[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Augusta 10-20-1986 by Ord. No. 446 (Ch. 6.5, Art. VIII, of the 1990 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Amended 4-1-1996 by Ord. No. 391]
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
- PROPERTY OWNER
- The person owning real estate in question as shown by the current Tax Maps on file in the office of the City Assessor or the records at the Kennebec County Registry of Deeds.
- PUBLIC AREAS
- All streets, tree lawns and grounds owned or controlled by the City.
- PUBLIC TREES
- All trees growing or partially growing in any public area.
- The entire width of every public way and every right-of-way in which the general public has a right of use.
- Any woody plant having one or more erect stems, including shrubs and woody vines, of any size if planted or set out under the authority of this chapter, but otherwise only those trees which exceed eight feet in height.
- TREE LAWN
- That part of any street lying between the line of abutting private property and that portion of the street improved for the use of vehicular traffic, except that area which may be covered by a sidewalk or other paving.
- TREE WARDEN
- The Director of Parks and Recreation or his/her designee. The Tree Warden need not be a resident of the City, but shall have training or demonstrated experience in the arts and sciences of municipal arboriculture, ornamental or landscape horticulture, urban forestry or other closely related fields. In the absence of the Tree Warden, or during any vacancy in the position, his/her functions shall be carried out by a qualified party appointed by the Manager.
The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to any governmental subdivision or any public utility, their agents, subcontractors and employees while acting on their behalf, including but not limited to the Augusta Sanitary District, Augusta Water District, Central Maine Power Company, New England Telephone Company and State Cable TV, their successors and assigns.
The Tree Warden shall administer this chapter and in doing so shall:
Regulate the planting, maintenance and removal of public trees in order to ensure the safety of the public and preserve the aesthetics of public areas.
Have the authority, subject to approval by the City Council, to promulgate the rules and regulations of the International Arborist Society's Arboricultural Specifications and Standards of Practice governing the planting, maintenance, fertilization, pruning, bracing and removal of trees in public areas, with such variations and revisions as he deems advisable from time to time.
Have the authority to develop, formulate, and revise a master tree plan, subject to the approval of the City Council. The master tree plan shall specify the species of trees to be planted on such public areas within the City as the Tree Warden deems advisable; and after the effective date of any portion of the master tree plan, all plantings by the City or other persons within the public areas covered by the plan shall conform thereto. The Tree Warden shall consider all existing and future utility and environmental factors when designating specific species for public areas within the plan.
Undertake such planting, maintenance and removal programs for public trees as he deems appropriate, consistent with any funding available to him and with the master tree plan where effective.
Have the authority to grant permits for the planting, maintenance or removal of trees within the public areas of the City, to impose reasonable conditions upon the work to be performed under any such permit consistent with the intent of this chapter, and to supervise and inspect work permitted and halt any work performed without a permit where a permit is required or performed in violation of the terms of a permit.
Have the authority to have pruned or removed any trees or parts on private property which endanger the public safety, but only after notice to the property owner and satisfaction of the following requirements: The Tree Warden shall attempt to obtain agreement by the property owner to the procedures which the Tree Warden recommends, and in the absence of such agreement the Tree Warden shall undertake such work only upon the affirmative vote of the City Council following opportunity for the Tree Warden and property owner to be heard before the City Council. The cost of pruning or removal under this subsection shall be paid or reimbursed by the property owner unless otherwise agreed.
Have the authority, upon being licensed with the state, to spray for insect (pest) control, disease control and control of poison ivy, poison oak, etc.
Coordinate any planting, maintenance or removal of trees to be done by any departments or employees of the City.
No person shall hinder, prevent, delay, or interfere with the Tree Warden or any of his assistants while engaged in carrying out the execution or enforcement of this chapter; provided, however, that nothing in this section 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 City.
The Tree Warden shall have the final say concerning the acceptance of all trees to be placed in public areas.
No person shall plant, spray, fertilize, prune, remove or otherwise disturb any public tree, and no person shall excavate, ditch, tunnel, trench, lay any pavement or construct any building or structure within a distance of 10 feet from a public tree, or within the drip line of a public tree, whichever distance is greater, without first filing an application and obtaining a permit from the Tree Warden for such work; except that in emergency situations requiring immediate pruning or removal, the work may be done so long as the Tree Warden is informed thereof within two days. Any public tree planted without such permit shall be in violation of this chapter and must be removed, and the cost of such removal shall be paid or reimbursed by the person responsible for such planting. Any permit for the removal of a public tree shall require as a condition thereof that such tree be replaced, where possible and appropriate, in the same general location or on abutting private property, with a tree deemed comparable or appropriate by the Tree Warden. Any person requesting removal will be responsible for all expenses incurred.
Application for tree permits shall be made at the City Center, directed to the Tree Warden, not less than 48 hours prior to the time of the work proposed. The application shall be accompanied by such fee as the City Council may establish from time to time. The application shall be in such form and call for such information as the Tree Warden may require in order to determine compliance with this chapter and any regulations adopted pursuant to this chapter, including the following:
Applications for planting trees on public property shall describe the location proposed, the method of planting, and the number, size, grade, species and variety of such trees.
Applications for tree maintenance work on public property shall state the number, kinds and size of the trees to be treated, the kind of treatment proposed and the composition of any fertilizer or spray material to be applied.
Applications for the removal of any public tree shall set forth the reason for the proposed removal and the procedures to be used, and shall set forth the information required under Subsection A of this section with respect to replacement trees to be planted or the reasons why such replacement is not deemed possible or appropriate.
Applications for any excavation or construction work adjacent to a public tree shall describe the location of the public trees involved, the nature of the work proposed, and the structures, barriers and procedures to be used to protect such public trees during the course of such work.
The Tree Warden shall issue the permit required by this chapter upon a finding that the activity proposed will not endanger the public safety and is not inconsistent with an effective master tree plan, and that any new trees to be planted are appropriate for the climate and soil condition of the location proposed, that any such spray material or fertilizers proposed are lawful and appropriate, that the proposed procedures and workmanship are adequate, and the activity proposed is consistent with any regulations adopted pursuant to this chapter.
The activity proposed shall be carried out in compliance with any regulations adopted in accordance with tree permit requirements, and in compliance with any reasonable conditions imposed by the Tree Warden in order to ensure compliance with this chapter. Any permit granted shall contain a definite expiration date by which the proposed activity shall be completed, provided that the Tree Warden may extend the expiration date for good cause. Notice of completion shall be given to the Tree Warden for his inspection of the work within five days following completion.
Unless specifically authorized by the Tree Warden, no person shall intentionally damage, cut, carve, transplant or remove any public tree; attach any rope, wire, nails, advertising posters, or other contrivance to any public tree; allow any gaseous liquid or solid substance which is harmful to any public tree to come in contact with it; set fire or permit any fire to burn when such fire or the heat thereof will injure any portion of any public tree; or deposit, place, store or maintain upon the ground any stone, brick, sand, concrete, or other materials which may impede the free passage of water, air, and fertilizer to the roots of any public tree. Any person who shall violate any provision of this section shall be liable, in addition to any applicable penalty under this chapter, to pay to the City or reimburse the City for any expense incurred in repairing any damage caused to a public tree or the cost of replacing such damaged public tree if such damage cannot be repaired.
The violation of any provision of this chapter shall, in addition to any civil penalties available to the City therefor, be punished as provided in Chapter 1, Article III, General Penalty, of the City Code. Each day that any violation of this chapter continues following notification thereof by the Tree Warden shall constitute a separate offense.
[Amended 5-3-1993 by Ord. No. 75]
There is hereby created a Tree Board consisting of nine public members who must be residents of the City of Augusta. The Tree Warden and a member of the Conservation Commission appointed by the Conservation Commission shall serve as ex officio nonvoting members of the Tree Board.
Membership, terms and appointments.
A member of the Tree Board, other than the ex officio members, shall serve a term of three years, except as provided in this subsection. Appointments shall be made by the Mayor, with the consent of the City Council. The nine voting members of the Tree Board shall appoint from their membership a Chairperson to serve for a one-year term. In the case of a vacancy, the Mayor, with the consent of the Council, shall fill said vacancy for the remaining term of the member who created the vacancy. All voting members of the Tree Board shall serve until their successors are duly appointed and qualified.
