Township of Nether Providence, PA
Delaware County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Commissioners of the Township of Nether Providence 2-13-1997 by Ord. No. 610. Amendments noted where applicable.]
A. 
There shall be created a commission to be known and designated as the "Shade Tree Commission." The Commission shall consist of three members, all of whom shall be residents of the Township. All will serve without compensation.
B. 
One member shall serve for three years, one for two years and one for one year.
C. 
On the expiration of the term of any member of the Shade Tree Commission, a successor shall be appointed by the Township Board of Commissioners to serve for a term of three years.
D. 
Vacancies in the office of the Shade Tree Commission shall be filled by the Township Board of Commissioners for the unexpired term.
Within a reasonable time after the appointment of the Shade Tree Commission and the approval of the members thereof, upon call of the Township Board of Commissioners, the Shade Tree Commission shall meet and organize by the election of a Chairperson. The Shade Tree Commission shall then provide for the adoption of rules and procedures and for the holding of regular and special meetings as the Commission shall deem advisable and necessary in order to perform its duties.
[Added 2-12-2009 by Ord. No. 738]
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
AREA OF DISTURBANCE
An area proposed to be disturbed in any manner, temporarily or permanently, as a result of construction activities.
CALIPER
Standard measurement of a tree's diameter taken at a twelve-inch height.
CERTIFIED ARBORIST
Any arborist certified by the International Society of Arborists (ISA).
DRIPLINE
A limiting line established by a series of vertical drop points marking the maximum radius of the crown of an existing tree but not less than 15 feet from the tree trunk. This area is to be protected from all construction activities, including earth disturbance, compaction, foot or vehicular traffic and material stockpiling.
HAZARD TREE
Any tree on public or private property that poses an immediate danger to life or property or any tree afflicted by a disease which threatens injury or destruction of other trees.
HERITAGE TREE
Any of the following:
A. 
A tree associated with a notable or regional historical event, person, structure or landscape;
B. 
A tree of exceptional age or rare species; or
C. 
A tree of 36 inches or greater caliper.
INVASIVE SPECIES
Species that invade ecosystems beyond their natural, historic range and harm the native ecosystem of Nether Providence Township or commercial, agricultural, or recreational activities dependent on that ecosystem.
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT
A person who has completed a course of study from an approved school of landscape architecture or who has been trained and registered in landscape architecture in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
OWNER
The legal and beneficial owner of land. Where the legal and beneficial ownership of land is severed, the term shall include all persons holding legal and beneficial interests.
PERMIT
A permit, in writing, issued by the Township Manager or Township Engineer pursuant to application approval by the Shade Tree Commission.
PERSON
Any individual, firm, association, partnership, corporation or any other legal entity, other than the Township of Nether Providence.
PROTECTIVE TREE FENCE
A temporary fence installed, at a minimum, around the dripline of any tree which is to be preserved during construction operations, inside of which no grading, storing or dumping of any material may occur.
PUBLIC STREET OR HIGHWAY
Any Township, county or state right-of-way, a portion of which is used for vehicular or pedestrian travel.
SHADE TREE
Any tree with a six-inch or greater caliper which is subject to review and/or approval by the Shade Tree Commission under any section of this chapter.
STREET TREE
Any tree within any public right-of-way.
TOWNSHIP
The Township of Nether Providence
TOWNSHIP ENGINEER
The duly appointed Engineer of the Township or his designee.
TOWNSHIP MANAGER
The duly appointed Manager of the Township or his designee.
TREE PROTECTION PLAN
A plan addressing issues related to protective fencing and protective techniques to minimize impacts to trees associated with grading, excavation, demolition, and construction.
TREE PROTECTION ZONE
An area that is radial to the trunk of a tree. The tree protection zone shall be 15 feet from the trunk of the tree to be retained, or the distance from the trunk to the dripline, whichever is greater. Where there is a group of trees or woodlands, the tree protection zone shall be the aggregate of the protection zones for the individual trees.
