Township of Union, NJ
Hunterdon County
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[Ord. No. 2004-10 § 4]
The provisions of this section shall apply to a landowner who wishes to remove an individual tree and/or trees on an existing lot and to all trees on existing individual lots where the lot is not part of any pending development application, site plan, or subdivision; and, more specifically, the following regulation shall apply.
[Ord. No. 2004-10 § 4]
The definitions set forth in Chapter 30, Section 30-2 shall, for purposes of this section, have the meaning given in Chapter 30, Section 30-2.
[Ord. No. 2004-10 § 4]
No person shall commence or allow the commencement of any of the following activities unless they first obtain a tree removal permit in accordance with all of the provisions of this chapter:
a. 
Clear Cutting. A tree removal permit will not issue for this proposed activity unless an Approved Woodland Management Plan is obtained in connection with the tree removal application. Where a property owner has an existing Woodland Management Plan on record with the Township or State Forester prior to the effective date of this amendment to the ordinance,[1] that Woodland Management Plan shall remain valid provided same was prepared in accordance with N.J.A.C. 54:4-23.3 and outlines proposed management of woodlands, forests and/or trees on a particular property. For those properties without a Woodland Management Plan on file with the Township or State Forester as of the effective date of this amendment,[2] all applications shall require that a Woodland Management Plan be submitted with a tree removal permit application and a tree removal permit shall not issue without an Approved Woodland Management Plan having been issued in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
[1]
Editor's Note: Ordinance No. 2004-10, codified herein as Section 18-1 was adopted December 1, 2004.
[2]
Editor's Note: Ordinance No. 2004-10, codified herein as Section 18-1 was adopted December 1, 2004.
b. 
Removal of any living tree greater than 12 inches in diameter measured at a point 4.5 feet above the surface of the ground.
c. 
Removal of any living Historic Tree, living Landmark Tree or living Specimen Tree; or
d. 
Removal of any tree within public property (i.e. parks, preserved lands, and other lands owned or controlled by the Township of Union); or
e. 
Removal of any tree within the applicable road right-of-way for any public road unless otherwise permitted by another exemption set forth herein (i.e. within 100 feet of structure, etc.). Under this section, a tree removal permit shall not be issued by the Zoning Officer without the approval of the Township Committee.
f. 
Removal of any trees that would result in the conversion of woodlands to another natural resource with a lower resource protection ratio. Unless otherwise exempted herein, there shall be a presumption that such activity is prohibited absent a showing of exceptional circumstances warranting the issuance of a permit and then, only upon a showing through the use of wildlife suitability analysis and ecological models that the activity will not have any negative impact to the environment, the water quality, soil conditions, or the wildlife habitat.
g. 
Removal of any tree within a conservation easement. Under this section, a tree removal permit shall not issue by the Zoning Officer unless, following review and recommendation of the Township Committee, same is approved by the Township Committee.
h. 
Removal of any tree within a buffer yard or landscape easement. Under this section, a tree removal permit shall not issue by the Zoning Officer unless, following review and recommendation of the Township Committee, same is approved by the Township Committee.
[Ord. No. 2004-10 § 3]
Notwithstanding any of the aforementioned activities requiring a permit identified in Chapter 18, subsection 18-1.2 above, and specifically excepted from Chapter 18, Section 18-1 and the requirements imposed under Chapter 18, Section 18-1, are the following activities which are hereby exempted ("exempt activities"):
a. 
The cutting and/or removal of any trees in accordance with an Approved Woodland Management Plan and/or a Woodland Management Plan on file with the Township or State Forester prior to the effective date of this amendment.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Ordinance No. 2004-10, codified herein as Section 18-1 was adopted December 1, 2004.
b. 
The cutting and/or removal of any trees located on lands owned by the Township of Union or any other local public entity or subdivision thereof including the Board of Education and to be removed by the Township of Union, the Board of Education or anyone acting on behalf of the Township of Union or Board of Education.
c. 
The cutting and/or removal of any trees required to be cut in connection with the installation and/or maintenance of public utilities and/or public improvements such as government offices, public roads, public schools and other public buildings of benefit to the community.
d. 
The cutting and/or removal of any trees located in commercial orchards or nurseries. This exemption shall not include tree removal within woodlands in connection with the establishment of new nurseries or new orchards.
e. 
The cutting and/or removal of any trees which are diseased and which must be removed for the protection of other healthy trees and/or for purposes of thinning trees for purposes of removing undesirable, competitive, diseased or damaged trees so as to cultivate and improve the development of remaining trees on the site or lot.
f. 
The cutting and/or removal of any trees which are diseased or damaged and which pose a hazard to human health, safety and welfare of the residents, neighbors or general public or any existing structures including but not limited to the removal of trees which are diseased, dead, partially or completely fallen by acts of nature or which endanger public safety.
g. 
