Village of Port Jefferson, NY
Suffolk County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Port Jefferson 9-12-2005 by L.L. No. 6-2005.[1] Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Conservation Advisory Council — See Ch. 15.
Environmental quality review — See Ch. 129.
Flood damage prevention — See Ch. 145.
Sandpits and quarries — See Ch. 207.
Subdivision of land — See Ch. 220.
Zoning — See Ch. 250.
Attachment 1 - Table 1, Clearing Standards
[1]
Editor's Note: This local law repealed former Ch. 241, Trees, Grading and Land Clearing, adopted 2-24-1997 by L.L. No. 1-1997.

§ 241-1 Legislative intent.

A. 
The destruction and damage of trees and other natural vegetation; the indiscriminate and excessive cutting of trees, including historic trees; the removal, stripping and storing of topsoil; and the improper, indiscriminate or excessive clearing of land and the alteration of land grades all cause barren and unsightly conditions, destroy barriers to soil erosion, create increased surface drainage problems, increase municipal costs to control drainage and remove debris carried by runoff, impair the benefit of occupancy of existing residential property, impair the stability and value of improved and unimproved real property, damage public highways and adversely affect the health, safety and general welfare of the inhabitants of the Village of Port Jefferson. This chapter seeks to correct these conditions. In addition, it is the Board of Trustees' intent and desire to enhance the aesthetic qualities of lands within the Village attributable to existing natural vegetation and to preserve the historic and rural character of the Village to the maximum extent practicable.
B. 
Caveat. It is not the purpose of this chapter to impose undue restrictions on owners and/or residents of Village property, nor to subject them to burdensome procedures and expense, in those instances where such owner and/or resident contemplates normal maintenance activities; the removal of significantly damaged, diseased or dead trees and/or vegetation; alterations to the grade of any parcel of land not exceeding two feet, as determined by an appropriate topographical survey (one inch equals 20 feet and two-foot contours) or where the total area of the parcel in question containing the contemplated work does not exceed 100 square feet; minor removal of trees, shrubs, undergrowth and/or natural vegetation; or natural tree pruning, all of which activities are defined below.

§ 241-2 Approval required for clearing and grading.

A. 
No person, firm or corporation or entity shall cut down, destroy or remove natural vegetation and/or trees or habitat or in any way clear or grade any parcel of land without first having obtained the written approval of the Planning Board. Normal maintenance activities, including the pruning and thinning of natural vegetation and trees, and/or the removal of significantly damaged, diseased or dead trees and/or other vegetation are excluded from the within requirements with respect to developed lots or parcels.
B. 
No person, firm, corporation or entity shall alter the grade of any parcel of land without first having obtained a written permit for such work from the Building Inspector. The Building Inspector may issue such a permit, without prior approval of the Planning Board, for all work areas within which the proposed grade changes are to be less than four feet as determined by an appropriate topographical survey (one inch equal to 20 feet and two-foot contours) and where the total work area is greater than 100 square feet but less than 400 square feet. The Building Inspector may issue such a permit, only upon prior approval by the Planning Board, for proposed grade changes on all other sized work areas except that proposed grade changes of less than two feet or within a work area of less than 100 square feet are exempt from any permit requirements.
[Amended 12-6-2010 by L.L. No. 13-2010]

