City of Erie, PA
Erie County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Ord. 79-2005, passed 12-28-2005]
There is established in the City a Committee to be known as the Urban Forest Committee. Hereafter to be referred to as the Committee.
[Ord. 79-2005, passed 12-28-2005]
For the purpose of this article, the following terms, phrases, words and their derivations shall have the meaning given herein. When not inconsistent with the context, words used in the present tense include the future, words in the plural include the singular, and words in the singular include the plural. The word shall is mandatory and not merely directory.
(a) 
URBAN FOREST — The collection of trees, shrubs, other vegetation, and associated natural features that make up the urban tree canopy and its growing zone.
(b) 
URBAN FOREST PLAN — A written document that guides the work of the Urban Forest Committee. City is the City of Erie, County of Erie, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
(c) 
PERSON — Any person, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company or organization of any kind.
(d) 
STREET or HIGHWAY — The entire width of every public way or right-of-way when any part thereof is open to the use of the public, as a matter of right, for purposes of vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
(e) 
PARK — Shall include all public parks having individual names.
(f) 
PUBLIC PLACES — Shall include all other grounds owned by the City or other properties owned by County, State or Federal Government in which the Urban Forest Committee has established a cooperative arrangement for tree care.
(g) 
PROPERTY LINE — The outer edge of a street or highway right of way (R.O.W.).
(h) 
TREE LAWN (R.O.W. EDGE) — That part of a street or highway, not covered by sidewalk or other paving, lying between the property line and that portion of the street or highway usually used for vehicular traffic.
(i) 
PUBLIC TREES — Shall include all shade and ornamental trees now or hereafter growing on any street or on any public land where otherwise indicated.
(j) 
LARGE TREES — Those attaining a height of 45 feet or more with a mature spread of 30 feet or more.
(k) 
MEDIUM TREES — Those attaining a height of 30 feet to 45 feet with a mature spread of 20 feet or more.
(l) 
SMALL TREES — Those attaining a height of less than 30 feet with a mature spread of 10 feet or more.
(m) 
PRINCIPAL THOROUGHFARE — Major cross-town streets upon which trucks are permitted.
(n) 
PROPERTY OWNER — The person owning such property as shown on Municipal Plat Maps.
(o) 
CALIPER TREE TRUNK DIAMETER — The diameter measured at one foot above ground level.
(p) 
D.B.H. TREE TRUNK DIAMETER AT BREAST HEIGHT — The diameter measured at 4.5 feet above ground level.
[Ord. 79-2005, passed 12-28-2005]
The Committee shall be composed of five to seven knowledgeable residents of the City who shall be appointed by the Mayor and who shall serve without compensation. Knowledgeable citizens may include citizens with experience, formal training, or knowledge of: tree care, gardening, forestry, landscape architecture, horticulture, public utilities, civil engineering, architecture, contracting, arboriculture, planning, or environment.
[Ord. 79-2005, passed 12-28-2005]
Of the initial appointees to the Committee, two Committee members shall serve for a term of one year; two for a term of two years; and one to three for a term of three years and, after the expiration of the term of any Committee member, a successor shall be appointed by the Mayor to serve for a term of three years. Vacancies in the office of a Committee member shall be filled by the Mayor for the unexpired term. Committee members shall serve no more than three consecutive terms.
[Ord. 79-2005, passed 12-28-2005]
The Committee shall exercise stewardship of the public trees and landscaping affecting them in the City and, upon approval of the Director of the Department of Public Works, Property and Parks, is authorized to plant, maintain, protect and remove trees on the public streets and property within Erie City limits. Specific duties include, but are not limited to the following:
(a) 
Plan for planting, maintenance and care. To study the problems and determine the needs of the City of Erie, County of Erie, pertaining to its tree program. To formulate an Urban Forest Plan or single project plans and to supervise and/or recommend actions to the Director of the Department of Public Works, Property and Parks for planting, maintenance, and care of trees along the rights of way, streets, and lands of the City best suited to satisfy the problems common to utilities, traffic, industry, weather, stormwater, environment, and the protection and preservation of properties in the City and the public at large. To recommend to the Director of the Department of Public Works, Property and Parks, streetscape designs illustrating the type and kind of trees to be planted upon such municipal streets or parts of municipal streets or in parks as is designated in the Landscape Plan.
(1) 
To provide regular and special meetings at which the subject of landscapes and trees may be discussed by the members of the Committee, officers and personnel of the City and its several divisions, and all others interested in the landscape program.
