[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of Montgomery Borough 3-7-1995 by Ord. No. 1995-3 (Ch. I, Part 4C, of the 1996 Code of Ordinances). Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Borough Council of the Borough of Montgomery hereby creates a Shade Tree Commission, to be composed of three residents of the Borough of Montgomery, who shall be appointed by the Borough Council and shall serve without compensation for their terms of office and with all the rights, powers, duties and obligations provided for by law.
The members of the Commission shall be appointed by the Borough Council for terms of five years, provided, for the first members of said Commission, one member shall be appointed for a term of three years, one for a term of four years, and one for a term of five years. Vacancies in the office of Commissioner shall be filled by the Borough Council for the unexpired term.
The collection of assessments, the filing of liens and the collection of penalties, whether by the Commission or on behalf of the Borough of Montgomery, are expressly authorized as provided for in the law.
The Commission is hereby authorized to prescribe such rules and regulations, and to impose such penalties for the violation of same, as it may deem necessary and proper, provided that the rules and regulations are approved by the Borough Council and are not in conflict with other ordinances of the Borough of Montgomery.
The Shade Tree Commission shall report annually to the Borough Council on all transactions and expenses for the preceding fiscal year.
[Added 8-14-2001 by Ord. No. 2001-2]
Duty to keep trees trimmed. It shall be the duty of all owners of property within the Borough of Montgomery to keep the trees and shrubs and branches or other portions thereof, growing upon such property or the abutting sidewalk area, trimmed and cut back so that no portion thereof shall extend upon, over or above any street or alley in the Borough at a height of less than 13 feet, or upon, over or above any sidewalk in the Borough at a height of less than 10 feet.
Duty to remove unsafe or diseased trees. It shall be the duty of all owners of property within the Borough of Montgomery to remove any trees on their property which are dead, diseased or infected, and which constitute a serious hazard to those or other trees on all properties within the Borough, both public and private, based on the written recommendation of the Montgomery Shade Tree Commission.
Duty to remove unsafe stumps. It shall be the duty of all property owners within the Borough of Montgomery to remove all stumps, including existing stumps, from their property or the abutting sidewalk area upon the written recommendation of Montgomery Shade Tree Commission, if in the opinion of said Commission said stumps constitute a safety hazard to the public using the sidewalks nearby.
Powers and duties of Shade Tree Commission. The Shade Tree Commission shall have exclusive custody and control of trees in the Borough and may plant, remove, maintain and protect trees on public streets and public places in the Borough. The Shade Tree Commission may require the planting and replanting of trees. The kind of tree and the alignment and location of the trees shall be determined by the Shade Tree Commission, but shall not prevent the necessary or reasonable use of public streets, sidewalks, abutting property or the conduct of business. The Shade Tree Commission may, with approval of Borough Council, either employ or pay superintendents, engineers, foresters, tree wardens or other assistants, or may contract for personal and professional services, for the proper performance of its duties.
Notice of work to abutting property owners. Whenever the Shade Tree Commission proposes to plant, transplant or remove trees on any public street, written 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 of the Borough, once a week for two weeks immediately preceding the time of the meeting. The notice shall specify in detail the streets or portions upon which trees are to be so planted, replanted or removed.
Payment by property owners. The cost of furnishing, planting, transplanting or removing any trees in and along the public streets of the Borough, the necessary and suitable guards, curbing or grading for the protection thereof shall be paid by the owner of the real estate abutting or in front of whose property the work is done. The amount each owner is to pay shall be ascertained and certified by the Shade Tree Commission to Borough Council and to the Borough Treasurer. However, the costs and expenses of caring for and maintaining such trees, after having been planted, and the expense of publishing the notice hereinbefore provided shall be paid by the Borough.
Assessments and liens. Upon the filing of the certificate with Council, the Borough Manager shall cause 30 days' written notice to be given by mail 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 expense of the notice shall be paid by the Borough. The amount assessed against the real estate shall be a lien from the time of the filing of the certificate with Borough Council and, if not paid within the time designated in the notice, a claim may be filed and collected in the same manner as municipal claims are filed and collected.
Permits required to plant, treat or remove. No person shall hereafter plant, move, spray, fertilize, brace, trim, do surgery work, cut above or below the ground, disturb or alter any tree or shrub in any public street or public place in the Borough, or cause such acts to be done by others, without first obtaining a written permit from the Borough Shade Tree Commission, which shall issue the permit if in its judgment the work is necessary, and the proposed methods of workmanship are of a satisfactory nature. A permit shall not be required to cultivate and water. The person receiving a permit shall abide by specifications adopted by the Shade Tree Commission. As a condition to any permit to remove any public tree or shrub, the Shade Tree Commission may require that the permittee plant one or more trees or shrubs in place of the one removed. Whenever such tree or shrub has been removed or destroyed pursuant to any such conditional permit, no permittee shall fail, refuse or neglect to comply with the conditions of the permit.
