[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of the Township of Kidder 2-21-2008 by Ord. No. 133. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Floodplain management — See Ch. 104.
Forest management — See Ch. 106.
Stormwater management — See Ch. 148.
Subdivision and land development — See Ch. 153.
Zoning — See Ch. 180.
Editor's Note: This chapter was originally specified to be added as Ch. 197, but was renumbered to maintain the organization of the Code.
The Township Board of Supervisors finds that:
The Township of Kidder contains a diversity and abundance of trees and natural vegetation that are of economic, recreational, and environmental value to the Township and makes it a desirable place for residents and visitors;
The abundance of trees and natural vegetation contributes to the Township's unique wooded mountain character and distinguishes the Township from many other communities;
The appearance of Township of Kidder contributes to the economic prosperity and general welfare of the Township;
Growth and development in the Township of Kidder often results in the removal of trees and natural vegetation, thereby contributing to its depletion; and
It is necessary to protect and manage trees and natural vegetation as valuable assets in order to protect and enhance the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Township of Kidder.
The Township Board of Supervisors declares the intent of this chapter is:
To promote the public health, safety, and general welfare of the citizens of the Township without preventing the reasonable development of land;
To encourage site development, including clearing excavation, and filling in such a manner as to minimize hazards to life, health, and property;
To preserve and enhance the Township's physical and aesthetic character by preventing untimely and indiscriminate removal or destruction of trees and ground cover;
To minimize surface water runoff and diversion which may contribute to flooding;
To reduce siltation in the streams, lakes, storm sewer systems, and roadside drainage facilities to maintain natural stabilization of soils by leaving trees in place whenever possible;
To reduce the risk of slides and the creation of unstable building sites;
To promote building and site planning practices that are consistent with the natural topography, soils, and vegetation features while at the same time recognizing that certain factors such as disease, danger of falling, proximity to existing and proposed structures and improvements, interference with utility services, protection of scenic views, and the realization of a reasonable enjoyment of property may require the removal of certain trees and ground cover;
To insure prompt development, restoration and replanting and effective erosion control of property after land clearing and grading;
To encourage stormwater absorption and infiltration; and
To maintain the natural hydrologic cycle to insure ground water recharge.
Permit/approval. No person shall engage in any tree or vegetation clearing, grading or filling without having obtained:
Exemptions. The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to:
The correction of emergency situations involving immediate danger to life.
The routine maintenance of existing lawn, landscaping and trees, excluding topping of trees.
The removal of dead trees or of diseased or damaged trees, or trees which, due to location, constitute a hazard to life or property.
Clearing, grading and filling of not more than 1,000 square feet of land area for gardening for home consumption.
Agriculture in accord with a conservation plan or erosion and sedimentation control plan approved by the Carbon County Conservation District.
Forest management operations on parcels of five acres or more in accord with a timber harvesting plan following generally recognized best management practices and a soil erosion and sedimentation control plan approved by the Carbon County Conservation District. (The buffer requirements in § 159-4A and B shall apply.)
Trimming of trees when necessary to conduct a survey or site examination for the preparation of subdivision plats, plans or tree surveys.
Removal or trimming of any free in an existing utility easement or public right-of-way, provided such work is done by or under the direct control of the operating utility company and said company has received all necessary licenses or permits to provide utility service within the easement and said company has documented the need for said removal or trimming.
Removal or trimming of any tree located within an existing or proposed public or private easement, stormwater management tract or facility, provided that only the minimum area reasonably necessary for the public service or use shall be considered for purposes of determining whether there is necessity for tree removal.
Removal or trimming of any tree or vegetation at any intersection or in any road right-of-way required to maintain public safety.
Removal or trimming of trees or vegetation in order to test for or install septic systems in accordance with Kidder 537 Plan or public improvements, i.e. stormwater provisions, sewer and other similar site requirements.
[Amended 7-17-2008 by Ord. No. 133B]
Unless exempted under § 159-3C of this chapter, clearing of trees and vegetation, grading, and filling, shall be in accord with an overall plan approved in accord with Chapter 180 or Chapter 153. Until such time as development plan is approved for the parcel in accord with Chapter 153 or a permit is issued in accord with Chapter 180, the following requirements shall apply:
Trees and vegetation in setback areas. No tree or vegetation clearing shall be conducted within the setback area established for structures for the zoning district in which the parcel is located.
