Township of Lower Merion, PA
Montgomery County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Commissioners of the Township of Lower Merion 11-19-1980 by Ord. No. 1926, which ordinance also repealed former Ch. 125, Shade Trees, adopted 9-16-1931 as Ord. No. 404, as amended; amended in its entirety 10-16-1991 by Ord. No. 3261. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
Brush, grass and weeds — See Ch. 59.
Planting materials — See Ch. A177.
Word usage. The singular number includes the plural, and the plural includes the singular. The masculine gender includes the feminine.
Terms defined. Unless otherwise expressly stated, the following words and phrases shall be construed throughout this chapter to have the meanings indicated in this section:
The Board of Commissioners of the Township of Lower Merion.
The Shade Tree Commission.
Diameter at breast height, 4.5 feet from the ground.
The Director of Public Works.
A generally circular line the circumference of which is determined by the outermost reaches of a tree's widest branching points.
A permit in writing as issued by the Director pursuant to application approval by the Commission.
Any individual, firm, association, partnership or corporation.
Removal of branches from a tree or bush using proper tools and approved cutting techniques.
Any public right-of-way, a portion of which is used for vehicular travel, in the Township.
The width of each public street, including sidewalks and/or adjoining land, as indicated on Township maps maintained by the Building and Planning Department.
[Amended 1-19-2002 by Ord. No. 3630]
Any tree on any public street or on Township property having more than 50% of its trunk diameter at breast height within the right-of-way or on Township property.
[Amended 8-5-1992 by Ord. No. 3296]
A Commission established pursuant to powers granted by the First Class Township Code.[1]
Any public right-of-way, a portion of which is used for vehicular travel, in the Township.
The Township of Lower Merion.
The Supervisor of the Shade Tree Division.
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 55101 et seq.
A Commission to be known as the "Shade Tree Commission" is hereby established.
The Commission shall be composed of not more than nine residents of the Township who are appointed by the Board and who shall serve without compensation.
[Amended 6-15-1994 by Ord. No. 3364]
The Board shall appoint to the Commission each member to serve a term of five years. All initial terms shall commence on the first day of February following the appointment.
Vacancies on the Shade Tree Commission shall be filled by the Board for the unexpired term.
The Commission shall have exclusive custody and control of all shade trees on Township property and is authorized to plant, remove, maintain and protect all shade trees on the public streets and highways in accordance with the published rules and regulations of the Township.
The Commission shall, by July 1 of each year, submit a report to the Board summarizing accomplishments during the past fiscal year and plans for the next year, together with a preliminary budget.
Whenever the Commission proposes to plant or remove shade trees, all property owners involved shall be notified by the Township Arborist. Notice of such work shall be sent by regular mail at least four weeks in advance, except in emergency situations, as described in § 128-8, when immediate action is required.
Any property owner who wishes to have a shade tree in the Township right-of-way planted, pruned, sprayed or removed shall submit a written request to the Director. The Township Arborist shall investigate the request and advise the property owner whether it can be carried out and, if so, whether or not there will be any charge.
If a property owner requests work to be done on a shade tree on the owner's property and the Shade Tree Division is not in a position to do it, the owner, with the permission of the Township Arborist, may engage a contractor to do the work. Before proceeding, the contractor must obtain a permit from the Director of Public Works.
[Added 8-5-1992 by Ord. No. 3296]
Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, the Commission shall, upon four weeks' prior written notice to the owner of the property, require the owner to cut and remove any trees, or parts thereof, on their properties (but not in the Township right-of-way) afflicted with any disease which threatens to injure or destroy Township shade trees. Similarly, healthy trees and bushes which may constitute a public hazard, such as low limbs which interfere with the right-of-way, should be removed at the owner's expense.
