[HISTORY: Adopted by the Council of the City of Easton 3-9-1988 by Ord. No. 2937 (Art. 907 of the 1965 Codified Ordinances); amended in its entirety 5-14-2008 by Ord. No. 5086. Amendments noted where applicable.]
For the purpose of this chapter, the following terms, phrases, words and their derivations shall have the meanings given herein:
- CITY FORESTER
- The designated official of the City of Easton, County of Northampton, assigned to carry out the enforcement of this chapter.
- LARGE TREES
- Those attaining a height of 45 feet or more.
- MEDIUM TREES
- Those attaining a height of 30 to 40 feet.
- Includes all public parks.
- Any person, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company or organization of any kind.
- PROPERTY LINE
- The outer right-of-way and any limbs that hang over the right-of-way.
- PROPERTY OWNER
- The person owning such property as recorded in the office for the recording of deeds in and for Northampton County.
- PUBLIC PLACES
- Includes all other grounds owned by the City, county, federal or state governments.
- PUBLIC TREES
- Includes all shade and ornamental trees now or hereafter growing on any street or any public areas where otherwise indicated.
- SMALL TREES
- Those attaining a height of under 30 feet.
- 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.
- TREE LAWN
- 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.
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.
Appointment and qualifications. The City Forester shall be appointed by the City Administrator. The City Forester shall be a person skilled and trained in the arts and sciences of municipal arboriculture and shall hold a college degree or its equivalent in arboriculture, ornamental or landscape horticulture, urban forestry or other closely related field or possess equivalent work experience. However, the City administration may designate, with the approval of Council, a temporary urban forester until such time as a permanent replacement is hired.
Duties. The City Forester shall have the authority to make known 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 City, and shall direct, regulate and control the planting, maintenance and removal of all trees growing now or hereafter in any public area of the City. The City Forester shall cause the provisions of this chapter to be enforced.
Recommendation of regulations. The City Forester shall have the authority and jurisdiction of recommending the establishment of regulations and specifications for the planting, maintenance and removal of trees on streets and other publicly owned property to ensure safety or preserve the aesthetics and identified historic landscape features and/or areas of such public sites.
Supervision. The City Forester shall have the authority and it shall be his/her duty to supervise or inspect all work done under a permit issued in accordance with the terms of this chapter.
Granting of permit. The City Forester shall have the authority to grant shade tree work permits only to persons holding City tree surgeon's licenses issued to persons who have passed an examination prepared and administered by his/her office.
Master shade tree plan. The City Forester shall have the authority and responsibility to formulate a Master Shade Tree Plan with the consent and approval of the Director of Public Works and City Council.
The Master Shade Tree Plan shall specify generally the methodology for inspection and inventory of street trees. From and after the effective date of the Master Shade Tree Plan, or any amendment thereof, all plantings shall conform thereto.
The City Forester shall consider all existing and future utility and environmental factors when recommending a specific species for streets and other public sites of the municipality.
The City Forester shall have the authority to amend or add to the Master Shade Tree Plan at any time that circumstances make it advisable with the consent and approval of the Director of Public Works and City Council.
The City Forester shall provide technical assistance to specific horticultural projects. The technical advice shall have an educational emphasis to assist property owners with their questions and problems.
General specifications and requirements.
When permit required; conditions; tree replacement.
No person shall plant, spray, preserve, fertilize, prune, remove, cut, do surgery work, climb with spikes or with the assistance of rope, remove or damage any guard or device placed to protect any tree or shrub, cut above or below ground, disturb or alter any tree or shrub, on any public area of the City of Easton, nor cause such acts to be done by others, without first obtaining permission from the City Forester, who shall issue a permit if, in his/her judgment, the work is necessary and the proposed methods of workmanship are of a satisfactory nature. A permit shall not be needed to weed or water. All tree work will be carried out in conformity with the current Arboricultural Specifications and Standards of Practice prepared by the City Forester.
Editor's Note: The current Arboricultural Specifications and Standards of Practice are on file in the City offices.
As a condition to any permit to remove any tree or shrub on a public area, the City Forester may require that the permittee plant one or more trees or shrubs in place of the one removed. Whenever any such tree or shrub has been removed or destroyed pursuant to any conditional permit, it shall be unlawful for the permittee to fail, refuse or neglect to plant another tree or shrub or other trees or shrubs of the type, size and at the location specified in the permit within the time specified by the City Forester. In instances where aesthetics, desirability of species or general utility is concerned, all decisions should reflect the professional opinion of the City Forester. The City Forester will then issue the recommendation of approval or disapproval for issuance or rejection of the proper permit.
