City of Lewes, DE
Sussex County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Lewes 5-14-2001. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Planning Commission — See Ch. 33.
Parks and Recreation Commission — See Ch. 40.
Building code — See Ch. 70.
Subdivision and land development — See Ch. 170.
A. 
To define and establish responsibility/authority for the management of the City's urban forest by the Lewes Parks and Recreation Commission ("PRC"). Its jurisdiction is intended for public trees, not those on private lands except as they affect public lands. PRC will act as a resource for others where needed to ensure that the City will continue to realize the benefits provided by trees.
B. 
This chapter establishes policies, regulations and standards necessary to accomplish the goals of the PRC to:
(1) 
Establish and maintain the appropriate amount of tree cover on public lands and maintain an inventory of its City trees.
(2) 
Maintain City trees in a healthy and nonhazardous condition through good arboricultural practices.
(3) 
Establish and maintain diversity toward native tree species and age classes to provide a healthy and stable urban forest.
(4) 
Assist and work with persons as they develop their properties, including new residential, commercial or industrial sites, to preserve existing trees or oversee proper replacement of trees removed from the site being developed.
C. 
The PRC will assist the following agencies named under the Code of the City of Lewes:
(1) 
"Commercial Architectural Review Commission" (C.A.R.C.) as established under Chapter 70, Article IV, Commercial Architectural Review Commission, of the Code of the City of Lewes.
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II)]
(2) 
"Planning Commission" as established in Chapter 33 of the Code of the City of Lewes.
(3) 
"Developer" includes an individual, group of individuals or corporation or other entity having intent to develop and/or subdivide a lot, piece or parcel of land for the purpose of transfer of ownership or leasehold or building development.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
ANSI A300
American National Standards Institute, Inc., Standard Practices for Tree Care Operations - Tree, Shrub and Other Woody Plant Maintenance.
COMMISSION (PRC)
Lewes Parks and Recreation Commission.
dbh
The diameter of the tree trunk at a height of 4.5 feet from the ground.
DEVELOPER
"Developer" as defined under Chapter 170 of the Code of the City of Lewes.
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II)]
ISA
International Society of Arboriculture.
LARGE TREE
Shall be selected to be any tree exceeding 45 feet at maturity.
MEDIUM TREES
Shall be selected to not exceed 45 feet in height at maturity.
PARK TREES
Trees and shrubs in public parks, public open spaces and all areas to which the public has free access, except rights-of-way owned by the City.
PERSON
A natural person, individual, partnership, corporation, limited-liability company, trust, voluntary association, club, society or any group of persons acting as a group.
SHALL
A mandatory term.
SMALL TREES
Shall be selected to not exceed 15 to 20 feet in height at maturity.
STREET TREES
Trees and shrubs on public land lying between the curb and sidewalk of all streets, avenues or alleys within the City limits.
TOPPING/POLLARDING
The severe internodal cutting back of limbs to stubs larger than three inches in diameter within the tree's crown to such a degree as to remove the normal canopy and disfigure the tree.
A. 
The PRC, as established in Chapter 40 of the Code of the City of Lewes, is the designated "Tree Authority" for the City of Lewes.
B. 
Emergency situations. Emergency situations, i.e., fallen limbs, where immediate attention to protect the public's safety is required, the PRC Chairperson shall use his/her discretion to rectify the problem in an expedient manner within the terms of this chapter and subsequently report this activity to PRC.
C. 
Duties of the Tree Authority:
(1) 
To complete a street/park tree inventory; review and update the information every two years.
(2) 
To develop and maintain a street/park tree master plan for the City of Lewes. Such a plan shall contain a recommended tree species planting list and shall govern the sizes of trees that can be planted in areas of its jurisdiction.
(3) 
To study, investigate, develop and/or update a written plan for the care, preservation, pruning, planting, replanting, removal or disposition of trees and shrubs in parks, along streets and in other public areas. Such plan will be presented annually to City Council; upon their acceptance and approval shall constitute the official Comprehensive Tree Plan for the City of Lewes. PRC, when requested by City Council, shall consider, investigate, make findings, recommendations, in report form, upon any special matter coming within the scope of its work.
(4) 
To prepare and submit a tree planting, garden and maintenance budget to City Council by January 1. This proposal shall be discussed during workshop sessions with Council as its budget is being prepared before April 1.
(5) 
To make application for and receive grants or contributions of money, technical assistance and labor from any person, organization or agency; to expend such grants or contributions for specific projects relating to the planning, management, care, planting and preservation of trees in the community forest and for the beautification of Lewes.