Upon failure of the owner to comply with such notice, the Township can arrange for the work to be done and levy and collect the cost thereof from the owner of the property. The cost of such work shall be a lien upon the premises from the time of the commencement of the work, which date shall be fixed by the Director and shall be filed with the Township Secretary. Any such lien may be collected by appropriate legal action or by lien filed in the manner provided by law for the filing and collection of municipal claims.
The Commission shall give said four-week notice by mailing to the last known address of the owner of the property and by posting the notice at the main entrance to the main habitable or occupied structure on the property.[1]
Editor's Note: Former Subsection D, which immediately followed this subsection, was redesignated as § 128-6C 8-5-1992 by Ord. No. 3296.
Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, the Township shall have the right, without prior notice to any property owner, to perform any acts necessary to abate clear, present and immediate threats to the public health, safety or welfare caused by the condition of any trees or parts thereof. If any such threat is the result of any person's action or inaction, the Township will assess the cost of such summary abatement against that person.
Planting of shade trees shall conform to the Natural Features Conservation Code (Chapter 101) with respect to:
Section 101-9, Minimum planting standards, which covers minimum sizes of plantings, how trees should be planted and objectives to be achieved.
Section 101-10, Landscape design standards, which includes policies on:
Planting to avoid any interference with public safety at intersections.
Planting to avoid any interference with underground and overhead utilities.
Restrictions on planting less than 15 feet from fire hydrants, street lights or stop signs.
Use of deep root barriers to prevent cracked pavements.
Spacing of trees 30 feet to 50 feet apart, staggered along both sides of all streets.
Replacement of existing trees as close to their original position as practicable.
Minimum number of trees planted each year which must be at least equal to the number of trees removed.
New shade trees shall have a minimum trunk diameter of two inches to 2 1/4 inches and shall have one foot of ball for each inch of trunk diameter. The hole for the tree shall be at least 12 inches wider than the ball. If both a curb and sidewalk are involved and the space between them is inadequate, the tree shall be planted on the other side of the sidewalk but still within the Township right-of-way.
In cases where there does not appear to be sufficient space on either side of a sidewalk, the property owner or owners affected may ask for an appeal by submitting a written request to the Commission who will then determine, after consultation with the owner(s), whether or not some kind of a tree can be planted and, if so, what kind it should be.
If new construction requires the removal of any shade trees (e.g., for a new driveway), the owner of the property will be charged for the cost of removal and for the value of the tree or trees, determined according to the current edition of the guide Valuation of Landscape Trees, Shrubs, and other Plants, published by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).
[Amended 8-5-1992 by Ord. No. 3296]
Except in case of immediate necessity for protection of life or property, it shall be a violation of this chapter for any person to do any of the following acts:
Cut, break, climb with spurs, injure in any manner or remove a shade tree.
Cut down a shade tree or interfere in any manner with the roots of a shade tree.
Spray a shade tree with any chemicals or insecticides.
Place any rope, guy wire, cable, sign, poster or other fixture on a shade tree or on a shade tree guard.
Use, store or pour any material in such a manner that it could result in injury to a shade tree.
Whenever, in order to take down or prune a shade tree, it is necessary to remove any electric wire or wires, the Township Arborist shall arrange with PECO to cut off electricity while work is being done and, except for emergency situations, shall notify all residents affected at least 24 hours beforehand.
All codes covered by this chapter shall be enforced by the Shade Tree Commission and by the Director and his duly authorized representative.
Any person who violates any of the provisions of this chapter shall be liable to a fine or penalty not exceeding the legal limits for each offense. Each day that any such violation continues shall constitute a separate offense.
All penalties or assessments imposed under this chapter shall be paid to the Township Treasurer to be placed to the credit of the Shade Tree Commission.
[Amended 8-5-1992 by Ord. No. 3296]
The Commission shall hold meetings as they shall determine in the Township Administration Building. The public is invited to attend and will be so advised by a notice in the Main Line Times. Because some meetings may be canceled, the notice should advise that anyone who plans to attend should contact the Public Works Department beforehand.