Additional buffer area in lots five acres or more. In addition to the non-clearing area required in Subsection A above, an additional buffer of not less than 50 feet in width shall be maintained. Existing vegetation in this buffer area shall not be disturbed except that trees may be harvested to the extent that the basal area of trees in the fifty-foot buffer area shall not be reduced to below 50% of the basal area present before cutting or below 65 square feet per acre, whichever is higher. Basal area is the area in square feet per acre occupied by tree stems at 4 1/2 feet above the ground, normally measured by a calibrated prism or angle gauge.
Grading and filling. No grading or filling shall be conducted except in compliance with Township Code.
[Amended 7-17-2008 by Ord. No. 133B]
Unless specifically exempted by § 159-3C of this chapter, in cases where a parcel has been improved, no clearing of trees and vegetation, grading, or filling, shall be conducted except as specifically authorized in accord with a permit or approval issued for the parcel or as may otherwise be permitted under this chapter.
All other projects (including dwellings). Unless specifically exempted under § 159-6C of this chapter, in cases where tree removal is not proposed as part of a subdivision or land development governed by Chapter 153, the following standards shall apply.
Front, side and rear setback areas.
All projects shall be laid out in such a manner as to minimize the removal of healthy trees and shrubs within the front (along any road right-of-way) and rear and side setback areas established for structures for the zoning district which the parcel is located.
A minimum of 40% of all trees of three inches or greater dbh shall be preserved.
Trees of six inches or greater dbh (mature trees) shall be preserved insofar as possible.
Specimen trees shall not be removed unless approved by the Township.
Documentation. The applicant shall document that tree removal in regulated areas is minimized. If challenged by the Township, the applicant shall produce evidence, such as written documents or plans certified by a registered landscape architect or other person deemed qualified by the Township, showing that no alternative layouts are possible and that no alternative clearing or grading plan would reduce the loss of mature trees.
Preservation criteria. The following criteria shall be used by the Township to make the final determination of which trees shall be preserved.
The outermost branches of the tree(s) are at least ten (10) feet from proposed buildings or structures.
The outermost branches of the tree(s) are at least ten (10) feet from any proposed changes in grade, drainage structure, utility corridor, parking or load/unloading area, sidewalk, on-site sewage system, or any other excavations.
The tree(s) are clear of any proposed sight triangles and do not, by their location or apparent health, pose any undue threat to the public health, safety, or welfare. The Township may permit some landscape material to be placed in the clear sight triangle when it determines that the type of material and its location will not create a hazard to motorists or conflict with utility locations.
If tree(s) are diseased or are excessive in number and thinning will promote and enhance the healthy development of the remaining trees, the Township may require the removal of the tree(s).
Protection of designated trees. Trees designated to be preserved shall be identified in the field prior to any clearing and shall be physically protected throughout the construction process. A temporary physical barrier, such as a snow fence, shall be erected a minimum of one foot outside the drip line on all sides of individual trees or tree masses prior to major clearing or construction. The barrier shall be placed to prevent disturbance to, or compaction of, soil inside the barrier and shall remain until construction is complete. The barrier shall be shown on the plan.
Plan required. When an application for a building, zoning or demolition permit is required, or when an application for a tree removal permit must be filed pursuant to this chapter, a tree survey and protection plan shall be submitted to the Township. When submitted in connection with a building, zoning or building permit, the tree survey and preservation plan shall be administered as part of the associated application. The requirements of this section shall not apply to the exemptions set forth in § 159-3C of this chapter.
[Amended 7-17-2008 by Ord. No. 133B]
Plan content. The tree survey and protection plan may include the following:
Dimensions of the property and required zoning setback areas.
Location, type and size of all existing trees or tree stands, and a notation of whether each such tree or tree stand is to be preserved or removed.
Location of all structures, freestanding signs, parking areas, drives, vehicular use areas, curb cuts, retention/detention areas, other improvements and other features on or proposed for the lot.
