[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Colts Neck 12-26-1969 as Ch. 56 of the 1969 Code. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Amended 10-14-1992; 10-14-1998; 5-13-2009]
The purpose of this chapter is to protect the general welfare of the citizens of the Township of Colts Neck by establishing standards governing the planting and preservation of all trees, brush, vines, shrubs and/or ground cover upon Township-owned land, greenways and access corridors for greenways in an effort to retain the rural, bucolic character of the Township.
The regulation, planting, care and control of shade and ornamental trees and shrubbery upon and in the streets, highways, public places, parks and parkways of the Township of Colts Neck, except state highways, unless the State Highway Department shall assent thereto, and except county highways, parks and parkways, if a County Shade Tree Commission is operative and gives assent thereto, shall be exercised by and under the authority of Colts Neck Township Shade Tree Commission, which is hereby created. The Commission shall consist of no less than five and no more than seven members and may include not more than two alternate members. The members and alternate members shall be appointed by the Mayor, shall be residents of the municipality and shall serve without compensation.
The alternate members shall be assigned and designated by the Mayor as "Alternate No. 1" and "Alternate No. 2" and shall serve during the absence or disqualification of any regular member or members. The term of each alternate member shall be five years, commencing on January 1 of the year of the appointment. In the event that two alternate members are appointed, the initial term of Alternate No. 1 shall be five years and the term of Alternate No. 2 shall be four years. The terms of the first alternate members appointed shall commence on the day of their appointment and shall expire on the fourth or fifth December 31 following said appointment. An alternate member may participate in discussions of the proceedings but may not vote, except in the absence or disqualification of a regular member. A vote shall not be delayed in order that a regular member may vote instead of an alternate member.
The first Commissioners shall be appointed within 60 days after the effective date of this chapter, and their terms of office shall commence upon the day of their appointment and be for the respective periods:
The terms of each appointee shall be designated in his or her appointment. All subsequent appointments, except to fill vacancies, shall be for the full term of five years, to take effect on January 1 next succeeding such appointment.
Any vacancy occurring by reason of the death, resignation or removal of any Commissioners shall be filled for the unexpired term by the Mayor of the municipality.
During the month of December in each year, the Shade Tree Commission shall certify to the Township Committee of the municipality the estimated sum necessary for the proper conduct of its work during the ensuing fiscal year. Any sums approved by the Township Committee shall be placed in a separately established and maintained Township of Colts Neck Shade Tree Fund for the purposes of its work, which sums shall be expended for such of the following items: purchase of trees and shrubbery, purchase of necessary equipment and materials, trimming and/or removal of trees, and/or the cost of services for the prudent promotion of work.
Said Commission shall exercise such authority as is conferred upon it by N.J.S.A. 40:64-1 et seq. and the amendments thereof and supplements thereto, except as otherwise modified by the provisions of this chapter.
The Commission or Township Administrator shall have the authority to remove any vegetation of any kind from any Township-owned land, greenways or access easements for greenways. Notwithstanding the Commission's authority to trim trees and shrubs on Township-owned land, prior to undertaking the removal of any tree on Township-owned land, as set forth in § 62-7D of this chapter, the Commission must first consult with the Code Enforcement Officer and Township Administrator, with ultimate review and final approval by the Administrator and/or Township Committee prior to undertaking any tree removal by the Commission. In the event that there is a conflict, the ultimate determination is to be made by the Township Committee. No trees, brush, vines, shrubs and/or ground cover are to be removed by anyone, including adjacent landowners or agents of any landowner, from any Township-owned land, greenways or access corridors for greenways without permission of the Colts Neck Shade Tree Commission or Township Administrator.
The provisions of this chapter shall not be construed to apply to the routine maintenance (i.e., mowing) of township-owned conservation and/or landscape easements by neighboring property owners, with the following requirements:
In neither case shall trees, shrubs and/or ground cover be disturbed, damaged or destroyed, nor shall structures be located within these easements.
[Added 10-29-2008; amended 4-8-2015; 10-12-2016]
No tree within a Township right-of-way and/or Township greenway or access easement for a greenway or within any Township-owned land may be removed or trimmed by the adjoining property owner without Shade Tree Commission approval. Street trees pursuant to § 102-71A and planted on private property may be removed by the property owner at any time and for any reason once the maintenance guarantee posted by the developer is released and the Township has accepted the tree.
No person, except as is otherwise provided in this chapter or pursuant to state law, shall remove, trim or cause harm to any tree on Township property or the Township Greenway or on an access easement for a greenway or within any Township-owned land.
Members of the Colts Neck Shade Tree Commission, pursuant to the authority conferred upon it by N.J.S.A. 40:64-1 et seq., by process of routine inspection and observation and through screening complaints as lodged with the Township, and while working in concert with the Township Administrator and Code Enforcement Officer, shall seek to ensure that no substantive violations of § 62-7A and B, as enumerated above, occur on Township-owned land.
