[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Harrison 6-21-89 as L.L. No. 3-1989. Amendments noted where applicable.]
There is a direct relationship between the planting and preservation of trees in populated areas and the health, safety and welfare of communities. Trees provide welcome shade to people and add color and verdure to the sometime bleakness of human construction. Trees stabilize the soil and control water pollution by preventing soil erosion and flooding, absorb air pollution, yield advantageous microclimatic effects, offer a natural barrier to noise and provide a natural habitat for wildlife. Trees, through their shade and transpiration, temper heat and thereby reduce the need for air conditioning and its consequent use of energy.
The destructive and indiscriminate removal of trees causes increased municipal costs for proper drainage control, impairs the benefits of occupancy of existing residential properties and impairs the stability and value of both improved and unimproved real property in the area of destruction and adversely affects the health, safety and general welfare of the inhabitants of the Town.
In order to provide protection for trees against destructive practices and indiscriminate and excessive removal with resultant increased surface drainage and soil erosion, this chapter establishes minimum standards for tree protection and a program to identify, honor and protect those noble trees which survive, some coequal with or older than the nation itself, in order that coming generations will continue to enjoy and benefit by our care in a green Harrison.
This chapter shall be known as the "Town Tree Protection Law."
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The natural growing characteristics of any tree, which includes branch spread and distribution, branch height above ground and root spread and distribution.
- Any individual, partnership, association, corporation, company, public utility or organization of any kind or agent thereof.
- PUBLIC TREE OR SHRUB
- A tree or shrub in a public place, as a public street, highway, park or recreation area, or on other property owned or held by the Town.
- REAL PROPERTY
- All improved and unimproved real property in the Town jurisdiction. Excluded is land owned by the municipality itself or another governmental agency, municipality or agent thereof.
- STREET or HIGHWAY
- The entire width of every public way or right-of-way when any part thereof is opened to or used by the public for vehicular or pedestrian traffic or the entire width of every street or highway as shown on a legally approved subdivision map filed in the office of the Clerk of the county.
- TOWN TREE COMMITTEE
- That body appointed by the Town Board to implement and enforce this
chapter and to develop and execute plans, subject to the approval of the Town
Board, for the encouragement of planting, preservation and protection of trees
and effective implementation of this chapter within the municipal jurisdiction.
The "Town Tree Committee" will consist of five persons, namely a member from
the Town Planning Board, a member from the Town staff, a member of the Town
Board or representative and two Town residents to be appointed by the Town
Board. The members of the Committee shall receive no compensation for their
services as members but may, in the discretion of the Town Board, be allowed
the necessary and actual expenses which shall be incurred in the performance
of duties under this chapter. All determinations and decisions made by the
"Town Tree Committee" shall be by majority vote. The Committee, subject to
the approval of the Town Board, is authorized to obtain the assistance, when
necessary, of persons qualified by reason of training or experience in tree
planting, preservation and landscaping.[Amended 4-8-1990 by L.L. No. 2-1990]
- Any living, woody plant, its root system and the area within the outer limit of its branches, which is four inches or more in diameter of its trunk measured at breast height.
It shall be unlawful for any owner of real property, as defined herein, or any other person to cause, permit or allow the removal, destruction or substantial alteration of the habit or the alteration of grade level around trees to the extent that it would endanger their continued vitality on any parcel of real property as defined with the jurisdiction of the Town, exclusive of legally established commercial nurseries in the furtherance of their normal business activities on their properties, unless:
A tree removal permit is first obtained from the Building Department of the Town;
The work is done as specified in an accepted and approved subdivision or an approved building permit for the real property in question; or
The trimming, pruning and shaping is in accordance with the customarily accepted ornamental procedures.
If a person shall deem it necessary to remove, destroy or substantially alter the habit of any of the live trees on any real property, as defined herein, within the jurisdiction of the Town, regardless of whether a building permit is required or not, then he shall first make application for a tree removal permit to the Building Department with jurisdiction over the care and preservation of trees to be allowed to do so.
The application shall include but not be limited to the following information:
The name and address of the applicant.
The site of proposed tree removal.
The purpose of proposed tree removal.
An attached plan of the area indicating the following:
The decision by the Building Department aforesaid will be based upon the following criteria:
The condition of the trees with respect to disease and hazardousness.
The necessity of the removal for the project in question.
The effect of the removal on ecological systems.
The character established at the proposed site of removal with respect to existing vegetation in the immediate vicinity and locale.
Good horticultural and vegetation management practices.
In particular, in the site information submitted under Subsection B hereof, all proposed tree removals shall be shown in relation to the survey stakes marking out a building foundation, garage, driveway, recreation area or any other site that warrants tree removal. No live tree shall be removed except under the following circumstances:
If its presence would cause hardship or endanger the public or an adjoining property owner.
If in areas to be occupied by buildings, driveways or recreation areas and within a distance of 15 feet around the perimeter of such building, depending on tree species and conditions to be determined by the designated official.