Location of existing and proposed overhead or underground power lines and other utility lines, such as but not limited to water and sewer, and adjacent rights-of-way.
Following the receipt of a complete application for a tree removal permit, the Township Code Enforcement Officer shall schedule and conduct an inspection of the proposed development site within such period of time as may reasonably be required to verify the information contained on the application. The applicant or his designee shall be advised as to the date and time of the inspection and given an opportunity to participate. Following inspection, the Code Enforcement Officer, consistent with the purpose of this chapter, shall advise the applicant in writing within ten (10) working days of any recommended changes in the applicant's proposed tree removal and protection plan.
Protection required. No person shall encroach or place solvents, material, construction machinery or temporary soil deposits within one foot of the area outside the drip line, as defined herein, of any protected tree or any tree within a tree protection zone.
Barrier. Existing trees designated to be protected shall be identified in the field prior to any clearing and shall be physically protected throughout the construction process. A temporary physical barrier, such as a snow fence, shall be erected a minimum of one foot outside the drip line on all sides of individual trees, tree masses, or woodlands prior to major clearing or construction. The barrier shall be placed to prevent disturbance to, or compaction of, soil inside the barrier and shall remain until construction is complete. The barrier shall be shown on the tree preservation plan.
Barrier removal. All tree protection devices must remain in functioning condition until the certificate of use is issued.
Replacement. Any tree designated in the tree protection plan to be saved, which is damaged during construction or as a result of construction as determined by the Township Code Enforcement Officer, shall be treated in accord with accepted American Association of Nurseryman (AAN) Standards or replaced in accord with AAN Standards with a tree or trees equal to the caliper value of the trees removed; however, any specimen trees damaged, as described above, shall be replaced with a similar tree of equal value.
[Amended 7-17-2008 by Ord. No. 133B]
Any part of a site which has been cleared under permit of this chapter, or which has been cleared, graded or filled under permit of Chapter 153 or Chapter 180, and which is not used for buildings, structures, loading or parking spaces and aisles, sidewalks, designated storage areas or other improvements shall be provided with an all-season vegetative ground cover and shall be landscaped in accord with AAN standards. (See Chapter 153 for land developments and major subdivisions.)
Topsoil. Topsoil shall be retained on the site as necessary for proper site stabilization.
Planting. The site shall be prepared with suitable soil to support the vegetative ground cover, plants and trees proposed, and all vegetative ground cover, plants and trees and mulch proposed shall be suitable for the intended purpose and shall be installed and maintained in accord with the requirements of § 153-33.
Certificate of use/occupancy. No certificate of use or occupancy shall be issued until the site has been stabilized and planted in accord to this chapter, soil erosion and sedimentation control regulations, and other applicable regulations, or a performance guarantee is provided in accord with Subsection D below.
Performance guarantee. In cases where the required stabilization and planting cannot be completed due to weather or other circumstance, the Code Enforcement Officer may accept a performance guarantee to ensure the completion. The amount of the performance guarantee shall be based on a bonafide contractor's estimate provided by the applicant, plus 10%. The form of the guarantee shall comply with § 153-19.
For the purposes of this chapter, certain words or terms used herein shall be interpreted as follows:
Words used in the singular shall include the plural, and the plural the singular; words used in the present tense shall include the future tense.
The word "person" includes individual, firm, corporation, partnership, joint venture, limited liability company, association, principal, trustee, municipal corporation, political subdivision, special district, or other entity, or any agent or representative of any of the foregoing.
The word "shall" is mandatory and not discretionary. The word "may" is permissive.
The word "lot" includes the words "parcel," "land," "site," and any other real property whether or not legally designated as a "lot" for purposes other than this chapter, including multiple "lots" that have been or will be merged and all new "lots" that will be created through the subdivision.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meaning indicated in this section. Words not defined herein shall be interpreted so as to give them the meaning they have in common usage and to give this chapter its most reasonable application.
- AAN STANDARDS
- Tree and plant standards set by the American Association of Nurserymen.
- BASAL AREA
- The area in square feet per acre occupied by tree stems at 4 1/2 feet above the ground, normally measured by a calibrated prism or angle gauge.
