[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Fishkill 10-24-2011 by L.L. No. 8-2011. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Village of Fishkill has a vital interest in the planting and preservation of trees within its borders. Trees provide necessary shade, green space and aesthetic appeal, impede soil erosion, aid water absorption and provide other environmental benefits and generally enhance the quality of life within the Village. They control water pollution, purify the air and generate oxygen, aid in mitigating noise and reduce energy consumption by providing shade. Trees increase the beauty and value of all properties in the Village of Fishkill and provide benefit to wildlife and the ecosystem. The destruction and removal of trees causes increased costs to the Village for drainage control, impairs the value of both improved and unimproved real property, and has deleterious effects on the health and general welfare of the citizens of the Village. This chapter, therefore, establishes standards for the protection of these valuable specimens and further spells out a workable method of determining under which circumstances a tree may reasonably be removed.
Indiscriminate and uncontrolled destruction of trees, including but not limited to clear-cutting, deprives the community of all these benefits. The purpose of this chapter is to preserve trees and minimize damage and removal, thereby enhancing the health, property values, safety and general welfare of the habitants of the Village of Fishkill.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ACTUAL OR ONGOING EMERGENCY CONDITION
- A condition in which severe weather, storms, natural or nonnatural causes severely affect the integrity of a tree and such condition poses an immediate threat to life, property or the general public.
- Any individual, partnership, corporation, municipality or other entity, together with employees, officers, directors, agents, independent contractors or any lessee or contract-vendee of a parcel of property, who or which owns any real property or portion of real property within the jurisdiction of the Village.
- APPROVING AUTHORITY
- The Village of Fishkill, or its designee, shall be the approving authority for tree removal permits. If an applicant appeals a decision of the Village of Fishkill, then the Village of Fishkill Zoning Board of Appeals shall be the approving authority for the duration of the appeal.
- Any removal of 30% or more trees that are each four inches or more in DBH (diameter at breast height) over any five-year period as determined on the basis of trees requiring a tree removal permit on said property.
- DBH (DIAMETER AT BREAST HEIGHT)
- The diameter or caliper of a tree measured at a point 4 1/2 feet above ground level at the base of the tree on the uphill side.
- Any act that may cause a tree to die within a three-year period from the date of the act, including, but not limited to, girdling, soil compaction and storage of materials or equipment around the base of the tree and within the dripline, stripping of bark, setting fires on or near a tree, severe pruning, applying chemicals, or changing the ground level within the dripline.
- A method of cutting off leaves or branches within limits in order to remove dead or diseased foliage or branches. Pruning is also used to control or direct growth, to increase quality or yield of flowers or fruit and to ensure growth position of main branches to enhance structural strength.
- A low-growing woody plant that is naturally smaller than a tree and produces multiple stems instead of a single trunk. Shrubs are either evergreen or deciduous.
- STREET TREES
- Trees on land lying between property lines on either side of all streets, avenues and within the rights-of-way of the Village.
- A living deciduous or coniferous plant with an erect perennial trunk and a definitely formed crown of foliage.
- TREE CANOPY
- The uppermost layer of vegetation in woodland, or the upper foliage and branches of an individual tree.
- TREE PRESERVATION MAP
- A plan of the property in question indicating the location, species, DBH and condition of all trees six inches DBH or greater and detailing the methods and practices to be used to provide protection from injury during construction for all trees to be preserved. The plan shall clearly identify all trees as being removed and to remain.
- TREE REMOVAL PERMIT
- A written authorization to remove a tree(s) pursuant to this chapter.
- TREE TOPPING
- The severe cutting back of limbs larger than three inches in diameter within the tree's crown to stubs, to such a degree so as to remove the normal canopy and disfigure the tree.
No private person, municipal employee or contractor, or employee of a private firm shall purposefully, carelessly or negligently kill, cut, break, injure, trim, change the grade of or otherwise destroy or mortally damage any tree in any public place within the Village without first obtaining a tree removal permit from the approving authority.
All applicants for subdivision, site plan review, land clearing, major landscaping or other development requiring tree removal shall be required to submit a tree preservation map.
No person or firm shall purposefully, carelessly or negligently cause petrochemicals, herbicides or other toxic substances to penetrate into the soil in or about a tree's root system so as to effectively kill any tree.
Every owner, tenant, occupant and leaseholder of any tree or shrub on private property overhanging any right-of-way within the Village shall prune the branches so that such branches shall not obstruct the light from any streetlamp, interfere with utilities or obstruct the view of any street intersection or any traffic control device 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 Village of Fishkill or its designee shall have the right to enter private property for the purpose of investigating a complaint or perceived hazardous condition.
