[HISTORY: Adopted by the Village Council of the Village of Ridgewood 8-27-1974 by Ord. No. 1541 as Ch. 31 of the 1974 Code; amended in its entirety 6-14-2017 by Ord. No. 3599. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
The Council of the Village of Ridgewood desires to minimize indiscriminate removal and cutting of trees upon lots, parcels, and tracts of land within the Village which can result in increased stormwater runoff, soil erosion, and decreased groundwater recharge to our groundwater aquifer-supplied potable water system, all of which can negatively impact the character of the Village and decreased property values. The Village desires to control the removal of qualified trees and encourage the replacement of trees that need to be removed with new trees.
When trees must be removed, the intent of this chapter is for the replacement of those lost trees, not necessarily in kind or even on the same site, but also elsewhere within the Village to maintain the Village's tree stock for generations to enjoy.
Below are defined key terms to be used with this chapter.
- DBH (Diameter at Breast Height)
- The diameter of a tree trunk, when measured at a height of 4.5 feet above the ground at the base of the tree, calculated as the circumference (or girth) of the tree divided by pi (3.1416). On sloping ground, the "above ground" reference point is the average between the highest and lowest points of the ground at the base of the tree. If the DBH point falls on a swelling in the trunk, it is measured below the swelling point where the diameter is the smallest. In case of trees with multiple trunks, the DBH of each trunk shall be measured separately.
- NATIVE SPECIES
- Trees that are native to the Northern New Jersey (or immediate region) environment.
- QUALIFIED TREE
- Any tree with a diameter measured at breast height (DBH) greater than eight inches on any lands within the Village of Ridgewood.
- QUALIFIED TREE EXPERT
- An individual that holds a New Jersey State certified tree expert license, or is a board-certified arborist or master arborist under the International Society of Arboriculture.
- REPLACEMENT TREE
- Any tree proposed to be considered as replacement for a tree removed under a permit.
Pursuant to the authority contained in N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.26 et seq., the owner or tenant of any land or premises within the Village, wherever necessary and expedient for the preservation of the Village's tree stock while addressing issues of public safety, shall keep all brush, hedges, and other plant life growing within 10 feet of any roadway and within 25 feet of the intersection of two roadways cut to a height of not more than 2 1/2 feet, within 10 days after receipt of written notice sent to the last known post office address of such owner or tenant, by certified mail, returned receipt mail, to cut the same.
The aforesaid notice shall be sent by the Director of Department of Building and Inspections, or their designee; as well as the Director of Public Works or their designee, and shall direct the cutting of all such brush, hedges or other plant life and shall set forth the reasons therefor and provide an opportunity to such owner or tenant, within five days of the receipt of such notice, to show cause before the identified directors, by sending a written reply to such notice why the demands therein cannot be complied with.
No person, property owner, hired firm, or other entity shall cause to be cut or removed any existing tree, with a diameter at breast height (DBH) greater than eight inches, upon any lands within the Village of Ridgewood, without a permit. Any such cutting or removal of a tree or trees, with a DBH greater than eight inches, shall only be permitted in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. Exemptions to these requirements are set forth in § 260-8.
It shall be unlawful for the owner or occupant of any lands within the limits of the Village to permit to exist or harbor tent caterpillars, gypsy moth, or any other insect detrimental to the health of a tree. Any firm retained to eradicate insects in trees shall be duly licensed for such tasks by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
The Village Manager may appoint from time to time one or more inspectors to make an inspection of the trees or shrubbery in the Village, on both public and private lands, for the purposes of identifying any insects detrimental to the well-being of trees and shrubbery. If such insects are noted, the inspectors shall notify the responsible property owner by certified mail-return receipt letter requesting that they address the noted concerns within 14 calendar days from the date of the letter at their cost. Failure to do so will be considered a violation of this chapter.
It shall be expressly prohibited anywhere within the public rights-of-way and public properties of the Village of Ridgewood to affix a sign or any other device to a tree of any size by means of a fastener like a nail, screw or bolt.
