[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of Wethersfield 11-18-1991. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Streets and sidewalks — See Ch. 139.
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 153, Trees and Shrubs, adopted as Secs. 7-1-1 through 7-1-3 of the Code of 1972.
Trees are proven producers of oxygen, a necessary element for the survival of mankind; trees reduce the carbon dioxide content of the air and, in general, play a role in air purification; trees play a role in neutralizing wastewater which passes through the ground from the surface to groundwater tables and lower aquifers; trees stabilize soil and play an important role in soil conservation, erosion control and flood control; trees are an invaluable physical and psychological addition to the Town, making life more comfortable by providing shade and cooling both air and land, reducing noise levels and glare and breaking the visual monotony of the development of the land with their beauty; and the protection of trees within the Town of Wethersfield is not only desirable but essential to the present and future health, safety and welfare of all citizens of the Town of Wethersfield.
It is the policy of the Town of Wethersfield to regulate and control planting, removal, maintenance and protection of trees and shrubs in the Town in order to eliminate and guard against dangerous conditions which may result in injuries to persons using the public areas and public ways of the Town, to, promote and enhance the beauty of the Town, to prevent damage to any public sewer, utility or water main, street, sidewalk or other public property, to protect trees and shrubs located in public areas from undesirable and unsafe planting, removal, maintenance and protection practices and to guard all trees and shrubs on public areas within the Town against the spread of disease or pests. The provisions of this chapter shall apply to all trees and shrubs presently or hereafter planted in or upon any public area and to all trees and shrubs planted in or upon private premises which shall endanger the life, safety or health of persons or property within the Town of Wethersfield.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- MAINTENANCE AND PROTECTION
- Include all operations of trimming, pruning, spraying, injecting, fertilizing, treating, bracing, surgery and cutting above or below ground.
- The permanent placement of any tree or shrub above or below ground.
- PUBLIC AREA
- Includes all public ways, parks and other lands owned or leased by the Town.
- PUBLIC WAY
- Includes all public streets, roads, boulevards, alleys and sidewalks.
- The actual physical removal or the effective removal through damaging, poisoning or other direct or indirect action resulting in or likely to result in the death of a tree.
- TREES and/or SHRUBS
- Include all woody vegetation presently or hereafter planted on any public areas or private premises.
The Town Tree Warden shall be appointed by the Town Council and shall have all powers, duties and authorities ascribed to him/her as set out in the Connecticut Public Shade Tree Statutes, particularly Connecticut General Statutes Sections 23-58, 23-59, 23-60 and 23-65, as the same may be amended, and this chapter.
In addition, the Town Tree Warden shall be empowered to issue permits for the planting of trees or shrubs by private parties on public areas or public ways so long as said permits are in accordance with the Connecticut Public Shade Tree Statutes and the contents of this chapter.
There shall be a Shade Tree Commission which shall be composed of five members appointed by the Town Council for staggered three-year terms to serve as advocates for the choice and care of attractive trees. Initially, one member shall be appointed for a term ending June 30, 1992; two members shall be appointed for terms ending June 30, 1993; and two members shall be appointed for a term ending June 30, 1994.
The requirements and duties of these members shall be:
To have a working knowledge of the habitat, planting, growth, care and placing of trees.
To develop and maintain a working relationship with the Town Tree Warden.
To assist the Warden in assuring that an appropriate tree or trees are planted in properly designated locations.
To compose a list of desirable tree species appropriate to Wethersfield.
To serve voluntarily as contact persons for the Town Manager and the Director of Physical Services.
To serve as the Warden's assistants on occasions when contractors, public utilities contractors or Town laborers are working in or adjacent to Town trees.
To ensure that the intent and provisions of this chapter are carried out to the fullest extent possible.
No person, company, utility or government agency shall, in any public area or public way of the Town of Wethersfield, prune, remove, deface, cut, paint, mark, injure, mutilate, kill or destroy any tree or shrub, permit any animal under their control to do so, permit any fire to injure any portion of any tree or shrub or permit any toxic chemical to seep, drain or be emptied on or about any tree or shrub. During construction operations, the contractor shall erect suitable protective barriers around public trees and shrubs which may be injured as a result of his/her activities.
No person shall fasten any sign, playbill, picture, notice, advertisement, rope, wire, climbing spurs or other materials to, around or through any public trees or shrubs except in an emergency, such as storms or accidents.
Public utility work affecting trees or shrubs shall be limited to the actual necessities of the service of the company. Such work shall be reviewed by the Town Tree Warden prior to being undertaken and such work shall be done in a neat and professional manner. The Town Tree Warden shall, to the extent possible, supervise the work performed.
The Town Tree Warden shall have the authority to plant, remove, maintain and protect trees and shrubs on all public areas and public ways or which extend into or overhang the limits of all public areas and public ways as may be necessary to ensure and preserve the symmetry and beauty of such grounds and ways. The Town Tree Warden may consult with the Shade Tree Commission in regard to the performance of his/her duties.
