[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Newtown 4-1-1957 by Ord. No. 214; amended in its entirety 12-8-1998 by Ord. No. 574, approved 12-8-1998. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES048a Exhibit A
Brush, grass and weeds — See Ch. 67.
There is hereby established and created for the Borough of Newtown a Newtown Borough Shade Tree Commission, composed of three borough residents who are knowledgeable about shade trees and their maintenance and who shall serve without compensation.
For the purpose of this chapter, the following terms, phrases, words and their derivations shall have the meanings given herein. When not inconsistent with the context, words used in the present tense include the future, words in the plural include the singular, words in the singular include the plural and the words in the masculine include the feminine. The word "shall" is mandatory and not merely directory.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Newtown Borough in the County of Bucks, Pennsylvania.
- The body known as the "Shade Tree Commission" under whose jurisdiction all shade trees fall and which is assigned to carry out the enforcement of this chapter.
- Newtown Borough Council.
- MAINTENANCE or MAINTAIN
- Clipping, trimming, fertilizing, spraying, treating for disease or injury and similar acts to promote health, growth or beauty of shade trees.
- Includes all public parks.
- Includes associations, a company, a corporation, firms, individuals, organizations and partnerships.
- Putting or setting into the ground.
- PROPERTY LINE
- The outer edge of a street or highway.
- PROPERTY OWNER
- The person or persons owning such property as shown by the County Assessor's Plat of Bucks County.
- PUBLIC RIGHT-OF-WAY
- Includes the land between property lines set aside for public use or ownership as a street, alley, crosswalk, easement or otherwise and all other grounds owned by the Borough of Newtown, including public parks.
- PUBLIC TREES
- Includes all shade and ornamental trees now or hereafter growing on any street or any public areas where otherwise indicated.
- SHADE TREE
- Unless otherwise specified, includes all trees, shrubs and woody vegetation in the public right-of-way, street or highway.
- STREET OR HIGHWAY
- The entire width of every public way or right-of-way when any part thereof is open to the use of the public, as a matter of right, for purposes of vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
Upon enactment of this chapter, the Borough Council forthwith shall ratify and confirm the terms of all Commissioners holding office at the effective date of this chapter. On the expiration of the term of any Commissioner, a successor shall be appointed to serve for a term of no longer than five years. The terms of the members shall always be staggered in such a manner so that no more than one term expires in any given year.
The Commission shall elect from its own membership, by a majority vote of all Commission members, a Chairperson who shall serve an annual term and who may succeed himself. For the conduct of any meeting and the taking of any action other than election of the Chairperson, a quorum shall not be less than a majority of the voting members of the Commission. Any ex officio members shall not have a vote on Commission issues.
All Commissioners shall be appointed by the Council according to law. The Council may appoint any member for less than a five-year term only to ensure that no more than one term expires in any year.
The Commission shall promptly notify the President of Council of any vacancies which occur. Appointments to fill vacancies shall be made according to law only for the unexpired portion of the term.
Any Commission member may be removed for malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance in office or for other just cause by a majority vote of Council.
The Commission shall have the following powers, including, but not limited to:
Exercise exclusive custody and control of the shade trees in the borough.
Regulate the planting, maintenance and removal of trees on streets and other publicly owned property.
Ensure safety or preserve the aesthetics of such shade trees.
Act as an advisory body to the Council on all matters concerning shade trees within the public right-of-way, street or highway.
Carry out any duties and responsibilities conferred upon it by the Council, including those herein conferred.
Give recommendations and advice as to species selection, planting, maintenance or removal of trees on all public rights-of-way, streets or highways.
If requested by Council, develop and establish a Master Shade Tree Plan to determine the streets and sidewalks to be planted as well as the varieties to be planted thereon.
Encourage and advise proper planting and maintenance of trees by private persons and to advise private persons to plant according to the Master Tree Plan when planting shade trees in the public right-of-way. For that purpose the Commission shall furnish advice on the desirable kinds and types of trees, methods of planting and maintaining trees and other educational information about trees.