It shall be expressly prohibited in the Village of Ridgewood to fasten any rope, wire, or cable to a tree within the public right-of-way for any reason other than for staking stabilization purposes in accordance with standard arboriculture practices.
No person shall hitch or fasten an animal to any tree or shrub within a public right-of-way or any guard or support provided for such tree or shrub or permit an animal to bite or otherwise injure any such tree or shrub.
No person shall permit or cause to be permitted the discharge or release of any liquid, gas or solid compound containing injurious chemicals to come in contact with the stalk, leaves, or roots of any tree or shrub within the public right-of-way.
During the execution of any work on trees in the Village of Ridgewood, other than for a tree's removal, no gaffs or spikes shall be permitted to be used to ascend a tree by a climber.
It shall be expressly prohibited in the Village of Ridgewood to alter or prune any tree within the public right-of-way, or the conditions surrounding a tree in the public right-of-way in such a manner so as to reduce its viability and life span.
It shall be unlawful for the owner or occupant of any lands within the limits of the Village of Ridgewood to plant or install an invasive species or noxious nonindigenous trees listed in Appendix A in such a manner so as to cause the planting to extend beyond the boundaries of the owner- or occupant-owned parcel. Examples of prohibited species are "Tree of Heaven" and all forms of bamboo plantings.
It shall be unlawful for the owner or occupant of any lands within the limits of the Village to permit to exist or harbor any insects detrimental to the well being of trees or shrubbery on such premises after being noticed of such by certified mail, return receipt requested.
When a sidewalk is constructed or being reconstructed due to defects within the public right-of-way, the party responsible for the work (i.e., the adjacent property owner) shall coordinate all work that may affect the roots systems of trees within the public right-of-way with the Village's Arborist (qualified tree expert). No tree root or roots shall be cut or removed for sidewalk construction or driveway enlargement without obtaining the Village Arborist's authorization. The Village Arborist shall have sole authority in the determination if root grinding, a tree's removal, or a round out or bump out are warranted with the goal to preserve the trees in the public right-of-way as best as possible. Any tree roots cut or removed without the Village Arborist's authorization shall be deemed a violation of this chapter.
Any qualified tree desired to be removed, with a diameter at breast height (DBH) of greater than eight inches, in the Village of Ridgewood, shall require a permit issued by the Division of Engineering of the Department of Public Works, unless said tree meets the criteria for exemption from permit requirements in § 260-8. No tree over eight inches DBH shall be cut or otherwise removed from any lands in the Village without a tree removal permit, with the exception of those meeting the conditions of the exemptions as set forth in Chapter 260, §§ 260-4 and 260-7. All such trees shall be referred to as "qualified trees."
All applications to the Village of Ridgewood Planning Board, Zoning Board of Adjustment, Building Department, or Engineering Division that require, as part of the proposed work, the removal of any qualified trees, as defined in this chapter, unless otherwise exempt pursuant to the provisions of this chapter, shall submit an application for a tree removal and protection permit. All applications for a tree removal and protection permits, whether in conjunction with a major or minor subdivision application, major or minor site plan application, or other development of property improvement action, shall be made to the Engineering Division of the Department of Public Works for review and subsequent action. The Engineering Division shall coordinate all applications with the appropriate land use board, the Village's Shade Commission, and the Village Arborist.
The following tree conditions shall be exempt from the provisions of this chapter. If a tree is deemed exempt, its removal shall not require a replacement tree.
Any and all trees directed to be removed by the Village of Ridgewood, the County of Bergen, and the State of New Jersey authorities pursuant to the law.
Removal of any tree or trees which are dead, dying, or obviously diseased, as determined by a qualified tree expert for those on private property or the Village's Arborist if the tree is within the public right-of-way of any street or road, or public property, in the Village. Trees that have suffered damage, trees whose growth has been compromised, or are a danger or hazard to structures and human life as confirmed by a qualified tree expert or the Village Arborist shall be permitted to be removed without the need to obtain a permit. A replacement tree shall not be required for such trees under the provisions of this chapter.
Any tree or trees growing on or over the public right-of-way or public land with the consent of the Village's Arborist.
