[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Leonia 1-10-1988 by Ord. No. 1058 (Ch. 63 of the 1982 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
The regulation, planting and care and control of shade and ornamental trees and shrubbery upon and in the streets, highways, public places and parks and parkways of the Borough of Leonia shall be exercised by and under the authority of the Leonia Shade Tree Commission, which is hereby created. The Commission shall be appointed by the Mayor. The membership of the Shade Tree Commission shall consist of:
Seven residents of the Borough of Leonia, one of whom shall also be a member of the Environmental Commission of the Borough of Leonia. Each of these members shall have the right to vote on matters properly before the Shade Tree Commission; and
One member of the Borough Council who shall serve as a nonvoting liaison between the Shade Tree Commission and the Mayor and Council and the citizens of Leonia. (N.J.S.A. 40:64.1)
[Amended 12-27-1999 by Ord. No. 24-99]
The initial term of office for the seven Commissioners shall be as follows:
The term of each Commissioner shall be designated in his or her appointment. All subsequent appointments, except to fill vacancies, shall be for the full terms of five years to take effect on January 1. Any vacancy occurring during the term of any Commissioner shall be filled in the manner provided herein for the unexpired term only. The Commissioners shall serve without compensation.
[Added 4-22-2002 by Ord. No. 01-02]
Alternate members to the Shade Tree Commission shall be appointed as follows: two alternate members shall be appointed by the Mayor and shall be designated at the time of appointment 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 appointment; provided, however, that in the event two alternate members are appointed, the initial term of Alternate No. 2 shall be four years and the initial term of Alternate No. 1 shall be five years. The terms of the first alternate members pursuant to this section shall commence on the day of their appointment and shall expire on the fourth or fifth December 31 next ensuing after the date of their appointments, as the case may be. 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 alternative member.
The Shade Tree Commission shall meet monthly no less than 10 times per year at such time(s) as may be determined by the Commission. The presence of a majority of the voting members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum. The Commission shall act only upon the majority vote of a quorum of members present at a duly convened meeting. Each member, voting or nonvoting, must receive notice of any meeting at least three days prior to such meeting.
[Amended 5-7-1984 by Ord. No. 984]
No expenses shall be incurred by the said Shade Tree Commission without the previous authorization of the Mayor and Council.
The Shade Tree Commission organized under this chapter shall have power to:
Exercise control over the regulation, planting and care of shade and ornamental trees and shrubbery now located, or which may hereafter be planted in any public highway and park or parkway, including the planting, trimming, spraying, care and protection thereof;
Regulate and control the use of the ground surrounding the same, so far as may be necessary for their proper growth, care and protection;
Move or require the removal of any tree or shrub or part thereof, dangerous to public safety;
Make, alter, amend and repeal, in the manner prescribed for the passage, alteration, amendment and repeal of ordinances by the governing body of this Borough, any and all ordinances necessary or proper for carrying out the provisions hereof;
Administer treatment to, or remove, any tree or shrub situated upon private property which is believed to harbor a disease or insects readily communicable to neighboring healthy trees or shrubs in the care of this Borough and enter upon private property for that purpose, with the consent of the owner thereof;
Administer the Leonia Tree Trust Funds. (See Resolution No. 219-86, dated August 4, 1986.);
Designate landmark trees.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The Shade Tree Commission of the Borough of Leonia.
- The person or persons employed by the Borough and designated by the Borough Council to issue permits and enforce the provisions of this chapter.
- Every person, firm, association, partnership, corporation, individual, agency, or other entity.
- A. Land owned by the Borough of Leonia, its Recreation Commission or any other Borough of Leonia municipal body.
- B. Any public street within the jurisdiction of the Borough of Leonia.
- C. Parks, parkways, county roads, state highways within the Borough of Leonia, subject to assent of the appropriate agency.
- D. Rights-of-way of the Borough of Leonia.
- Trees and shrubs.