If in areas having excessive cut or fill of land deemed inimical to tree survival as evaluated by the aforementioned official.
If in areas where selective thinning and timbering of trees will encourage the development of prime specimen trees. The selection of trees to be preserved shall be based on the recommendation of the Town Tree Committee.
Upon the submission of an application and other required information and approval by the Town Building Department, a permit will be granted upon such terms and conditions as hereinafter provided. The permit may be revoked at any time if the work is not proceeding according to permit and in an orderly and diligent manner.
Where a building permit is required and more than three trees are to be removed, the owner of the property shall submit plans showing removal of trees and replacement. In areas where trees are to be removed or destroyed, all existing trees specifying types and sizes shall be shown, and the reasons for removing or destroying any trees in such manner shall be set forth. The plans shall provide for new trees to be planted in sufficient quantity, taking into account the anticipated survival rate, to replace the destroyed trees in kind or in suitable alternate species, at the discretion of the Town Tree Committee. Where the existing trees are too large to be replaced with trees of equivalent size, the planting of multiple trees of suitable species may be substituted.
Where extensive tree cutting is planned, the Town Building Department may require the person doing so to pay the cost of an inspector to be assigned by the Town Building Department to supervise the orderly development of the land and ensure the protection of the trees. In doing so, the Town Building Department may require additional information about the design of storm drainage and any other information pertinent to the individual circumstances.
A person who removes or causes to be removed a tree, with or without a permit as required herein, shall restore the area by backfilling all holes and by creating an acceptable grade and covering, subject to approval by the Tree Committee. Any tree damaged during construction or development of the property, if in addition to the required replacement or other planting required under this chapter, shall also be replaced, either in kind or in suitable alternate species, and when the additional damaged tree or trees are too large to be replaced with trees of equivalent size, with the planting of multiple trees of suitable alternate species in substitute. Minor tree damage shall be repaired in accordance with accepted tree surgery practice. Tree stumps shall be removed and/or covered with six inches of topsoil and then seeded. After the planting of trees, removal of all debris in the disturbed area shall be made immediately. The property where such planting is done must be left in a neat and orderly condition in accordance with acceptable planting and tree surgery practice.
Any tree or trees which fail to survive for a period of one growing season following planting shall be replaced by the person to whom the permit was granted at no expense to the Town. Said replacement shall be within 60 days following written demand for such replacement by the Tree Committee or within an extended period of time as may be specified. Should the person to whom the permit was granted fail to replace the tree or trees pursuant to demand within the required period of time, he shall be deemed to be in violation of this chapter.
All tree planting, tree dressing and associated restoration work must be completed within six months from the date of issuance of the permit, except that the permit may be extended by the Town Building Department, which shall have sole discretion of whether or not to grant such an extension. In the event that the planting and restoration work has not been completed within six months and no permit has been applied for or granted, the Town Building Department shall have the right to consider the site abandoned and the permit canceled. It shall be a condition precedent to the granting of a permit that the person seeking the permit and the owner of the land, if different, agree to the procedure and grant unconditional access to the land for such restoration purposes.
No certificate of occupancy under a building permit shall be issued until all tree planting, tree dressing and associated restoration work shall be completed to the satisfaction of the Town Building Department, except that, between the 31st day of October and the first day of April of the succeeding year, such may be issued upon the submission of an agreement, in writing, by the person to whom the permit was issued, and signed by him, engaging compliance on his part with all requirements herein and completion of required planting and restoration work to the satisfaction of the designated official on or before the first day of May of the year next succeeding the making of the agreement. The bond shall continue until the planting and restoration work is completed in accordance with the agreement with the Town Building Department. The Town Building Department shall have the right to declare the performance bond in default and to apply the proceeds thereof to the completion of the required work and to enforce as a lien upon the property any deficiency.
In addition to the planting required by way of replacement, any person who obtains final subdivision approval from the Planning Board shall plant trees of appropriate type and in sufficient number effectively to screen the development and all road or roads abutting said property, with evergreens and appropriate deciduous species, to the satisfaction of the Town Tree Committee. Such planting for screening purposes shall be within five feet of the right-of-way of such road or roads, subject to the determination of the Tree Committee that any tree which, in its judgment, would tend to impair, by its root system, the effective maintenance of the road or roads or public right-of-way shall not be used for this purpose.
The Tree Committee, upon proper showing of existing trees growing along such right-of-way or on the abutting property near the street property line, may grant a waiver, which shall be in writing, of Subsection A hereof, to the extent that the existing natural screening complies with the requirements thereof. New trees provided pursuant to this section shall be approved by the Tree Committee and shall be planted in accordance with the requirements to achieve the purposes of this section. The requirement of planting of trees for screening purposes along roads shall likewise be subject to the requirements of § 220-7 hereof, including compliance with the requirements of posting of a performance and maintenance bond therefor and of a cash deposit in the special tree preservation escrow account. No new street, after the effective date hereof, shall be accepted for dedication until the Tree Committee shall duly inform the appropriate board or official of the Town that compliance, where necessary, has been had with the requirements of this section.