§ 241-3 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
CROWN
The aboveground parts of the tree that give the tree its normal shape at maturity.
DEVELOPED LOTS
Land improved by any building as defined in § 250-9 of the Code of the Village of Port Jefferson, New York.
DIAMETER AT BREAST HEIGHT (DBH)
The tree trunk diameter measured in inches at a height 4.5 feet above the ground. If a tree forks into multiple trunks below 4.5 feet, the trunk is measured at its most narrow point beneath the forks.
DISEASED OR DEAD
Trees and shrubs or branches of trees and shrubs showing no leaf growth for a full growing season.
DRIPLINE
The vertical line extending from the outermost edge of the tree canopy to the ground.
GRUBBING
The removal of tree's stumps, roots and the like.
HABITAT
The natural growing characteristics of any tree, which include branch spread and distribution, branch height above the ground and root spread and distribution.
HISTORIC TREE
Any exceptional specimen tree that is of unique and intrinsic value to the general public because of its size, age, historic association or ecological value.
LAND CLEARING
The indiscriminate removal of trees, shrubs and/or undergrowth by stripping or any other process, with the intention of preparing real property for nonagricultural development purposes. This definition shall not include the selective removal of nonnative tree and shrub species when the soil is left relatively undisturbed, the removal of dead trees, or normal mowing operations.
MINOR REMOVAL
With respect to trees, the removal of two trees or less from any property, except that such trees cannot be historic. With respect to removal other than trees, "minor removal" shall be defined as not exceeding 10% of the lot per year, but in no event shall such clearing exceed the limits set forth in Table 1.[1] In all cases of minor removal, the owner/resident of the subject property is encouraged to complete a short-form notice as to such removal and file the same with the Village of Port Jefferson Building Department.
NATURAL VEGETATION
Existing and naturally occurring indigenous vegetation that grows and is maintained without need of irrigation or applications of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or other substances.
PRUNING
The cutting or removing of any part of the branching structure of a tree in either the crown, trunk, or root areas.
SHRUB
A woody plant smaller than a tree, usually having multiple permanent stems branching from near the ground.
SIGNIFICANTLY DAMAGED
Trees damaged by weather, natural disasters, and the like which are determined by the Planning Board or its designee to be incapable of restoration to a normal growth pattern or have a structural defect that constitutes a threat of injury to persons or damage to property.
TOPPING
Also known as stubbing, dehorning, or lopping; refers to the cutting back of the leader stem or limbs into stubs larger than three inches in diameter within the tree's crown so as to remove the normal canopy and disfigure the tree.
TOPSOIL
The upper layer of soil, comprised primarily of a mixture of organic matter and mineral matter, which may vary in depth from three inches to 18 inches.
TREE
Any living, self-supporting woody perennial plant which has a trunk caliper of four inches or more measured at a point six inches above the ground and which normally obtains a height of at least 10 feet at maturity, usually with one main stem or trunk and many branches.
TRUNK CALIPER
The thickness of trees measured in inches. A caliper measurement for trees shall be measured six inches above the soil line.
UNDIVIDED PARCEL OF LAND
Any area of land that has not been divided into lots on a filed subdivision map.
[1]
Editor's Note: Table 1 is included as an attachment to this chapter.

§ 241-4 Approval procedure.