In those situations where the replacement tree can be planted on a public area at a location adjacent to the tree removed and adhere to the Arboricultural Specifications and Standards of Practice, then the stump of the tree removed must be leveled to at least four inches below the ground surface and filled in with acceptable type soil as determined by the Forester. In those situations where the replacement tree cannot be planted on a public area at a location adjacent to the tree removed, then the stump must be leveled to a width and depth below the ground surface to allow the planting of a replacement tree in the same location as the tree removed, as long as the Arboricultural Specifications and Standards of Practice are adhered to. The City Forester will issue a recommendation for the location of the replacement tree.
Applications for permits must be made at the office of the City Forester not less than 72 hours in advance of the time the work is to be done. Applications shall describe the work to be done; specify the species or variety, size, location; briefly specify the method of planting, method of support and trimming of all the trees and shrubs concerned; and contain a definite expiration date.
The City Forester shall issue the permit provided for herein if, in his/her 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.
The City Forester shall be notified of emergency removal of trees. The property owner shall, within 72 hours of such emergency, obtain a permit for work done and notify the City Forester of the completion of emergency work.
All pruning, cutting, removal, fertilizing, spraying and tree surgery shall be done only by a person holding a commercial City tree surgeon's license or, in the case of a homeowner, who has been approved by the Forester to perform minor work and has signed an indemnity agreement with the City of Easton.
A fee as specified in Chapter 285, Fees, shall be charged for each tree removal permit issued payable to the City of Easton. A separate permit is required for each property.
[Amended 7-22-2015 by Ord. No. 5507]
In the instance of the removal or pruning of a tree and/or shrubs within the right-of-way without issuance of a proper permit and/or license, a fine shall be levied according to the penalty schedule in § 554-12 on the property owner and the tree surgeon. In instances of an illegally removed tree or trees, immediate replacement or replacements will be required.
Application. The application requires 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 City Forester shall find reasonably necessary to make a fair determination of whether a permit should be issued.
Improper planting. Whenever any trees are planted or set out in conflict with the provisions of this section, it shall be lawful for the City Forester to remove or cause removal of the same, and the exact cost thereof shall be assessed to the owner as provided by law in the case of special assessments.
Maintenance. The application requires the number 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 City Forester 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 from the tree lawn as determined by the City Forester, the property owner shall replant replacement trees as approved by the Forester. If site conditions prevent planting on tree lawns as approved by the Forester, this requirement will be satisfied by replanting an equivalent number of trees of a size and species recommended by the City Forester in an attractive manner on an adjoining or nearby property or, if not feasible due to site conditions, at another locale at the direction of the City Forester.
No person or property owner shall remove a tree from the tree lawn for the purpose of construction, or for any other reason, without first filing an application and obtaining a permit from the City Forester and without replacing the removed tree or trees in accordance with the adopted Arboricultural Specifications and Standards of Practice. Where a permit is issued for removal, the stump should, where feasible as determined by the City Forester, be removed four inches below grade and filled in with an acceptable grade of soil as determined by the Forester. If the situation calls for a tree to be replaced in the exact location from which it was removed, the stump must be removed a minimum of 24 inches. Replacement shall meet the standards of size, species and placement as provided for in the permit. The person or property owner shall bear the cost of removal, pruning and replacement of all trees. Any removal of three trees or more will require a written plan showing the location of removed trees and the locations, size and species of replacement trees.
The City may decide to plant trees in the planting area of the public right-of-way. When such a decision is made in a proposed development, the expense of purchasing and planting trees shall be the developer's responsibility. The developer shall also be responsible for the trees during the guarantee period. When the decision to plant trees involves an existing established street not part of a proposed development, the expense of purchasing and planting the trees shall be the City's. The responsibility during the guarantee period shall be the City's or the vendor's when the trees are planted under a contract.
The City Forester shall select the location and the tree size and type.
Where applicable, tree wells and/or tree grates shall be installed flush with the adjoining surface so as to not create a safety hazard.
When a tree is to be planted by the City in the planting area of the right-of-way, the property owner shall be notified by certified mail. The property owner shall have 30 days to comment or respond. The property owner shall have the right of refusal for just cause, including, but not limited to, handicapped parking areas and utilities within the planting area. The City Forester shall have final discretion to decide over any claim of just cause.