Any tree or shrub or part thereof growing upon private or public property which is interfering with the use of any public area, infected with infectious plant disease or endangering the life, health or safety of persons or property is declared a public nuisance. If the Town Tree Warden shall determine, with a reasonable certainty, that any nuisance tree or shrub, as herein described, or any part thereof exists in or upon any public area or public way, he/she shall immediately cause it to be treated, trimmed, removed or otherwise abated in such manner as to destroy or prevent the spread of the nuisance. If the Town Tree Warden shall determine, with reasonable certainty, that any nuisance tree or shrub, as herein described, exists in or upon any private premises, he/she shall, in writing, notify the owner or tenant having charge of such premises. Within 30 days after issuance of said notice, said person shall cause the treatment, trimming or removal and destruction of said nuisance tree or shrub as directed in the written notice. No damage shall be awarded the owner for the destruction of trees or shrubs destroyed pursuant to this chapter. In case the owner or tenant having charge of such premises shall refuse or neglect to comply with the terms of the written notice within 30 days after receiving it, the Town Tree Warden shall cause the removal, treatment or trimming of said nuisance tree or shrub. The expense thereof shall be charged to the owner of said premises on which said tree or shrub is located and, with respect to the cost for removing that portion interfering with any public area or public way, shall become a lien on the property upon recordation of notice thereof on the Town land records.
A person who receives an order from the Town Tree Warden and objects to all or a part thereof may, within 10 days of receipt of said notice, notify the Shade Tree Commission, in writing, of the nature of the objection and request a hearing thereon. Within 10 days of the receipt of such notice of appeal, the Shade Tree Commission shall schedule a hearing before said Commission or its designated subcommittee to hear the objection. The hearing shall be held within 10 days of notice to the appellant. Within 10 days after such hearing, the Shade Tree Commission shall, in writing, notify the appellant and the Town Tree Warden of its decision. The Town Tree Warden shall be present at such hearing.
There shall be a Master Street Tree Plan. The Master Street Tree Plan shall consist of Town-wide, street-by-street written evaluation of all space and site factors which will aid in the determination of the tree species best suited to a particular planting site in regard to growing habits, shape, form, health, disease and pest resistance, conflicts with wires, lights, pavement, traffic, pedestrians, sidewalks, environmental pollution, sewers and space availability. The evaluation of the space and site factors and the species selection for a particular street shall be made by the Town Tree Warden, with the advice of the Shade Tree Commission.
The following specifications and standards are hereby established for the planting, trimming and removal of trees and shrubs in the public ways and public places of the Town:
The Tree Warden, in consultation with the Shade Tree Commission, shall develop a list of species suitable for planting below overhead utility lines. No other species shall be permitted. Trees prohibited for planting in public spaces shall be identified by the Commission.
All trees to be planted will be not less than 1 1/2 inches in diameter of trunk at six inches above ground level.
No tree shall be planted closer than two feet from the curbline or outer line of the sidewalk, except by special permit from the Tree Warden. All trees shall be planted at a spacing of between 40 and 60 feet from each other, depending on the species of the tree.
No tree shall hereafter be planted at or within 20 feet of an intersection.
All trees and shrubs on public or private property which have branches overhanging a public street shall have said branches trimmed to a clearance height of 14 feet; all trees and shrubs on public or private property which have branches overhanging a public sidewalk shall have said branches trimmed to a clearance height of 10 feet. The Town Tree Warden may waive the provisions of this subsection for newly planted trees if he/she determines they do not interfere with public travel, obstruct the light of any streetlight or endanger public safety.
All deadwood, stubs, broken branches, badly formed branches, disease-infected and insect-infested branches and branches interfering with public travel, lighting, existing buildings and traffic signs shall be removed during the trimming operation, with consideration given to the symmetry and beauty of the tree or shrub.
Removing. All public trees and shrubs which are marked for cutting shall be completely removed from the growing site and disposed of in an authorized manner. The stump shall be ground out to a depth suitable for future planting of trees or turf.
The Town Tree Warden or his/her representatives, after giving advance notice to the owner or tenant having charge, shall have the authority to enter upon private premises at reasonable times for the purposes of examining and inspecting any suspected nuisance tree or shrub or otherwise fulfilling their duties herein.
When it is necessary to expedite the removal of damaged or destroyed trees in the interest of public safety, health and general welfare, the Town Manager may, by decree, suspend the requirements of this chapter.
Violation of § 153-5 of this chapter shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed $100, or such greater amount as may be allowed by statute, and such person shall be liable in a civil action for damages in accordance with Section 52-560 of the Connecticut General Statutes, as the same may be amended. Violation of § 153-6 of this chapter shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed $50, or such greater amount as may be allowed by statute, and such person may be subject to such criminal penalties as may be prescribed by statute. Each unauthorized pruning, removal, defacing, cutting, painting, marking or injuring of a tree protected by this chapter or other act prohibited by §§ 153-5 and 153-6 of this chapter shall be deemed a separate offense.
Former Town Code §§ 153-1, 153-2 and 153-3 relating to the preservation and protection of all trees within the Town of Wethersfield are hereby repealed.
Editor's Note: Said sections comprised former Ch. 153, Trees and Shrubs, adopted as Secs. 7-1-1 through 7-1-3 of the Code of 1972.
No person shall unreasonable hinder, prevent, delay or interfere with the Town Tree Warden or his/her agents while engaged in the execution or enforcement of this chapter.