TREE REPLACEMENT FORMULA
Replacement of any tree removed or recommended to be removed by the Shade Tree Commission as follows: one replacement tree per every tree removed that is 12 inches to 18 inches in caliper; two replacement trees per every tree removed that is greater than 18 inches to 24 inches in caliper; three replacement trees per every tree removed that is greater than 24 inches to 36 inches in caliper; four replacement trees per every heritage tree to be removed that is 36 inches or greater in caliper. Replacement trees should have a minimum two-inch caliper. Replacement trees for a heritage tree shall have a minimum three-and-one-half-inch caliper.
[Amended 2-12-2009 by Ord. No. 738]
The duties of the Shade Tree Commission shall be as follows:
A. 
General powers. Excepting such powers as are reserved to the Township Commissioners under applicable law, or as herein reserved, the Shade Tree Commission shall have exclusive custody and control of the street trees in the Township and is authorized to plant, transplant, remove, maintain and protect trees along the streets and highways in the Township. To the extent funds for such purposes are budgeted by the Township Commissioners, it may employ and pay such superintendents, engineers, foresters, tree wardens or other assistants, as the proper performance of the duties devolving upon it shall require. Nothing herein shall be construed to require the Township Commissioners to budget funds for the foregoing purposes. The Shade Tree Commission may make and enforce regulations for the care and protection of the street trees of the Township, provided that no such regulation shall be enforced until approved and ordained by the Township Commissioners.
B. 
Duties. The specific duties of the Shade Tree Commission include but are not limited to the following:
(1) 
The Shade Tree Commission shall prepare a heritage tree inventory within three years of the effective date of this chapter and update that inventory at least every five years thereafter. The Shade Tree Commission or the Township reserves the right to confer heritage tree status on any suitable tree brought to its attention. The failure of the Shade Tree Commission to include a tree on the inventory shall not exempt a tree meeting the above definition of "heritage tree" from the protections of this chapter.
(2) 
The Shade Tree Commission may recommend suitable species of trees for planting along streets and in other areas, as well as appropriate size, spacing, planting, bracing, fertilization, maintenance and pruning of trees.
(3) 
The Shade Tree Commission shall assist the Township in the dissemination of news and information about the establishment, protection and maintenance of shade trees in the Township.
(4) 
The Shade Tree Commission shall hold public meetings on a regular basis, but not less frequently than three times a year, and shall publish its schedule of meetings and activities. Meetings and notices thereof shall be governed by the Nether Providence Township procedures.
(5) 
The Shade Tree Commission may, with approval of the Board of Commissioners, consult a qualified arborist or landscape architect to advise on suitable species or trees, their planting, durability, rate of growth, litter tendencies, care, protection and treatment, tolerance to impervious coverage and traffic, and other such advice that may be useful or appropriate to the duties and responsibilities of the Shade Tree Commission.
(6) 
The Shade Tree Commission shall recommend to the Board of Commissioners rules and regulations to further carry out its duties and responsibilities, which may include the issuance of mandatory or voluntary guidelines governing the planting, maintenance and removal of trees.
(7) 
The Shade Tree Commission shall administer the Shade Tree Fund, a fund comprised of contributions from interested persons and other entities, for the purpose of maintaining the wooded character of the streets and lands within the Township.
(8) 
The Shade Tree Commission shall establish a list of invasive species exempt from protection under this chapter and update that list at least every five years.
(9) 
The Shade Tree Commission shall assist the Township in the dissemination of news and information regarding:
(a) 
The selection, planting and maintenance of trees within the municipality, whether the same be on private or public property, and making such recommendations from time to time to the Township Board of Commissioners as to desirable legislation concerning the tree program and activities for the municipality; and
(b) 
The handling of fallen leaves within the municipality, whether the same be on private or public property, and making such recommendations from time to time to the Township Board of Commissioners as to desirable regulations and practices concerning leaf mulching and leaf removal.
C. 
Reviews. The Shade Tree Commission may review or cause to be reviewed all applications submitted to the Township for the following:
(1) 
Land development.