Upon showing by the person seeking the permit that compliance with the requirements of this chapter in terms of planting trees in replacement of those destroyed and for purposes of screening is not feasible on the property, in whole or in part, the Tree Committee may approve payment by the person of a sum or sums equivalent to the required planting to be paid to the Town, which shall be held for the sole purpose of planting and maintaining trees on public lands in the Town in accordance with this chapter. Disbursement of such Town tree funds shall be on recommendation of the Town Tree Committee.
No person shall, without written permit from the Town Tree Committee, in the case of a public tree or shrub, do or cause to be done by others any of the following acts:
Secure, fasten or run any rope, wire, sign or other device or material to, around or through such a tree or shrub.
Break, injure, mutilate, deface, kill or destroy or permit any fire to burn where it will injure any public tree or shrub.
Permit any toxic chemical, gas, smoke, salt, brine, oil or other injurious substance to seep, drain or be emptied upon or about any public tree or shrub.
Excavate any ditch, tunnel or trench or lay any drive within the outer limit of the branches of any public tree or shrub.
Erect, alter, repair or raze any building or structure without placing suitable guards around all nearby public trees or shrubs which may be injured or defaced by reason of such erection, alteration or other action or where such injury or defacement my arise out of, in connection with or by reason of such erection, alteration, repair or razing. The suitability and effectiveness of such protective measures shall be approved by the Tree Committee of the Town.
Knowingly permit any unprotected electric service wires to come into prolonged contact with any public tree or shrub.
Remove any guard, stake or other device or material intended for the protection of a public tree or shrub or close or obstruct any open space about the base of a public tree or shrub designed to permit access thereto of air, water or fertilizer.
The Town Tree Committee is authorized, with the assistance of such experts in forestry and aboriculture as it may designate, to establish a Town register of historic trees, to consist of those trees in the state deemed worthy of inclusion by reason of their age, size or their nature as specimen trees, being botanical examples in terms of maturity and optimal growing conditions or a combination of the foregoing factors. In addition, as an added factor of qualification, although not required for inclusion, association with specific historic events or with the history of growth and development of the Town may be considered as a further grounds for inclusion. In addition, groups of three or more trees having common characteristics of age, size or of specimen nature may be registered as historic stands or groves, depending on the size thereof, in accordance with this section. Notice of designation shall be given to the owner of the property in which the designated tree, stand or grove is located. Thereafter, upon such notice, no person shall destroy or willfully damage such designated tree or trees without the approval of the Town Tree Committee.
[Amended 10-7-1998 by L.L. No. 10-1998]
Any tree or shrub which is growing on private property which is endangering or in any way may endanger the security or usefulness of a public street, public sewer or other public place, or which is diseased, is hereby declared to be a public nuisance, and the Building Inspector and the Commissioner of Public Works of the Town shall notify the property owner that such tree or shrub is a public nuisance and should be trimmed or removed, as the case may be. In the event that the owner of the property or the occupant thereof fails to remove or trim such tree or shrub within 14 days after the receipt of such notice, the Town Tree Committee, the Commissioner of Public Works or the Building Inspector may seek a penalty against the owner pursuant to law for the actual expenses of removing or trimming said tree or shrub.
[Amended 10-7-1998 by L.L. No. 10-1998]
In case of emergency caused by a tree being in a hazardous or dangerous condition posing an immediate threat to person or property, any member of the Police or Fire Department, the Town Tree Committee or the Building Inspector may authorize the removal of such tree forthwith.
A company, corporation or authority, as included in the definition under § 220-3 hereof, that owns, leases, uses or has control over any pole, wire, conduit, pipeline or other means used in connection with the transmission of electricity, gas or other form of power or source thereof or in connection with telephone service or over form of communication, situated along, above, under, through or adjacent to any public highway, road, street or public or private property, shall at all times take reasonable precautions against inflicting injury to trees or shrubs through or near which such wires, conduits or pipelines pass or poles are situated so as to protect such trees and shrubs against damage relating to their construction, installation, erection, operation, maintenance, repair or removal. Trimming of habit shall be in reasonable manner in order to protect the health and vitality of any trees adjacent thereto.
The Town Tree Committee and the Town Building Inspector, subject to the approval of the Town Board, are authorized to promulgate such rules and regulations as may be required effectively to carry out the purposes of this chapter and such procedures as shall be required.
Any person aggrieved under the provisions of this chapter shall have the right to appeal within 20 days from the decision of the Town Tree Committee to the Town Board.
Any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be punishable by a fine not to exceed $250 or by imprisonment for a term not to exceed 15 days, or both. Each week's continued violation of any provision of this chapter shall constitute an additional violation.