No person shall do any of the following acts to any tree on a street without the prior permit of the Commission:
Break, damage, remove, alter, kill, destroy, mutilate, injure, climb with spikes or by the use of spurs or other instruments which perforate or injure the bark;
Cut, disturb or interfere in any way with any root. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Commission shall keep a list of approved contractors who may shave or otherwise remediate the roots of any tree which have caused the public sidewalk to become raised or unsafe. Approved contractors will not require prior approval of the Commission.
[Amended 12-18-2006 by Ord. No. 21-06]
Spray with any chemical deleterious to tree health;
Fasten any rope, wire, sign or other device;
Remove or damage any guard or device placed to protect any tree;
Conduct razing, removal or renovation of any structure if deemed by the Commission to be damaging to neighboring street trees;
Place or distribute chemicals, including, but not limited to, salt deleterious to tree health;
Cut, prune, except as provided for hereinafter in this chapter;
Remove soil, either for trenching or otherwise;
Construct new sidewalks and/or driveways with any material whatsoever within five feet of a tree;
Close or obstruct any open space provided about the base of a tree to permit access of air, water, and fertilizer to the roots of same.
No person shall plant or permit to be planted any poplar or willow tree in any street in which sewer or water mains have been or hereafter may be constructed or within 40 feet of any such sewer or water main.
It shall be unlawful for any person to top any street tree. Topping is defined as the severe cutting back of limbs to stubs larger than three inches in diameter within the tree's crown to such a degree so as to remove the normal canopy and disfigure the tree. Trees severely damaged by storms or other causes, or certain trees under utility wires or other obstructions where other pruning practices are impractical, may be exempt from this chapter at the determination of the Commission.
Every owner of any tree overhanging any street or right-of-way within the Borough shall prune the branches so that such branches shall not 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 eight feet (2.43m.) above the surface of the street or sidewalk. Said owners shall remove all dead, diseased, or dangerous trees, or broken or decayed limbs that constitute a menace to the safety of the public. The Borough shall have the right to prune any tree on private property when it interferes with the proper spread of light along the street from a street light, or interferes with the visibility of any traffic control device or sign.
Each public utility company shall exercise reasonable diligence in the maintenance of its construction so as to avoid damage to trees under the jurisdiction of the Commission.
No statute giving any person or state, county, Borough or municipal board, body or official, power or authority to lay any sidewalks along, or to open, construct, curb or pave any street, or to do any similar act, shall be construed to permit or authorize any interference with or injury to any tree on a street without the consent of the Commission. The provisions of this chapter are not to be construed as requiring the Borough to maintain, replace or move any sidewalk. (N.J.S.A. 40:64-10)
Property owners of trees extending over the Borough right-of-way are required to maintain, trim, or remove same to the extent necessary to preserve same in a healthy condition or to prevent same from endangering the public welfare, interfering with public travel or traffic on sidewalks, streets, highways or the right-of-way or interfering with the lighting of sidewalks, streets, highways or the right-of-way.
Whenever it shall become the duty of any such owner of such tree to trim or remove such tree under the requirements of this chapter and the work as directed by the Commission or its designee shall not have been done at the expiration of 30 days personal notice to such owner or 35 days after mailing of a notice, postage prepaid, to the post office address of such owner, or satisfactory explanation shall not have been presented for such failure, then the Commission or its designee may authorize such work to be performed under the direction of the Commission and paid for out of the monies of the Borough to the credit of the Commission. The cost of said work shall be certified by the Commission or its designee to the person having charge of the collection of assessments in the Borough. Upon filing the said certificate, the amount of the cost of such work shall be paid to the Borough by the property owner.
If the Commission or its designee shall require the removal or remove any such tree as is referred to in this chapter, the Borough, with the consent of the owner, may provide and install a replacement tree of such size and type as the Commission shall direct without cost to said owner.
