[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Mount Pleasant as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Town Board of The Town of Mount Pleasant believes that the preservation of shade trees and similar plantings is of paramount importance in maintaining the quality of life within the town. Trees are recognized as a valued asset, providing a healthier and more beautiful environment in which to live. They provide oxygen, shade, aesthetics and a priceless psychological counterpoint to the man-made urban setting. Trees aid in preventing erosion, siltation of streams and reservoirs, flash flooding and air, noise and visual pollution. Therefore, the following article will deal with regulating the planting, maintenance and removal of trees on both public and private property. The article will also establish a Tree Preservation Council and the office of Town Arborist.
This article shall be known and may be cited as the "Tree Preservation Ordinance of the Town of Mount Pleasant."
For the purpose of this article, the following terms, phrases, words and their derivations shall have the meanings given herein:
- APPROVING AGENCY
- The board designated by the Town Board as the approving agency.
- CANOPY TREE PROTECTION ZONES
- All lands, whether public or private, within 25 feet of the curbline of any street or way.
- All portions of a tree excluding the trunk and roots, such as branches, leaves, flowers and other foliage.
- DBH (DIAMETER AT BREAST HEIGHT)
- The tree trunk diameter measured in inches at a height of 4 1/2 feet above the ground. If a tree splits into multiple trunks below 4 1/2 feet, then the trunk is measured at its most narrow point beneath the split.
- DFS (DENSITY FACTOR SITE)
- The required density factor for the site.
- EDF (EXISTING DENSITY FACTOR)
- The number of trees remaining on site and protected during the construction phase.
- HIGHWAY SUPERINTENDENT
- The elected or appointed official in charge of the Town Highway Department.
- LARGE TREES
- Those attaining a height of 45 feet or more.
- MEDIUM TREES
- Those attaining a height of 30 feet to 45 feet.
- The Town of Mount Pleasant, County of Westchester, State of New York.
- Includes all public parks having individual names.
- PARKS DEPARTMENT
- The designated department of the municipality under whose jurisdiction the administration of the article falls.
- Any person, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company or organization of any kind.
- PRIMARY TREE PROTECTION ZONE
- That portion of a building lot constituting the front, side and rear yard setbacks. In cases where the building setbacks appearing on the Zoning Map are greater than indicated in Chapter 218, Zoning, they shall be the controlling dimension.
- PRINCIPAL THOROUGHFARE
- Any street upon which trucks are not prohibited.
- PROPERTY LINE
- The outer edge of a street or highway.
- PROPERTY OWNER
- The person owning such property as shown by the Tax Maps or assessment rolls of the Town of Mount Pleasant.
- PROTECTED TREES
- Any tree or tree species that shall be deemed protected or significant by the Town Board.
- PUBLIC PLACES
- Includes all other grounds owned by the Town of Mount Pleasant.
- PUBLIC TREES
- Includes all shade and ornamental trees now or hereafter growing on any street or any public area where otherwise indicated.
- RDF (REPLACEMENT DENSITY FACTOR)
- The number of trees that must be planted on site to replace those that are removed or cut down.
- ROAD RIGHT-OF-WAY TREE PROTECTION ZONE
- Land in which a governmental entity or property owner owns a legal interest in a roadway or has an easement devoted to or required for the use of said land as a road; that land designated as a road right-of-way by records on file with the Town Highway Department, Town Assessor, Town Engineer or any other Town office having control or jurisdiction over roads.
- SECONDARY TREE PROTECTION ZONE
- All land not included in the Primary Tree Protection Zone, except for sidewalks and street rights-of-way.
- SMALL TREES
- Designated as those attaining a height of 20 feet to 30 feet.
- (2) A tree in fair or better condition must meet the following minimum standards:
- (3) A lesser-size tree can be considered a specimen if it is a rare or unusual species, of exceptional quality or of historical significance.
- (4) A lesser-size tree can be considered a specimen if it is specifically used by a builder, developer or design professional as a focal point in a project or landscape.
- SPECIMEN TREE STANDS
- A contiguous grouping of trees which has been determined to be of high value. Determination is based upon the following criteria:
- STREET OR HIGHWAY
- The entire width of every public way or right-of-way when any part thereof is open to the use of the public, as a matter of right, for purposes of vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
- TDF (TREE DENSITY FACTOR)
- A unit of measurement used to prescribe and calculate tree coverage on a site. Unit measurements are based on tree size. [See § 201-11C(5)].
