[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Rhinebeck 8-11-2009 by L.L. No. 1-2009. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Planning and Zoning Boards — See Ch. 14.
Brush, grass and weeds — See Ch. 37.
Environmental quality review — See Ch. 49.
Littering — See Ch. 72.
Parks and other public areas — See Ch. 78.
Solid waste — See Ch. 92.
Streets and sidewalks — See Ch. 98.
Water — See Ch. 115.
Zoning — See Ch. 120.
Road specifications — See Ch. A125.
Subdivision regulations — See Ch. A126.
The Village Board enacts this chapter to achieve the following purposes:
Establish and maintain the maximum sustainable amount of tree cover on public and private lands which impact public highways and other public property in the Village;
Maintain trees within the Village in a healthy and nonhazardous condition through accepted arboricultural practices;
Establish and maintain appropriate diversity in species and age classes within the Village;
Protect and enhance the character of the Village by assuring that decisions regarding the care and maintenance of trees are consistent within the Village and consistent with the Village Comprehensive Plan;
Prevent destruction or damage to shade, ornamental and evergreen trees and heritage trees by preventing inappropriate cutting of these trees in new subdivisions or other developments within the Village;
Prevent soil erosion and provide protection to wetlands, water bodies, watercourses, air quality, vegetation, wildlife and fragile natural resources; and
Preserve the natural beauty and community character of the Village.
Recognizing that the care and maintenance of street trees is a general benefit to the Village residents by contributing to the overall appearance of the Village; and recognizing that planting solely in the Village right-of-way leads to conflicts with sidewalks, utility wires and street maintenance, the Village Board shall consider alternatives for street tree planting in concert with private property owners in the Village.
[Added 9-13-2016 by L.L. No. 4-2016]
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The cultivation of trees and shrubs, including the study of how they grow and respond to cultural practices and the environment, as well as aspects of cultivation such as selection, planting, care and removal.
- Trained specialist certified by the International Society of Arborculture or one of its chapters or other nationally recognized arborcultural organizations with expertise in free management.
- The diameter of a tree trunk, taken six inches aboveground for up to and including four-inch caliper size, and the diameter at breast height for larger frees.
- CANOPY COVER
- A measurement of projection of the total crown size that a tree or trees in a specified area will attain at maturity.
- All portions of a tree, excluding the trunk and roots, such as branches and foliage.
- DBH (diameter at breast height)
- The diameter or caliper of a tree trunk at the height of 4 1/2 feet aboveground.
- HAZARDOUS TREE
- Any tree which constitutes a public nuisance by virtue of having an infectious disease or insect problem, being dead or dying, having limbs that obstruct street lights, traffic lights, etc., or a tree that poses a threat to public safety from falling limbs.
- HERITAGE TREE
- A tree identified by inventory, or other study of the Village Tree Commission, which has certain unique or noteworthy characteristics or values to make that tree deserving of special protection under this chapter.
- SPECIMEN TREE
- A healthy tree which has a minimum diameter of 36 inches at four feet aboveground or a minimum crown spread of 15 feet.
- STREET TREE
- A Village tree growing in the strip of land between the edge of the street and the sidewalk or within the Village easement.
- TREE CITY, USA
- A program sponsored by the National Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters which gives recognition to communities for providing a basic level of human and financial resources to manage their community forests.
- TREE CUTTING
- Any removal, breaking, pruning, destruction or injury of any tree covered by the provisions of this chapter.
- TREE PRESERVATION PLAN
- A plan submitted to the Village of Rhinebeck Planning Board in conjunction with any subdivision or other development site plan or special permit application for the preservation, maintenance and protection of trees on the property to be developed.
- TREE SURVEY
- An inventory of existing public trees and private trees, where possible, within the Village, indicating species, location, size, age and condition. Inventories of Village trees should include street trees, park trees, public trees, roadside trees and specimen and heritage trees on private and public lands.
- VILLAGE BOARD
- The Village Board of Trustees of the Village of Rhinebeck.
Authority and composition of the Commission. There is hereby created a Village Tree Commission for the Village of Rhinebeck. The Commission shall consist of five members. All members of the Commission shall be residents of the Village of Rhinebeck or the Town of Rhinebeck or owners or operators of businesses within the Village. However, preference shall be given in appointing members who are Village residents. Knowledge of arboriculture is desirable, but shall not be a requirement for membership on the Commission. The Commission shall be appointed by the Mayor and Board of Trustees by resolution. The initial terms of office for the members of the Commission shall be three years for two members; two years for two members; and one year for one member. Thereafter, on the expiration of a member's term, subsequent appointments shall be for a term of three years. All appointments to fill vacancies shall be for the unexpired term. Members of the Commission shall, on a yearly basis, appoint a member of the Commission to act as Chairman of the Commission for one year.
Funding and compensation. The members of the Tree Commission shall not be compensated for their services. The Village shall, each year, include in its budget appropriate funding for the Commission which shall, at the very least, meet the current Tree City, USA minimum requirements in order for the Village to qualify as a Tree City, USA.
