[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Council of the Township of Mine Hill as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Article I Tree Removal
[Adopted 3-21-2002 by Ord. No. 1-02]
The Township has found that indiscriminate, unregulated, uncontrolled and excessive destruction, removal and cutting of trees upon lots and tracts of land within the Township causes increased drainage control costs, increased soil erosion, decreased fertility of the soil, decreased groundwater recharge, increased glare and heat pollution, increased buildup of atmospheric carbon, increased dust and mosquito breeding places, the deterioration of property values, the rendering of lands unfit or unsuitable for their most appropriate use, has impaired the stability and value of improved and unimproved real estate, with the result that there has been and will result in the future detriment to the public safety, the public health and general welfare, which requires the passage of this article. The Township desires and intends that this article will regulate and control indiscriminate and excessive cutting of trees within the Township, to preserve the maximum possible number of trees in the course of development of a site, protect larger, older specimens of trees, encourage innovative design and grading to promote the preservation of existing trees, and provide a plan for replacement of trees which promotes a desirable visual environment.
The following words and expressions as used in this article shall have the following meanings:
- ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER
- The administrative officer shall be the Township Administrator or his designee.
- AESTHETIC IMPROVEMENT CUT
- The removal of the minimum extent possible of the smallest and poorest specimens of trees so as to permit land development while retaining the maximum number of larger and healthier specimens of trees.
- AVERAGED WOODED LOT
- An inventory of a portion of each property subject to the provisions of this article shall be made to establish the average number of each species of tree within the area to be disturbed (which includes any area from which trees are to be removed or cut down). This inventory shall constitute the averaged wooded lot and shall be determined as follows: the applicant shall select random one-tenth-acre representative plots throughout the area to be disturbed, which plots shall have comparable tree populations to the area to be disturbed generally. Each representative plot shall be visibly marked by stakes or other appropriate markers. The location of the representative one-tenth-acre plots shall be subject to approval by the administrative officer. The number of representative one-tenth-acre plots shall be equal to 50% of the number of acres within the area to be disturbed (including any area from which trees are to be removed or cut down); provided, however, that the number of representative one-tenth-acre plots shall not be less than 10, unless the area to be disturbed is one acre or less, in which event the entire area to be disturbed (including the area from which trees may be cut down or removed) shall be inventoried. Once the representative plots have been identified and approved, each tree on each representative one-tenth-acre plot shall be inventoried by species, and the average of each species calculated from the total of each representative one-tenth-acre plot shall be determined for the total representation of one-tenth-acre plots. That average number of species shall represent the number of species of each tree within the disturbed area, and the composite of all averaged tree species shall constitute the averaged wooded lot (specimen trees are not part of the averaged wooded lot as they are inventoried individually throughout the entire tract).
- The Planning Board of the Township of Mine Hill.
- The removal of all standing trees on a lot or portion of a lot.
- DIAMETER AT POINT OF MEASUREMENT
- The diameter of a tree measured 4 1/2 feet above the ground level on the downhill side for existing trees to be surveyed in the field and shown on a replacement plan. Trees utilized in the replacement of existing trees shall be measured six inches above the ground for trees with a four-inch caliper or less and measured 12 inches above the ground for trees over a four-inch caliper. Diameter at a point of measurement may appear in this article as the abbreviation "DPM."
- A limiting line established by a series of perpendicular drop points marking the maximum radius of the crown of an existing tree, but not less than six feet from the trunk, whichever is greater.
- HOMESTEAD LOT
- A preexisting lot located within a zone permitting single-family detached dwellings upon which is constructed one single-family detached dwelling and which property as a result of zoning restrictions could not be further subdivided.
- REPLACEMENT PLAN
- A specific plan for replacement of removed trees in accordance with the provisions of this article.
- REPLACEMENT TREE
- A nursery-grown certified tree, properly balled, marked with a durable label indicating genus, species and variety, and satisfying the standards established for nursery stock and installation thereof, set forth by the American Association of Nurseryman. Caliper of replacement trees shall be as follows: evergreen trees, seven feet to eight feet height; ornamental trees, two inches to 2 1/2 inches; shade trees, 2 1/2 inches to three inches. The mixture of replacement tree types shall be determined by the administrative officer.
- SELECTIVE CUTTING
- The removal of larger trees on an individual basis while leaving trees of lesser size.
- The management of any wooded tract of land to insure its continued survival and welfare, whether for commercial or noncommercial purposes pursuant to a plan approved by the New Jersey Bureau of Forestry.