(6) 
To define work specifications in order to request bid submissions from qualified contractors, initiate contracts and arrangements for the proper care, planting or preservation of trees.
(7) 
To educate the public about the benefits of trees and their proper care.
D. 
Operation of PRC. PRC shall appoint an educational liaison from its membership to work with the public. When a greater level of expertise is needed, the PRC can request assistance from Sussex County Cooperative Extension Agency and/or Delaware Department of Agriculture Forest Service (Urban and Community Forestry Program), or if such does not exist, the successor agency or one of similar purpose.
A. 
Spacing of trees. The spacing of street trees will be in accordance to the growth characteristics of the ultimate tree canopy with the three species size classes; except in special plantings designed by a landscape architect at the request and approval of PRC. Such design work will be handled by a standard competitive bid process.
(1) 
Small — plant no closer than 30 feet apart.
(2) 
Medium — plant no closer than 40 feet apart.
(3) 
Large — plant no closer than 50 feet apart.
B. 
No street tree shall be planted as to constitute a safety hazard.
(1) 
Utilities. No street trees other than those classified as "small" trees shall be planted so as to create a hazard to utilities.
(2) 
Tree size. All street trees shall conform to American Association of Nurseryman Standards and be a least 1 1/4 inches to 1 1/2 inches to dbh and at least eight feet to 10 feet tall when planted unless special conditions exist and the Commission approves a deviation.
(3) 
Planting. Delaware Department of Agriculture Forest Service Urban and Community Forest Program recommended planting techniques for the type of tree to be planted (balled and burlap, containerized, bare root) shall be followed. Such specifications are to be given contractors each time a contract for tree planting is awarded.
(4) 
Species to be planted. PRC shall determine that appropriateness of trees within the City of Lewes. No individual person or organization is allowed to plant on these public grounds without first receiving written permission from the PRC. The Tree Master Plan and recommended species list shall be the followed guideline.
A. 
The City shall have the right to plant, prune, maintain and remove trees, plants and shrubs within the lines of all streets, alleys, avenues, parks and public grounds, as may be necessary to ensure public safety or to preserve or enhance the symmetry and beauty of such grounds. It shall be the responsibility of the PRC to provide adequate maintenance for all City park and street trees.
B. 
The Lewes Board of Public Works, with notice to the PRC with reasons stated, may remove or order the removal of any tree or part thereof (using ANSI A300 Standards) which is in a hazardous condition or which by reason of its nature is injurious to sewer lines, electric power lines, gas lines, water lines or other public improvements or is infected with disease or infested with pests. The Board of Public Works shall handle all power line/utility clearance pruning using ANSI A300 Pruning Standards. The PRC will be responsible for all other maintenance of City trees.
C. 
No property owners shall plant, spray, prune, remove, cut above or below ground or otherwise disturb any street or park trees without first receiving permission from the PRC. Any street or park trees removed by a property owners shall be replaced at the property owner's expense.
D. 
A property owner or hired contractor using pruning practices other than those defined in ANSI A300 to prune a street or park tree shall be responsible for the cost of subsequent correct pruning and/or replacement with a new tree.
E. 
Any individual or firm contracted by the Commission, the Board of Public Works or a private property owner to provide pruning maintenance on street or park trees is required to follow ANSI A300 standard practices.
Except as otherwise provided, it shall be unlawful for any person, firm, City department or utility company to "top" any street tree, park tree or other tree on public property. No street or park trees are to be exempted from this specific practice.
Every property owner of any tree overhanging any street or right-of-way within the City shall prune (under ISA standards) the branches so that such branches shall not obstruct the light from any street lamp or obstruct the view of any street location. Trees or other vegetation shall also be pruned to provide a clear space above the surface of sidewalks and streets to allow for unobstructed passage of pedestrians and vehicles. Said owners shall remove all dead, diseased or hazardous trees, or broken or decayed limbs that constitute a hazard to the safety of street intersection. Upon finding any of the above conditions, the PRC shall request the City Building Official notify the property owner of the problem(s) and direct the property owner to correct the problem(s) in a timely manner. The property owners shall have 10 days from the date of that notice to comply and have the tree(s)/shrub(s) pruned. If such owner does not agree with such directive, he or she may appeal to City Council within 10 days. However, after that time period the PRC and its contracted agent shall have the right to enter onto private property, if necessary, in order to prune any tree when it interferes with the proper spread of streetlighting or interferes with visibility of any traffic control device or sign with the safe passage of pedestrians and vehicles. The property owner shall be responsible for the cost of this maintenance.
A. 
The PRC shall have the right to remove any dead, diseased, pest-infected or other hazardous trees on City-owned property when such items constitute a hazard to life or property in the public right-of-way.