Professional assistance. The Commission may, if necessary to fulfill its functions, utilize the services of licensed professionals to assist the Commission. Requests for such professional services shall be made to the Village, and hiring of such professionals, with the recommendation of the Commission, shall be made by the Village Board.
Tree inventory and tree management plan. The Commission shall be responsible for creating and updating a tree survey inventory of trees within the Village parks and Village property and along public highways and on private property (where access to that property can be obtained with the property owner's permission) within the Village. This inventory shall be used by the Commission to create and implement a tree management plan which the Commission will update periodically, but no less than every three years, to reflect current conditions. The tree management plan will, among other things, address the following:
Identification of planting sites with a goal of increasing the percentage of canopy cover within the Village;
Create a list of trees appropriate for planting along highways, in Village parks and on Village property; and
Annual goals for pruning and removal of dead, dangerous or hazardous trees and tree limbs in the Village.
Recommendations for tree maintenance, removal and care. The Commission shall make recommendations to the Village, its officials and employees for the planting, maintenance and care of trees along public highways or within Village parks and on Village property. The Village Highway Department shall, except in cases of emergency, consult with the Commission before removing or ordering the removal of a tree or limb of a tree within a highway right-of-way which threatens the health, safety and welfare of the users of the highway or the ability of the Highway Department to maintain the highway in a safe manner. The Village Board shall appoint a liaison to the Commission and Highway Department for purposes of facilitating communications between the Department and Commission. In providing such advice, the Commission may examine the subject tree(s) and may consult with an arborist or other professional consultant. The Commission may also make recommendations to the Highway Department through the liaison concerning those trees which present a hazard because of death, age, infectious disease, insect infestation or overgrowth which obstructs street lights and traffic and street signs, or any other condition which requires the treatment, cutting or removal of the tree.
Inventory of heritage trees. The Commission shall also create an inventory of heritage trees in the Village which are in special need of protection. In developing this inventory, the Tree Commission shall consider such characteristics as tree size; rarity of species; age; historic significance; ecological value; aesthetics; and location. The Commission shall utilize this inventory in making recommendations to the Village, the Village Highway Department, the Planning Board and other agencies of the Village government in regard to the care and maintenance of trees.
Cooperation with the Town of Rhinebeck. The Commission shall also have the power to work and cooperate with the Town of Rhinebeck and/or any tree commission (or similar commission or committee) established by the Town of Rhinebeck for purposes of protecting, maintaining and/or planting trees within the Town of Rhinebeck. Such cooperation may take the form of participation by the Tree Commission or its members in a joint Tree Commission established by the Town of Rhinebeck and the Village of Rhinebeck pursuant to an intermunicipal agreement.
Dissemination of tree information. The Commission shall assist the officers and employees of the Village, as well as residents, in the dissemination of information regarding the importance of selection, planting and maintenance of trees within the Village, whether on public or private property.
Other responsibilities. The Commission shall fulfill such other and further responsibilities imposed upon it by the Village Trustees, from time to time, as may reasonably be necessary to effect the purposes and intent of this chapter.
No person shall, without first obtaining a permit from the Village Board, remove, cut, top, prune, destroy or injure (tree cutting) any park tree, public tree, roadside tree, street tree or any tree growing in or on a highway easement or other public place.
Application for a tree permit shall be made, in writing, to the Village Board through the Village Clerk on a form provided by the Village. Upon receipt of the application, the Village Clerk shall forward the application to the Tree Commission for an advisory recommendation.
The Village Board shall give due consideration to the recommendations of the Tree Commission in acting on the permit application and shall issue the permit when it establishes to its satisfaction that there is a need for the proposed action based upon the following:
The presence of the tree would cause hardship or would endanger the health, safety or welfare of the general public, the applicant or the adjacent property owner;
The tree is diseased or threatens the health of other trees;
The tree(s) substantially interfere(s) with a permitted use on the property;
The cutting of the tree(s) is required by application of the standards of good arboricultural practice and will not have an adverse effect on the ecological system or the environment; and
The location of the tree(s) prevents compliance with state, county or local standards for site lines, driveways and/or intersections.
The Village Board may impose such conditions on the issuance of a permit as may be necessary and reasonable to mitigate the adverse impacts of the tree cutting.
No permit shall be required to cut any tree(s) when:
Necessary to control a fire.
Necessary in cases of emergency where the permit approval process would endanger the heath, safety and welfare of individuals or property. In such an event, however, the person performing the work on the tree shall submit to the Village Board written documentation of the emergency and the actions taken to respond to such emergency within five working days of the action.
The tree cutting is undertaken in accordance with a tree preservation plan approved by the Village Planning Board in conjunction with a subdivision, site plan and/or special permit application.
A permit may be revoked by the Village Board if it determines that the tree cutting performed by the property owner is not performed in accordance with the approved permit and/or conditions placed upon such permit.
The cost of removal shall be the responsibility of the property owner.