Work with all other concerned agencies in the planning of trimming, planting, transplanting and removal of public and shade trees.
Make and enforce regulations for care and protection of the shade trees of the borough; provided, however, that no such regulation shall be in force until it has been duly approved by the Council and enacted as an ordinance according to law.
Keep full records of its business and minutes of all Commission meetings and shall submit a report of such activities to the Council by February 1 of the following year.
No person shall hinder, prevent, delay or interfere with the Commission or any of its assistants while engaged in carrying out the execution or enforcement of the chapter, regulations, etc.; provided, however, that nothing herein shall be construed as an attempt to prohibit the pursuit of any remedy, legal or equitable, in any court of competent jurisdiction for the protection of property rights by the owner of any property within the borough.
The Commission, when authorized by resolution of the Borough Council, may employ and pay such superintendents, engineers, foresters, tree wardens or other assistants as the proper performance of the duties devolving upon it shall require.
Regulations may be amended, modified or clarified by printed specifications, plans or drawings by the Commission from time to time with the approval of Council and shall become effective only after it has been enacted as an ordinance according to law. Council reserves the right to not enact or repeal any regulation or regulations which, in the judgment of Council, has or have failed to serve the purposes and objects for which this chapter is enacted.
Whenever the Commission proposes to plant, replant, transplant or remove shade trees on any street, highway or public right-of-way, 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, highways or public rights-of-way or portions thereof upon which trees are proposed to be so planted, replanted, transplanted or removed.
[Added 10-10-2000 by Ord. No. 604, approved 10-13-2000]
A permit shall be required prior to any person commencing or performing any of the following activities to, upon or in connection with any shade tree:
Pruning, spraying, planting, removing, fertilizing or cutting any shade tree.
Breaking bark or otherwise injuring or disturbing any shade tree, tree guard or support thereof.
Attaching a guy rope, cable, electric wire or other fixture or attachment to any shade tree, or tree guard or support thereof.
Attaching, fastening or maintaining any sign, display or other advertising to any shade tree, tree guard or support thereof.
Laying or otherwise depositing any concrete, brick, stone or other pavement material within an area of 12 square feet around the base of the trunk of any shade tree so as to obstruct the access of air and water to the roots of any shade tree.
Excavating any ditches, tunnels, trenches or laying any drive within a radius of 10 feet from any shade tree.
The Commission shall review all permit requests. The Commission shall approve all permit requests if, in its judgment, the proposed work substantially adheres to the provisions of this chapter, and any rules and regulations adopted hereunder. The Commission may attach such reasonable conditions and safeguards to any approved permits as it may deem necessary to implement the purposes of this chapter.
The applications for a permit shall be made at the Newtown Borough offices on a form prescribed by Newtown Borough. The Commission shall consider the permit request at meeting held within two weeks of the date the application is received. If the Commission authorizes the issuance of a permit, the Newtown Borough Code Enforcement Officer shall issue the permit to the applicant. All work authorized under any permit shall be completed within 90 days from the date issued by the Code Enforcement Officer, unless otherwise specified or extended by the Commission.
Any aggrieved applicant shall have the right to appeal a denial of a permit by the Commission to the Council within 30 days from the date of the denial. An appeal from such a denial shall be based on a claim that the true intent of this chapter has been incorrectly applied. The Council shall hold a public hearing on the appeal within 30 days, at which time both the applicant and a Commission representative shall appear to present their respective positions. Council shall announce a determination at the conclusion of the hearing and render a written decision within 10 days thereof. An aggrieved applicant may appeal an adverse decision of Council to Bucks County Court of Common Pleas in the manner and time provided by law.
Any permit shall be deemed immediately void if its terms and conditions are not complied with. Any such violation may be enforced in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
The cost of planting, transplanting or removing any shade trees in the borough, of the necessary and suitable guards, curbing or grading for the protection thereof and of the replacing of any pavement or sidewalk necessarily disturbed in the execution of such work shall be paid by the owner or owners, as the case may be, of the real estate abutting where the work is done. In the case of more than one owner, the amounts due shall be based upon the percentage of real estate of each owner abutting where the work is done.