(2) 
That within a reasonable time after the appointment of the Committee, the Committee shall meet and organize by the election of a chairman, vice chairman and standing committee chairs.
(3) 
A majority of voting members shall constitute a quorum to transact business. Any member who fails to attend three consecutive scheduled meetings may be subject to removal by the Chair, and shall be replaced for the balance of his or her term by the appointing authority.
(4) 
The said Committee shall provide for the adoption of rules and procedures and for the holding of regular and special meetings as said Committee shall deem advisable and necessary in order to perform the duties set forth. A journal of proceedings and activities is to be recorded.
(b) 
Meetings. To meet at least four times a year at a public place and time of their choosing. The meeting shall be open to the public.
(c) 
Legislation. To propose such legislation as may be needed to pursue the purposes for which the Committee was created.
(d) 
Review of plans. To review design or construction plans for public or private improvements that may call for the removal, planting, or preservation of public trees.
(e) 
Protection from disease. To develop and recommend to Director of the Department of Public Works, Property and Parks an effective program to protect trees within the City from damage by insects, pests, or disease and to recommend techniques for the pruning or treating of trees with the least toxic effective control methods to include both trees along the lands, ways, streets and public properties of the City, and with the consent of the property owners, trees on private lands.
(f) 
Budget. To develop and recommend to the Director of Public Works, Property and Parks a budget to provide for an effective program of tree protection and restoration and other activities necessary to carry out the purposes of the Committee and upon approval of the Director of the Department of Public Works, Property and Parks to actively pursue support funding for those purposes.
(g) 
Professional assistants. To determine and recommend to the Director of the Department of Public Works, Property and Parks the need for a professional forester, arborist, tree warden or other assistants and such other employees as may be required to provide for an adequate and continuous urban forest program in the City and the administration and enforcement of this article and to recommend a list of preferred qualifications and duties for such professional assistants.
(h) 
Public education. To develop a sound educational program as it pertains to the public's understanding of and cooperation with the program of the Committee.
(1) 
To assist the proper officials of the City of Erie, as well as citizens and community groups, in the dissemination of news and information regarding the selection, planting, and maintenance of trees and other plants located within the corporate limits, whether they be on private or public property.
(2) 
To make such recommendations from time to time to the Director of the Department of Public Works, Property and Parks as to desirable legislation concerning the landscape program and activities for the City.
(i) 
Program of protection and replacement. To encourage proper pruning, maintenance, protection and replacement of all trees within the City and to develop an effective program to accomplish the same.
(j) 
Inspections. To conduct inspections of trees within the City and, with the consent of the property owners involved, to enter on private property to make such inspections, in order to determine whether such trees are hazardous to persons or property.
(k) 
Removal of trees or branches. To recommend for the removal of trees or limbs of trees on streets and lands of the City found to be hazardous to persons or property or so affected by disease or by insect infestations as to endanger the life or health of other trees in the City.
(l) 
Additional duties. To perform such other duties and responsibilities in connection with trees and the urban forest as a whole in the City as are properly within the powers of the City and consistent with the program set forth herein.
(m) 
Rules and regulations. To issue rules and regulations governing the planting, maintenance, care, removal and replacement of trees in furtherance of the powers granted the Committee by statutes of the Commonwealth and the ordinances of the City. Such rules and regulations shall be approved by the Committee and submitted to the Director of Public Works, Property and Parks for approval. Upon such approval, the rules and regulations shall have the same effect as this article.
(n) 
Variations. The Committee, upon approval of the Director of the Department of Public Works, Property and Parks, in each case shall have the power to grant variations and exceptions from the strict applications of the terms of this article and any rules and regulations issued thereunder upon the written application of the property owner involved and the showing of a good and sufficient reason therefor. In granting such variations and exceptions, the Committee, upon approval of the Department of Public Works, Property and Parks, may impose such conditions as it deems necessary to insure compliance with the purposes of this article.
(o) 
Ordinance review. To review the Urban Forest Ordinance every five years ensuring its relevance to current City needs.
(p) 
Additional activities. The Committee, upon the approval of the Director of the Department of Public Works, Property and Parks, may engage in any other lawful activity in pursuit of the mission, which may benefit the urban forest including such activities as:
(1) 
Apply for Tree City Status with the National Arbor Day Foundation.
(2) 
Conduct seminars and public education programs.
(3) 
Plan and coordinate an annual Arbor Week observance.
(4) 
Develop a community tree bank.
