[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Ridley Park as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Article I Tree and Plant Life
Article II Shade Trees
[Adopted as Ch. 65 of the 1968 Code]
From and after the passage of this article, all trees or other plantings of whatever description situate within the lines of the highways, streets and public parks of the Borough shall be under the jurisdiction of the Borough Council, which shall enforce the provisions hereof and may make such reasonable regulations for removal, care and protection of said trees or other plantings as shall seem to it necessary and proper and for the planting of additional trees.
It shall be unlawful to cut, trim or climb with spurs, break, injure, kill, destroy or remove or to cause, authorize or procure any person to cut, trim, climb with spurs, break, kill, destroy or remove any shade tree or trees now growing or which shall hereafter grow along highways, streets or public parks of the Borough, without written permit of the Borough Council.
Any tree or other planting standing on either public or private property, projecting on or over the public highway or extending its roots into any public sewers or endangering the public is, under the police power, hereby declared a public nuisance, and upon action of the Council authorizing its removal or trimming as a public nuisance, the Council shall order the owner of the property to trim or remove said tree or other planting within 30 days, and if said tree or other planting is not trimmed or removed within the prescribed time as fixed by the Council, then said tree or other planting shall be trimmed or be removed by the Borough and the cost thereof collected from the owner of the property, as provided by law, and the Borough shall have the right to file a lien therefor.
No tree shall be planted in or upon the public streets, highways, avenues, parks, parkways and other public areas of the Borough within five feet of any driveway, nor shall any tree on private property adjacent to the sidewalk be planted within three feet therefrom. No tree shall be planted nearer to the intersection of any two or more streets than 25 feet from the point of intersection of curbline of any two public streets. Under normal conditions, trees should be spaced at least 50 feet apart. Special permission must be given for planting trees closer than 50 feet. Whenever possible, new trees will be planted in line with other trees on the street. Trees may not be planted between sidewalk and curb unless the distance between sidewalk and curb is at least three feet.
All trees on public highways or on private property shall be kept trimmed so that the minimum clearance where they overhang any public walk shall be nine feet and the minimum clearance where they overhang any public street or highway shall be 12 feet. However, the Borough reserves the right to designate a higher clearance on certain highways where heavy traffic or other conditions make it expedient. In case the owner of such property shall neglect or refuse to trim such trees upon being notified, in writing, by the Borough to do so, the Council may, after the expiration of the date specified in said notice, cause such trimming to be done at the expense of the owner, and the entire cost thereof shall be a lien upon such premises and shall be filed and collected by the Borough in the same manner as municipal claims are filed and collected.
All public utilities operating in the Borough desiring to trim trees along the highways and streets must obtain permission to do so from the Borough Council. Work of this nature is to be done under Borough supervision.
[Amended 6-8-1971 by Ord. No. 897; 10-21-2003 by Ord. No. 1131]
Any person or persons, firm or corporation who shall violate or authorize or procure the violation of any provisions of this article shall, upon conviction before any District Justice, be subject to a penalty not to exceed $600 and costs of prosecution, payable to the Borough, and, in default of payment of the fine and costs, shall be committed to the county jail for a period not exceeding 30 days, with the right of appeal as in other cases of summary conviction.
[Adopted 6-9-1992 by Ord. No. 1043]
In recognition of trees being an integral part of the design and character of this planned residential community as set forth in the Copeland Plan of 1871 (see Appendix); for the purpose of promoting among our residents a sense of community pride and respect for nature and life; for improving an appreciation of the aesthetic qualities shade trees impart; to promote the reintroduction, wherever practicable, of native Pennsylvania species; and, it being the Borough's desire to protect and renew shade trees as a natural resource for generations to come; the shade tree Commission of Ridley Park is charged with regulating the orderly planting, removal, maintenance and protection of shade trees in all public areas.
The shade tree Commission shall have no jurisdiction concerning trees on private property.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- APPROVED BY THE ARBORICULTURAL STANDARDS
- Refers to current methods of shade tree care as promulgated by the International Society of Arboriculture, National Arborists Association, American Nurseryman's Association, Bureau of Forestry of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or similar organizations.
- CURB PLOT
- That portion of the right-of-way between the edge of the street and the sidewalk.
- Any chemical which removes leaves from a shade tree.
- Any chemical which kills plants.
- IMPERVIOUS MATERIAL
- Any stone, brick, sand, concrete, asphalt or other substance which impedes the free passage of water, air and/or nutrients to the roots of any shade tree.
