[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Hyde Park 10-29-2001 by L.L. No. 11-2001. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Editor's Note: This local law also repealed former Ch. 28, Shade Tree Commission, Street Trees, adopted 12-18-2000 by L.L. No. 11-2000.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Cultivation of trees and shrubs.
- CROWN REDUCTION
- Careful trimming of treetops to reduce their height without destroying the leader breaches.
- An agreement between the Town and a landowner, which permits the Commission to enter upon private property for purposes specified in the easement.
- Mushroom or spongy growth.
- PARK TREES
- Trees, shrubs, bushes and all other woody vegetation in named parks within the Town. (This includes Hackett Hill, Pinewoods Park, the Hyde Park Trail or other areas which fall under the jurisdiction of the Recreation Department.)
- STREET TREES
- Trees, shrubs, bushes and all other woody vegetation on land lying between property lines on either side of all streets within the Town.
- TRAINED ADVISOR
- A person who may not be trained in arboriculture but with some knowledge of botany; e.g., a master gardener. Organizations such as sportsman clubs and Boy Scouts have recognized expert laypersons that may be used as consultants.
- TREE INVENTORY
- A list of trees and their genera and species.
- TREE SPECIE
- One of a class of trees having common characteristics.
[Amended 6-28-2004 by L.L. No. 3-2004]
There is hereby created and established a Town Shade Tree Commission for the Town of Hyde Park, which shall consist of seven lay members, citizens and residents of Hyde Park who are interested in this area of service to the Town and shall be appointed by the Town Board. No person who is a member of the Town Board, Planning Board, or ZBA (Zoning Board of Appeals) shall be eligible for membership on this Commission. This Commission should be in regular communication with these Boards and may use their members as consultants.
[Amended 6-28-2004 by L.L. No. 3-2004]
The terms of the seven persons to be appointed shall be three years, except that the terms of two members appointed to the first Board shall be for only two years and the terms of two members of the first Board shall be for one year. In the event that a vacancy shall occur during the term of any member, the Town Board, for the nonexpired portion of the term, shall appoint his successor. The Town Board shall have the power to remove any member of the Commission for cause and after public hearing. All meetings of the Commission shall be held at the call of the Chairman or at such other times as such Board may determine. The Chairman of the Commission shall be appointed by the Town Board.
Members of the Commission shall serve without compensation.
The Commission shall have the responsibility for the regulation, planning, care and control of all shade and ornamental trees and shrubbery located now or to be located in the future of Town-owned property and/or Town rights-of-way. In addition thereto, the Commission shall have the authority to regulate and control the use of the ground surrounding said shade trees, ornamental trees and shrubbery so far as the same may be necessary for the proper growth, care and protection of the same. It shall be the responsibility of the Commission to study, investigate, counsel, develop and administer written plans for the care and preservation, pruning, planting and replanting, removal and disposition of trees and shrubs along the streets and other public areas. Such plans will be presented annually to the Town Board for its acceptance and approval and shall constitute the official comprehensive Town tree plan.
The Commission shall promote and supervise the establishment of a tree inventory for street trees. This inventory shall be updated with results of good ground inspection every three years.
The Commission, when requested by the Town Board, shall consider and investigate a findings report and recommend upon any specific matter or question coming within the scope of its work.
In addition to the specific duties as set forth herein, the Commission shall have the general responsibility of encouraging arboriculture in the community.
The members of this Commission, as established pursuant to this chapter, may employ such persons as may be needed as authorized by the Town Board and pursuant to law. This Commission shall have the power to adopt rules of procedure for the conduct of all business within its jurisdiction.
The Town Board may annually appropriate and cause to be raised by taxation in such Town a sum sufficient to carry out the provisions of this chapter.
All expenses incurred under this chapter coming within the annual appropriation therefor shall be a charge against the Town, payable from the current funds of such Town, but the Town Board may provide for the acquisition of lands or buildings for the purposes as set forth in this chapter, which shall be payable from the current funds or to be financed, in whole or in part, pursuant to the Local Finance Law.
In the event that any conflict occurs in the use of Town-owned property by this Commission, any other commission or any other unit of the local government of this Town, said conflict shall be resolved by the Town Board, and neither this Commission, any other commission or any other unit of local government shall have the use of said land until a decision is made by the Town Board.