Permit contents. Every written permit issued by the Shade Tree Commission shall describe the work to be done, specify the species or variety, size, nursery, grade and location, and briefly specify the method of planting, support and pruning of trees or shrubs concerned, and shall contain a definite expiration date. Any permit may be declared void if its terms are violated.
Prohibited acts: protection of trees and shrubs. No person shall break, injure, mutilate, kill or destroy any public tree or shrub, or permit any fire to burn where it could injure any portion of any public tree or shrub. No person shall permit any toxic chemical, such as oil or salt water, to seep, drain or be emptied on or about any public tree or shrub. No person shall knowingly permit any wires designed to carry electric current to come in contact with any public tree or shrub unless protected by approved methods. No person shall damage or remove any device placed to protect public trees or shrubs, except in case of emergencies. No person shall attach any electrical installation to any public tree or shall excavate any ditches, tunnels or trenches, or lay any driveway within a radius of 10 feet from any public tree or shrub without first obtaining a written permit from the Shade Tree Commission. During building and demolition operations, the contractor shall erect suitable protective barriers around public trees or shrubs apt to be injured, after obtaining a written permit from the Shade Tree Commission.
Blocking water or air from roots. No person shall deposit, place, store or maintain upon any public street or public place any stone, brick, sand, concrete or other materials which could impede the free passage of water, air and fertilizer to the roots of any public tree or shrub, except by written permit of the Shade Tree Commission.
Fastening materials to trees. No person shall fasten any sign, advertisement, wire, rope or other material to, around or through any public tree or shrub except by written permit of the Shade Tree Commission, except in emergencies such as storms or accidents.
Permits for utility work affecting trees. All permits issued for the installation of public utilities that affect public trees or shrubs shall be certified by the Shade Tree Commission. When a permit is issued to a public utility to trim the public trees or do other operations affecting public trees or shrubs, the work shall be limited to the actual necessities of the service of the company. Such work shall be done in a neat and workmanlike manner according to specifications outlined by the Shade Tree Commission, which may assign an inspector to supervise the provisions of the permit. The cost of such service shall be charged to the public utility at cost.
Trees damaged by persons, charges. If a public tree is damaged by any person, the Shade Tree Commission may make a charge for repairs to the tree, plus the devaluation of the tree, against the person causing the damage to the tree. If a tree is destroyed by any person, the Shade Tree Commission may make a charge for the appraised value of the tree, plus the cost of removal and replacement thereof, against the person causing the destruction of the tree.
Trees felled by casualty. If any public trees or portions thereof are felled by storm or other casualty, the trees, branches or stumps thereof shall be removed from the street by the Borough, and the costs of such removal shall be assessed against the property owners in accordance with Subsections F and G. Replacement of such trees shall be required where the area between the street and the curbline is at least 30 inches at the expense of the property owner.
Notice to trim or remove tree creating nuisance. Any tree or shrub or part thereof growing upon private property but overhanging or interfering with the use of any public street or public place, which in the opinion of the Shade Tree Commission, endanger the life, health, safety or property of the public, shall be declared a public nuisance. The owner shall be notified in writing of the existence of the nuisance and given reasonable time for its correction or removal. If not corrected or removed within the time allotted, the Shade Tree Commission shall cause the nuisance to be corrected or removed and the cost shall be assessed to the owner as provided by law.
Interference with employees, legal remedies. No person shall prevent, delay or interfere with any employees or contractors of the Shade Tree Commission in the execution or enforcement of this chapter. However, nothing herein shall be construed as an attempt to prohibit a public hearing or the permitting of any remedy legal or equitable in a court of common pleas by the owner of any property within the Borough.
Size of trees. All street trees shall be of sufficient size to warrant satisfactory results, and all street trees must be taken from a list of trees approved by the Shade Tree Commission and must be at least six feet in height.
Penalties. Any property owner who violates any provision of this chapter shall be guilty of an offense; and, for every such violation, upon conviction, shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than $25 nor more than $600 and costs of prosecution; and, in default of payment of fines and costs, to undergo imprisonment for not more than 30 days. Provided: each day's continuance of any such violation, after notice thereof from the Borough, shall constitute a separate offense.
Definitions. As used in the foregoing section, certain terms are defined as follows:
- A firm, association, public body, partnership, trust, company or corporation, as well as an individual.
- PUBLIC PLACES
- All other lands owned by the Borough, including parks, playgrounds, municipal building sites, and all land held by municipal authorities or commissions.
- PUBLIC STREET
- All lands between the property lines/right-of-way lines on either side of all public highways, streets, roads, boulevards and alleys.
- Any tree, shrub or other woody vegetation or plant in any public street or public places, or that part of any tree, shrub or other woody vegetation or plant which extends within the right-of-way lines of any public street or public place.