Pruning or the removal of trees within the right-of-way recognized and accepted by public utility companies for the conveyance of their services for the purpose of maintenance of said utility wires, cables, or pipelines with their attended appurtenances. This shall also include the trimming or removal of trees that obstruct municipal signage and traffic control devices, and compromise sight angles at intersections and roadways for the safety of the public.
Removal of any invasive species (nonindigenous) trees. Any tree or vegetative species listed in "Overview of Nonindigenous Plant Species in New Jersey," prepared by the New Jersey Department of Environmental (NJDEP), Natural and Historic Resources Group, Parks and Forestry, Office of Natural Lands Management, Natural Heritage Program, dated February 2004 and the New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team 2015 Do Not Plant List, in the attached Appendix A.
Tree removal and protection permits shall be as follows.
Applications for a tree removal and protection permit shall be filed with the Village Engineering Division for the removal of any qualified trees and shall be accompanied by the requisite fee as proscribed in Chapter 145, Fees.
A permit shall be required when a lot or lots (under one application, as part of a single project) in the Village proposes to remove one or more qualified trees, as defined in this chapter.
Applications shall provide at a minimum the following information:
Name of applicant and location of the proposed work.
If using a qualified tree expert, for any determinations regarding trees, please provide their name, address, and license number.
Lot and block or lots and blocks of the proposed tree removal work. Identity of the said owner(s) of the land the work is proposed for.
The purpose or reason for the removal of the qualified trees.
The quantity of qualified trees being removed. List by species, size (diameter at breast height).
Proposed start date of the work. Proposed date of completion.
A plan for either replacing or offsetting the trees proposed to be removed.
The Village's Engineering Division shall, if satisfied that the application for a tree removal and protection permit meets the purposes of this chapter, issue a permit therefor and shall forward a duplicate of the permit to the Building Department, the Village Arborist, and the Village's Shade Tree Commission.
Replacement tree requirements.
When a tree removal and protection permit is filed for work related to a qualified tree, the applicant shall provide a replacement tree plan. The plan shall provide for a one-for-one replacement for qualified trees proposed to be removed. In the event the applicant does not or cannot provide suitable land for the replacement trees, the applicant shall be required to remit an amount for each tree required to the Village's Replacement Tree Escrow Fund. The value for a replacement tree is set in Chapter 145, Fees.
The Village shall use these escrowed funds to purchase and have installed replacement trees within the public rights-of-way throughout the Village, public parks, Green Acres-listed open spaces, stream bank restoration/protection projects, all to help maintain the Village's tree stock.
Replacement trees shall be native species, acceptable to the Village Arborist and/or the Village of Ridgewood Shade Tree Commission. Any replacement tree proposed shall have a DBH of a minimum of 1.75 inches, be properly balled, marked with a durable label indicating genus/species/variety, be installed in a manner consistent with proper arboriculture practices, and be provided with a warranty from the installer for a period of at least two growing seasons.
The Village's Director of Parks and Recreation or their designee; the Director of Public Works or their designee; the designated Village Arborist; or any other Village employee who may be designated by the Village Manager shall have the authority to enforce all provisions of this chapter. Enforcement shall mean the following:
Directing the Director of the Building Department to withhold approval for the issuance of a building permit or a certificate of occupancy.
Directing the Village's Construction Official to issue a stop-work order. Said request shall be implemented within one business day of its issuance by the authorized director.
Issuance of a municipal summons for violations of sections of this chapter.
Withholding the release of any escrowed funds, or petitioning the Village Council to seize any escrowed funds when an applicant fails to comply with the provisions of this chapter.
In the event any tree requiring the issuance of a removal/protection permit is indentified as being removed without such a permit, the Village's Director of Parks and Recreation, or the Director of Public Works, shall issue a letter by certified mail, return receipt to the registered property owner requesting a replacement tree, in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, be planted. Upon failure to plant a replacement tree, a summons requiring an appearance in municipal court may be issued. Upon conviction, the fine for each offense shall not be less than the cost of a replacement tree installed, plus court costs.