B. 
The PRC shall have the right to request that the Lewes Building Official notify private property owners to have dead, diseased or pest-infected trees on their property treated by an ISA-certified arborist or removed when said trees are in such close proximity to City trees so as to pose a threat to the health of City-owned trees or a threat to the public. Should the property owner not comply with such request within 30 days after the date the notice is served, the Commission and/or its contracted agent shall have the right to enter onto private property to have the tree(s) treated or removed at the property owner's expense.
C. 
When the PRC plants a tree, all costs involved in removing the tree/stump, and repairing damage to sidewalks and curbs, are the City's responsibility. The City shall be responsible for all trees existing on City property at the date of this chapter whether planted by the City or not.
All stumps of street and park trees shall be removed to six inches below grade at the time the tree is removed so they do not pose a hazard to the public.
A tree is to be planted and allowed to become established in close proximity to a declining tree, for a period of at least five years prior to removal of the declining tree. When such replacement/establishment policy, in accordance to the Master Tree Plan, cannot be followed due to time constraints, prior to removal of declining tree, any tree that is removed by the PRC shall be replaced by one or more trees of an appropriate species as noted in the table below. One of the required number of trees shall be planted in as close proximity to the one removed as is feasible and the remaining specified number within one year from the date of removal.
dbh of Tree Removed
(inches)
Replacement Quantity
Minimum dbh of Replacement(s)
(inches)
Less than 6
1
1-3/4
6 to 9
1
1-3/4
9 to 12
2
1-3/4
A. 
In new residential, commercial or industrial developments, the developer is responsible for new street tree plantings. The City Building Official, the Lewes Planning Commission and the Commercial Architectural Review Commission are responsible for making prospective developers aware of this requirement prior to the project design phase. The PRC shall be responsible for assisting the developer with placement, spacing and species selection. The developer shall purchase and plant street trees in the public right-of-way no smaller than 1 1/2 inches in caliper (dbh) which conform in species and spacing as noted in this document and in the developer's master plan.
B. 
In new residential, commercial or industrial developments the developer should present long-range landscape projections and plans at the initial phases of development for approval by the City. These plans should consider the desirability of planting a proportional distribution of mature native trees. Protection of existing trees, hedgerows and natural cover strips should be encouraged. The PRC may assist the developer in these regards.
C. 
City street renovation projects shall make provisions for street tree plantings. The PRC shall work with the contracted project engineer/landscape architect during the design and implementation phases of the project and shall be responsible for making the final recommendations.
It shall be unlawful for any person to prevent, delay or interfere with those doing PRC assignments, i.e., mulching, weeding, pruning, spraying or removing any street tree, park tree or those on City-owned or private property, as authorized in this chapter.
Unless specifically authorized in writing by the PRC, no person shall intentionally damage, cut, carve, transplant or remove any tree; attach any rope, wire, nails, advertising posters or other contrivance to any tree; allow gaseous liquid or solid substance which is harmful to such trees to come in contact with the tree or root zones; or set fire to burn when such fire or heat thereof will injure any portion of any tree on City property.
It shall be unlawful for any person to engage in the business or occupation of pruning, treating or removing street or park trees within the City without first applying for and procuring a City of Lewes business license.
A. 
Any firm contracted by the PRC or the Board of Public Works to prune or remove a City-owned tree shall show proof of ISA certification to the PRC and shall be familiar with and follow ANSI A300 standard pruning practices before a contract for the work can be awarded.
B. 
Any firm contracted by the PRC, or its agents, to spray for or otherwise treat pests and diseases shall show proof that it is an ISA-certified arborist and holds a current Delaware Pest Control Operators license.
C. 
Firms contracted by the PRC, its agents or the Board of Public Works, shall provide to the City Manager or Board of Public Works General Manager, respectively, proof of workman's compensation insurance and adequate liability insurance coverage in the minimum amounts of $1,000,000 for damage and $1,000,000 for property damage, indemnifying the City or any person injured or damaged resulting from the pursuit of such endeavors as described herein.
The Mayor and City Council shall have the right to review the conduct, acts and decisions of the PRC. Any person may appeal any ruling or order of the PRC to the Mayor and Council, who may hear the matter and make a final decision.
Any person violating any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction, or plea of guilty, be subject to a fine not to exceed $250 per incident. These funds shall be entered into the PRC account to fund the replacement of the damaged tree. In addition, the City has the right to assess the individual/business for legal fees related to the enforcement of this chapter as well as the Victim's Compensation Fund assessments imposed by the courts.