The cutting and/or removal of any trees removed in accordance with a subdivision, site plan or building permit application approved by the Union Township Planning Board, Board of Adjustment and/or issued by the Zoning Officer which specifically designates the tree(s) to be removed and upon which the Planning Board and/or the Zoning Officer specifically authorized in issuing and/or approving the subdivision, site plan or building permit.
h. 
The cutting and/or removal of any tree(s) in emergency situations, where the tree has been damaged by storm, and is an immediate threat to life or property.
i. 
The cutting and/or removal of any trees on property assessed under the Farmland Assessment Act, N.J.S.A. 54:4-23.2, and upon which any agricultural use as that term is defined in the Farmland Assessment Act, is performed that does not result in a change in land use category, including the erection of agricultural support buildings and other related structures built using accepted agricultural best management practices or as otherwise permitted under the Right to Farm Act.
j. 
The cutting, removal and/or clearing of trees to comply with requirements affecting navigable airspace, provided that the Federal Aviation Administration has determined that the trees are a hazard to aviation.
k. 
The removal of trees by the State of New Jersey, or its subdivisions, in connection with the management of lands owned by the State of New Jersey except for Historic Trees or those covered by Federal Regulation.
l. 
The cutting, trimming or maintenance of trees in a manner which is not harmful to the health of the tree.
m. 
Removal of trees for which the property owner provides evidence acceptable to the Zoning Official that the tree was planted by the owner during the period of his or her ownership of the property, provided that the planting was not required by this section, any other municipal ordinance or site plan or subdivision approval issued by the Township of Union.
n. 
Removal of any tree within 100 feet of any residence, structure associated with the residence, or sewer or septic systems provided the trees are located on the residence owner's lot.
o. 
The cutting or removal of any tree located on a tract of land up to five acres in size on which there is an existing single family residence and provided that the tree removal shall not exceed 20% of the standing trees on the lot, parcel or site (clear cutting).
A permit shall not be required to remove or cut trees under any of the aforementioned circumstances.
[Ord. No. 2004-10 § 4]
Replacement tree(s) shall be required to be planted under the following circumstances whenever a permit is required:
Replacement of a minimum of 50% of the total basal area of the trees removed shall be required whenever more than 40% of the total basal area of trees that are 12 inches dbh and less than 24 inches dbh is removed, more than 30% of the total basal area of trees that are 24 inches dbh and less than 36 inches dbh, more than 20% of the total basal area of the trees between 36 inches dbh and 48 inches dbh is removed or more than 10% of the total basal area of trees greater than 48 inches dbh is removed from any woodland or any site, parcel, tract or property within the Township.
Replacement of 100% of the total basal area shall be required whenever any Landmark Trees, Historic Trees or Specimen Trees are removed or damaged or when any trees are removed or damaged within a conservation easement. Replacement of 200% of the total basal area removed shall be required whenever any Landmark Trees, Historic Trees, Specimen Trees or any other trees are removed or damaged in violation of any section of this section.
For all other circumstances not set forth herein, the amount of basal area for replacement trees required shall be controlled by subsection 30-6.4b5.
All replacement trees shall comply with the provisions of subsection 30-6.4b5(a)(4)(i)[a] — [i]. Further, all replacement trees shall be of nursery grade quality and shall be planted in accordance with accepted nursery practice. Trees required to be planted under the tree replacement procedures shall be in addition to any trees, such as street trees or trees within buffers, required by this or any other applicable subsection.
The replacement trees, when required, shall be planted in the same location as the tree removed (i.e., in place tree replacement). Where in place tree replacement is not feasible or desirable, an alternative tree replacement proposal may be recommended to the Township Committee and approved by the Township Committee in accordance the following schedule of preference:
a. 
Planting replacement trees in the location where the tree(s) were removed; or
b. 
Planting replacement trees within the property containing the removed tree(s); or
c. 
Planting replacement trees elsewhere in the Township within a conservation easement, but as near as possible to the property from which the tree(s) was/were removed; or
d. 
Planting trees elsewhere within the Township and within 50 feet of a watercourse or roadway; or
e. 
Planting replacement trees elsewhere in the Township where placement will create public benefit.
The Township Committee may modify or waive entirely the replacement planting requirements either in number, species, basal area or replacement size upon application and demonstrated good cause or hardship. Upon application to the Township Committee, the Township Committee shall exercise its judgment, in its consideration of granting an exception from the requirements for replacement of trees.
Replacement trees shall not be required where trees are removed under any of the exceptions noted in this chapter.
[Ord. No. 2004-10 § 4]
Any person desiring to cut down or remove any living tree(s) governed by the regulations set forth in subsection 18-1.2, shall first apply to the Zoning Officer for a tree removal permit authorizing the same. On a tree removal application to be supplied by the Zoning Official, the applicant shall identify the applicant's name and address, the address for the land upon which the tree or trees are located, the number, size, species and total basal area of the trees proposed to be removed, and a tree replacement proposal. The applicant shall submit all fees, including the tree removal application fee and three copies of all requisite documents reasonably necessary to process the subject application (i.e. survey depicting structures, right-of-way, easement, plot map, data on tree size, condition, species, etc.).