[Added 9-13-2016 by L.L. No. 4-2016]
Each application submitted to the Planning Board for site plan approval, special permit approval and/or subdivision of property within the Village shall be accompanied by a description of all tree removal which is contemplated in conjunction with the project prepared by the applicant. In particular, the description shall include:
An identification of all heritage trees on the property as may have been identified by the Commission in its inventory;
A description of all trees having a dbh of 24 inches or greater;
All trees which are locally important or rare in the area;
All trees having a notable local or regional historical significance;
All trees having a high ecological value; and
All trees having important aesthetic or ecological functions.
This description shall be referred by the Planning Board to the Tree Commission upon receipt of a complete application from the applicant. The referral shall also include the complete application, including all site plans, landscape plans, maps, surveys and subdivision plats.
The Commission shall, within 30 days after its receipt of the referral, make a recommendation to the Planning Board of conditions to be imposed in the Planning Board's approval of the project in the form of a tree preservation plan to preserve, maintain or protect the trees on the property. The Commission may also make recommendations concerning the landscaping and screening plans and the protection of trees during construction for each project referred to it.
The Planning Board shall not act on the application until 30 days have expired from the receipt of the referral by the Commission or until is has received a recommendation from the Commission, whichever is earlier.
The Planning Board shall consider, and incorporate where appropriate, the recommendations of the Commission in a tree preservation plan for the project or in conditions of approval to be adhered to by the developer in the development of the property. The Plan shall, in the discretion of the Planning Board:
The Village, through its Highway Department, shall have the authority to prune the branches of any tree overhanging any street or right-of-way within the Village so that the branches shall not obstruct the light from any street lamp or obstruct the view of any street intersection and so that there shall be a clear space of eight feet above the surface of the street or sidewalk.
The Village shall have the authority to remove all dead, diseased or dangerous trees or broken or decayed limbs on private and public property which constitute a menace to the safety of the public. The Village shall have the authority to prune any tree or shrub on private property when it interferes with visibility of any traffic control device or sign.
The Village shall have the authority to cause the removal of any dead, diseased or other trees on private property within the Village when such trees constitute a hazard to public highways, public ways or other public property within the Village. The Village, through its Highway Department or Village Clerk, will notify, in writing, the owners of such tree(s). Removal shall be performed by said owners at their own expense within 60 days after the date of service of notice unless a shorter time period is specified in the notice. In the event of the failure of the owners to comply with such provisions, the Village shall have the authority to remove such trees and charge the cost of the removal as a municipal lien to be levied as a special assessment or tax against the owner of land upon which the tree was situated. Notices pursuant to this section shall be deemed to be given when delivered personally to the property owner or when sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the address of the owner of the property as shown on the latest tax assessment roll.
In performing its functions, the Village Board and its Highway Department shall, where practicable, consult with the Tree Commission. The Tree Commission may, from time to time, provide the Village and the Highway Department with a list of trees within the Village which present a hazard to the public and which are in need of removal, pruning or cutting.
[Added 9-13-2016 by L.L. No. 4-2016]
Planting locations and species selection shall be recommended by the Tree Commission and approved by the Village Board.
Planting locations may include Village property, private property within the Village's right-of-way (ROW), or private property up to 30 feet beyond the curbline of the public road.
Consent for planting on private property shall be documented by a "consent for tree planting and maintenance agreement" signed by the property owner prior to planting on a form approved by the Village Attorney.
[Amended 10-10-2017 by L.L. No. 4-2017]
The agreement shall provide, at a minimum, for the following:
The property owner grants access to the planted tree or trees for watering and pruning purposes for a period of five years following planting as deemed necessary by the Village. The cost for this care shall be the responsibility of the Village.
The property owner shall hold harmless and indemnify the Village for all activity performed by Village employees or volunteers in caring for the newly planted tree.
After the expiration of the five-year term, the care of the tree becomes the sole responsibility of the property owner.
Any person, firm, partnership, corporation or other party who violates any of the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed and held to be guilty of an offense and, upon conviction, shall be fined a sum not to exceed $250, or imprisoned for not more than 15 days, or both, for each offense. Each week during which the violation shall continue shall be held and deemed to be a separate offense.
The Building Inspector and Zoning Enforcement Officer shall have the authority to issue appearance tickets and prosecute violations of this section. In addition, appearance tickets may also be issued by the Police Department, and prosecution of such offenses may also be made by the Village Attorney or Attorney to the Village, as the case may be.
In addition to criminal remedies, the Village shall have the right to seek injunctive relief in a court of competent jurisdiction against any person violating the provisions of this chapter.
In addition to any other remedies set forth herein authorizing the Village to enforce the provisions of this chapter, establishing penalties and setting forth additional remedies, the person charged with the responsibility to enforce the provisions of this chapter may impose a civil fine or agree to a civil fine not to exceed $1,000 per day for each day of the violation. If said civil fine is imposed then the alleged violator may appeal to the Village Board.