[HISTORY: Adopted by the Commissioners of the Town of Henlopen Acres 6-9-2017. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also provided for the repeal of former Ch. 114, Trees, adopted 7-14-2000, as amended.
Trees and Town vegetation, as hereinafter defined, are declared to be beneficial public resources. To that end, it shall be unlawful to cut down, damage, poison or in any other manner destroy or cause to be destroyed any trees or town vegetation covered by this chapter, except in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
There is hereby created and established a Town Tree Committee for the Town of Henlopen Acres, Delaware, which shall consist of the Mayor, Planning Commission Chairman and a minimum of three, but not more than five, at-large members appointed by the Mayor and approved by the Board of Commissioners. The at-large members shall serve three-year terms.
It shall be the responsibility of the Tree Committee to study, investigate, counsel and develop a plan for the care, preservation, pruning, planting, replanting, removal or disposition of Town vegetation, as hereinafter defined. Such plan will be presented annually to the Board of Commissioners as part of the Town's Annual Budget meeting and, upon approval or modification by the Board of Commissioners, shall constitute the official Town Tree Plan for that budget year. The Tree Committee, when requested by the Board of Commissioners, shall consider, investigate, make findings, report and recommend upon any special matter or question coming within the scope of its work. The Board of Commissioners shall have the right to review the actions and decisions of the Town Tree Committee.
For the purpose of this chapter, certain terms are defined as follows:
- DRIP LINE
- The area directly located under the outer circumference of
the tree branches. This definition also applies to the terms "critical
root zone" and "root protection zone."[Added 7-12-2019]
- LAND CLEARING
- The clearing of or removal from a parcel of land of all or part of the natural elements existing thereon, including, but not limited to, trees.
- Any individual, partnership, corporation, association or other legal entity, including the plural as well as the singular, and including all tree removal companies and persons removing trees on behalf of others.
- PROTECTED TREES
- Any tree on Town property. Protected trees may not be trimmed,
topped, otherwise damaged or removed without a permit obtained from
the Town in advance of the work.[Added 7-12-2019]
- REMOVE or REMOVAL
- The actual removal of a tree by digging up, cutting down or the effective removal through damage.
- Any one, or combination thereof, of the following: Town Manager,
Zoning Officer, Environmental Approval Committee, Tree Committee,
the Town's designated ISA Arborist.[Added 7-12-2019]
- TOWN VEGETATION
- Trees, shrubs, bushes and all other woody vegetation in public rights-of-way, parks, marina and any other parcel owned by the Town.
- A species normally identified as a tree, such as an oak, pine, cypress, magnolia, etc., that is at least four feet tall and, as measured 12 inches above the ground, has a circumference not less than three inches.
It shall be unlawful for any person to remove or damage any Town vegetation, except in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
Emergency removal of Town vegetation. No Town vegetation shall be removed except under the direction of the Town Manager.
Except as may otherwise be provided in Town ordinances or other law, it shall be unlawful for any person to perform land clearing or remove or damage any trees, bushes or ground cover on a vacant lot in preparation for or anticipation of the excavation, erection, construction, or demolition of any building without first obtaining a zoning certificate as required by § 130-37A of the Zoning Code of the Town of Henlopen Acres.
Protected trees adjacent to a permitted construction site shall be subject to the following provisions:
No person shall encroach or place solvents; temporary storage units; trash dumpsters; construction materials, equipment, trailers or machinery; or temporary soil deposits within 1/2 the distance between the drip line and the trunk of any protected tree, but no less than 10 feet from the trunk of any protected tree; or such other distance as determined by the Town in writing.
Before development, land clearing, filling or any land alteration, the contractor shall be required to erect suitable protective barriers around the base of protected trees as required by the Town, including tree fences and erosion barriers until completion of work. Authorization to remove the protective devices shall be permitted only in writing by the Town or by the issuance of a final certificate of occupancy. Inspection of tree protection barriers by the Town is required prior to any land disturbance or development. The Town shall be contacted to schedule an inspection time.
Materials for active tree protection shall consist of chain link, orange laminated plastic, wooden post and rail fencing or other equivalent restraining material. In addition to fencing, where active tree protection is required, each tree to be saved shall be marked at the base of the trunk with blue-colored water-based paint.
Any protected tree which is damaged during construction or as a result of construction, as determined by the Town, shall be treated in accordance with accepted ANSI standards or replaced by those responsible for the damage with a tree or trees equal to the caliper value of the damaged tree.