The Commission shall have the right to plant, prune, maintain, and remove trees and plants within the right-of-way lines of all streets, alleys, avenues, lanes, squares, and public grounds, as may be necessary to insure public safety or to preserve or enhance the symmetry and beauty of such public grounds. The Commission may remove or cause or order to be removed, any tree or part thereof which is in an unsafe condition or which by reason of its nature is injurious to sewers, electric power lines, gas lines, water lines, or other public improvements, or is affected with any injurious fungus, insect, or other pest. This chapter does not prohibit the planting of street trees by adjacent property owners. A list of suitable tree species, for this purpose, is available upon request from the Commission.
The Commission upon request shall determine whether any tree is qualified as a landmark tree. A tree may qualify as a landmark tree if it meets one or more of the following criteria:
The tree species is rare;
The tree is more than 100 years of age;
The tree is of a mature height or has an unusual trunk diameter or dripline diameter for a tree of its species;
The quality of the tree foliage is exceptional for a tree of its species;
The location, shade value, fragrance, erosion control, aesthetic features, or scenic enhancement of such tree is of special importance to the Borough.
All trees designated as landmark trees by the Commission shall be shown on an official Borough map with appropriate code marks signifying each tree's designation, number, species, age, size and other distinguishing characteristics for ready reference and periodic monitoring.
If the owner or owners of the property on which a landmark tree is located consents thereto, the Borough may identify such tree as a landmark tree by the placement of a suitable marker thereon.
If the property on which a landmark tree is located changes ownership, the Borough shall notify in writing the new owner of the property that a landmark tree exists on said property and shall inform said owner of the chapter for the protection and preservation of such designated trees.
If, and when, any landmark tree is removed, the Commission shall arrange for the necessary changes to be made to the official landmark tree inventory records and Borough map.
The Borough shall have the right to cause the removal of any tree dead or diseased on private property within the Borough when such trees are unlawful or constitute a hazard to life or property, or harbor insects or disease that constitute a potential threat to other trees or property within the Borough. The Commission will notify in writing the owners of such trees. Removal shall be done by said owners at their own expense within 30 days after the date of service of notice. In the event of failure of owners to comply with such provision, the Borough shall have the authority to remove such tree(s) and charge the cost of removal to the property owner.
When the Borough exercises its authority to charge the cost of tree trimming and/or removal under § 275-13A and/or 275-16 hereof, if hiring an independent contractor, the Borough will obtain three estimates and choose that contractor who will perform the work in the most timely and efficient manner as determined by the Borough. If the trimming and/or removal is done by the Leonia Department of Public Works, it shall be charged at current rates determined by the Borough.
All stumps of street trees shall be removed below the surface of the ground so that the tip of the stump shall not project above the surface of the ground.
[Amended 11-15-2010 by Ord. No. 14-10]
Definitions. As used in this section, the following terms shall have the meanings set forth below:
- Any live woody plant having a diameter of greater than eight inches and/or a circumference greater than 25 inches when measured at ground level.
Whenever an application for development is filed with the Planning Board or Board of Adjustment, which plan for development shall include the removal of any existing trees, the application shall be forwarded to the Shade Tree Commission for its review and recommendation concerning replacement trees.
No person, as defined in this article, shall remove any tree from private property unless said removal is permitted by the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Adjustment or Shade Tree Commission, as the case may be.
The Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment may waive the replacement of existing trees if necessary due to existing or proposed conditions on the property.
In the event that the Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment waives the requirement for the developer to plant replacement trees, the Board shall impose a requirement that the developer contribute the reasonable value of the cost of replacement trees to the Borough of Leonia Shade Tree Commission Fund so that the Borough may plant trees at other locations.
It shall be unlawful for any person to prevent, delay or interfere with the Commission or any member thereof or any of its agents, while engaging in and about the inspection, planting, cultivating, mulching, pruning, spraying or removing of any street trees, or trees on private grounds, as authorized in this chapter.