- The forest debris remaining after a tree removal operation.
- SPECIMEN TREE
- Any tree with a DPM of 24 inches or greater.
- The removal of undesirable, competitive, diseased or damaged trees so as to cultivate and improve the development of remaining trees on the lot.
- The uppermost 20% of height of a tree constituting its crown.
- Any tree species which has a DPM of six inches or greater.
No person shall remove, cut or destroy any tree growing upon any lands within the Township unless such removal, cutting or destruction shall have been accomplished in accordance and compliance with this article.
The following shall be exempt from the provisions of this article:
Commercial nurseries and fruit tree orchards.
Christmas tree plantations or farms.
Removal or destruction of trees which are dead, dying or diseased, or trees or specimen trees which have suffered severe damage, or any tree or specimen tree whose angle or growth make them a hazard to structures or human life.
Those projects which, prior to the effective date hereof, have received preliminary or final major subdivision approval or preliminary or final site plan approval; provided, however, that an amendment to a preliminary or final major subdivision approval or site plan approval which is made after the effective date of this article and which modification or amendment impacts upon existing trees shall be subject to the provisions of this article. Applications for extension of preliminary approvals where further tree removal is required shall be conditioned upon compliance with this article where the application for extension has not been granted prior to the effective date of this article.
Homestead lots shall be exempt from all provisions of this article except those governing the removal of specimen trees as defined herein.
Prior to cutting down or removal of any tree which is subject to this article, a permit shall be obtained from the administrative officer entitled a "tree removal permit." The application for a tree removal permit shall include a completed application on a form prescribed by the administrative officer, which form, with the exception of homestead lot specimen tree removals, shall include, at a minimum:
Name, address and phone number of property owner.
Name, address and phone number of applicant, if not the owner.
Consent in writing of owner if applicant is different than owner.
Description of the property on which cutting down or removal is proposed, including street address and tax lot and block number.
An inventory of trees based upon the averaged wooded lot, as defined herein, showing all calculations and supporting factual data.
An inventory of all specimen trees by size and species.
A grid overlay to the same scale as a site plan or subdivision map, if any, or if none, another formal map or survey showing the location of the one-tenth-acre representative plots used for determination of the averaged wooded lot.
A site plan to the same scale as the grid overlay described in the preceding number, showing the entire tract of land, delineating the areas of disturbance, the location of all specimen trees in the area of disturbance, an identification of each specimen tree by size and species, and an identification of specimen trees to be cut down or removed by location, size and species.
A calculation of the trees and specimen trees to be removed.
A calculation of the total replacement trees required in accordance with this article.
Where a monetary contribution is proposed in lieu of replacement trees, a calculation of the monetary contribution, together with an explanation demonstrating good cause for concluding that the requisite number of replacement trees cannot reasonably be placed on site.
A specific replacement tree plan as defined hereinbelow.
Any request for waiver of all or any of the requirements of this article, together with a detailed explanation of the reasons for the waiver request and the inability to reasonably comply.
The required fees and escrows in accordance with this article.
Where the application is in conjunction with a minor subdivision application to create a homestead lot or lots, removal of trees up to 50% of the number of trees on the proposed homestead lot(s) may be removed without replacement trees required by this article. Removal of specimen trees shall only be permitted where the location of a tree forces the placement of a structure outside the permitted building setbacks; where a tree whose location, angle or growth makes it a hazard to a structure or human life; where the location of growth of a tree inhibits the enjoyment of an outdoor pool, patio, or deck, such proposed uses for which a building permit has been issued; or removal of specimen trees which are otherwise exempt. The removal of trees in excess of 50% or the removal of specimen trees which are not exempt requires a replacement plan based upon the standards set forth in Table B-1 and Table B-2. For minor subdivision applicants, a statement of the number of species of trees constituting the replacement plan, together with a certification indicating that same will be planted, shall be sufficient; provided, however, that no certificate of occupancy shall issue for use of any structure built upon said lots created by said minor subdivision until such time as evidence verifying the planting of the replacement trees has been completed. Neither a performance nor a maintenance bond shall be required in the case of a minor subdivision.
Where the application for a tree removal permit is in conjunction with an application for major subdivision or site plan approval or any minor subdivision other than a minor subdivision to create homestead lots, or relates to any other property not otherwise exempt, the replacement plan shall include the following:
A site plan showing the size, location and species of all trees constituting replacement trees to be planted within the disturbed areas or elsewhere on site.