The Chairperson shall be appointed by the Town Board. The Commission shall choose its own officers, make its own rules and regulations, subject to Town Board approval, and keep a journal of its proceedings. A majority of the voting members shall be a quorum for the transaction of business. The Board shall meet a minimum of four times per year.
For each developed neighborhood or hamlet area the Shade Tree Commission will create and maintain a list of desirable trees for planting along streets in two size classes based on mature height: small trees, under 30 feet, suitable for planting under overhead utility wires or in restricted spaces; and medium to large trees greater than 30 feet that do well in Town environments.
It is the responsibility of the Tree Commission to ensure that the trees planted in Hyde Park are appropriate to the site. The Commission will also develop a list of approved species for planting in lawn areas under tree easements where space and salt are not considerations.
A list of species to be planted should be developed for each defined hamlet area. Rural or undeveloped areas should be kept as natural process, and any supplemental plantings should blend with the native habitat.
Nature trails, parks, arboretums and other natural areas should be kept in native vegetation for the area being considered. This has importance for the native and natural animals as well as the aesthetic value. Examples are the Greenway River Trails and Hackett Hill Park.
Regular consultation must be maintained with the authorities for general use and maintenance of these areas.
The Town shall have the right to plant, prune, maintain and remove trees, plants and shrubs within the lines of all streets as may be necessary to ensure public safety or to preserve or enhance the beauty of such public grounds, upon approval by the Town Board.
The Tree Commission may request removal of any tree or part thereof which is in an unsafe condition or which, by reason of its nature, is injurious to sewers, utility lines, gas lines, water lines or other public improvements, or is infected with any injurious fungus, insect or other pest. Understanding that most property owners regard street trees as their own property, it will be the policy of the Town to notify the abutting property owner prior to removal whenever possible. The Tree Commission understands the need to work with the Town residents on these matters, but reserves the right to order tree removal.
This section does not prohibit the planting of street trees in the Town right-of-way by adjacent property owners. Residents are encouraged to consult with the Tree Commission prior to tree selection and planting.
Every owner of any tree overhanging any street or right-of-way within the Town shall prune the branches so that such branches shall not severely obstruct the light from any street lamp or obstruct the view of any street intersection and so that there shall be a clear space of 13 feet above the street or eight feet above the sidewalk. Said owners shall remove all dead, diseased or dangerous trees or broken or decayed limbs which constitute a menace to the safety of the public.
The Town shall have the right to prune any tree or shrub on private property when it interferes with the proper spread of light along the street from a streetlight or interferes with the visibility of any traffic control device or sign or sight triangle at intersections. The electric utility company, in compliance with any franchise agreements, shall maintain tree limbs that grow near high-voltage electrical conductors clear of such conductors. Prior to trimming, the utility company and the Tree Commission must review a utility tree trimming policy by the utility company. Notification of the affected property owners will be made when such activities are planned.
In order to maintain the overall number of trees, reasonable efforts shall be made to replace trees that are removed and to protect quality trees that are endangered.
Trees removed by decision of the Town Tree Commission, the Highway Department or by natural causes shall be replaced somewhere within the Town on a one-for-one basis within one year whenever possible. The Tree Commission shall determine the location and species of any replacement tree.
Trees of desirable species and good health shall be protected as much as possible from damage during construction, sidewalk repair, utilities work above and below ground and other similar activities. The zone of protection shall include the ground beneath the canopy of the tree. The Tree Commission shall work with the Town Board, Planning Board, utility companies and Town employees to minimize construction damage to street trees.
The Commission shall make an annual report to the Town Board of the Town of Hyde Park, which shall cover all matters handled by it during the year, and said annual report shall also be filed with the Town Clerk and become a public record.
The Town Board shall have the right to review the conduct, acts and decisions of the Town Tree Commission at any time. Any person may appeal to the Town Board from any ruling or order of the Town Tree Commission. The Town Board shall hear the matter and make final decisions.
Any person who shall remove or damage a street tree to the point of its needing removal or removing a street tree planted under this chapter without permission of the Town Tree Commission shall be liable for all the expenses of replanting said tree. The Town Board shall notify said person in writing of his liability and the date and time of a public hearing scheduled to discuss the matter. The homeowner or his or her representative shall be entitled to a written notice of the Town Board proceeding, a copy of the complaint or report, an opportunity to be heard, the right to present evidence and call witnesses and to confront and question all witnesses presented in regard to the underlying determination.