A. 
A removal permit issued upon approval by the Planning Board shall be required for the removal of any natural vegetation, including but not limited to any historic tree or any other trees, or in any way clearing or grading any parcel. A permit issued upon approval of the Planning Board shall be required for the alteration of the grade on any lot wherein the proposed grade changes are to be in excess of two feet, as determined by an appropriate topographical survey (a scale of one inch equals 20 feet and two-foot contours) and where the total area of the lot containing the proposed work is in excess of 100 square feet. Normal maintenance activities, including the pruning and thinning of natural vegetation and trees; removal of significantly damaged, diseased or dead trees and/or other vegetation; and minor removal of trees, are excluded from the requirements for the removal permit. The upper limit of material that is to be removed, deposited or rearranged is to be as first approved by the Planning Board. The fees associated with this approval process are set forth in the Table of Fees at the end of Chapter 250.
B. 
Any removal permit, grade alteration permit, subdivision approval and/or building permit required by this chapter or any other provision of this Code shall be subject to the clearing standards set forth in Table 1 annexed hereto.[1] The percentages shown in Table 1 shall apply to each lot that is the subject of such permit and/or approval procedure. In the case of a parcel consisting of less than 10,000 square feet, Table 1 shall not apply, but such parcel shall be subject to reasonable clearing standards established by the issuer of any such permit and/or approval.
[1]
Editor's Note: Table 1 is included as an attachment to this chapter.
C. 
Administration. Except for minor removal and emergency situations, this chapter shall be administered by the Planning Board, which shall have the authority to promulgate rules and regulations for the effective administration of this chapter consistent with the legislative intent of this chapter. The Planning Board shall have the authority to delegate the administration of this chapter to the Village Engineer. In the event of emergency situations, defined as meaning an immediate threat to life and/or property, the Village Engineer is authorized to issue a removal permit as referenced in § 241-4A above. In such event, the Village Engineer shall provide written notice to the Planning Board of the issuance of any such emergency removal permit.
[Amended 8-3-2009 by L.L. No. 7-2009]
D. 
Application; issuance of permit.
(1) 
Every applicant for a permit required by this chapter shall submit an application to the Planning Board on such form as may be prescribed by the Planning Board. Said application shall include the following information:
(a) 
The name and address of the applicant and owner of the subject property, if not the same.
(b) 
The purpose of the proposed tree or vegetation removal or grading activity.
(c) 
The site of the proposed activity on the subject property.
(d) 
A site disturbance plan clearly indicating the following:
[1] 
An outline of existing wooded areas, naturally vegetated areas, and landscaped areas on the subject property.
[2] 
The location of all improvements, if any, on the subject property.
[3] 
A topographical survey (a scale of one inch equals 20 feet scale) where grading is proposed.
[4] 
Color photographs (eight inches by 10 inches or larger) of the site clearly depicting the type of natural habitat located on the site, including, but not limited to, woodland, marshlands, bluff, tidal area, freshwater streams and wetlands.
[5] 
A list of the predominant plant species and natural animal habitats presently existing on the site.
[6] 
The location of existing trees that which exceed nine inches in diameter as measured three feet above the base of the trunk.
[7] 
The percentage of area to be cleared relative to the lot size.
[8] 
A map depicting safety barriers to be erected around trees not being cleared and their habitat to prevent damage from equipment or backfilling.
[9] 
A plan for installing erosion control barriers such as hay bales and siltation fences to control stormwater runoff, and a map depicting planned locations for installation of erosion control barriers.
(2) 
In acting upon the application, the Planning Board shall take into account the following criteria and considerations:
(a) 
The location, type and size of the tree(s) and/or vegetation to be removed.
(b) 
The condition of the tree(s) and other vegetation with respect to disease and potential for creating hazardous conditions.
(c) 
The proximity of the tree(s) and other vegetation to existing or proposed structures and utility appurtenances.
(d) 
The need for the site clearing and removal of vegetation or grading and tree(s) as proposed.
(e) 
The environmental effect of the proposed clearing and/or grading.
(f) 
Any of the considerations enumerated in the legislative intent of this chapter.
(3) 
The Planning Board shall refer the application to its staff or consultant or the Conservation Advisory Council for review and advisement.
(4) 
The Planning Board shall evaluate, in writing, the considerations set forth in this section and any other criteria, as well as the advice and recommendations of the Board's consultant or staff or the Conservation Advisory Council.
(5) 
The Planning Board shall advise the applicant, in writing, of its decision on the application and the basis therefor, and, upon the favorable determination of such application, shall issue a permit therefor, with conditions, if any.
(6) 
An application fee shall be submitted with each application for a removal permit as follows:
[Amended 8-3-2009 by L.L. No. 2-2009]
Lot Size
(square feet)
Fee
Less than or equal to 15,000
$50
15,001 to 22,500
$100
22,501 to 30,000
$150
30,001 to 43,560
$200
Greater than 43,560
$250
E. 
Prior to the granting or withholding of approval, the Planning Board, or a committee of the Board including at least one Board member, shall inspect the lands covered by the application to observe the trees, shrubs and other natural vegetation thereon, the drainage and other physical conditions existing on the property and adjacent property. The Planning Board shall approve the application upon a finding that the cutting, destruction, removal, clearing or grading to be permitted would not impair the growth and development of the remaining trees, shrubs and other vegetation on the property of the applicant, would not impair existing drainage patterns, would not cause soil erosion and/or impair the stability of the land, would not significantly lessen property values in the neighborhood and would not substantially impair the aesthetic values of the area. The Planning Board shall be guided, in an overall sense, by the intent of this chapter as set forth in § 241-1. It shall have the authority to affix appropriate conditions, in order to effectuate the purpose of this chapter, to the grant of approval hereunder. Failure to comply with such conditions shall be a violation of this chapter.
F. 
Within 60 days after receipt of the application, the Planning Board shall render a written decision either granting or denying the application and, as appropriate, shall issue the permit. The decision and permit shall contain the basis for and conditions, if any, of the approval or shall contain the reasons for disapproval if the application is denied.

§ 241-5 Tree protection during clearing, grubbing and development.

