The purpose of this chapter is to regulate and provide guidance to prevent the indiscriminate and excessive removal, cutting and destruction of trees in order to control, regulate and prevent conditions which cause increased surface drainage, sedimentation and soil erosion, cause decreased soil fertility and impair the stability and value of real estate, all of which conditions are detrimental to public safety, health and welfare. This chapter is designed to meet the needs of the individual township resident and the general good of all township residents.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- AGRICULTURAL USE
- Shall mean land which is devoted to the production of plants and animals for sale, including but not limited to: forages and sod crops; grain and feed crops; truck crops; dairy animals and dairy products; poultry and poultry products; livestock; bees and apiary products; fur animals; trees and forest products; or when devoted to and meeting the requirements and qualifications for payments or other compensation pursuant to a soil conservation program under an agreement with an agency of the federal government, except that land which is devoted exclusively to the production for sale of tree and forest products, other than Christmas trees, and is not appurtenant woodland, shall not be deemed to be an agriculture use unless the land owner fulfills the additional conditions set forth in N.J.S.A. 54:4-23.3.
- Shall mean the individual single-family residence owner, the developer of lands or their authorized agent.
- APPROVED PLAN
- Shall mean a tree removal/replacement plan or forestry management plan which has been approved by the planning board, board of adjustment, zoning officer or other township agency as provided for in this chapter. The approving authority shall have the right to seek input and/or recommendation from the Warren Township Environmental Commission.
- Shall mean the legal or beneficial owner or owners of a lot or of any land proposed to be included in a proposed development, including the holder of an option or contract to purchase, or other person having an enforceable proprietary interest in such land.
- Shall mean a line connecting the tips of the outermost branches of a tree projected vertically onto the ground.
- FORESTRY MANAGEMENT PLAN
- Shall mean a plan of forest management prepared by a certified or accredited forestry consultant which complies with the requirements of N.J.S.A. 54:4-23.
- HISTORIC TREE
- Shall mean any tree representing or measuring in girth the largest of its species in the state; or dedicated by the township commemorating an individual or event.
- INVENTORY OF HISTORIC AND/OR SPECIMEN TREES
- Shall mean a database or list of trees identified as being historic or specimen trees. Such list shall be maintained by the environmental commission which shall request input from the public as well as township committee, planning board, board of adjustment, historic sites committee and other township departments in compiling the list. The inventory shall be kept on file in the township clerk's office.
- PREFERRED TREES
- Shall mean trees recommended by the Bureau of Forest Management, the Warren Township Environmental Commission, the Warren Township Land Use Procedures Ordinance/Chapter 15 and/or the planning board and board of adjustment as best adapted to the climate, soil and topography of the Township of Warren. A list of such trees with maintenance requirements shall be available from the township clerk for the use and guidance of residents, developers or their representatives presenting plans for tree replacement and new plantings.
- PROTECTIVE BARRIER
- Shall mean a barrier constructed to protect the root system or trunk of a tree from damage during construction from equipment, soil or material deposits. Such a barrier may consist of a snow fence, sawhorses, or other such similar structures approved by the township engineer and at a minimum sufficient to protect the root system and/or trunk of a tree from damage.
- Shall mean tree(s) which by singular nature, condition, size, location and/or appearance impart particular value to a property or landscape, as determined by the environmental commission, planning board, board of adjustment, historic sites commission or which is a designated endangered species as noted in state and/or national registers.
- Shall mean generally any woody perennial plant having a diameter greater than five inches (the Dogwood, Ironwood and American Horn Beam trees having a diameter greater than 2 1/2 inches) all measured at a point 4 1/2 feet above the ground.
- TREE FARM
- Shall mean a tract of woodland five acres or more dedicated by its owner to the farming and harvesting of forest crops and certified by the American Tree Farm System through the New Jersey Tree Farm Committee.
- TREE REMOVAL/REPLACEMENT PLAN
- Shall mean a plan of tree removal and/or planting prepared by an accredited or certified forestry consultant, a landscape architect or similarly qualified person. On property of less than five acres, this plan may be prepared by the property owner if the property is not the subject matter of a development application.
- TREE REPLACEMENT
- Shall be in accordance with and as required in subsection 15-7.2x of The Revised General Ordinance of the Township of Warren.
- TREE WELL
- Shall mean that where fill is required around trees, the tree must be protected by an air well around the trunk, six feet in diameter pursuant to formula provided by the New Jersey School of Nurserymen which will prevent the intrusion of soil. The top of the well must extend six inches above the graded level.
Under this section, the following trees may be removed without a tree removal permit:
Trees which constitute a sale item in a nursery, garden, Christmas tree farm or orchard.
Any tree which is part of a cemetery and is not deemed a historic or specimen tree.
Trees directed to be removed or pruned by municipal, county or state authority pursuant to law.