[Ord. No. 2004-10 § 4; Ord. No. 2010-9]
A fee of $15 shall accompany the application to defray Township expenses and shall not be refundable. The fee shall be submitted to the Zoning Officer in the form of a check made payable to the Township of Union.
[Ord. No. 2004-10 § 4]
a. 
The Zoning Officer shall promptly provide copies of the tree removal application to the Township Committee for their review, and recommendation where required pursuant to the provisions set forth herein or hereinafter set forth.
b. 
The Zoning Official, where authorized, shall grant approval upon a determination that the proposed work and proposed method and workmanship are in accordance with this section. In the event that the Zoning Officer fails to take action on such application within 10 days after such application is filed, the applicant shall have an immediate right of appeal to the Township Committee as set forth herein. Any permit granted shall expire after the passage of 12 months from the date of its issuance. All work shall be completed during this twelve-month time period and in the manner described in the application. Any permit shall be deemed withdrawn if the terms of the permit or the section are not complied with.
c. 
In rendering judgment on tree removal applications submitted for consideration, it is the intent of the Township and of this chapter to retain healthy trees in the Township and to preserve, whenever possible, all of the dbh of those trees designated for protection and preservation. The following factors should be taken into consideration in rendering judgment:
1. 
Whether the tree or trees are located upon a proposed building site, driveway, recreation area, roadway drainage right-of-way, sewer or septic system, or whether the trees are within 100 feet of any of the foregoing.
2. 
Whether the tree or trees appear upon inspection to be diseased or so situated as to be substantially lacking vigor.
3. 
Whether the tree or trees are so located that necessary grade changes will render protection unreasonably difficult or expensive.
4. 
Whether removal of the tree or trees will constitute a horticultural advantageous thinning of an existing overgrown area.
5. 
Whether removal of the tree or trees will significantly and adversely affect drainage conditions, soil fertility or soil stability.
6. 
Whether other practical exigencies may exist which would unduly cause hardship or difficulty to the applicant if the tree or trees were retained as weighed against the value of such retention.
d. 
Considerations that may result in the tree removal permit being disallowed include the following circumstances:
1. 
Soil erosion, soil retention, water retention or run off problems will result;
2. 
Historic, Landmark or Specimen Trees are located on site and can not be adequately protected or replaced;
3. 
The community's interest, as expressed herein, in the judgment of the Zoning Official and/or the Township Committee, will be significantly degraded by the proposed removal activities.
e. 
The Zoning Official and/or the Township Committee, where required under the provisions of this act or in the case of review by the Township Committee, shall endorse any decision upon the application, and, in case of complete denial, shall set forth the basis for such decision, which shall thereupon be transmitted to the applicant.
f. 
The Zoning Official shall be authorized to withdraw or rescind any permit issued for tree removal activities in the event of any act of noncompliance with the provisions of this chapter or regulations adopted hereunder.
[Ord. No. 2004-10 § 4]
Any person aggrieved by a decision of the Zoning Officer may appeal therefrom by letter to the Township Committee. The Township Committee shall render their decision not later than 60 days following receipt of such letter. Any interested parties may appear in person or by attorney.
[Ord. No. 2004-10 § 4]
Whenever a construction permit is requested for a structure which will require the removal of trees as herein protected, the Zoning Officer shall decline to issue local clearance for the Construction Official to issue any such construction permit until a tree removal permit, where required, is applied for and issued. The Construction Official shall not issue a construction permit or Certificate of Occupancy for any building on any site, parcel or tract for which there is an outstanding complaint pursuant to this subsection.
[Ord. No. 2004-10 § 4]
The Zoning Officer or other person designated by the Township Committee may institute complaints in the Municipal Court for any violations of this section. However, it shall be the policy of the Township of Union to, where possible, first seek voluntary compliance with the provisions of this section by giving notice and an opportunity to comply in appropriate circumstances. In the event of a violation or, if notice has been given, continued noncompliance resulting in a violation, the Zoning Official may institute a complaint in the Municipal Court for any violation of this section or the regulations adopted therein. It shall be an offense to engage in or to do an act prohibited by this section or to omit or fail to perform an act required by this section.
Upon issuance of a violation, the Zoning Official shall immediately notify the Township Committee.
Any property owner violating any provision of this section may, upon conviction thereof, be punishable by fine not less than $50 and not exceeding $500.
In addition to any fine that may be imposed upon conviction of a violation of this section, the Court may order replacement trees as required under this section as restitution for the harm caused.
In addition, the Court shall impose Court costs as incurred in processing and/or administering any violation issued under this section.