Prior to the commencement of any site clearing or tree and natural vegetation alteration, a removal permit shall be obtained from the Planning Board. During any type of clearing/grubbing and development, the following measures will be utilized to protect any tree on site that is not designated for removal:
A. 
Soil disturbance under the canopy of the tree will be limited to six inches removed or six inches added. Any soil added under the canopy of the tree must be a loamy soil mix to ensure that compaction is minimized.
B. 
Designated existing trees scheduled to remain shall be protected against:
(1) 
The unnecessary cutting, breaking, or skinning of roots.
(2) 
The skinning and bruising of bark.
(3) 
The smothering of trees by stockpiling construction or excavation materials within the dripline.
(4) 
Excessive foot or vehicular traffic.
(5) 
The parking of vehicles within the dripline.
C. 
A temporary wooden snow fence or orange fencing shall be erected at a minimum distance from trees not designated for removal before commencement of any site clearing and grading. The fence is to be a minimum of four feet tall, with posts set deep enough in the ground to be stable without additional support. For protected trees four inches in caliper or more, protective barricades shall be placed a minimum distance of 10 feet from the base of each protected tree. Nothing shall be placed inside of the protective barricades, including, but not limited to, construction material, machinery, chemicals or temporary soil deposits. When paving, excavation or hardscape must be done within barricades; barricades shall be moved back to a secondary location at the edge of work. Extra care must be taken at this time by the contractor to ensure that no damage to the tree or its roots occurs.
D. 
All roots outside of the protective barricade to be removed during development shall be severed clean, and a two-inch layer of mulch shall be applied over the surface of exposed roots during development.
(1) 
Trenching shall be no closer than six times the diameter at breast height (DBH) to the affected tree, nor shall it disrupt more than 30% of the dripline root area.
E. 
One corridor shall be designated for site access, preferably where the driveway or parking area will be located. Construction equipment access, material storage, fuel tank storage, chemical or cement rinsing, vehicle parking and site office locations shall be limited to nontree areas.
F. 
If trees are wounded or stressed during construction, any wounds to the bark should be cleaned to sound wood by removing loose bark and wood, leaving a smooth edge around the wound. Do not apply a wound dressing.

§ 241-6 Pruning.

Maintenance pruning allows for the healthy, uniform growth of a tree. Tree pruning shall promote the health and natural growth of the tree.
A. 
A permit shall not be required in order to perform pruning.
B. 
Tree pruning shall be accomplished in accordance with the procedures set forth in the 1995 ANSI A300 standards, Standard Practices for Tree, Shrub, and Other Woody Plant Maintenance.
C. 
The use of unnatural pruning techniques will be considered an unauthorized removal of a tree. Examples of unnatural pruning are topping, stubbing, dehorning and lopping. Violators of this provision shall be subject to the penalties as stated in § 241-11, Penalties for offenses.

§ 241-7 Exemptions.

A. 
Surveying and soil investigation activities.
(1) 
Destruction or removal of trees or other natural vegetation incidental to surveying and soil investigation activities shall not be undertaken for any parcel of property of any size unless such destruction or removal is in conformity with a clearing plan approved by the Planning Board pursuant to the provisions contained hereunder.
(2) 
Prior to destruction or removal of trees or other natural vegetation incidental to surveying and soil investigation activities, the property owner, or designee, shall apply to the Planning Board for permission to remove or destroy trees or other vegetation in order to undertake said activities. No trees or natural vegetation may be destroyed or removed except in conformity with an approved clearing plan.
(3) 
The application shall be accompanied by a topographical map of the site; in addition, the Board may require an aerial photograph. In the event that the applicant is applying for approval to construct test holes for soil analyses and groundwater monitoring, the applicant shall provide a map from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services indicating its approved test hole and well sites. The applicant shall indicate on the topographical map and on the aerial photograph the boundaries of the site and the extent of clearing needed for the surveying and soil investigation activities.
(4) 
The fee for said application shall be $50 per each existing or proposed residential lot and $150 per nonresidential lot.
(5) 
The application shall be on such form and contain such information as may be required by the Planning Board, and in approving said application, the Planning Board may limit the amount of tree and vegetation destruction or removal contemplated by the applicant.
B. 
Any person doing business as a public utility subject to the jurisdiction of the New York State Public Service Commission and any duly constituted public agency authorized to provide utility services shall be permitted to trim, prune or alter any tree, which may otherwise be lawfully altered by such person to the minimum extent necessary to enable such person to repair existing utility services, without having first obtained a permit issued therefor pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.
C. 
In the event that building permits have not been issued for any previously approved subdivision map(s) or site plan, this chapter shall apply, and no building permit shall be issued until all applicable provisions of this chapter have been complied with.
D. 
Subdivision/site plan applications.
(1) 
Any person required by the Code of the Village of Port Jefferson to submit an application to the Planning Board for approval of a proposed subdivision or site plan shall submit with such application the information required for a permit pursuant to the provisions of this chapter. No subdivision or site plan shall be approved by the Planning Board without due consideration of such information.
(2) 
No tree or natural vegetation removal or clearing shall be permitted in connection with such subdivision map or site plan approval until building permits have been issued for the proposed project, except that clearing may commence prior to issuance of building permits restricted to those areas shown on an approved subdivision map for development as roads and/or drainage facilities.
E. 
Any person who has filed an application for approval of a subdivision or site plan prior to the effective date of this chapter and has not received approval of the same prior to the effective date of this chapter shall submit to the Planning Board such information relative to the preservation of trees and natural vegetation and clearing limits as the Planning Board may request.
F. 
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation shall be permitted to trim, prune or remove trees pursuant to the New York Environmental Conservation Law without the necessity of obtaining a permit pursuant to this chapter.
G. 
Normal maintenance activities, including the pruning and thinning of natural vegetation, landscaped vegetation and trees and/or the removal of significantly damaged, diseased or dead trees and/or other vegetation, are excluded from the within requirements with respect to developed lots or parcels.