Trees cut as part of the operation of a tree farm, according to a forestry management plan. Prior to the harvesting of any such trees, the owner(s) of property subject to such a program shall file the owner's management plan with the zoning officer and seek approval of the plan from the zoning officer. (The zoning officer may, if he deems it appropriate, refer such approval to the planning board).
Trees removed in the development of ponds or lakes when supervised by the Soil Conservation Service and/or the Federal or State Forestry Service. Owners of property subject to such a program must file with the planning board a letter setting forth the above, signed by the appropriate supervising authority.
Trees removed in conjunction with the clearing of land which is assessed as farm and which is actively devoted or to be devoted to agricultural or horticultural uses.
The pruning or removal of trees within utility rights-of-way by government organizations or utility companies or maintenance of utility wires or pipelines.
The removal or pruning of trees within sight easements.
A tree removal/replacement plan shall be filed with every application before the planning board or board of adjustment for approval of a subdivision, resubdivision, site plan, planned development, conditional use, zoning variance or prior to any other development, use or other action requiring tree removal or requiring tree replacement, except as exempted by section 17-4 hereof.
Where a lot or tract is proposed to be developed for use as a single-family residence and the property is not included in an approved plan through the operation of paragraph a above, the applicant or developer must submit a tree removal/tree replacement plan for approval. A plan to clear 50% of the lot area or one-half acre, whichever the lesser, shall be submitted to the zoning officer. All others must be submitted to the planning board. The zoning officer at his option can request input in his review from the environmental commission.
Unless exempt pursuant to section 17-4 any person desiring to cut or remove any tree(s), which work is not governed by paragraph a above, shall apply to the zoning officer for a permit to remove such tree(s). The applicant shall complete an application, submit a tree removal/replacement plan, if required, take photographs of the area to be disturbed with the trees to be removed visually identified in the field and on the photograph.
Where a lot or tract is proposed to be developed for use as a single-family residence and the property is included in an approved plan through the operation of the above sections, the developer and all subsequent lot owners must develop the lot in compliance with the approved plan.
Every plan submitted for approval shall be drawn in accordance with Chapter 15, subsection 15-7.2x excepting paragraph 15-7.2x3 and, except for plans submitted in conjunction with major subdivision and/or site plan application (the planning board and board of adjustment shall govern these submissions), shall show the following information at a minimum:
Tax map, lot and block number designation, north arrow, street address;
Area of tract;
Approximate location of trees or wooded area (not required to be located by survey);
Approximate number of trees or percent of stocking (tree per acres);
Species substantially involved;
Soil erosion control measures;
Location of streams, wetlands, conservation easements, 100-year flood plans;
Map of locations and surrounding properties showing approximate wooded areas located thereon;
Existing structures and drives;
Existing grades and topography within 100 feet of lot;
A list of trees to be replaced, selected from preferred species as required by the township ordinance [Chapter 15, subsection 15-7.2x2(d)];
Tree removal plan and tree replacement plan as required by the township ordinance in relation to principal and accessory buildings and septic systems, roads and driveways, parking lots, garden areas, etc., (showing also the relations to survey stakes);
Location of buildings;
Location of roads, driveways, parking lots, staging areas, recreation areas and garden areas;
Schedule of tree removal and replacement;
Provision for removal of excess stumps and branches from the property and disposal plan for same in accordance with the Somerset County Solid Waste Management Plan.
Provide the name, address and telephone number of the applicant who shall be the owner or duly authorized agent of the owner, where applicable.
Provide the name, address and telephone number of the contractor that will perform the work.
Every forestry management plan submitted for approval shall include the following at a minimum:
Tax map, lot and block number;
Area of tract;
Approximate location of trees on wooded lot;
Species substantially involved;
Map showing number of trees to be harvested, locations of proposed loading dock, staging areas, area to be harvested and streams with crossings;
Schedule for tree removal and replacement.
Reviews by the planning board, board of adjustment, environmental commission and zoning officer, as appropriate hereunder, shall be guided by the following standards and requirements at a minimum:
Trees within the footprint of a proposed building site or within 30 feet around the footprint of a building site may be removed but not to exceed 50% of the required yard depth as specified in section 16-8 of The Revised General Ordinances of the Township of Warren.
Trees may be removed where the proposed paved portion of a parking area and 10 feet beyond is planned. In off-street parking areas, other than for a single residential dwelling, islands of trees must be left in the manner provided for by the land use procedures and development and/or zoning ordinances. No paving of any impervious nature shall be placed around the base of the trunk of the tree within 10 feet, and the grade shall be such that drainage of rainwater will keep the root area watered without pooling or exceeding the requirements of the species as recommended by the New Jersey Shade Tree Commission. Excess water shall be admitted to dry wells or storm sewers on the parking lot or drained by acceptable means.
Trees may be removed in private rights-of-way and driveways within 10 feet of each side of the planned paved area. Alignment of the driveways should be planned to save as many trees as reasonably possible.
If no area other than a wooded area or area with trees can be found to accommodate the sewerage system and disposal field meeting the approval of the sanitary inspector, necessary tree removal shall be permitted.
Where more than three inches of fill is required around trees, the trees must be protected by an air well six feet in diameter as needed around the trunk to prevent the intrusion of soil. This pipe must radiate like spokes from the well to provide oxygen to the roots. The top of the well must extend six inches above the graded level. If the tree is of a species that is known to be sensitive to root disturbance or change in drainage or the owner prefers to remove the tree, it may be removed and must be replaced with another tree from the preferred tree list in another or the same area after the fill has stabilized.
Any grading must protect standing trees from machine operation, soil storage or material storage by a distance equal to or greater than the drip line of the tree. Any tree damaged must be replaced.
Any trees to be replaced will comply with the provision of subsection 15-7.2x of The Revised General Ordinances of the Township of Warren.
Residential, commercial and industrial development shall consider the use of open areas, if possible, for building sites. If it is necessary to develop wooded areas or remove trees for proposed building sites in the case of such developments, the planning board, board of adjustment and/or the zoning officer may require tree planting in open areas, if feasible as per subsection 15-7.2x of The Revised General Ordinances of the Township of Warren.
Trees in the area between the street line and the setback line of buildings shall be preserved to the greatest extent possible.
Tree removal from any slope of 15% or greater, wetland, watercourse protection and 100-year flood plan area is prohibited if it will contribute, in the opinion of the township engineer, to extra run-off of surface water onto adjoining property and erosion and silting, unless other means approved by the Somerset County Conservation District are provided to prevent run-off and erosion.
No tree removal is permitted that will expose utility substations, transmission towers, warehouses, junkyards, landfill operations and other similar structures or operations except where trees are dead or diseased and/or endanger life or property.
No healthy tree that is special by virtue of history, unusual size or age or is a rare species should be removed except as may be required for the protection of health, safety or public welfare, or if its location prevents the reasonable development of property.
No trees on public rights-of-way, parks or public areas are to be removed by private individuals or utilities except as approved by the zoning officer.
Unless proven necessary, staging areas shall not be closer than 150 feet to the centerline of any public road. "Necessary" means that no other area is available due to topography, soil conditions or unfavorable effect on a woodlot as certified by a consulting forester. Loading of trucks is permitted at the roadside and a loading area must be constructed off the roadway where possible. After any cutting operation is complete, any road modifications and changes in the right-of-way must be restored.
The planning board, board of adjustment and zoning officer, as appropriate, shall have the right to modify the above criteria for good cause shown.
In addition to the requirements of this chapter, all other conditions imposed by the planning board or board of adjustment approval with respect to land clearing operations, tree removal and tree replacement shall be met.
The environmental commission shall review and make recommendations to the planning board, board of adjustment or zoning officer, as appropriate, concerning the tree removal/replacement plan submitted as part of all subdivision or site plan applications or as to any single family construction, individual sewerage disposal system installation or the removal of trees within a rear or sideline setback or in any other case where section 17-5 is applicable if the approving official or entity feels such input is required as to a specific application.
Permits are required in connection with obtaining an approved plan. Permits shall be issued by the planning board, board of adjustment or zoning officer, as appropriate.
Applicants not regulated under Chapter 15 shall pay the following fees to the zoning official.
Application fees - $25.
Inspections - $25 per acre or portion thereof;
The zoning officer shall be the enforcing officer for all plans approved by the planning board, board of adjustment and the zoning officer.
No building subcode permit shall be issued for the construction of any building unless and until the owner or developer files with the zoning officer a tree removal/replacement plan and obtains the required approval thereof or submits a plan previously approved by the planning board or board of adjustment or as otherwise allowed herein.
No certificate of occupancy shall be issued unless all trees required to be replaced have been planted in accordance with the approved tree removal/tree replacement plan or a bond guaranteeing planting has been posted with the township clerk. The bond, as determined by the zoning officer, shall be in the minimum principal sum of $100 per tree required to be replaced.
Any person aggrieved by the decision of any officer, board or body, relative to the provision hereof, may, pursuant to the provision of this section, within 30 days of receipt of such decision, appeal to the township committee. Such appeal shall be taken by filing a written notice of appeal with the township clerk, which notice of appeal shall set forth with particularity the actions appealed from. The township committee shall set a time for the hearing of said appeal and, after a hearing has been held thereon, may reverse, modify or affirm the decision appealed from.
Any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall be subject to a fine not to exceed $1,250 or imprisonment for a term not to exceed 90 days, or both, upon conviction, in the discretion of the judicial officer before whom such matter is heard. If the violation is of a continuing nature, each incident or day in which it continues shall constitute an additional, separate and distinct offense.
Should any section, paragraph, sentence, clause or phrase of this section be declared unconstitutional or invalid for any reason, the remaining portions of this section shall not be affected thereby and shall remain in full force and effect and to this end the provisions of this section are hereby declared to be severable.