The site plan shall identify the lot and block numbers, street address, if assigned, and a certification of compliance with the requirements of this article.
Location of streams and watercourses.
Location of slopes of greater than 10% where any tree removal is proposed.
The location(s) on the tract where tree removal is to take place.
The total acreage of the tract.
The total number of wooded acres to be disturbed within the tract.
A specific plan for replacement of removed trees pursuant to this article.
A written summary of measures taken to preserve existing trees.
Evidence that the method of disposal for removed trees, toppings and slash is consistent with the law. All efforts shall be made to preserve specimen trees, including, if necessary, the relocation of infrastructure, roadways and buildings. Removal of any specimen tree shall require specific approval, and any specimen trees approved for removal shall be listed individually on the tree removal permit.
In determining the DPM of specimen trees for purposes of the above calculation, greater than half an inch will be rounded up to the nearest whole inch, and less than half an inch will be rounded down to the nearest whole inch.
Any tree left standing which was designated for removal or any tree planted in compliance with other requirements of this article shall be credited against the total replacement count on a one-for-one basis; provided, however, that trees required to be planted by the Board within street rights-of-way as part of an approval for an application for development shall receive no credit.
Wherever replacement trees are being planted pursuant to this article and Tables B-1 and B-2, the species or type of replacement tree shall, to the greatest extent practical, be the same as the species or type removed from the tract.
In the event that the replacement of the required number of trees cannot reasonably be achieved on site, the applicant may request or may be required to contribute an amount equal to the cost of replacement shade tress, including installation and guarantee (twice the current wholesale value of each unplanted tree) to a fund established by the Township for the purpose of tree maintenance, tree preservation, tree planting, and landscaping. The fund may also be used for the administration of a Township tree forestry management plan.
All applications for tree removal permits must be made to the administrative officer. After determining that the application is complete, the administrative officer shall provide written notice to the applicant that the application for tree removal permit is complete and shall refer one copy of the completed application for tree removal permit to the Township Environmental Commission and the Open Space Committee, together with a written request that they review the application and provide their comments and recommendations within 35 days of the date of the letter of transmittal. After 35 days from a referral to the Environmental Commission and Open Space Committee, the administrative officer shall approve or deny the application for tree removal permit. If denied, a statement of reasons supporting the denial shall accompany the denial. Due consideration shall be given by the administrative officer to the timely receipt of comments and recommendations of the Environmental Commission and Open Space Committee. Where approval is given, no permit shall issue until the applicant provides a performance guarantee as required herein. No performance guarantee may be released until full compliance with the approval permit has been made, all required replacement trees have been installed and an appropriate maintenance bond has been posted in accordance with this article.
Where an applicant seeks a waiver from the strict enforcement of this article, an application completed except for those portions for which waiver is sought shall be submitted and referred for comment and recommendation to the Environmental Commission and the Open Space Committee as described above. After 35 days have elapsed from date of said referral, the application, together with all supporting data, the comments and recommendations of the Environmental Commission and of the Open Space Committee shall be forwarded to the Board if in conjunction with an application for development for consideration of the application for waiver. If not in conjunction with an application for development, determination of the application of waiver shall be made by the administrative officer. Such determination of the administrative officer may be appealed to the Planning Board.
When determining whether or not to grant a waiver of full technical compliance with the requirements of this article and the requirements for replacement trees, the administrative officer or the Board, as the case may be, shall weigh the negative impacts of the proposed waiver versus the benefits of compliance and shall consider the following:
Is it reasonably economically feasible for the applicant to comply with this article based upon the character and extent of the application for development? An applicant seeking a waiver on this ground shall submit a certification setting forth the anticipated cost of all construction and soft costs, including public improvements, structures, detention basins, layout, design, engineering, legal, as well as the anticipated sale price of the property to be sold or market value of the property upon completion. In no event shall a reduction in the number of replacement trees be greater than 1/2 of the original number required pursuant to this article.
The minimal degree of land disturbance in comparison with the overall size of the tract. For example, land disturbance of less than 10% of the overall size of the tract with no future plans for development of the tract remaining undisturbed would be an extraordinarily low percentage of land disturbance and could justify reducing the number of replacement trees; provided, however, that if the remaining undeveloped portion of the property were to be developed within five years, all waived replacement trees would be reinstated as a condition of future development.
The proposed use of the property includes at least 20% low- and moderate-income housing units.
