Borough of West Chester, PA
Chester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Council of the Borough of West Chester 7-24-1991 by Ord. No. 15-1991. (Ordinance No. 15-1991 repealed former Ch. 102, Trees, consisting of Article I, adopted 4-11-1906 and amended in its entirety 5-10-1989 by Ord. No. 11-1989, and Article II, adopted 4-10-1907, as amended.) Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Brush, grass and weeds — See Ch. 41.
Parks and playgrounds — See Ch. 78.
Peddling and soliciting; handbills and posters — See Ch. 80.
Streets and sidewalks — See Ch. 95.
Subdivision and land development — See Ch. 97.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
BOROUGH
The Borough of West Chester.
CALIPER
The diameter of a tree trunk measured at a point four and one-half (4 1/2) feet from the ground surface. For all new trees to be planted in accordance with the requirements of this chapter, the tree trunk shall be measured at a point six (6) inches above the ground surface.
EMERGENCY WORK
Any work performed for the purpose of preventing or mitigating the physical or mental trauma or property damage threatened or caused by an emergency.
LARGE TREES
Those trees which attain a height of forty-five (45) feet or more.
LIVING HAZARD
Any tree that is structurally weakened so that all or significant part(s) of the tree are likely to fall.
[Added 2-19-1997 by Ord. No. 1-1997]
LOT
A contiguous quantity of land held in single and separate ownership, described by metes and bounds, the description of which is or shall be recorded in the office of the Recorder of Deeds of Chester County by deed description.
LOT LINE
A property boundary line shown on a recorded plan or described in a recorded deed. In a case of any lot abutting a street, the "lot line" for such portion of the lot as abuts such street shall be deemed to be the same as the street line and shall not be the center line of the street or any other line within the street right-of-way.
MEDIUM TREES
Those trees which attain a height of thirty (30) to forty-five (45) feet.
NUISANCE
Anything that interferes with the use or enjoyment of property, endangers personal health or safety or is offensive to the senses.
PERSON
Any natural person, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company or organization of any kind.
PUBLIC RIGHT-OF-WAY
Any street, avenue, boulevard, highway, sidewalk, alley or similar place which is owned or controlled by a governmental entity.
PUBLIC TREES
Those trees located adjacent to, along or upon the side of any street and within the public right-of-way, often commonly referred to as street trees, and any other trees located on Borough-owned, Borough-leased, and/or Borough-managed property within the municipal boundaries of the Borough.
[Amended 2-19-1997 by Ord. No. 1-1997; 10-19-2016 by Ord. No. 12-2016]
RIGHT-OF-WAY
A strip of land granted or reserved for public or private use or access.
SMALL TREES
Those trees attaining a height of less than or equal to 30 feet.
[Amended 2-19-1997 by Ord. No. 1-1997]
STREET
A right-of-way intended for the general public use to provide means of approach for vehicles and pedestrians.
[Amended 2-19-1997 by Ord. No. 1-1997]
STREET LINE
The right-of-way line of a street where it crosses a lot; the dividing line between a lot and the street.
URBAN FORESTER
The person and/or his duly appointed assistants of the Borough designated and authorized to enforce the provisions set forth herein.
[Amended 10-19-2016 by Ord. No. 12-2016]
[Amended 2-19-1997 by Ord. No. 1-1997]
Promulgation. From time to time, the borough may promulgate rules and regulations governing the planting, maintenance, fertilization, pruning, bracing, removal and ordering of trees, after such rules and regulations have been approved by Borough Council. Copies of said rules and regulations shall be furnished to any person making application hereunder.
A. 
Permits required. It shall be unlawful for any person to plant, prune, remove or cut above ground any public tree in the borough without first securing a permit therefor as hereinafter provided. All applicants for permits to work on public trees shall perform such work in full compliance with the borough's rules and regulations, adopted by the Borough Council, and shall comply with all state and local liability insurance requirements, workers' compensation and safety requirements.
[Amended 2-19-1997 by Ord. No. 1-1997]
B. 
Application. Any person who shall desire to plant, prune, remove or cut above ground any public tree shall make application in writing to the Borough Urban Forester. Such application shall be made on forms to be furnished by the borough and shall set forth the name of the applicant, the exact location of the tree or trees and the approximate size of the tree or trees and contain a plan for the proposed planting, pruning, removal or cutting above ground of trees.
C. 
