[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Burgesses of the Borough of Newtown 9-20-1995. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This ordinance shall apply to all trees that partially or completely overhang. trunk or encroach upon any public right of way or public place within the Borough of Newtown and that have a trunk diameter of two feet in diameter or more. This ordinance applies to trees, including their roots, trunk and branches, presently in existence, as well as trees planted in the future, and to trees when they grow to regulatory designated size in diameter. These trees are designated "Public Trees".
Public Trees that measure in diameter of two feet or more are declared to be beneficial natural and/or public resources. To that end it shall be unlawful to willfully cut, damage, poison, injure, destroy or cause to be destroyed, without permit, any Public Tree, except in accordance with the provisions of this ordinance. It is recognized that excavation within two thirds of a drip line risks significant injury and destruction to a tree. Therefore, no excavation shall be done within 2/3 of the drip line of a Public Tree, without a permit. Permits shall also be required for any excavation which may encroach upon the root system of a Public Tree. A permit shall be granted if the applicant proves to the Board of Burgesses that said cutting and excavation will not risk damage, injury, destruction or cause to be damaged, injured or destroyed, the integrity and utility of the Public Tree.
For purposes of this ordinance, certain terms are defined as follows:
- Borough of Newtown, State of Connecticut.
- Diameter of a Public Tree in inches measured at four feet above the existing grade.
- DRIP LINE
- An imaginary, perpendicular line that extends downward from the outermost tips of the Public Tree branches to the ground.
- PUBLIC RIGHT-OF-WAY
- Public streets, sidewalks, highways. State rights of way, lanes, alleys, parks, parkways, playgrounds, and other public grounds.
- PUBLIC TREE
- A tree as referenced in § B59-1, one that partially or completely overhangs, trunks or encroaches upon any public right of way or public place within the Borough of Newtown.
- REMOVE or REMOVAL
- The actual removal of a tree by digging up, cutting down, or the effective removal through injury or damage.
- A woody type plant having one or more trunks two feet or more in diameter.
Permit. Any person or entity wishing to take action for which a permit is required under this ordinance shall make written application to the Board of Burgesses and pay a reasonable fee as set by the Board of Burgesses to cover the costs of processing the application. The Board of Burgesses may require an applicant to submit site plans that include, but are not limited to, the location of existing trees, drip lines, utility lines, structures, boundaries, and public area walkways. The reviewing Board may also require historical studies, reviews and consultation, and plans and proposals for removal, injury, destruction, replacement, care, repair or protection of the Public Trees.
Time of permit. Any and all permits issued by the Borough of Newtown shall be declared null and void if commencement of work so permitted is not started within a reasonable time, not to exceed six months as set by the Board of Burgesses. In no case shall the permit be valid for more than twelve months. Permits not used within this period will become null and void and future work will require a new application. For purposes of this section a permit shall be used when the work authorized by the permit is completed.
Permit procedure. A written decision on the permit shall be rendered by the Board of Burgesses within sixty days of the close of the submittance or hearing, if requested, whichever is later.
Permit considerations. The Board may consider the positive and adverse effects of one or more of the following criteria in reviewing a permit:
The location of the Public Tree, its historical and aesthetic significance, and any wildlife habitat;
The location of structures or improvements;
The condition and health of the Public Tree;
The location of utilities, roadways, highways, or sidewalks; and
The purpose of removal, destruction, injury, damage, cutting or excavation including the economic enjoyment of property, available alternatives, and the health, safety and welfare of persons and the community as a whole.
The provisions of this ordinance shall not apply to:
The removal of dead limbs;
Preservation maintenance and pruning care;
Emergency circumstances where risk of imminent harm and further proximate injury exists to persons or tree;
Public Tree trimming for utility wires;
A residential and/or commercial real property owner where a Public Tree either partially or completely overhangs, encroaches, upon or trunks in said owner's real property. Said exception shall only apply to a residential real property owner and/or commercial real property owner insofar as that Public Tree which overhangs, encroaches upon, or trunks in said owner's real property.
Any person, firm, partnership, corporation, agency, authority or municipality that violates any provision of this ordinance shall be fined not less than $5, not more than $100 for each offense, or the maximum permitted by law, where the maximum exceeds $100 for each offense. Any person that violates said ordinance may be imprisoned, but not for more than 29 days or the maximum time permitted by law whichever is less. All rights of equitable relief are preserved.
In addition to the penalties provided herein, any person, firm, partnership, corporation, agency, authority or municipality that violates any provision of this ordinance shall pay to the Borough a penalty equal to the total value of those Public Trees illegally removed, damaged, injured, cut and placed at risk, as calculated by the total cost of replacement. Replacement of illegally removed Public Trees may be required, or a combination of replacement and money. Said sum of money shall accrue to the Borough and may be recovered in a civil action. Said sum so collected shall be placed in a special fund and shall be expended for the purchase of replacement or preservation of Public Trees.
The Borough reserves authority to lawfully preserve the Public Trees however it feels best.