[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Seward as Ch. 2, Art. 14, §§ 2-1404 through 2-1416, of the 1976 Code. Amendments noted where applicable.]
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- LARGE TREES
- Trees which by their nature attain heights greater than 45 feet at maturity.
- MEDIUM TREES
- Trees which by their nature normally attain heights of from 25 feet to 45 feet at maturity.
- PARK TREES
- Trees, shrubs, bushes and all other woody vegetation in public parks and all areas owned by the City or to which the public has free access.
- SMALL TREES
- Trees which by their nature do not normally attain heights greater than 25 feet at maturity.
- STREET TREES
- Trees, shrubs, bushes and all other woody vegetation on land lying between property lines on either side of all streets, avenues or ways within the City.
[Amended 2-1-1994 by Ord. No. 4-94]
The City Tree Board shall establish and maintain a list of tree species which shall constitute the official street tree species for the municipality of Seward, Seward County, Nebraska. Said list shall be reviewed on an annual basis by the City Tree Board, and a copy of the listing of official street tree species for the City shall be maintained on file with the City Clerk, and said list shall be made available to any person upon request.
No street trees or park trees other than those species listed as small trees in § 364-1.1 of this article, or species specifically approved by the Municipal Tree Board, may be planted under or within 10 lateral feet of any overhead utility wire, or over or within five lateral feet of any underground water line, sewer line, transmission line or other utility, line, wire or main. No street tree shall be planted within 10 feet of any fire hydrant.
The municipality shall have the right, after notifying the property owner(s) and allowing sufficient time for the owner(s) to eliminate the problem(s), to plant, prune, maintain or remove street trees or park trees within the lines of all streets, alleys, avenues, lanes, squares and public grounds, as may be necessary to ensure public safety or to preserve or enhance the symmetry and beauty of such public grounds and after approval by the Tree Board.
The Municipal Tree Board may, after notifying the property owner(s) and allowing sufficient time for the owner(s) to eliminate the problem(s), cause or order to be removed any street tree or park tree or part thereof which is in an unsafe condition or which, by reason of its nature, is injurious to sewers, electric power lines, gas lines, water lines or other public improvements, or is affected with any injurious fungus, insect or other pest.
The utility companies may remove, at their expense, trees or parts thereof which are injurious to their utility lines, after negotiating with the property owner(s).
No person or property owner shall remove any live street tree or park tree for any reason without written permission of the Municipal Tree Board; provided, however, that when said utility companies confront an emergency situation, they will have the authority to trim or remove the trees or parts thereof at their own discretion and expense.
It shall be unlawful as a normal practice for any person, firm, or municipal department to top any street tree, park tree or other tree on public property. Topping is defined as the severe cutting back of limbs to stubs larger than three inches in diameter within the tree's crown to such a degree as to remove the normal canopy and disfigure the tree. Trees severely damaged by storms or other causes, or certain trees under utility wires or other obstructions where other pruning practices are impractical, may be exempted from this article at the determination of the Municipal Tree Board.
All trees and shrubs within the municipality shall be pruned or removed when such trees or shrubs obstruct the light from any street lamp, obstruct the visibility of any traffic control device or sign, obstruct the passage of pedestrians on sidewalks, or obstruct the view of any street or alley intersection. The minimum clearance of any overhanging portion thereof shall be 14 feet on all arterial and collector streets and 11 feet on all residential streets and seven feet over sidewalks.
All shrubs and hedges defined as street trees in this article shall be kept trimmed by the abutting property owner at least one foot back from all curbs, sidewalks, driveways or alleys; and the same shall at all times be kept trimmed to a height not greater than 30 inches above the top of the curb unless the Municipal Tree Board, for other than corner lots, determines that a greater height would not constitute a hazard to pedestrian or vehicular traffic.
The Municipal Tree Board shall notify, in writing, the owners of such trees or shrubs on private property. Pruning shall be done by said owners at their own expense within 60 days after the date of notification. In the event of failure of owners to comply with said notice, the municipality shall have the authority to prune said trees or shrubs and assess the cost of said pruning to the property owner. If the owner fails to reimburse the municipality after being properly billed, the cost may be assessed against the real estate and the governing body shall have the assessment certified to the County Treasurer and the same shall be collected in the manner as provided by law.
All trees and shrubs within the municipality shall be pruned or removed when such trees or shrubs constitute a hazard to life and property, or harbor insects or disease which constitutes a threat to other trees or shrubs within the City.
The Municipal Tree Board shall have the power and authority to prune or remove, or order to prune or remove, any such trees or shrubs on private property. The Municipal Tree Board shall notify, in writing, the owners of such trees or shrubs. Pruning or removal shall be done by said owners at their own expense within 60 days after the date of notification. In the event of failure of owners to comply with said notice, the municipality shall have the authority to prune or remove said trees or shrubs and assess the cost of said pruning to the property owner. If the owner fails to reimburse the municipality after being properly billed, the cost may be assessed against the real estate and the governing body shall have the assessment certified to the County Treasurer and the same shall be collected in the manner as provided by law.
[Amended 6-17-1986 by Ord. No. 8-86]
Written permission shall not be required for any tree, shrub or hedge planting, pruning, spraying or removal ordered or done by the City; however, all such work shall be done in conformance with the requirements of § 364-1.2 through and including § 364-1.7 of this article and the following regulations and provisions.
The City of Seward Electric Department is responsible for maintaining adequate clearance from trees and branches approaching overhead primary, secondary and service electrical lines. The City Street Department is similarly responsible for ensuring that the City's streets, alleys and walkways are clear of any trees, branches or shrubs which could obstruct the path or sight distance of the motorist and/or pedestrian.
The City of Seward is also cognizant of the fact that trees serve an important aesthetic and energy-saving purpose for the residents of the City. It is therefore necessary to establish clear and specific rules regulating how the trimming and/or removal of trees and shrubs is to be implemented when necessary.
Notices to residents.
When it is determined that a tree or shrub requires trimming or removal, the City shall deliver or mail by means of certified mail, return receipt requested, to the owner or tenant of the abutting or affected property a notice advising him/her of the problem, the approximate location, and the suggested remedy. In addition, the notice shall advise the owner/tenant that he/she has 10 days in which to contact the City if questions or objections concerning the action exist; and that if no contact is made with City personnel during this time, the City will proceed with the project as described in the notice.
The notice, as described above, shall apply to all cases, except when an emergency exists or when it is necessary to remove a tree or branches in order to restore electrical service or to open up a street blocked by a tree or branch.
Removal of trees or shrubs. Trees shall be taken out only if the following conditions exist:
Trimming of trees or shrubs. If, in the opinion of City personnel, it is necessary and feasible to trim a tree or shrub, trimming shall be completed in the following manner:
Tree branches affecting overhead power lines shall be trimmed back from the power line a minimum of 48 inches.
Tree branches nearer to a street or sidewalk than the standards set forth in § 364-1.6 of this article shall be trimmed back to a point which meets these standards.
Wherever feasible, branches shall not be stubbed in the middle of a branch; rather, the branch shall be trimmed at that point where it joins with a greater sized branch of the tree.
Removal of branches. Trees, branches and shrubs taken down by the City shall be removed from the property as soon as is practical after they have been felled. In no case shall the timber be left on the property longer than five working days after the trimming took place.
Appeal of conflicts between City personnel and property owner or tenant. If a property owner and/or tenant objects to the action proposed by City personnel and efforts to mutually resolve the objection between the parties involved fail, the City's Tree Board shall serve as a hearing board to resolve the dispute. Appeal to the Tree Board shall be made in writing to the City Clerk/Treasurer's office. When an appeal is filed, City personnel shall take no further action to trim or remove the tree or shrub until the Tree Board has acted on the appeal. The Tree Board shall hear all appeals of this nature within 30 days after the appeal has been filed with the City Clerk/Treasurer.
Applicability of tree policy for trees located on private property and on public property. The above policies shall be applicable to trees and shrubs located on private property, as well as those located on public property, rights-of-way and easements.
Removal of stumps. If a tree must be removed, the City will be responsible for removing the stump. Stumps are generally removed once a year, usually in October or November of the year. All stumps from trees removed from the City shall be removed within one year of tree removal.
Unless specifically authorized by the Municipal Tree Board, no person shall intentionally damage, cut, carve, transplant or remove any street tree or park tree; attach any rope, wire, nails, advertising posters or other contrivance to such trees; allow any gaseous, liquid, or solid substance which is harmful to such trees to come in contact with them; or set fire or permit any fire to burn when such fire or the heat thereof will injure any portion of such trees. The preceding restrictions do not apply to proper planting, staking and guying practices.
All street trees or park trees near any excavation or construction of any building, structure or street work shall be guarded with a substantial fence, frame or box not less than four feet high and eight feet square, and all construction materials, soil or other debris shall be kept outside the barrier. This shall be the responsibility of the persons or firms doing the construction work.
No person shall excavate any ditches, tunnels, trenches or lay any drive within 10 feet of any street tree or park tree without first obtaining written permission from the Municipal Tree Board.
No person shall deposit, place, store or maintain upon any public property of the municipality any stone, brick, sand, soil, concrete or other material which may impede the free passage of water, air and fertilizer to the roots of any street tree or park tree, except by written permission of the Municipal Tree Board.
All stumps of street trees and park trees shall be removed below the surface of the ground so that the top of the stump shall not project above the surface of the ground.
The City Council of the municipality shall have the right to review the conduct, acts and decisions of the Municipal Tree Board. Any person may appeal any ruling or order of the Municipal Tree Board to the governing body, which may hear the matter and make a final decision.
[Amended 8-7-2007 by Ord. No. 18-07]
It shall be unlawful for any person or property owner to remove any street tree or park tree for any reason without written permission of the Municipal Tree Board. Upon conviction, the penalty for said offense shall not be less than $100 nor more than $500.
Except as otherwise provided herein, any person who violates the prohibitions or provisions of this article shall be deemed guilty of a violation. The penalty for such violation shall be an amount not to exceed $500 for any one offense, recoverable with costs, and in default of said payment the offender shall stand committed to the County Jail until such fine and costs are paid. Each period of 24 hours during or on which a violation occurs or continues shall be deemed a separate offense.