- TOWN ARBORIST
- The Town Arborist or other qualified designated official of the Town of Mount Pleasant assigned to carry out the enforcement of this article.
- Any woody plant having at least one well-defined trunk at least four inches in diameter measured at a height of four feet above the natural grade and having a clearly defined crown.
- That part of a street or highway, not covered by sidewalk or other paving, lying between the property line and that portion of the street or highway usually used for vehicular traffic.
- TREE PROTECTION, PRESERVATION AND REFORESTATION PLAN
- A plan identifying and showing the location, type, size and health of trees, stating the ultimate disposition of the trees, showing the type, size and location of any trees to be planted and setting forth measures to protect trees before, during and after construction.
- TREE REMOVAL
- Any act which causes a tree to die within two years after the commission of said act, including but not limited to damage inflicted upon the root system or trunk as the result of:
- (1) Improper use of machinery on the tree.
- (2) Storage of materials in or around the tree.
- (3) Soil compaction.
- (4) Altering the natural grade to expose the roots or cover the trunk, permitting the infection or infestation of the tree by pests, fungus or harmful bacteria.
- (5) Excessive harmful pruning.
- (6) Paving with concrete, asphalt or other impervious surfaces within such proximity as to be harmful to the tree.
- (7) Application of herbicides or defoliants to any tree without first obtaining a permit from the approving agency.
When not inconsistent with the context, words used in the present tense include the future, words in the plural include the singular, and words in the singular include the plural. The word "shall" is mandatory and not merely directory.
There shall be created an advisory council known and designated as the "Tree Preservation Council." Said Council shall be composed of six members, as follow: the Superintendent of Highways, the Town Arborist and four members at large, each of whom shall be a resident of the town.
The duties of said Tree Preservation Council shall be as follows:
To study the problems and determine the needs of the Town of Mount Pleasant in connection with its tree planting program.
To recommend to the Town Board the type and kind of trees to be planted upon such Town streets or parts of Town streets or in parks as are designated.
To assist the Town Board in the dissemination of news and information regarding the selection, planting and maintenance of trees within the Town limits, whether the same is on private or public property, and to make such recommendations from time to time to the Town Board as desirable legislation concerning the tree program and activities for the town.
The Tree Preservation Council shall conduct such meetings as may be required to accomplish the purpose of this article.
Appointment. The Town Board of the Town of Mount Pleasant shall appoint a qualified Town Arborist. Such person shall be skilled and trained in the practices of municipal arboriculture and, if practicable, hold a degree in arboriculture or a related field. Said person may be appointed on a part-time basis or as an adjunct to his or her primary Town employment.
Duties. The Town Arborist shall have the authority to promulgate the rules and regulations of the Arboricultural Specifications and Standards of Practice governing the planting, maintenance, removal, fertilization, pruning and bracing of trees on the streets or other public sites in the municipality and shall direct, regulate and control the planting, maintenance and removal of all trees growing now or hereafter in any public area of the Town of Mount Pleasant, with the exception of the Canopy Tree Protection Zones or highway right-of-way. This shall be done in conjunction with the Town Superintendent of Highways. He shall cause the provisions of this article to be enforced, including those provisions that apply to the planting and maintenance of trees on privately owned land. In his absence these duties shall be the responsibility of a qualified alternate designated by the town.
Authority of the Town Arborist.
The Town Arborist shall have the authority and jurisdiction of regulating the planting, maintenance and removal of trees on streets and other publicly owned property to ensure safety or preserve the aesthetics of such public sites. He shall have authority over the canopy tree protection zones or highway right-of-way, as related to this article with the permission of the town's Superintendent of Highways.
Supervision. The Town Arborist shall have the authority and duty to supervise or inspect all work done under a permit issued in accordance with the terms of this article.
Condition of permit. The Town Arborist shall have the authority to affix reasonable conditions to the granting of a permit in accordance with the terms of this article.
Master Street Tree Plan. The Town Arborist shall have the authority to formulate a Master Street Tree Plan with the advice of the Tree Preservation Council, subject to approval by the Town Board. The Master Street Tree Plan shall specify the species of tree to be planted on each of the streets or other public sites of the town. From and after the effective date of the Master Street Tree Plan, or any amendment thereof, all planting shall conform thereto.
The Town Arborist shall consider all existing and future utility and environmental factors when recommending a specific species for each of the streets and other public sites of the municipality.