§ 241-8 Disclosure affidavit; bond; cash alternative.

It shall be unlawful for any person who is being paid a fee for the business of planting, cutting, trimming, pruning, removing, or otherwise modifying trees within the Village of Port Jefferson to conduct such business without first signing an affidavit stating that he/she has received and read Chapter 241, Trees, Grading and Land Clearing, of the Code of the Village of Port Jefferson, New York, and the 1935 ANSI A300 standards. Such affidavit shall be completed and submitted when making application to the Village of Port Jefferson for a removal permit, together with a bond, or cash alternative, in an amount determined by the issuer of any such removal permit, which bond or cash alternative must be in a form satisfactory to the Village Attorney.

§ 241-9 Enforcement.

The Building Inspector of the Village of Port Jefferson shall enforce this chapter.

§ 241-10 Applicability.

A. 
Compliance with the provisions of this chapter shall be the joint and several obligation of:
(1) 
The owner of the property on which the trees and other natural vegetation are located;
(2) 
The tenant and/or occupant of such property;
(3) 
Any person, corporation, entity or agent of the owner or occupant of the property hired for the purpose of cutting down, removing, pruning, etc., any trees, natural vegetation and/or habitat within the Incorporated Village of Port Jefferson.
B. 
This chapter shall not apply to any agency of the Village of Port Jefferson or to any person, firm or corporation working under the direction of the Village of Port Jefferson.

§ 241-11 Penalties for offenses.

A. 
Each violation of this chapter shall be punishable by a penalty or fine of not less than $500 but not exceeding $1,000 or imprisonment for not more than 15 days, or both. Each "tree," as defined in § 241-3, Definitions, shall constitute a separate violation. In addition, any person, firm, corporation or entity violating this chapter may be required by the Planning Board to replace each and every tree and/or natural vegetation cut, destroyed or removed with a tree and/or natural vegetation of comparable species and/or replace the original grading of the parcel of land upon which such violation occurred. A separate and distinct offense shall be deemed committed on each day during which or on which a violation occurs or continues.
[Amended 8-3-2009 by L.L. No. 7-2009]
B. 
In addition to any penalties that may be imposed pursuant to Subsection A above, any person who violates any provision of this chapter or any conditions imposed upon issuance of a permit issued pursuant to this chapter may be ordered to cease and desist the unlawful destruction or removal of trees and/or restore the premises damaged by the unlawful destruction or removal of trees with such species of trees as are nearly comparable and to such suitable condition as the Board of Trustees may require. In the event that such person refuses or fails to restore the real property to a condition ordered by the Board of Trustees, the Board may proceed in a court of competent jurisdiction for an order directing such person to restore such property.
C. 
The Village of Port Jefferson Building Inspector shall withhold any certificate of occupancy (CO) while said violations remain unresolved.