The Mayor, with the consent of the Council, shall appoint the first nine voting members appointed after the effective date of this section to one-, two- or three-year terms so that, upon the completion of those initial nine appointments, 1/3 of the terms of the members expire each year.
Duties. The Tree Board shall advise the Tree Warden and City Council on matters relating to public trees and shrubs located within the City of Augusta and assist and advise in the development of an urban tree policy for the City. The Tree Board shall also have the authority, subject to City Council approval, to accept grants relating to trees and shrubs and to sell trees and shrubs to the public.
Authority to establish rules and regulations. The Tree Board may establish rules and regulations regarding public trees and shrubs located in the City of Augusta and regarding its operation as a functioning board, which rules and regulations must be approved by the City Council.
[Amended 9-12-1994 by Ord. No. 586]
The City of Augusta, the Augusta Tree Board, and other subdivisions of the City may place trees, landscape materials and containers containing same on or in the median strip located on Western Avenue, on Cony Circle, or Memorial Circle, subject to the approval of the Tree Warden and City Engineer or their designees.
[Added 1-22-2008 by Ord. No. 008]
The City's Arborist may recommend a planting on private property with the written approval of the property owner which serves the greater good of the City's tree planting program. Additionally, a property owner may request a tree planting on his or her property. However, the City's Arborist must evaluate the appropriateness of that request.
Trees planted on private property will be canopy trees. Canopy trees are defined as a species of tree which normally reaches a height of 30 feet or more and achieves a crown spread of 20 feet or more at maturity.
There may be mitigating circumstances such as power lines and too-narrow rights-of-way that preclude a canopy tree from being planted.
In light of such a special situation, the Director of Parks, Cemeteries, and Trees, in consultation with the City's Arborist, authorization for a species that is not a canopy tree but yet serves the greater good of the neighborhood and overall community may be given.
Canopy trees will be planted where there are no appropriate or suitable public areas in which to accomplish the goal of "canopy protection" as determined by the City's Arborist.
All deciduous trees to be planted will have minimum caliper size of 2.5 inches to three inches. Evergreens will have a minimum height of five feet to six feet.
The term "private property owner" is defined as private individuals or business concerns who or which own the property either as a private individual or a place of business.
Tree quantity limitations state that no single private property will have more than two trees planted per this specific program. However, should the City Arborist determine that an exception is in the best interest of the neighborhood, additional appropriate plantings may be authorized.
The Director of Parks, Cemeteries, and Trees, in consultation with the City Arborist, will make the final determination in regards to appropriateness.
The Director of Parks, Cemeteries, and Trees, in consultation with the City Arborist, will also determine whether or not this type of request actually helps ensure the neighborhood's tree canopy vitality.
The request may be denied if it is determined that there is more than adequate canopy protection in the immediate area.
All trees planted on private property will be placed in a location visible from the street and mutually agreed upon by the City Arborist and the property owner.
The property owner will sign a contract for the tree planting.
By signing the contract, the owner assumes legal and liability responsibilities for ownership of the tree.
By signing the contract, the owner accepts responsibility for the tree's maintenance and upkeep. A fact sheet providing information on proper tree maintenance will be given to the property owner by the City Arborist.
If the owner notice any problems with the tree within the first two years, the owner is to contact the City's arborist for the purpose of evaluating the tree to determine if there is a problem.
Failure of the owner to properly take care of and maintain the tree may result in the City being reimbursed for all costs associated with the tree planting.
The City will plant the tree for the property owner at a time that meets the requirement of the tree's species and the City Arborist's schedule.
The State of Maine offers a Tree Steward Training Program. All applicants for trees are urged strongly to enroll in the program, thereby helping to ensure the survival of their tree.
The Director of Parks, Cemeteries, and Trees, in consultation with the City Arborist, will periodically evaluate the tree to ascertain its proper maintenance. Should the tree fail to meet the standards of proper maintenance, the Director of Parks, Cemeteries, and Trees, in consultation with the City Arborist, will point out deficiencies to the owner.
Should the tree fail within the first two growing seasons, and the City Arborist determines the owner not to be at fault, the City will replace the tree at no cost to the owner. Replanting will follow the same criteria as for the original tree.
After this warranty period of two growing seasons, any issues with the tree become the sole responsibility of the property owner.