Neither this chapter nor anything contained in this chapter shall be construed to make the Commission or any member(s) thereof responsible for the death or injury of any person, or for an injury to any property or tree. (Note: P.L. 1958, c. 41, s. 7; N.J.S.A. 40:37-10.2)
The requirements of this chapter shall be enforced by the Commission or any member thereof, or its designee, who shall seek such penalties as are provided in this chapter or permitted by law.
The Commission or any member thereof, or its designee, may order to be stopped forthwith any tree work or other activity which it or he/she believes is carried on in violation of any provision of this chapter. The order shall be issued in writing and a copy served upon any person engaged in such tree work or such other activity. If no such person is present upon the property, then the order shall be served upon the owner of the property in question. Thereafter, any further work shall comply with the terms and conditions of any permit issued by the Commission or its designee with respect to such property and the provisions of this chapter.
Requests for permits required by the provisions of this chapter for the performance of work should be directed to the Chairman, Shade Tree Commission, c/o Borough of Leonia, Borough Hall, 312 Broad Avenue, Leonia, New Jersey 07605.
Any person aggrieved by an action, decision or directive of the Commission, shall have the right within 14 days to appeal such action, decision or directive by submitting a written request to the full Commission. Any person aggrieved by the Commission's action, decision or directive on such appeal shall then have the right within 21 days to appeal to the Borough Council. The appeal must be in writing and a copy sent to the Commission as well. The Borough Council shall by resolution, within 30 days of the submission date of the appeal, modify, affirm, or deny the Commission's decision with such conditions as may be appropriate. If the Borough Council fails to act within the thirty-day period, then the decision of the Commission shall stand.
[Amended 10-5-1992 by Ord. No. 1147]
Any person found guilty of violating any provision of this chapter shall be, upon conviction or a plea of guilty, fined a sum not exceeding $1,500 for each offense. A violation affecting more than one tree shall be considered a separate violation as to each tree. Each day any violation of the chapter shall continue shall constitute a separate offense as well.
In addition to the fine set forth in Subsection A above, any person found guilty of violating any provision of this chapter shall be required to pay a replacement assessment for any tree removed, destroyed, or injured to cause to die. The replacement assessment shall be the value of the tree as determined by the formula and schedule adopted by the Commission. Such formula and schedule shall be based upon the number of square inches contained in a cross section of the tree's trunk, multiplied by a predetermined value per square inch, not to exceed $27 per square inch. In determining the predetermined value per square inch, the Commission shall take into consideration the species, variety, location, and condition of the tree in question immediately prior to its removal, injury, harm, or destruction.
The Municipal Court of the Borough of Leonia shall have jurisdiction over actions for the violation of this chapter and the Commission's ordinances shall be enforced by like proceedings and process as that provided by law for the enforcement of ordinances of this Borough. The officers authorized by law to serve and execute process for the Municipal Court of the Borough shall be the officers to serve and execute any process issued out of the Municipal Court for violations of the ordinances of the Commission.
A copy of any ordinance of the Commission, certified to under the hand of its secretary or chairman, shall be received in any court of this state as full and legal proof of the existence of the ordinance, and that all requirements of law in relation to the ordaining, publishing and making of the same, so as to make it legal and binding, have been complied with, unless the contrary be shown.
[Amended 10-5-1992 by Ord. No. 1147]
All monies to be collected, either as charges, costs, expenses, fines or penalties under the chapter by the Borough may be collected in any manner provided by law. All monies so collected, either as fine or penalties, for any violation of an ordinance, rule or regulation of the Commission, or as a charge against real estate or a property owner, under any provision of this chapter shall be forthwith paid over to the custodian of the municipal funds, unless a section of this chapter expressly provides and specifies that monies shall be forthwith paid into the Leonia Shade Tree Trust and Escrow, Account No. 2065-299, in which event such provision shall be controlling. (N.J.S.A. 40:64-13)
All ordinances, rules or regulations adopted by the Commission shall be filed with the Borough Clerk for inspection by the public during regular business hours.