Fees. Before any permit shall be issued to any person to plant, prune, remove or cut above ground public trees, the person making such application shall pay to the borough such fee as shall be required by a Schedule of Fees which shall be established and may be amended from time to time by resolution of the Borough Council. The Schedule of Fees shall be kept on file at the borough.
D. 
Right of review. The Borough Urban Forester shall have the right to refer any application for a permit to Borough Council for its review when, in his/her judgment, the project which is the subject of the application would have a negative effect on the general health, safety and welfare.
E. 
In the event of an emergency, it shall be unlawful for person(s) to perform emergency work before securing a permit; provided, however, that an application for a permit shall be made promptly and not later than the next business day thereafter.
[Added 2-19-1997 by Ord. No. 1-1997]
[Amended 2-19-1997 by Ord. No. 1-1997]
A. 
Improper planting. Whenever any trees shall be planted or set out in conflict with the provisions of this chapter, it shall be lawful for the Urban Forester to remove or cause removal of the same, and the cost thereof shall be assessed to the owner.
B. 
Maintenance.
(1) 
All public trees adjacent to any excavation or construction of any building, structure or street work shall be guarded with a substantial fence, frame or box equal to the caliper, but in no case less than four feet high and eight feet square, and all building, dirt or other debris shall be kept outside the barrier.
(2) 
No person shall deposit, place, store or maintain upon any public right-of-way any stone, brick, sand, concrete or other materials which may impede the free passage of water, air and fertilizer to the root of any tree growing therein.
(3) 
No person shall intentionally damage, cut, carve, transplant or remove any public tree; attach any rope, wire, nails, advertising posters or other contrivance to any public tree; allow any gas, liquid or solid substance which is harmful to such public tree to come into contact with it; or set fire or permit any fire to burn when such fire or the heat thereof will injure any portion of the public tree.
(4) 
No person shall allow or maintain any tree to exist in a dead or decayed state to the extent that it becomes a public nuisance or living hazard.
(5) 
It shall be the duty of any person or persons owning real property bordering on or abutting any public right-of-way to prune any trees located on their real property or in the public right-of-way abutting their real property in such a manner that the trees will not obstruct the passage of pedestrians on sidewalks. The minimum clearance of any overhanging tree over any portion of a sidewalk shall be 10 feet.
C. 
Removal, replacement and condemnation.
(1) 
Whenever it is necessary to remove a public tree or public trees from a public right-of-way in connection with a paving or a widening of the portion of the public right-of-way used for vehicular traffic, the borough shall replace such tree(s). If conditions prevent replacement of the tree(s) along the paved or widened street, an equivalent number of trees shall be planted at an acceptable location on an adjoining street.
(2) 
No person or abutting property owner shall remove a public tree from a public right-of-way for the purpose of construction, land development or any other property improvement without replacing the removed public tree in accordance with the borough's rules and regulations and the provisions of this chapter. Such replacement shall meet the standards of size, species and placement as provided for in the permit issued by the Urban Forester. The person or abutting property owner shall bear the cost of the removal of a public tree and the replacement thereof.
(3) 
Any public tree determined by the Urban Forester to be a public nuisance or living hazard may be condemned for removal by the Urban Forester, and the condemned tree shall be removed by the owner of the real property abutting the public right-of-way in which the condemned tree is located. The Urban Forester shall give timely notice of any tree condemnation to the owner of the real property abutting the public right-of-way in which the condemned tree is located, and such property owner shall thoroughly and completely remove the condemned public tree within 30 days after receiving the condemnation notice. The Urban Forester shall be authorized to grant reasonable time extensions for removal upon request. The owner of the real property abutting the public right-of-way in which the condemned tree is located shall bear the cost of the removal of the condemned public tree. In the event that such property owner fails to remove the condemned public tree as required by notice from the Urban Forester, the borough may remove such condemned tree and collect and/or assess the cost thereof to the owner. Public trees requiring removal by reason of public nuisance or living hazard shall be exempted from the replacement requirements of this chapter.
Any person who shall be convicted of a violation of any provision of this chapter before any District Justice shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than $1,000, together with the costs of prosecution, and/or to suffer imprisonment in the county jail for a term not to exceed 30 days.
[1]
Editor's Note: Former § 102-5, Removal by borough, was repealed 2-19-1997 by Ord. No. 1-1997, which also provided for the renumbering of former § 102-6 to § 102-5.