The Town Arborist, with the approval of the Tree Preservation Council, shall have the authority to amend or add to the Master Street Tree Plan at any time that circumstances make it advisable.
Planting, maintenance or removal.
No person shall plant, spray, fertilize, preserve, prune, remove, cut above ground or otherwise disturb any tree on any street or town-owned property without first filing an application and procuring a permit from the Town Arborist or otherwise specified Town authority. The person receiving the permit shall abide by the Arboricultural Specifications and Standards of Practice adopted by the Town Arborist.
Application for permits must be made at the office of the Town Arborist or at such office as shall be designated by the Town Board not less than 48 hours in advance of the time the work is to be done.
Standards of issuance. The Town Arborist shall issue the permit provided for herein if, in his judgment, the proposed work is desirable and the proposed method and workmanship thereof are of a satisfactory nature. Any permit granted shall contain a definite date of expiration, and the work shall be completed in the time allowed on the permit and in the manner as therein described. Any permit shall be void if its terms are violated. Notice of completion shall be given within five days to the Town Arborist for his inspection.
Application data. The application required herein shall state the number of trees to be set out; the location, grade, species, cultivar or variety of each tree; the method of planting; and such other information as the Town Arborist shall find reasonably necessary to a fair determination of whether a permit should be issued.
Improper planting. Whenever any tree shall be planted or set out in conflict with the provisions of this section, it shall be lawful for the Town Arborist to remove or cause removal of the same, and the exact cost thereof shall be to the owner as provided by law in the case of special assessments.
Maintenance application data. The application required herein shall state the number and kinds of trees to be sprayed, fertilized, pruned or otherwise preserved; the kind of treatment to be administered; the composition of the spray material to be applied; and such other information as the Town Arborist shall find reasonably necessary to a fair determination of whether a permit should be issued.
Removal, replanting and replacement.
Wherever it is necessary to remove a tree or trees from a treelawn in connection with the paving of a sidewalk or the paving or widening of the portion of a street or highway used for vehicular traffic, the municipality shall replant such trees or replace them. Provided that conditions prevent planting on treelawns, this requirement will be satisfied if any equivalent number of trees of the same size and species as provided for in the Arboricultural Specifications are planted in an attractive manner on the adjoining property.
No person or property owner shall remove a tree from the treelawn for the purpose of construction or for any other nonhazardous reason without first filing an application and procuring a permit from the Municipal Arborist and without replacing the removed tree or trees in accordance with the adopted Arboricultural Specifications. Such replacement shall meet the standards of size, species and placement as provided for in a permit issued by the Municipal Arborist. The person or property owner shall bear the cost of removal and replacement of all trees removed.
It shall be the duty of any person or persons owning or occupying real property bordering on any street upon which property there may be trees to prune such trees in such manner that they will not obstruct or shade the streetlights, obstruct the passage of pedestrians on sidewalks, obstruct vision of traffic signs or obstruct the view of any street or alley intersection. The minimum clearance of any overhanging portion thereof shall be 10 feet over sidewalks and 12 feet over all streets except truck thoroughfares, which shall have a clearance of 16 feet.
Notice to prune. Should any person or persons owning real property bordering on any street fail to prune trees as hereinabove provided, the Municipal Arborist shall order such person or persons, within three days after receipt of written notice, to so prune such trees.
Order required. The order required herein shall be served by mailing a copy of the order to the last known address of the property owner by certified mail.
Failure to comply. When a person to whom an order is directed shall fail to comply within the specified time, it shall be lawful for the municipality to prune such trees, and the exact cost thereof shall be assessed to the owner as provided by law in the case of special assessments.
Unless specifically authorized by the Town Arborist, no person shall intentionally damage, cut, carve, transplant or remove any tree; attach any rope, wire, nails, advertising posters or other contrivance to any tree; allow any gaseous, liquid or solid substance which is harmful to such trees to come in contact with them; or set a fire or permit any fire to burn when such fire or the heat thereof will injure any portion of any tree.
These guidelines shall apply to pending and future development proposals on privately owned land, including vacant land, redevelopment projects on land to be cleared of structures, conservation development, conventional subdivisions and plans for new one- and two-family houses.
No person shall hinder, prevent, delay or interfere with the Town Arborist or any of his assistants while engaged in carrying out the execution or enforcement of this article; provided, however, that nothing herein shall be construed as an attempt to prohibit the pursuit of any remedy, legal or equitable, in any court of competent jurisdiction for the protection of property rights by the owner of any property within the town.