(2) 
Subdivision.
(3) 
Clearing on any undeveloped building lot of six or more trees of 12 inches' diameter or greater.
(4) 
Removal, disturbance or pruning of a heritage tree.
D. 
Reservation. The Township Commissioners hereby reserve the following powers unto itself its officers, employees, agents and contractors:
(1) 
Such power and authority as is reserved to it in the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code to require owners of real property to remove any tree, plant, shrub or other similar obstruction, or part thereof which, by obstructing the view of any driver, constitutes a traffic hazard.
(2) 
Such power and authority as is reserved to it in the Pennsylvania First Class Township Code to accept, purchase and plant or contribute to the purchasing and planting of shade trees along the streets and sidewalks of the Township.
(3) 
Such power and authority as is reserved to it in the Pennsylvania First Class Township Code and this chapter to assess liens.
(4) 
Such power and authority as is reserved to it in the Pennsylvania First Class Township Code to accept the petition of a majority of the property owners upon any public street and, after receiving the counsel of the Shade Tree Commission, thereupon ordain the planting and replanting of suitable shade trees along and upon the sides of such streets by the owners of property abutting the points designated in such ordinance.
(5) 
All powers and authority reserved to it under any other applicable law.
[Added 2-12-2009 by Ord. No. 738]
A. 
License required. A contractor license is required for all arborists, tree surgeons or landscape companies to perform any tree work in Nether Providence Township on public or private land. Such work shall include but not be limited to felling, pruning, tree removal, stump grinding, etc., to the end that only responsible and qualified persons shall be permitted to engage in such activity in Nether Providence Township.
B. 
Insurance required. In order to apply for a license to perform tree work in Nether Providence Township, an applicant shall be required to demonstrate possession of liability insurance covering the activities involved, in the minimum amounts of $300,000 for bodily injury or death and $100,00 for property damage. In addition, they shall demonstrate proof of up-to-date workers' compensation coverage.
C. 
Application. Application for a license shall be made on a form provided by the Township and shall include the name and address of the business, partnership or corporation, and the name of the individual to be licensed, along with any additional information which the Township may require. One member of the business, partnership or corporation shall be sufficient for the issuance of a license.
[Added 2-12-2009 by Ord. No. 738]
A. 
Grading and clearing permits.
(1) 
No person shall undertake any of the following activities without first applying for and obtaining a grading and clearance permit from the Township:
(a) 
Activity resulting in the movement of earth or stripping of vegetative cover from earth with an area in excess of 300 cubic yards;
(b) 
Paving a parking lot of five or more cars where two or more existing trees of 12 inches' or greater caliper are proposed to be removed; or
(c) 
Grading or clearing on any undeveloped lot in which six or more trees of 12 inches' or greater caliper are proposed to be removed.
(2) 
An application for a grading and clearing permit shall be made in writing to the Township Manager upon forms furnished by the Township, together with such filing fee as may be established by resolution of the Board of Commissioners from time to time.
(3) 
As part of the application for a grading and clearing permit, the applicant shall submit a plan showing:
(a) 
The size, species and location of all trees with a caliper of 12 inches or greater which are in the proposed area of disturbance.
(b) 
All trees to be removed are to be designated with an "X."
(c) 
The approximate location of trees on adjoining properties that are located within 10 feet of the property line (said locations can be approximated from the subject property or via existing aerial photographic data). A planting plan shall also be required illustrating the size, species and location of trees to be planted in compliance with the tree replacement formula. The plan shall include a chart summarizing sizes of trees to be removed and trees to be planted.
(d) 
The location of protective tree fence around trees to remain, including a detail of such.
(4) 
Additionally, the following measures must be addressed by the applicant and inspected by the Township Engineer prior to the start of work:
(a) 
Protective tree fence must be installed and maintained until the work is complete and not removed until directed by the Township. No soil stockpiling, storage of building materials or equipment operation shall be permitted within the tree protection zone or within 15 feet from any remaining trees, whichever is greater.