A lot in a single-family detached dwelling zone of five acres or less upon which there is an existing single-family detached dwelling or upon which a single-family detached dwelling will be constructed, which has the possibility of further subdivision based on Chapter 310, Part 6, Zoning, but upon which the applicant seeks no further development or a subdivision. In such cases, a waiver respecting replacement trees similar to homestead lots may be approved by the Planning Board; provided, however, that if the property is subdivided within five years, then the applicant must comply with the tree replacement criteria for the category of application, i.e., subdivision, minor subdivision or major subdivision or site plan application for both the existing lot, including any waived replacement trees, and the proposed lot or lots.
After its determination on the application for waiver, the Board shall forthwith provide a copy of its resolution to the administrative officer, who shall incorporate the Board's determination into the determination on the application for tree removal permit.
The clearing limits/limits of disturbance shown on the replacement plan shall be fully established prior to cutting of permitted wooded acreage and shall be defined by snow fencing firmly secured along the dripline, but not less than six feet from the trunk, of the remaining trees. In a like manner, specimen trees and isolated groupings of trees which are to remain on the site shall be clearly protected by snow fencing or equally visible and protective device installed along the dripline of the tree(s) but not less than six feet from the tree trunk(s).
The grade of the land located along the dripline shall not be raised or lowered more than six inches unless compensated by welling or retaining wall methods; and in no event shall the welling or retaining wall methods be less than six feet from the trunk of the tree.
No soil stockpiling, storage of building materials or equipment operation shall be permitted within the dripline or within six feet of any remaining trees, whichever is greater.
Any clearing within the dripline, or within six feet of the trunk of a remaining tree, must be done by hand or with hand-operated equipment.
Where clearing and/or construction on the site results in accidental removal, or severe damage which will eventually result in death and removal of any tree delineated in a replacement plan as remaining on site, such removed or damaged tree shall be replaced pursuant to the applicable replacement tree schedule set forth herein, using substantially comparable species and type trees.
A tree removal permit shall be acted upon within a reasonable time of the determination by the administrative officer that a completed application has been submitted.
An application for development may be conditioned upon the subsequent approval of a tree permit.
An approval by statutory default by virtue of a Board failing to act upon an application for development within a prescribed statutory time period shall not automatically grant approval of a tree removal permit and shall not be deemed to be an approval of a request for a waiver of the application of any portion of this article to an applicant for development.
Any substantial change in a replacement plan shall necessitate the submission of a revised plan to the administrative officer for review and approval pursuant to this article.
The administrative officer may revoke a permit where there has been a false or misleading application or for noncompliance with an approved replacement plan.
For all applications other than homestead lots, a nonrefundable application fee as set forth in Chapter 235, Fees, shall be submitted, together with a review and inspection fee as set forth in Chapter 235, Fees, on which tree removal activities are proposed. For homestead lots, only a nonrefundable application fee as set forth in Chapter 235, Fees, shall be submitted.
For all applications other than homestead lots, an escrow fee, in an amount not less than 1% of the estimated replacement cost or $500, whichever is greater, may be required to cover expenses of review of the application and site inspection subsequent to completion of the tree removal activities. Any unused balance will be returned to the applicant after final approval.
For all applications other than homestead lots, a performance guarantee shall be submitted upon approval of an application in an amount not to exceed 120% of the cost for the replacement plan on the property in an amount estimated by the Township Engineer. This should exclude off-tract trees, for which a contribution was made.
Following completion of the planting of trees in accordance with the approved replacement plan and as a condition of the release of the performance guarantee, the permit holder shall post a maintenance guarantee with the Township Clerk for maintenance of the replacement trees. The maintenance guarantee, which may be surety bond, shall not exceed 15% of costs of the replacement plan and shall be posted for a period not to exceed two years after acceptance of the completed replacement plan. Under the maintenance guarantee, an eighty-five-percent survival rate for a two-year guarantee period shall be considered satisfactory.
At the discretion of the administrative officer, the foregoing fees and/or guarantees may be waived, in whole or in part, where the number of replacement trees is five or less.
The holder of a tree removal permit shall notify the administrative officer in writing at least seven business days in advance to when tree removal activity will commence. No activity shall take place on Saturdays, Sundays or legal holidays without express written approval from the administrative officer.
The notice shall also include advice as to the manner of disposal of the removed trees. Where appropriate, the administrative officer shall advise the Township Recycling Coordinator of the name of the permit holder, the location of the removal site, the date removal is to commence, and the manner of disposal to be employed.