The Village of Fishkill shall have the right to prune any tree or shrub on private property when it interferes with the proper spread of light along the street from a streetlight or interferes with visibility of any traffic control device or sign or interferes with visibility at an intersection.
[Amended 8-27-2012 by L.L. No. 8-2012]
In the course of duties involving the service and repair of existing public utility company facilities, employees thereof are hereby authorized and permitted to prune, trim or alter trees, but only to the extent reasonably necessary to protect and maintain those facilities. Prior to commencing any substantial amount of nonemergency tree trimming, said personnel shall give the Village at least 48 hours' advance notice. There shall be no excessive cutting, pruning, or trimming of tree branches. Employees shall remove all debris, including all dead branches remaining in the trees, resulting from any maintenance conducted. If a utility company proposes to completely remove any tree, permission from the approving authority with a proper permit must be obtained prior to any such tree removal.
The Village of Fishkill, or its designee, shall have the right to enter private property for the purpose of investigating a complaint or perceived hazardous condition.
The site shall be subject to inspection upon notice to the property owner and/or applicant at any reasonable time, including weekends and holidays, by the Village of Fishkill or its designee. The property owner and applicant shall be deemed to have given consent to such inspection. The property owner and applicant shall indemnify and hold the Village of Fishkill harmless against any damage or injury that may be caused by or arise out of any entry onto the subject property in connection with the inspection.
The Village may enter upon privately owned land for the purpose of inspecting trees located thereon in order to determine if there is any violation of this law.
Removal of any tree shall require the following actions:
All persons granted a tree removal permit shall be required to replant native, noninvasive, minimum three-inch caliper trees.
The number of replacement trees shall be based on the recommendation of the Village of Fishkill Planning Board or Village of Fishkill Architectural Review Board.
All restoration work shall be completed within six months. An extension shall be granted by the Village of Fishkill or its designee between the months of November through February for an additional three months.
All restorative work shall be done in accordance with good and acceptable planting and tree surgery practice.
All trees that fail to survive as a result of the restorative work under this section for a period of two calendar years following planting shall be replaced by the owner of the land. Said replacement shall be within 60 days following written demand from the Village for such replacement or within an extended period of time as may be specified. Should the property owner fail to replace the trees pursuant to demand within the required period of time, the Village has the right to impose penalties as set forth in the chapter.
The following activities are permitted without a tree removal permit:
Removal of any tree under an actual or ongoing emergency condition when such immediate tree removal is necessary for the protection and preservation of life or property.
When conditions may warrant immediate need for removal of a tree, the Village may permit such removal without obtaining additional approval of the Village of Fishkill Planning Board or Architectural Review Board. The reasons for such action shall be documented by the Building Inspector or the Village designee.
The Village of Fishkill shall have the right to cause the removal of any dead or diseased trees on private property within the Village when such trees constitute a hazard to life and property or harbor insects or diseases which constitute a potential threat to other trees within the Village. The Village shall notify, in writing, the owners of such trees. Removal shall be done by said owners at their own expense. In the event of failure of owners to comply with such provisions, the Village shall have the authority to remove such trees and charge the cost of removal to the owner. A penalty of 5% shall be added to cost of removal, due to the owner's failure to remove the trees in a timely manner. A further penalty of 1% shall be added for each succeeding month or any portion thereof in which the charge is not paid. The Village Clerk shall cause, on the next succeeding tax roll, any said unpaid tree removal charges and penalties thereon to be added to the Village tax bills. Said tree removal charges and penalties shall constitute a lien on the real property so affected.
Each violation of the provisions of this chapter shall be a separate and distinct offense with a fine of $500 per offense. In addition, the Village or its designee may order or direct a violator to replace any or all trees removed illegally with a size and type as determined by the Village.
The Village Code Enforcement Officer(s) is hereby authorized to issue appearance tickets for violations of this chapter as well as stop-work orders.
Nothing contained in this chapter shall be deemed to impose any liability upon the Village, its officers, committees or employees, nor to relieve the owner of any private property from the duty to keep any tree, shrub or plant upon any area on his property or under his control in such conditions as to prevent it from constituting a hazard or an impediment to travel or vision upon any street, park, public or private property within the Village.
If any clause, sentence, paragraph, section or part of this chapter shall be adjudged by any court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such judgment shall not affect, impair or invalidate the remainder thereof but shall be confined in its operation to the clause, sentence, paragraph, section or part thereof directly involved in the controversy in which such judgment shall have been rendered.