The property owner shall be responsible to maintain the planted tree after the guarantee period and also the tree well and/or grate, if installed, in accordance with the other provisions of this chapter. In addition, the tree grate must be maintained flush with the adjoining surface.
A property owner may plant a tree or trees in the planting area of the public right-of-way subject to approval by the City Forester and following the provisions of this chapter and Arboricultural Specifications and Standards of Practice.
Editor's Note: The current Arboricultural Specifications and Standards of Practice are on file in the City offices.
Tree surgeon license.
No person except the owner of a business and all workers involved with such operations holding a City tree surgeon's license shall prune, cut, remove, spray, fertilize or perform tree surgery.
A tree surgeon's license shall be issued to those persons who have passed an examination prepared by and administered by the City Forester. A yearly license fee as specified in Chapter 285, Fees, payable to the City of Easton for deposit with the Department of Finance, shall be levied for each license issued to a commercial tree surgeon. Licenses shall be renewed yearly without examination; however, the City Forester may revoke, suspend or refuse to renew any license or require reexamination of any licensee if, in the opinion of the City Forester, the licensee has not performed in a satisfactory manner or has not renewed his license in the prior year.
[Amended 7-22-2015 by Ord. No. 5507]
Applicants for a City tree surgeon's test shall meet the following minimum insurance requirements as set forth below:
All commercial tree surgeons are required to obtain public liability insurance in the amount of $500,000/$1,000,000, property damage insurance in the amount of $50,000/$100,000, and workers' compensation insurance. Those commercial tree surgeons who do not have employees and noncommercial citizens need not maintain workers' compensation insurance.
Noncommercial homeowners must show evidence of their homeowner's or liability policy, which must be in effect at the time that they apply for a permit to do minor tree work. Each applicant shall submit to the City Forester proof that the applicant maintains insurance coverage as required by this section. No license or permit may be issued without such proof.
All tree work by commercial tree surgeons or by homeowners shall abide by the Arboricultural Specifications and Standards of Practice adopted by the City of Easton and incorporated into the chapter, as amended from time to time.
Licensed tree surgeons are required to use safety equipment, including, but not limited to, protective helmets, safety boots, goggles, safety harnesses and climbing ropes. Failure to use safety equipment will result in the revocation of the tree surgeon's license by the City Forester.
Concerning the spraying of pesticides and herbicides of trees and shrubs growing on public planting areas, a permit for this work shall be issued only to those City-licensed tree surgeons who are certified and currently hold a valid Pennsylvania Pesticide Applicators License issued under the Pennsylvania Pesticide Control Act.
Any unlicensed tree surgeon will be fined $300 or the maximum allowable fine, if so cited, for each incident of unlicensed work.
In the case of an emergency, a tree or shrub may be removed or trimmed as necessary to protect the life or property of the general population without first securing a permit. In this situation, the City Forester will be notified as soon as possible after the work is completed, but in no case should this be longer than 72 hours.
Any City official or police officer can request to see a valid permit and license for work on trees and to stop work immediately if no valid permit or license is presented.
The City Forester is authorized to suspend or revoke the license of any person or business that performs work that does not comply with tree care standards as specified in the Arboricultural Specifications and Standards of Practice adopted by the City Forester.
Editor's Note: The current Arboricultural Specifications and Standards of Practice is on file in the City's offices.
Property owner's privileges. Minor tree work may be done by the individual homeowners to trees and shrubs planted in the public right-of-way on his or her property, provided he or she had obtained prior approval from the City Forester and applied for and received a permit. A homeowner's permit is valid only for the residence stated on the permit. Minor tree work is considered that which can be done from the ground; no use of ladders or climbing is permitted. No branches shall be more than two inches in diameter, and there should be no involvement with overhead wires. The City Forester shall advise the property owner whether or not the proposed work is minor, and this decision shall be final.
Permits to public utilities:
All permits issued for the installation and/or maintenance of public utilities that affect trees or shrubs in public areas shall be approved by the City Forester.
At least one person in the utility crew must possess a current City-issued tree surgeon license.
When a permit is issued to a public utility to trim public areas or to do other operations affecting trees or shrubs in public areas, the work shall be done in a neat and workmanlike manner and in conformity not only with the rules, regulations, and orders of the Public Utility Commission but also to the Arboricultural Specification and Standards of Practice adopted by the City of Easton and incorporated into the chapter, as amended from time to time.
The City Forester shall have the authority to supervise or inspect all work done under a permit issued in accordance with the terms of this chapter. The City Forester shall have the authority to stop any tree pruning or removal that fails to meet good practices or the stipulations of the permit or fails to follow the Arboricultural Specifications and Standards of Practice adopted by the City of Easton and incorporated into the chapter, as amended from time to time.