(b) 
All trees to be removed within the area of disturbance must be clearly marked at the base of each tree with visible marking.
(c) 
The cost of such inspections will be covered by the applicant's permit fee as charged by the Township.
(d) 
Protective tree fence must be installed by the applicant and inspected by the Township Engineer upon issuance of a grading or clearing permit.
(5) 
The Shade Tree Commission shall recommend for approval or disapproval each grading or clearing permit application before it and provide a written basis for its findings. If approved, the Township Manager may issue a grading or clearing permit. If a grading or clearing permit application is not acted upon within 30 days, it shall be considered to be approved by the Shade Tree Commission.
(6) 
The grading or clearing permit shall be effective for such length of time as the Shade Tree Commission shall in each case determine, which length of time shall be indicated on the permit; and such permit may be revoked at any time by the Township Manager upon proof satisfactory to the Township Manager that the terms upon which the permit was issued have been violated.
(7) 
The Shade Tree Commission can, in its discretion, as a condition of a permit, require the applicant to file a bond or to deposit security satisfactory to it to guarantee compliance with the terms and conditions upon which the permit is issued.
B. 
Removal or disturbance of a heritage tree.
[Amended 10-13-2011 by Ord. No. 760]
(1) 
No person shall undertake any of the following activities without first applying for and obtaining a heritage tree removal/disturbance permit from the Township:
(a) 
Removing or disturbing a heritage tree;
(b) 
Pruning more than 20% of the branches of a heritage tree within a twelve-month period.
(c) 
Performing any work within the tree protection zone of any heritage tree.
(2) 
The application for a heritage tree removal permit shall be accompanied by a plan illustrating the size, species and location of the Heritage tree which is proposed to be removed and the size, species and location of new trees to be planted in compliance with the tree replacement formula. In the case of the disturbance of a heritage tree due to construction or grading activities, a tree protection plan shall be prepared by a certified arborist or landscape architect, which plan shall address issues related to protective fencing and protective techniques to minimize impacts associated with grading, excavation, demolition, and construction.
(3) 
All heritage trees remaining on site shall be protected from disturbance by proposed construction or clearing of area trees.
(4) 
The Shade Tree Commission shall recommend for approval or disapproval each heritage tree permit application and may provide a written basis for its findings. In determining whether to approve a permit application, the Shade Tree Committee shall give consideration to the following:
(a) 
The condition of the tree or trees with respect to disease, danger of falling, proximity to existing or proposed structures and interference with utility services;
(b) 
The necessity to remove the tree or trees in order to construct proposed improvements to the property;
(c) 
The topography of the land and the effect of the removal of the tree on erosion, soil retention and diversion or increased flow of surface waters;
(d) 
The long-term value of the species under consideration, particularly life span and growth rate;
(e) 
The ecological value of the tree or group of trees, such as food, nesting, habitat, protection and shade for wildlife or other plant species;
(f) 
The number, size, species and location of existing trees in the area, and the effect the removal would have upon shade, privacy impact and scenic beauty;
(g) 
The availability of reasonable and feasible alternatives that would allow for the preservation of the tree(s).
(5) 
If approved, the Township shall issue a heritage tree removal permit, subject to such conditions as the Shade Tree Commission may impose. If a heritage tree removal application is not acted upon within 30 days after receipt of an application under this section, it shall be considered to be approved by the Shade Tree Commission.
(6) 
The heritage tree removal permit shall be effective for such a length of time as the Shade Tree Commission shall in each case determine, length of time shall be indicated on the permit, and such permit may be revoked at any time by the Township Manager upon proof satisfactory to the Township Manager that the terms upon which the permit has been issued have been violated.
C. 
Appeals hearing. Any person aggrieved by a denial of a permit notice, determination, refusal, act or failure to act issued, taken or omitted under this § 71-5 shall have the right to a hearing to be held by the Board of Commissioners. A notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days following the date of the denial or other action so appealed. In all cases, the aggrieved party shall be given personal notice by regular mail of the date, time and place of the meeting at which his/her appeal will be heard.
