City of Oswego, NY
Oswego County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Common Council of the City of Oswego 5-12-1980 as Ch. 99, §§ 99-34, 99-35 and 99-38, of the 1980 Code; amended in its entirety 11-28-2011. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Coastal erosion control — See Ch. 95.
Dutch elm disease — See Ch. 104.
Parks and recreation — See Ch. 173.
Streets and sidewalks — See Ch. 211.
Utility poles — See Ch. 245.
Vacant and occupied property maintenance — See Ch. 249.
A. 
This chapter shall promote and protect the public health, safety and general welfare by providing for the coordination of planting, maintenance and removal of trees, shrubs and other woody plants within the City of Oswego.
B. 
This chapter shall protect and expand the urban tree canopy in order that the City of Oswego benefits from:
(1) 
Retaining stormwater runoff;
(2) 
Reducing energy costs for City buildings;
(3) 
Improving urban air quality through absorption of carbon dioxide and production of oxygen;
(4) 
Enhancing property values along tree-lined streets and parks;
(5) 
Improving walkability and a safer urban environment;
(6) 
Improving aesthetic quality and tourist attraction;
(7) 
Reducing carbon and particulates in the air;
(8) 
Reducing the heat island effect in urban environments through increasing shade, producing free air conditioning;
(9) 
Blocking cold winter winds;
(10) 
Reducing noise pollution;
(11) 
Improving natural habitat for birds and other wildlife;
(12) 
Increasing the number of pocket parks and green spaces;
(13) 
Controlling soil erosion;
C. 
This chapter shall provide training for City officials, employees, students, volunteers and residents on methods to improve maintenance and survival of trees in public space and issues regarding tree health.
D. 
This chapter shall achieve certain goals of the City of Oswego 2020 Vision Comprehensive Plan and the 2011 Strategic Plan, including the following:
(1) 
Qualification and certification of the City of Oswego as a Tree City USA.
(2) 
Continuing volunteer opportunities to educate the public on tree maintenance, benefits of reforestation and carbon reduction through a citizen tree steward program.
(3) 
Becoming eligible for state and federal grants for tree plantings, tree maintenance, and tree education programs.
(4) 
Involving citizens in planning and coordinating the establishment of a diversified and healthy urban forest through the establishment of a City of Oswego Tree Advisory Board as required by Tree City USA.
A. 
The City of Oswego Common Council shall have the authority to receive and act upon requests and complaints with respect to trees.
B. 
The City of Oswego Department of Public Works shall have the authority for planting of trees, major pruning, climbing up and removal of hazardous trees on City property for pedestrian and street safety together with all authority granted in Article XII, §§ C12-05 and C12-07B of the City Charter.
C. 
The City of Oswego Department of Code Enforcement shall have the authority to enforce this chapter.
D. 
The Oswego tree stewards shall be authorized to provide training and educational programs to the public on tree maintenance and tree survival. It shall be further authorized, with the consent of the Department of Public Works, to provide tree maintenance and mulching services for small trees in public space and to plant bare-root trees without assistance.
E. 
The City of Oswego budget for tree planting, pruning, maintenance, equipment, inventory, tree steward program, educational materials and volunteer in-kind contributions shall be calculated as part of the City of Oswego's annual contribution to the Tree City USA program.
F. 
The Tree City USA program is important to the preservation and improvement of the City of Oswego's tree canopy. The Tree Advisory Board, the Oswego Tree Stewards Program and the City Department of Public Works will create and maintain an inventory of all City trees in public space and provide training programs for City residents and volunteers to instruct citizens on the proper methods to nurture and care for City trees and increase the overall tree canopy.
A. 
There shall be established a Tree Advisory Board.
(1) 
The Tree Advisory Board shall consist of seven members from the City of Oswego.
(2) 
The Mayor shall appoint five members of the Tree Advisory Board, including one member from the Common Council and four members from a variety of backgrounds such as homeowners, renters, business-owners, City employees, college representatives and community representatives. The Mayor shall appoint new members to the Board to fill any vacancies in those five positions, including those with unexpired terms.
(3) 
The four citizen members shall have three-year staggered terms of service, with the exception of the first year when two Board members shall be appointed for a term of three years; one Board member shall be appointed for a term of two years, and one Board member shall be appointed for a term of one year.
(4) 
The Commissioner of Public Works shall designate one member from the Department of Public Works to serve at the discretion of the Commissioner.
(5) 
The Director of Code Enforcement shall designate one member.
B. 
Duties and responsibilities of the Tree Advisory Board are as follows:
(1) 
Hold public meetings for discussion of issues concerning trees within the City of Oswego.
(2) 
Mitigate issues concerning trees in public space or on private property and offer alternative solutions to preserve and improve the City's tree inventory.
(3) 
When requested by the Common Council, review issues of code enforcement of trees, tree removals or other tree-related matters and make recommendations to the Common Council for resolution.