- BUFFER AREA
- An area of land, with plantings as specified by Chapter 180, which may be required between land uses or properties to eliminate or minimize conflicts between them.
- The diameter of a tree trunk measured at six inches above the ground for trees less than or equal to four inches in diameter at six inches above the ground. For trees with a diameter greater than four inches at six inches above ground, the caliper shall be measured at 12 inches above ground.
- Any activity which removes the vegetative ground cover and/or trees.
- Diameter at breast height which is the measurement of a tree's diameter taken at 4 1/2 feet above the ground.
- Demolition shall include the destruction of all or part of a structure or the removal of all or part of any structure to any off-site location.
- Severe decline, disfigurement, discoloration, defoliation, removal or death of any tree, which is intentionally caused or is the result of recklessness or negligence.
- DRIP LINE
- A line encircling a tree corresponding to the furthest extension of the branches of a tree which line is used, in turn, to calculate crown spread.
- Any digging, scooping or other methods of removing earth materials.
- Any depositing or stockpiling of earth, stone or vegetative materials.
- Any excavating or filling of earth materials or any combination thereof, including the land in its excavated or filled condition.
- GROUND COVER
- A low-growing dense growth of plants, such as grass, pachysandra or crown vetch, planted for ornamental purposes or to stabilize the soil and prevent soil erosion.
- As defined by the International Society of Arboriculture.
- SETBACK AREA
- The required open, unoccupied space on the same lot with a main building extending the full length at front, sides, and rear of the main building as defined by Chapter 180.
- SPECIMEN TREE
- A tree with a sixteen-inch caliper measuring four feet from the ground or a unique or endangered species, e.g., American chestnut tree, American elm tree.
- A cultural treatment made to reduce stand density of trees primarily to improve growth, enhance health, or recover potential mortality.
- Surface soil and subsurface soil which presumably is fertile soil and ordinarily rich in organic matter and human debris.
- A living, woody plant having a well-defined stem, a more or less well-defined crown and which is capable of attaining a height of at least 15 feet.
- To reduce, shorten, diminish or prune a tree or parts of a tree, without substantially altering the existing shape or damaging the tree or shortening its life span.
A nonrefundable administrative fee, in an amount established by resolution of the Board of Supervisors, shall be paid by the applicant to cover the cost of review and other services.
[Amended 7-17-2008 by Ord. No. 133B]
Compliance. Failure to comply with any provision of this chapter shall be in violation of this chapter.
Enforcement notice. In the event that there is a failure to comply with any provision of this chapter, the Township Code Enforcement Officer shall prepare and serve an enforcement notice to the owner of the property. The enforcement notice shall act forth the specific violence and provide a prescribed time period at the discretion of the Township Code Enforcement Officer for the violator to abate the violation.
Fine. For any person who fails to comply with an enforcement notice or to correct a violation of this chapter within the time prescribed in the notice, the Township Code Enforcement Officer shall have the authority to file a complaint with the magisterial district judge. Any person who violates or permits a violation of this chapter shall upon being found liable thereof in a civil enforcement proceeding before the magisterial district judge, pay a fine of not more than $600 plus all court costs, including reasonable attorneys fees incurred by the Township in the enforcement of this chapter. Any person found liable by the magisterial district judge has the right to appeal to the Carbon County Court of Common Pleas. The appropriate officers or agents of the Township are hereby authorized to seek equitable relief; including injunction, to enforce compliance with this chapter.
Other remedies. In addition to the fines, judgments, or imprisonment remedies of § 159-13B, the Board of Supervisors reserves the right to pursue independent and cumulative remedies at law or equity, including a demand for reimbursement of all court costs and reasonable attorneys fees.
Abatement by Township in recovery of costs. In addition, if the owner or person in control of any premises, act, or condition constituting a violation of this chapter, fails to respond to an enforcement notice directing the correction of a violation within the time limit prescribed by the notice or falls to appeal or fails to comply with the determination of the appeal, the Township Code Enforcement Officer and/or the Board of Supervisors shall be empowered to cause such work of abatement to be commenced or completed by the Township and the costs and expense thereof with a penalty of 10% plus expenses, constable, attorney, engineering, and consulting fees and interest, shall be collected from the owner of such premises in the manner provided by law.