[Added 2-12-2009 by Ord. No. 738]
A. 
Authorization for immediate removal. Notwithstanding anything contained in this chapter to the contrary, the cutting and removal of hazard trees may occur without a permit if the following conditions exist by the assessment of a Township licensed arborist:
(1) 
There exists an immediate danger to life or property.
(2) 
The tree is afflicted by a disease which threatens injury or destruction of other trees.
(3) 
Federal, state or Township laws or regulations superseding this chapter require tree removal.
(4) 
The tree has been substantially damaged or has died.
B. 
Determination of hazard tree status. Whenever it is determined, upon inspection by a certified arborist, that a tree is a hazard tree that constitutes a nuisance in fact or a menace to health or a threat to public safety, the Township Manager or his designee shall notify, in writing, the owner of the property on which such hazard tree is located or, in the case of a street tree, the property which abuts the portion of the right-of-way in which such hazard street tree is located, of his determination. If notice as aforesaid cannot be given, then a copy of said notice shall be posted on the premises.
[Amended 3-8-2018 by Ord. No. 798]
C. 
Notice of abatement. At the time of the notification of determination aforesaid or at some later time, the Township Manager may also deliver or have delivered a written order of abatement directed to the owner requiring an abatement of the condition described within such time as may be specified in the order of abatement, and said order of abatement may provide for removal or any other relief deemed appropriate by the Township Manager.
D. 
Cost of removal. The owner is responsible for all costs for removal of hazard trees on private property.
E. 
Abatement by Township. In case such order of abatement is not obeyed within the time specified therein, the Township Manager may direct or engage the appropriate Township employees or other persons to remove, correct or abate the condition described, and the expense therefor shall be recoverable from the owner of the property involved, together with a penalty of 10% of such expense, in the manner provided by law for the collection of municipal claims.
[Added 2-12-2009 by Ord. No. 738]
A. 
Maintenance of street trees.
[Amended 3-8-2018 by Ord. No. 798]
(1) 
The maintenance, care, or removal of any street tree as defined herein, and the required compliance with any provision of this chapter shall be the responsibility of the property owner on whose property the tree is located or whose property abuts the portion of the right-of-way in which the street tree is located, when the street tree is located in the right-of-way between the paved cartway of a public street and the abutting property.
(2) 
The cost and expenses of planting, pruning, maintaining, feeding, protecting, and caring for street trees on Township rights-of-way shall be borne by the Township when, and only when, the work is done by the Township with approval of the Board of Commissioners. Any voluntary action taken by the Township with respect to street trees pursuant to this section shall not create any obligations on the part of the Township to continue such action, nor shall it limit, ameliorate or change the obligation of the landowner. This section shall not limit the rights of the Township to recover expenses from the owner as provided in § 71-6 of this Code or as otherwise provided by law or ordinance.
B. 
Acts injurious to street trees. Except in case of necessity for protection of life or property, it shall be a violation of this chapter for any person to do any of the following acts without a permit:
(1) 
To cut down any viable healthy street tree.
(2) 
To interfere with the roots of any street tree.
(3) 
To cut into, drive nails or spikes into, break climb with spurs, or injure in any manner a street tree.
(4) 
To place any rope, guy wire, cable, sign, poster or other fixture on a street tree.
(5) 
To injure, misuse or remove any device placed to protect a street tree.
(6) 
To discharge or pour salt, saltwater, oil or other noxious liquids or materials on a street tree or around its base.
(7) 
To place any stone, cement or other material on a street tree or around its base so as to impede the natural passage of water and air into its roots.
(8) 
To attach any electrical wire, insulator or any device for the holding of an electrical wire to any street tree.
[Added 2-12-2009 by Ord. No. 738]
Any person violating any provisions of this chapter shall, upon summary conviction before any District Justice, be punishable as provided in Chapter 1, General Provisions, Article II, Violations and Penalties, § 1-17, Other violations. Each and every day in which any person, firm or corporation shall be in violation of this chapter shall constitute a separate offense.