(4) 
Study, investigate and provide advisory opinions to the City of Oswego's Common Council and the Department of Public Works, Department of Code Enforcement and Community Development office on issues regarding tree planting, maintenance and preservation of trees within the City.
(5) 
Create a written tree plan and preferred species list to ensure diversity in size and variety in the City's tree inventory and to discourage the spread of invasive species, diseases and pests in the City's tree canopy.
(6) 
Establish and maintain an inventory of trees in parks and public space.
(7) 
Provide a forum for conflict resolution and provide advisory opinions to the Common Council, the Department of Public Works and the Department of Code Enforcement on issues between adjacent property owners regarding trees.
A. 
The City of Oswego establishes the following standards for planting, maintenance and removal of trees in public space and strongly recommends their guidance for trees on private property:
(1) 
Tree City USA Bulletin #9, Section 9-16;
(2) 
American Standard for Nursery Stock ANSI Z60.1-2004; and
(3) 
Tree Care Industry Association ANSI A300 Standards.
B. 
All ornamental or shade trees hereafter planted in any public space shall be planted in accordance with § 240-4A above.
A. 
Certain practices in public space shall be prohibited by this chapter, whether work is done by the City, by contractors, or by others, including the following:
(1) 
Severe pruning or topping of trees that damages the tree or violates standard nursery practice.
(2) 
Volcano mulching, a practice which rots tree trunks, promotes girdling roots and kills the tree crown by heaping mulch above the tree trunk's natural root spread.
(3) 
Grading of the soil around trees in such a way that reduces root volume or piles dirt or debris within the root zone that causes stress to the tree.
(4) 
Girdling a tree with wire or other material whether intentional or not.
(5) 
Any activity which materially restricts water, air or fertilizer from getting to a tree or otherwise threatens tree health.
(6) 
Planting high-liability trees such as poplars, willows and ash, for the duration of the emerald ash borer threat, that are prone to early death due to pests or disease.
(7) 
Harming or removing landmark trees.
(a) 
Landmark trees are those trees in public space set aside for special treatment due to their size, age, rarity, association with a historical event or person, or other special characteristic.
(b) 
The designation of landmark trees is the responsibility of the City of Oswego Common Council.
A. 
In cases where a private property owner needs to remove an otherwise healthy tree in public space, the Tree Advisory Board shall meet with the ward Councilor and the property owner to determine the mitigation required under this chapter. The property owner must show just cause for the removal of the tree. Mitigation to restore the urban forest canopy and make the City whole will be considered any time a tree is removed from public space. Mitigation shall consist of replacing the tree with a tree or trees of equal size or total diameter measured at four feet from the ground either on the parcel from which the tree was removed or at another mutually agreed-upon location.
B. 
When a developer of any commercial development or three or more contiguous residential units removes a tree or trees on private property, the developer shall meet with the ward Councilor and the Tree Advisory Board to determine any mitigation for the tree removal. Mitigation shall consist of replacing the tree with a tree or trees of equal size or total diameter inches at four feet from the ground either on the parcel from which the tree was removed or at another mutually agreed-upon location.
C. 
Donations and requests to plant privately donated trees in public space shall be considered by the Common Council and processed through the appropriate ward Councilor. The Tree Advisory Board shall be consulted to consider tree type, size and potential pest problems.
A. 
All dead, defective, diseased or decayed trees shall be pruned until safe or removed at the direction of the Department of Code Enforcement.
B. 
The City of Oswego shall have the right to remove any dead, diseased or otherwise dangerous trees on private property within the City of Oswego when such tree(s) constitutes a hazard to public safety, health or property, or harbors insects or disease which pose a threat to other City trees.
C. 
Notification in writing will be made by the Director of Code Enforcement to the property owner with copies to the Councilor of the ward and the Chair of the Tree Advisory Board.
D. 
Removal or pruning of a tree on private property shall be done at the expense of the private property owner within the time required by the Director of the Department of Code Enforcement.
E. 
Failure to comply will result in the City removing such hazardous tree and charging to the property owner's tax assessment the cost of removal and a surcharge pursuant to § 249-10C of the City Code.
F. 
In the case of emerald ash borer or similar pest infestation, ice storm or other emergencies, state and/or federal regulations shall take precedence to allow for the Department of Public Works to immediately dispose of such trees.
A. 
Enforcement. The City of Oswego Department of Code Enforcement shall be responsible for the enforcement of this chapter. The City of Oswego Common Council and all City agencies and departments as well as the Tree Advisory Board shall report violations of the Tree Ordinance to the City of Oswego Department of Code Enforcement.
B. 
Penalties for offenses. Any person failing to comply with any of the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a violation, and upon conviction thereof shall be fined a sum not less than $200 and not greater than $1,000 or by imprisonment for up to 15 days in jail, or by both such fine and imprisonment.