(5) 
Develop or support botanical gardens and arboreta.
(6) 
Identify and protect community forest preserves and natural areas.
(7) 
Provide technical advise and assistance to developers, builders, contractors, public utilities, public agencies, homeowners and community groups in selecting tree species to be planted or naturally occurring trees to be protected during the development of wooded areas.
(8) 
Organize Urban Forestry projects.
(9) 
Seek grant money, public funding and private contributions to further the work of the Committee.
[Ord. 79-2005, passed 12-28-2005]
(a) 
The Committee shall have the authority to formulate an Urban Forest Plan with the advice of consultants, City agencies, public hearings, and approval of the Director of the Department of Public Works, Property and Parks.
(1) 
The Urban Forest Plan shall include, but not be limited to, the goals and mission of the Committee; an inventory of resources; needed work; associated cost and time schedules for such work; and relevant information, such as activities of the Committee, standard tree maintenance and planting specifications, and permit application procedures.
(2) 
The Urban Forest Plan following formation by the Committee shall be sent forward to the Director of the Department of Public Works, Property and Parks with recommendations for action.
(b) 
The City Arborist, with the approval of the Committee and the Director of the Department of Public Works, Property and Parks, shall have the authority to amend or add to the Plan at any time.
[Ord. 79-2005, passed 12-28-2005; Ord. 35-2008, passed 7-2-2008]
No person shall plant, maintain, remove or disturb any tree or shrub on any street or municipal owned property without filing an application and procuring a permit from the City Arborist.
(a) 
Planting permit. The following are required in permit application:
(1) 
Application data. When making application for a planting permit, the Applicant shall submit a landscape design which illustrates the number of trees or other plants to be planted, their location, grade, species, or variety of each plant; the method of planting; and such other information as the City Arborist shall find reasonably necessary to a fair determination of whether a permit should be issued.
(2) 
Proper planting. Whenever any tree shall be planted on public land, it shall be planted, staked as necessary, watered and mulched in accordance with proper planting specifications issued by the City Arborist.
(b) 
Maintenance permit. The following are required in permit application:
(1) 
Application data. When making application for a maintenance permit the Applicant shall state the number and kinds of trees to be pruned, treated, or otherwise manipulated; the composition of any chemical treatment to be applied; and such other information as the City Arborist shall require to determine whether a permit should be issued.
(2) 
The City Arborist shall annually issue area permits allowing public utilities to prune and maintain vegetation on public places. Non emergency utility pruning or other treatment shall be done in accordance with standard arboricultural practices and nearby neighbors shall be informed by posted door notices at least three weeks in advance.
(c) 
Removal and replacement permit. The following are required in permit application:
(1) 
When making application for a tree removal permit, the Applicant shall illustrate the number and kinds of trees to be removed, their size, locations, health and age condition, reason for removal, the method of removal, and such other information as the City Arborist shall find reasonably necessary to a fair determination of whether a permit should be issued.
(2) 
When an applicant requests a tree removal permit to cut down a sound, properly placed and positively valued contributing tree, the City Arborist may propose a viable alternative.
(d) 
Special collection permit. A permit may be issued for special educational sampling, specimen collecting, or demonstration purposes. The City Arborist shall evaluate such applications for merit and assurance of not harming the urban forest resources.
(e) 
Fees. An administrative fee of $50 shall be collected for every tree removal application as required by Article 165.07(c). (Removal and Replacement Permit) upon the approval of the City Arborist. This fee may be waived in the case of hazardous tree removals as determined by the City Arborist.
[Ord. 79-2005, passed 12-28-2005]
Upon obtaining the necessary permits, the owners of properties abutting the streets and highways of the City shall be permitted to plant, maintain, and remove trees on the lands abutting their properties between the front property lines of such property and the traveled portion of such streets and highways only in accordance with the terms and provisions of this article and any rules and regulations of the Committee of the City adopted in accordance herewith.
[Ord. 79-2005, passed 12-28-2005]
It shall be the duty and responsibility of the Director of the Department of Public Works, Property and Parks to prepare and administer the rules and regulations governing the planting, maintenance and removal of trees on public property and within the City rights of way. These rules and regulations shall contain all necessary provisions to provide for the safety of the public and the overall health and care of the trees and the urban forest as a whole within the City of Erie. The rules and regulations are incorporated herein by reference so as to become part of this article. The Director of the Department of Public Works, Property and Parks is empowered to make changes to program regulations as necessary.
[Ord. 79-2005, passed 12-28-2005]
With respect to the areas defined and regulated in Section 165.08 and 165.09, no person shall:
(a) 
Damage, cut, carve, transplant or remove any tree or plant or injure the bark.
(b) 
Pick the flowers or seeds of any tree or plant.
(c) 
Attach any sign, rope, wire or other contrivance to any tree or plant.
(d) 
Dig in or otherwise disturb grass areas, or in any other way injure or impair the natural beauty or usefulness of any area;
(e) 
Cause or permit any wire charged with electricity to come in contact with any tree or plant or allow any gaseous, liquid or solid substance, which is harmful to such trees or plants to come in contact with them.
[Ord. 79-2005, passed 12-28-2005]
(a) 
The City Arborist is authorized and empowered to issue written orders to the owner or occupant of any property abutting the public streets or highways in the City where trees are located on the land abutting the front property line of the property, between the front property line thereof and the traveled portion of such street or highway, to remove, abate or correct any dangerous or hazardous condition, infestation or disease of any tree located thereon. Such order shall be in writing and issued by authority of the City Arborist and shall be served upon the person concerned, either personally or by registered or certified mail, or in the event that no owner or occupant can be found, by posting a copy of the same on the premises. The order shall provide a time limit for compliance as determine by the City Arborist.
(b) 
Any person or party affected by such order shall have the right of appeal therefrom to the Director of Public Works, Property and Parks or such officer designated by him/her to hear and determine such appeals. Such appeals shall be made in writing within seven days from the service of the order of the City Arborist, and the appeal officer designated herein, shall, upon review of the written appeal, affirm, modify or revoke the order of the City Arborist and deliver notice thereof to the person appealing within seven days from the filing of the appeal, together with a date for compliance with the order as affirmed or modified.
[Ord. 79-2005, passed 12-28-2005; Ord. 35-2008, passed 7-2-2008]
(a) 
Whenever any person or party to whom an order is directed shall fail to comply with any order issued by the City Arborist or the appeal officer designated herein under the authority of this article, of the removal, abatement, correction or replacement of any tree or condition of any tree subject to the provisions of this article, within the time provided for such actions, the City is authorized to undertake such action through its agents or employees or to contract with others for such purpose, and the charges and costs of same shall be charged against the property which abuts the location where such condition exists, and in the event of replacement of a tree, such replacement cost shall not exceed $400.
(b) 
The officer or agent of the City charged with the performance of such duties under the terms of this article shall, upon completion of the work, certify the cost of same to the City Treasurer who shall bill the owner of the property involved for the amount thereof as a special assessment. In the event of nonpayment of the assessment within 30 days from the date of notice of same, the City Treasurer shall forward the same to the City Solicitor who shall promptly enter the same as a lien against the property involved.
(c) 
The undertaking of such work by the City, and the entering of an assessment and lien in the event of nonpayment of the assessment, shall in no way operate to relieve any person violating any of the provisions of this article or the rules and regulations of the Committee, issued under the authority of this article, or failing to comply within the period stated in any order of the City Arborist from the penalties provided herein for the violation of the provisions hereof.
[Ord. 79-2005, passed 12-28-2005]
The powers, functions and duties of the Committee and the administration and enforcement of this article are assigned to the Department of Public Works, Property and Parks and such personnel of that Department as the Director shall designate to such duties.
[Ord. 79-2005, passed 12-28-2005]
All foliage placed on public property of the City shall consist of live natural plant life.
[Ord. 79-2005, passed 12-28-2005]
Should the Courts declare any section, clause, or provisions of this article to be invalid, the same shall not affect the validity of the article as a whole, or parts thereof, other than the part declared to be invalid.
[Ord. 79-2005, passed 12-28-2005]
If any subsection, sentence, clause, provision or part of this article shall be held invalid for any reason, the remainder of this article shall not be affected thereby, but shall remain in force and effect.
[Ord. 35-2008, passed 7-2-2008]
(a) 
Whoever violates Article 165.07(c) (Removal and Replacement Permit) by failing to obtain a permit for tree removal and replacement shall be fined not more than $300 and, in default of payment thereof, imprisoned not more than 30 days.
(b) 
Whoever violates Article 165.10 (Abuse or mutilation of trees or plants) shall be fined not more than $500 for small trees, $750 for medium trees, and $1,000 for large trees, as defined by Article 165.02(j), (k) and (l), respectively and, in default of payment thereof, imprisoned not more than 30 days.