The amount each and every owner is to pay shall be ascertained and certified by the Commission to the Council and to the Borough Treasurer by the filing of a certificate.
Upon the filing of the certificate referenced in § 48-10B with the Council, the Secretary of the borough shall cause 30 days' written notice to be given to the persons against whose property an assessment has been made. The notice shall state the amount of the assessment and the time and place of payment and shall be accompanied by a copy of the certificate. The amount assessed against the real estate shall be a lien from the time of the filing of the certificate with the Council, and if not paid within the time designated in the notice, a claim may be filed and collected by the Borough Solicitor in the same manner as municipal claims are filed and collected.
The cost and expenses of caring for shade trees on the streets and highways of the borough after they have been planted and the expense, if any, of publishing the notice provided in § 48-8 hereof shall each year be certified by the Commission to the Borough Council and shall be paid by the borough, and funds therefor allocated by Council shall be drawn against, as required by the Commission.
The Council may appropriate annually, out of the general funds of the borough, such sum as it may approve for the cost and expense of maintaining, planting and or replacing shade trees during that calendar year, together with any collections from penalties or fines assessed.
The Commission shall submit a written annual report in full to the Council of its activities, transactions and expenses for the last fiscal year of the borough on or before February 1 of the following year.
The Commission shall have the power to enforce the provisions of this chapter and any rule or regulation enacted under this chapter by appropriate civil action. No such action shall be permitted, other than the issuance of any notice permitted under this chapter, without the express prior approval of the Council.
The Commission is authorized to assess a penalty or fine not to exceed $300 for each and every violation of the provisions of this chapter and any rule or regulation adopted hereto. Such fines and/or penalties shall be in addition to any costs for which a violator is responsible pursuant to any notice issued under this chapter. Each day during which any violation of the provisions of this chapter or any rule or regulation adopted hereto shall occur or continue shall be a separate offense.
Any penalty, fine or assessment imposed hereunder shall be a lien upon the real estate of the offender(s) and/or violator(s) and may be collected by an action in assumpsit or by lien in the same manner as municipal claims are filed and collected.
All penalties, fines, assessments and costs imposed under this chapter or any regulation hereto shall be paid to the Borough Treasurer as part of the borough's general fund, to be designated as funds received by the Commission.
The owner(s) of a property having a tree, plant or shrub deemed by the Commission to be a danger to the life, health, safety or property of the public or which is afflicted with any contagious disease or insect infestation or which threatens to injure or destroy plants, shrubs and other shade trees may be requested by mail by the Commission to correct such harm as designated in the notice within a time period specified. If the property owner(s) neglects or refuses to comply with such notice, as required by this section, within the time period specified in such notice, the borough may cause the work to be done by the borough and levy and collect the cost thereof from the owner(s) of the property. The entire cost thereof shall be paid by the property owner(s) within the time specified in the notice. If not paid by the property owner(s) within the time specified, the cost of such work shall be a lien upon such premises from the time of the commencement of the work, which date shall be fixed by the Borough Engineer and be filed with the Borough Secretary. Any such lien may be collected by an action in assumpsit or by lien in the same manner as municipal claims are filed and collected.
Any tree or parts thereof growing upon private property but overhanging or interfering with the use of any street, highway or any public right-of-way in the borough and which, in the opinion of the Commission, endangers the life, health, safety or property of the public is hereby declared a public nuisance.
If the owner(s) of any private tree or shade tree declared to be a public nuisance neglects or refuses to collect or remove the tree upon notice by mail from the Commission within the time limit specified in the notice, the borough may cause such correction or removal to be done at the expense of the owner(s), and the entire cost thereof shall be paid by the property owner within the time designated in the notice. If not paid by the property owner within the time designated in the notice, the same may be collected by the borough by an action in assumpsit.
To the extent that it is consistent therewith, this chapter shall be a continuation and an extension of all enactments of the Council heretofore made for the purpose of regulating shade trees.