The Town, in its discretion, will plant, maintain, and remove Town vegetation as may be necessary to ensure public safety or preserve or enhance the tree canopy and the beauty of public grounds.
Owners, occupiers, and agents of such owners or occupiers shall maintain trees and shrubs on their private property such that they do not interfere with the proper spread of light along the street from a streetlight or interfere with visibility of any traffic control device or sign. Failure to do so shall constitute a "nuisance- for purposes of § C-28 of the Town Charter.
Owners, occupiers, and agents of such owners or occupiers shall remove any dead or diseased trees on their private property when such trees constitute a hazard to life and property or harbor insects or disease which constitutes a potential threat to other trees within the Town. Failure to do so shall constitute a "nuisance" for purposes of § C-28 of the Town Charter.
Any violation of any provision of this chapter is declared to be a civil offense and is subject to the voluntary assessment and other procedures described in Chapter 55 of this Code. Any person, including but not limited to, the owner, agent, architect, contractor, or any other person who commits, takes part or assists in any such violation shall pay a civil assessment of $750 and shall pay the Town's court costs, including its attorneys' fees. Each day any violation of this chapter occurs or continues to exist shall constitute a separate violation and may be subject to a separate civil assessment.
A violation of any provision of this chapter shall be deemed a nuisance and may be abated in the same manner provided by the Town for the abatement of any other nuisance in addition to the provisions of this chapter. In addition to any other remedy provided by law, an appropriate legal proceeding, whether by legal process or otherwise, may be instituted or taken to prevent action, construction, planting, removal, or use, or to restrain, or correct, or abate such violation to prevent any act, conduct or use contrary to the terms of this chapter.
Order for compliance.
Public property encroachments. Upon failure, neglect, or refusal of any owner, occupier, or agent of such an owner or occupier to comply with the requirements of this chapter within 10 days after receipt of written notice sent by certified mail or registered mail, the Town Manager is authorized to remove, prune, or otherwise remedy public property encroachments.
Private property violations. Upon failure, neglect, or refusal of any owner, occupier, or agent of such an owner or occupier to comply with the requirements of this chapter within 60 days after receipt of written notice sent by certified mail or registered mail, the Town Manager is authorized to remove, prune, or otherwise remedy violations of this chapter on private property.
Whenever the Town effects a removal or pruning, or enforces compliance with the terms of this chapter, pursuant to the provisions of this chapter, the actual cost thereof, together with an additional charge of 20% of the actual charge to defray administrative expenses, along with the Town's related costs and expenses, including its attorneys' fees, together with accrued interest at the rate of 6% per annum from the date of completion of the work by the Town, shall be charged to the owner or occupier of such property, and the Town may proceed to collect the same as it would any other obligation due the Town.
Additional assessment for illegal tree damage or removal. In addition to the penalties and assessments provided herein, any person who damages or removes a tree or trees in violation of any provision of this chapter shall forfeit and pay to the Town a civil assessment equal to the total value of those trees illegally damaged or removed, as computed from the International Society of Arboriculture shade tree value formula. Said sum shall accrue to the Town and may be recovered in a civil action brought by the Town. Said sum so collected shall be placed in a special fund and shall be expended for the purchase of tree(s) for placement in public properties in the Town. Replacement of illegally removed or damaged trees may be required as restoration in lieu of monetary assessment. A combination of monetary assessment and tree replacement may be required.
The Town Manager may withhold the issuance of the required certificate of occupancy, or permits and inspections, on any development as required until the provisions of this chapter are met.
Recognizing that a plentiful tree canopy is a unique and signature feature of Henlopen Acres, and that building construction poses a significant risk of loss of established trees on a lot and on neighboring lots, this section shall apply to any person who submits a building permit application to construct a new home on a lot, or to perform a renovation including a change in footprint in excess of 400 square feet. When this section is applicable, the application for a building permit must include a landscape plan that meets the following minimum tree density requirements:
The lot will have one tree per 2,000 square feet of required open space.
Trees in the right-of-way and trees planted elsewhere on the lot in excess of three inches' caliper will be counted toward the minimum density.
Planted trees will be selected from the Town's list of approved tree species.
Minimum tree sizes:
Trees will be planted within 90 days of construction completion.
The Town Manager, in conjunction with the Zoning Officer and the Town Arborist, will have the authority to apply the above requirements in a way that achieves the intent of the requirement while taking into account the specific features of the lot, structures, and existing trees.