Cooperation with other City departments. There shall be close cooperation with the City Forester and City departments when their common work affects trees and shrubs in public areas and public safety.
Planting and maintenance of healthy trees on the public rights-of-way are the responsibilities of the property owner. Such planting and maintenance shall be done in accordance with the Arboricultural Specifications and Standards of Practice of the City of Easton. It is the responsibility of the property owner to correct any situation that would adversely affect the health of a public or street tree or hinder the planting and growth of a tree at a designated tree site.
Any tree or shrub or parts thereof growing upon private property or in the public right-of-way but overhanging or interfering with the use of any street, park or public area of the City, endangering the life, health, safety or property of the public is a public nuisance. Such nuisance shall not be permitted to exist, and the property owner shall be responsible to eliminate the nuisance by removing the tree or shrub in total or by removing the interfering limbs and branches, all at the property owner's expense. Any City tree so removed if, in the opinion of the City Forester, needs to be replaced will be planted at the expense of the property owner. In addition it shall be the duty of any person owning real property bordering on any street, upon which property there may be trees to obtain a permit and, if necessary, to contract the services of a licensed tree surgeon, to prune such trees in such a manner that they will not obstruct or shade the street lights, obstruct the passage of pedestrians on sidewalks, obstruct the view 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. Should the property owner allow such public nuisance to continue to exist, the City Forester shall notify the owner as noted in Subsection C below.
The owner shall be notified in writing and delivered by certified mail of the existence of the nuisance and given 30 days for its correction or removal. If not corrected or removed within the time allotted, it shall be lawful for the City Forester to cause the nuisance to be corrected or removed, and the cost shall be assessed to the owner. The written notice of the City Forester in no way removes the property owner's responsibility to correct the public nuisance.
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 City 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 as a lien on the property.
Unless specifically authorized by the City Forester, no person shall intentionally damage, cut, break, injure, mutilate, kill, destroy, carve, transplant or remove any tree; attach any rope, wire, nails, advertising posters or other contrivance to any tree; allow any gaseous, liquid, salt, brine, oil, or solid substance, station any tar kettle, road roller or other engine in such a manner that the heat vapors or fumes which are harmful to such trees to come in contact with them; or set fire or permit any fire to burn when such fire or the heat thereof will injure any portion of any tree. No person shall knowingly permit any leak to exist in any gas pipe within the root zone of any tree or shrub in a public area. No person shall permit any toxic chemical to seep, drain or be emptied on or about any tree or shrub in a public area. No person shall knowingly permit electric wires to come in contact with trees or shrubs in any public area unless protected by approved methods. No person shall attach any electrical insulation to any tree or shrub in a public area without first obtaining permission from the City Forester.
No person shall hinder, prevent, delay or interfere with the City Forester or any of the Forester's assistants while engaged in carrying out the execution or enforcement of this chapter or any regulation issued pursuant thereto; 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 municipality.
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 substantial fence at a distance in feet from the tree equal to the diameter of the trunk in inches, and material, dirt or debris shall be kept outside the fence.
No person shall excavate any ditches, tunnels or trenches or lay any sidewalk or driveway within a radius of 10 feet from any public tree without first obtaining the necessary permits which shall be reviewed by the City Forester.
Shovels and all other implements, machines and tools shall be used or operated in such a manner as not to damage or destroy any tree, shrub or plant in any public area.
Where in authorized excavations it becomes necessary to expose or cut roots more than one inch in diameter, it shall be the duty of the contractor to notify the City Forester and protect such roots or remedy the situation under advice from the City Forester.
No person shall permit any heavy equipment to be parked on or within the root zone of any tree on any street or other publicly owned property.
No person shall deposit, place, store or maintain upon any public place of the municipality any stone, brick, sand, concrete or other materials 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 City Forester.
In the event there is no City Forester on staff, or in the place of his/her absence to regulate the maintenance and removal of trees, the Public Works Director shall have the responsibility to enforce this chapter or delegate this responsibility to another qualified individual.
[Amended 3-24-2010 by Ord. No. 5250]
Only the following species may be planted as street trees in the public right-of-way within the City of Easton. The City Forester may, at his or her discretion, deviate from this list when no species contained within the list is suitable for a particular application:
Any person or corporation who violates or fails to comply with any provision of this chapter shall be guilty of a summary offense and, upon conviction, shall be subject to the following penalties: