The township council of the Township of East Windsor finds that indiscriminate, uncontrolled and excessive destruction, as well as the removal and cutting of trees on lots and tracts of land within the township may cause:
Increased drainage control cost.
Increased soil erosion and sedimentation.
Decreased fertility of the soil.
Degradation of water resources.
Decreased groundwater recharge.
Increased buildup of atmospheric carbon.
Establishment of a heat island effect.
Increased dust and pollution.
The following words and expressions used in this chapter shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
- CLEAR CUTTING
- Shall mean the removal of all standing trees on a lot or portion of a lot.
- DIAMETER AT POINT OF MEASUREMENT
- Shall mean the diameter of a tree measured four and one-half feet (forestry method) above the ground level on the downhill side for existing trees. Trees utilized in the replacement of existing trees or proposed as part of a landscape plan, shall be measured 12 inches above ground level for trees over a four-inch caliper. The measurement shall be six inches above grade for trees up to four-inch caliper (nursery method). Diameter at point of measurement may appear as the abbreviation "DPM."
- MANAGEMENT PLAN
- Shall mean plan for the management of timbered or forested lands developed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Forestry, or similar State or Federal Agency.
- MUNICIPAL TREE PLANTING PLAN
- Shall mean a specific plan adopted by the township council of the Township of East Windsor for the location and placement of trees on public property.
- REPLACEMENT TREE
- Shall mean a nursery grown certified tree, properly balled, and marked with a durable label indicating genus, species and variety, and satisfying the standards for nursery stock and installation thereof, set forth by the American Association of Nurserymen.
- SPECIMEN TREE
- Shall mean a living tree with a DPM of 36 inches or greater and any living tree designated by the township council as a historic tree or landmark tree and such other living trees or species of tree as council may, from time to time, designate as a specimen tree. Trees determined to present an eminent hazard to persons or structures by a New Jersey certified tree expert or certified arborists, shall not be deemed a specimen tree for purposes of this chapter.
- Shall mean any deciduous or coniferous species which reaches a typical mature height of 12 feet or more, and has a typical DPM of five inches or greater at maturity.
- TREE REMOVAL AND REPLACEMENT PLAN
- Shall mean a specific plan for replacement of removed trees in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
- TREE REMOVAL PERMIT
- Shall mean license issued by the Zoning Officer of the Township of East Windsor to remove or destroy a tree or trees.
The township's zoning officer shall be charged with the inspection of sites for which applications are filed under this chapter, and the administration and enforcement of the tree removal and protection requirements of this chapter.
Subject to the exemptions set forth herein, no person shall cut or remove, or cause to be cut or removed, any tree upon any lands within the township, unless the cutting or removal is accomplished in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
No person shall remove, destroy, cause to be, or allow to be removed or destroyed any tree, unless exempt, without first obtaining a tree removal permit. The zoning officer shall issue tree removal permits.
Where the tree removal is for the construction of any building, driveway, recreation area or anything else for which a building permit is required, no building permit shall be issued until the applicant, unless exempt, has obtained any permit(s) required under this chapter.
Where a tree is proposed to be removed in accordance with a site plan or subdivision approval, the provisions of Chapter 22 of the Township of East Windsor Revised Code shall apply in lieu of the requirement for a tree removal permit, however, the provisions of section 12A-7, Replacement Trees may be applied to site plan and subdivision applications.
Permit Application. Applications for a permit shall be made to the zoning officer and shall contain the following information:
The name and address of the applicant.
The name and address of the owner of the property from which the tree(s) are to be removed.
Location on the property of the tree(s) to be removed indicated on the tree removal and replacement plan.
The plan shall indicate all tree(s) to be removed, specifically by an assigned number, with a schedule indicating the species and DPM of each tree.
The plan shall indicate all tree(s) to remain, and proposed replacement trees species, cultivar, size and location, specifically by an assigned number.
In lieu of paragraphs (a) and (b), for any clearing greater than three acres, or where determined to be appropriate by the zoning officer for any clearing of less than three acres where the property is heavily wooded, a representative five percent sampling of the wooded areas proposed to be cleared shall be inventoried. The representative five percent shall be determined by agreement between the zoning officer and the applicant, provided that all specimen trees shall be indicated on the plan.
All reasonable efforts shall be made to preserve specimen trees, including but not limited to, if feasible, relocation of infrastructure, roadways, and buildings. Removal of specimen trees shall require the specific written recommendation of the zoning officer and approval of the township council.
The plan shall indicate a limit of disturbance line (i.e., where a four-foot high standard wood snow fence will be erected if required by the zoning officer. Fencing, when required, shall be in place prior to the removal of trees and shall be maintained until clearing, construction and soil stabilization is complete.)
Any other information which may reasonably be required to enable the application to be properly evaluated including, but not limited to, a description of the purpose for which this application is to be made; e.g., clearing land for agricultural use, harvesting timber, fire protection, private parks, scenic improvements, hardship, danger to adjacent properties, removal of diseased or damaged trees, transplanting or removal in a growing condition to other locations, installation of utilities, or draining of surface water.
Inspection Required. The zoning officer or his designee shall inspect the trees and the property that are the subject of the permit application, for the purpose of enforcing this chapter.
Exemptions from Chapter. Any destruction or removal of trees, except specimen trees, shall be exempt from the provisions of this chapter if the trees sought for destruction or removal are:
Growing on property actually being used as a nursery, garden center or orchard.
