and aid, both state and federal.
To develop a program of tree planting and overall beautification in areas along the public right-of-way and to prepare a survey of existing trees within the public right-of-way and upon public property and to develop a master plan for the care and control of existing shade trees and ornamental trees and the planting of new trees throughout the Borough, said survey and master plan shall be submitted to Borough Council for its review and approval annually, by February 1 of the next succeeding year.
To provide a procedure for removing or trimming existing trees where necessary because the tree is either dead, diseased or injured by storm or similar consequences.
To adopt and administer regulations for the selection and placement of trees and as may be necessary for the interpretation, administration, and enforcement of the powers and authority of the Commission.
No statute giving any person or governmental board, body or official the power or authority to lay any sidewalk along or to open, construct, curb or pave any street or to do any similar act shall be construed to permit or authorize any interference with or injury to a street shade tree without the consent of the Commission. The Commission shall reasonably cooperate with such person, board, body or official for the public good.
During December in each year, the Commission shall certify to the Borough Council the estimated sum necessary for the proper conduct of its work during the ensuing fiscal year, to include the sums estimated for such of the following items as it is anticipated expenditure will be made for, that is:
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.
Purchase of necessary equipment and materials and the cost of services for the prudent promotion of the work, including expenses for tree trimming and removal.
The Borough Council shall annually appropriate such sum as it may deem necessary for said purposes.
The Commission may accept gifts or donations from public-spirited citizens for use for Commission purposes.
The Borough or Commission shall have the right to plant, prune, maintain and remove trees, plants and shrubs within the lines of all streets, alleys, avenues, lanes, squares and public grounds, as may be necessary to provide to public safety or to preserve or enhance the symmetry and beauty of such public grounds. There shall be no charge to residents for a tree planted by the Borough on Borough property. A resident is permitted to request a planting of a tree or trees for which he/she wishes to make as a donation for covering costs.
The Borough or Commission may remove or cause or order to be removed any tree or part thereof which is in any unsafe condition or is injurious to sewer lines, gas lines, waterlines or other public improvements or is affected with any injurious fungus, insect or other pest. The Commission shall endeavor to give reasonable notice of its intention to remove or to cause the removal of a tree or part of a tree to the abutting or interested owner, unless public safety requires immediate removal, in which case no notice shall be necessary.
A resident has the right, for good reason, to object to the planting of a tree in front of his residence, which objection will be considered and the final determination shall be made by the Commission.
It shall be unlawful as a normal practice for any person or firm to top any street tree, park tree or other tree on public property. "Topping" is defined as 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. Trees severely damaged by storms or other causes or certain trees under utility wires or other obstructions where other pruning practices are impractical may be exempted from this chapter at the determination of the Commission.
Every owner of any tree overhanging any street or right-of-way shall prune the branches so that such branches shall not obstruct the view of any street intersection and shall not obstruct the light from any street lamp and so that there shall be a clear space of eight feet above the surface of the street or sidewalk. Said owners shall remove all dead, diseased, or dangerous trees or broken or decayed limbs which constitute a menace to the safety of the public. The Borough or Commission shall have the right, but not the obligation, to prune any tree or shrub on private property when it interferes with the proper spread of light along the street from a streetlight, visibility of any traffic control device or sign, or passage on a public street or sidewalk.
Any person or firm engaged in the regular and primary business or occupation of pruning, treating or removing trees must first apply for and procure a license in order to work within the Borough. The license fee shall be paid in advance, in such amount as provided in Chapter 168, Article II. No license shall be required of any public service company or Borough department doing such work in pursuit of their public service endeavors nor from any private property owner performing work on his property either by the owner or some agent, casually engaged by the owner, whose primary occupation is not tree removal or pruning or arborist work.
Trees planted or existing between the curbline and the sidewalk abutting property are the responsibility of the property owner, subject, however, to the authority of the Shade Tree Commission as provided in this section. The property owner is required to maintain the area between the curbline and the sidewalk. The abutting property owner may plant street trees in this area, provided the consent of the Commission is obtained and the selection and location is in accord with Commission rules.
It is unlawful to attach, in any manner, chains or signs of any sort to any curbside tree or to place nails into any curbside tree.
The Commission may prescribe a fine for the violation of each of its ordinances and regulations in an amount not exceeding $1,500 for each violation, and the Atlantic Highlands Municipal Court shall have jurisdiction over actions for the violation of ordinances or regulations of the Commission.
The ordinances and regulations 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 Borough.
In addition, the Commission shall have the right to require any person who removes or destroys a tree in violation of ordinance and regulation to pay a replacement assessment as per N.J.S.A. 40:64-12.
Nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed to make the Shade Tree Commission or any member thereof, or the Borough, responsible for the death or injury of any person or for any injury to any property or highway tree or shrub.