The approving agency shall use this article in its review of applications for site plans, special permits, variances, conservation developments and conventional subdivisions.
The applicant shall provide the approving agency with a tree protection, preservation and reforestation plan containing at least the following information unless deemed not pertinent or necessary by the agency approving the plan:
An inventory of existing trees showing type, location, size and condition. The inventory shall include specimen trees, protected trees and specimen tree stands.
An integrated site plan showing the trees to be saved and those to be removed, utilities to be installed, grading, the approximate location of all structures, driveways and curb cuts and proposed tree plantings and other landscaping.
A detailed plan to protect and preserve trees before, during and for a period of two years after construction. This shall include a written statement setting forth those steps to be taken to protect trees, roots and crowns from damage during site clearance, excavation, grading, installation of utilities, paving and construction.
The above items may be integrated into the normal application requirements and submittals.
Standards. The approving agency shall apply the following standards in reviewing all development applications and shall attach such conditions and safeguards to any application as are, in its opinion, deemed necessary.
Specimen trees, protected trees and specimen tree stands located in the Primary Tree Protection Zone, the Canopy Tree Protection Zones and in the Road Right-of-Way Protection Zone shall be preserved where feasible.
Healthy specimen trees, protected trees and specimen tree stands located in the Secondary Tree Protection Zone may be required to be preserved at the discretion of the approving agency.
Specimen trees, protected trees and specimen tree stands in the conservation development required perimeter setback shall be preserved where feasible. Additionally, specimen trees, protected trees and specimen tree stands in other sections of the conservation development may be required to be preserved at the discretion of the Planning Board.
Prior to the commencement of any development activity on any part of a site, the Building Inspector, Town Arborist and Planning Board shall meet with the developer and his construction manager to ensure:
Reforestation plans shall conform to the following:
Step 1. Calculate the required density factor for the site (DFS) by multiplying the number of site acres by 15.
Step 2. Calculate the existing density factor (EDF) of trees which will remain on the site to be protected during construction. Existing density factor is determined by converting the diameter at breast height of individual existing trees to density factor units, using Table 3. These units are then totaled to determine the EDF for site.
Step 3. Calculate the required replacement density (RDF) (Step 2) from the DFS (Step 1).
Step 4. The RDF can be converted back to caliper inches using Table 4. Any number or combination of transplantable size trees can be used so long as their total density factor units will equal or exceed the RDF.
In selecting locations to plant trees, priority should be given to that section of the lot within a Canopy Tree Protection Zone and the front yard setback.
Credit toward the reforestation requirements shall be at a ratio of one preserved healthy specimen or protected tree or other tree deemed significant for one required planting.
Review. The approving agency shall refer all tree preservation, protection and reforestation plans to the Planning Board, Town Arborist and Tree Preservation Council for review and report prior to taking action on the application. For subdevelopment applications involving smaller projects of less than 10 required parking spaces or less than three required parking spaces in the general parking area, approval of said application may be conditioned upon submitting a plan subject to approval by the above-cited officials.
All trees on any street or other publicly owned property near any excavation or construction of any building, structure or street work shall be guarded with a good substantial fence, frame or box not less than four feet high and eight feet square or at a distance in feet from the tree equal to the diameter of the trunk in inches (DBH), whichever is greater, and all building material, dirt or other debris shall be kept outside the barrier.
No person shall excavate any ditches, tunnels or trenches or lay any drive within a radius of 10 feet from any public tree without first obtaining a written permit from the Town Arborist.
No person shall deposit, place, store or maintain upon any public place of the municipality any stone, brick, sand, concrete or other material which may impede the free passage of water, air and fertilizer to the roots of any tree growing therein, except by written permit of the Town Arborist.
Upon any violation of the tree preservation, protection and reforestation plan, the Building Inspector or Town Arborist shall issue a stop-work order immediately, setting forth the grounds for its issuance, and may require that remedial actions be taken. In cases where trees are removed or destroyed or at the discretion of the Building Inspector, the remedial actions shall be agreed to by the approving agency and/or Town Arborist before a stop-work order may be canceled.
Any person, firm or corporation violating or failing to comply with any of the provisions of this article shall be guilty of a violation and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined a sum not less than $25 nor more than $500 or may be imprisoned for a term not exceeding 60 days, or both.