Removed in accordance with a "management plan" approved by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection or similar State or Federal agency.
Located on a working farm and either cleared in accordance with a soil conservation plan approved by the Department of Environmental Protection, or exempted from DEP requirements.
Located on property of less than one acre, provided no more than three trees per year are to be removed.
Small trees of less than five inches DPM.
Trees determined to present an imminent hazard to persons or structures by the zoning officer or as required by a New Jersey certified tree expert or certified arborists.
Replacement of dead, declining, or unacceptable trees planted as part of a site or subdivision plan approved, as determined by the township engineer.
Fees. Upon application for a tree removal permit, the applicant shall be charged the following fees:
Fifteen dollars per tree to be removed, up to a maximum of $600 per acre, or part thereof, to be cleared.
Time Limit. All tree removal permits shall be limited to one year from date of issuance. If the approved tree removal has not occurred within one year, a new permit must be applied for and is subject to the payment of new fees. If however, applicant diligently pursues other governmental approval, or if approved development is ongoing, the permit may be renewed for up to two six month periods. A renewal fee of $75 shall be due and payable for each renewal.
A Tree Escrow Fund shall be established by the township to receive and disburse replacement tree contributions under the supervision of the township finance director. The mayor and township council in accordance shall authorize appropriations from the Tree Escrow Fund.
Any living tree removed pursuant to this chapter, unless exempt under section 12A-8, shall be replaced based on the following:
The applicant will receive a one for one replacement tree credit should stands of ten or more trees greater than five inches in caliper be preserved within the limit of disturbance line. The township zoning officer shall determine the limit of disturbance line for application of replacement tree credit provisions of this subsection.
All replacement trees shall be planted on site in accordance with the foregoing. However, if one or more of the following conditions exist, some or all of the replacement trees may be planted off site:
The site in question cannot physically accommodate the total replacement amount of trees, and the applicant contributes an amount equal to the calculated monetary value of the unreplaced removed trees to the Tree Escrow Fund, or
The zoning officer and applicant agree in writing that the applicant shall make payment to the Tree Escrow Fund based upon the above chart, or
The zoning officer and applicant agree in writing that the applicant shall plant replacement trees off-site on municipally owned property.
Existing Developed Property. If the application is on behalf of an existing developed property not exempt from the provisions of the chapter, and it is disclosed that the total number of trees, other than specimen trees, to be removed or destroyed on the property which is the subject of the application, is three trees per acre or less, the permit shall be issued without replacement trees required. Within any one year period, permits may be used for removal of no more than three trees per acre on the same property without replacement trees being required.
If the application is for a development for which a building permit to construct a new single or two-family dwelling on an individual lot is required, up to 50 percent of the number of trees on an individual lot may be removed for the purpose of clearing for the proposed building, driveway(s), septic fields, and usable yard space on the building lot(s) only, without replacement trees being required.
Any tree removed from an area of property to be dedicated as public improvement, e.g., drainage facilities and public roadways shall be exempt from the replacement provisions of this chapter.
The zoning officer shall approve the removal of a tree, except a specimen tree, without requiring replacement trees or payment into the Tree Escrow Fund, if the following criteria apply:
The tree is located on a parcel for which preliminary or final subdivision or site plan approval was obtained prior to the adoption of Ordinance 2007-1 and it cannot be relocated on the site because of its age, type or size, or
The tree is dead, diseased, injured, in danger of falling, or creates an unsafe condition as determined by a New Jersey certified tree expert or certified arborists; or interferes with existing utility service; or its continued presence conflicts with any other ordinances or regulations.
No specimen tree shall be removed unless the zoning officer has obtained the approval of the township council. Trees determined to present an eminent hazard to persons or structures by a New Jersey certified tree expert or certified arborists, shall not be deemed a specimen tree for purposes of this chapter.
The zoning officer, who shall inspect or require adequate inspection of all sites upon which there is an application for tree removal, shall enforce the requirements of this chapter. The zoning officer shall oversee all applicable tree removal or destruction. Upon ascertaining a violation of this chapter, the zoning officer shall refer charges in the municipal court as provided in this chapter. In addition to other remedies, the zoning officer, the construction official, or other proper municipal official, may institute any appropriate legal action to prevent a continuing violation of the terms of this chapter.
Any person violating or causing to be violated any of the provisions of this chapter shall be subject to a fine of not less than $250 and not more than $2,000 and shall replace each tree destroyed or removed in violation of this chapter in accordance with the tree replacement provisions of this chapter. Each tree destroyed or removed in violation of this chapter shall be considered a separate offense.
Any applicant or permit holder, or any person otherwise aggrieved under this chapter, may appeal to the township council any decision of the township zoning officer by filing written notice with the township clerk within ten days of said decision. The township council is hereby authorized and empowered in such cases to hear and fully decide and dispose of such matters. The township council shall hold a public hearing thereon and act upon the same no later than 60 days after the notice has been filed, unless the applicant requests, and the township council consents to extend the time for such action.
If any section, paragraph, subdivision, clause or provision of this chapter shall be adjudged invalid, such adjudication shall apply only to the section, paragraph, subsection, clause or provision so adjudged, and the remainder of this chapter shall be deemed valid and effective.
This chapter shall take effect 20 days after final passage and publication according to law.