Powers and duties of the Shade Tree Commission. The Colts Neck Shade Tree Commission shall have the following general powers and duties:
Responsibility for the regulation, planting, removal and trimming of trees and shrubs upon and in any Township-owned land, as land is defined in § 62-7A;
Responsibility to consult and advise with the Code Enforcement Officer and Township Administrator in all matters within its purview;
Prior to undertaking the removal of any tree, the responsibility to consult with the Code Enforcement Officer and Township Administrator for ultimate review and final approval by the Administrator and/or Township Committee. In the event there is a conflict, the ultimate determination is to be made by the Township Committee;
Authority to review tree surveys, removal plans and planting plans submitted with land development applications referred to it by the Planning Board or Zoning Board. After its review, the commission may prepare a report of its findings and recommendations to be sent to the board of jurisdiction at least 14 days prior that board's scheduled hearing of the development application;
Authority to prepare criteria, standards, guidelines, and recommendations, including recommendations as to specific appropriations, for the use of funds collected in the Colts Neck Shade Tree Commission Removal Fund;
Authority to develop a list of sites throughout Colts Neck that require the removal of trees, replacement of trees or the addition of new trees, and regularly update the list to reflect the replacement or removal of trees;
Authority to develop and maintain a recommended tree species list;
Authority to develop and maintain an inventory of trees and shrubs upon and in any Township-owned land, as land is defined in § 62-7A;
Responsibility to develop and recommend tree removal standards for trees located on private property;
Responsibility to monitor and maintain the health of the trees in the Township's Arboretum;
Responsibility to make, keep, and preserve minutes and records of its meetings and activities, and to make annual reports to the Township Mayor and Committee. Copies of all minutes and records of its meetings and activities shall be filed with the Township Clerk;
All authority conferred by N.J.S.A. 40:64-1 et seq., to the extent applicable.
Removal or trimming by Township when interfering with public street, highway or right-of-way use, or when creating a hazardous condition.
In the event that the limbs or branches of any trees or shrubs grown on any land in the municipality extend over or into any of the public streets, highways or rights-of-way in the municipality and interfere with the free and uninterrupted use of such streets, highways or rights-of-way for any lawful purpose, the enforcement officer shall notify and direct the owner of the premises on which such trees or shrubs may stand, or the agent of such owner, to trim or detach, on or before a time to be fixed in such notice, any limbs, branches or parts of trees or shrubs so extending in the street, highway or right-of-way in the municipality. If the owner of any such trees or shrubs shall fail or neglect to comply with the terms of such notice, the enforcement officer is authorized and empowered to trim or detach, or cause to be trimmed or detached, any limbs, branches or parts of trees or shrubs so extending into the street, highway or right-of-way in the municipality.
Editor's Note: Former § 62-7, Application for inspection of development, added 12-10-1981, as amended 7-10-1986, was repealed 12-29-1999.
Any person violating any provision of this chapter shall, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:64-12, be liable to a penalty not to exceed $1,500 for each violation, in the discretion of the court before whom the conviction is had. Each day that the infraction exists represents a new occurrence of the violation. The Commission or Township Zoning Officer shall have the authority to issue a summons for any violation.
In addition to the penalties authorized by Subsection A of this section, the Commission may require a person who removes or otherwise destroys a tree in violation of this chapter to pay a replacement assessment to the township. The replacement assessment shall be the value of the tree as determined by the appraisal of a trained forester or certified tree expert retained by the Commission for that purpose. In lieu of an appraisal, the Commission may adopt a formula and schedule based upon the number of square inches contained in a cross section of the trunk of the tree multiplied by a predetermined value per square inch, not to exceed $27 per square inch. The square-inch cross section shall be calculated from the diameter at breast height, and, if there is a multiple-stem tree, then each trunk shall be measured and an average shall be determined for the tree. For the purposes of this section, "diameter at breast height" shall mean the diameter of the tree taken at a point 4 1/2 feet above ground level. The Commission shall modify the value of the tree based upon its species variety, location and its condition at the time of removal or destruction. Failure to comply with this section shall constitute an additional violation of this chapter.
As an alternative to Subsection B, the Commission may require a person who removes or otherwise destroys trees, brush, vines, shrubs and/or ground cover in violation of this chapter to provide and obtain Shade Tree Commission approval of a restoration plan, drawn by a certified landscape architect. Said person may be required to implement the approved restoration plan at his or her expense, including inspection fees and on a schedule specified by the Shade Tree Commission.
A tree of six-inch or less caliper shall be replaced with one tree, which meets with the approval of the Colts Neck Shade Tree Commission, of not less than two-and-one-half-inch caliper. The following guidelines shall apply to caliper of trees destroyed:
The Commission shall have the discretion to prescribe the appropriate number of replacement trees for the removal of any existing tree of over 41 inches and to specify where the replacement trees are to be planted. The caliper or diameter of a tree is measured six inches from the existing undisturbed ground. Failure to comply with this section shall constitute an additional violation of this chapter.
All members of the Colts Neck Shade Tree Commission or the Township Zoning Officer shall have the authority to issue a stop-work order if any destruction is occurring on township-owned land, greenways or access corridors for greenways.
Any public utility or cable television company that clears, moves, cuts or destroys any trees, shrubs or plants for the purpose of erecting, installing, moving, removing, altering or maintaining any structures or fixtures necessary for the supply of electric light, heat or power, communication or cable television services upon any lands in which it has acquired an easement or right-of-way shall not be subject to any penalty imposed by the Commission pursuant to this section. This subsection, however, shall not exempt any public utility or cable television company from any penalty or replacement assessment imposed for negligent actions.