- LANDMARK TREE
- Any tree determined by the STC to be noteworthy due to its size, age, rarity, species, type or historic significance.
- MAJOR PRUNING
- Any tree work other than minor pruning and including, but not limited to: reducing the crown; changing the outline; cutting a limb greater than three inches in diameter.
- PUBLIC AREA
- All publicly owned property, including rights-of-way and parks, but excluding private property.
- Public area along both sides of the street which encompasses the sidewalk, curb plot and street from the property line on one side to the property line on the other. This area may vary with different streets.
- SHADE TREE
- A tree, shrub or woody plant.
- A single or multiple stemmed woody plant which typically will not exceed 15 feet in height.
- TREE PROTECTION ZONE (TPZ)
- That area within the outermost perimeter of the leaves of a shade tree.
- WOODY PLANT
- Any plant which maintains a living structure above the ground from year to year.
The Shade Tree Commission shall consist of five Borough residents who are appointed by Borough Council. Selection shall be based primarily on: interest in the work of the STC; knowledge of plant material; design, drafting or surveying ability; and/or other talents useful to the STC. Initially, Borough Council shall appoint members to staggered terms so that one term expires every year, one member for a term of one year, one member for a term of two years, one member for a term of three years, one member for a term of four years and one member for a term of five years. On the expiration of the term of any member, a successor shall be appointed by Council to serve for a term of five years.
[Amended 6-15-2004 by Ord. No. 1145]
The members shall elect a Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary for one-year terms. Removal from the STC may be for misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance.
The STC operates solely at the will and approval of Borough Council, which shall have final say in all matters of policy and methods of operation.
All members of the Commission shall serve without pay.
Borough Council shall provide a yearly appropriation of funds to the Shade Tree Commission based upon the budget report provided by the STC and the availability of revenues. These funds shall be used by the STC to carry out its duties and responsibilities as defined by this article.
The Commission may engage in fund-raising activities to aid in carrying out its duties according to this article.
Protect shade trees. The Shade Tree Commission (STC) shall have exclusive custody and control of all shade trees on rights-of-way and Borough property and shall advise Borough Council and Ridley Park residents on all matters pertaining to shade trees on Borough properties and rights-of-way and shall administer permit procedures necessary to protect Borough shade trees.
Plan and design shade tree plantings. The STC shall establish goals and objectives for long-range plantings of shade trees in all public areas and along rights-of-way. Planning shall conform to the general aesthetic established by the Copeland Landscape Plan of Ridley Park (see Appendix) which may include, but is not limited to naturalized areas, formal areas and tree-lined walkways.
Oversee the maintenance of shade tree quality. The STC shall determine where shade trees are in need of mulching, feeding, disease control or repair of damage; advise on the upgrading of shade tree species and types; and see that all work involving shade trees or the roots of shade trees is done in strict compliance with approved arboricultural standards.
Records shall be kept of all shade trees planted by the STC as well as copies of all permits approved, applications, landscaping plans and shade tree inventory information.
Minutes of meetings shall be kept.
As required by 8 Pa.C.S.A. § 2724.1, the STC shall annually report to Council its transactions and expenses for the last fiscal year and provide anticipated budget for the next year.
Recommendations, requests or suggestions from Borough residents shall be kept, carefully considered and incorporated where possible.
Educate citizenry about shade trees. The STC shall advise on the avoidance of undesirable species and provide information as to the reasons that certain species are considered undesirable; emphasize the beauty, diversity, and the necessity of native Pennsylvania species; disseminate information on the approved arboricultural standards of tree care and encourage understanding and appreciation of Ridley Park's shade trees, natural woodlands and planned landscapes.
Inventory the Borough's shade tree resources. The STC shall gather shade tree information including:
Identify and inventory landmark trees. The STC shall submit information on unusually large or rare trees to the property owner and to the District Forester and keep a reference file of landmark trees for educational purposes.
A permit shall be required for any person to do, or cause to have done, the following to any shade tree located in a public area: cut down a shade tree; and prune a shade tree other than the minimum to meet clearance requirements over street and sidewalk (see Subsection F).
A permit shall be a written approval from the STC as issued by the Borough office for work to be performed in the street right-of-way and shall include: number and location of tree or trees; type of tree or trees; description of work to be performed; name of person or organization doing the work; expiration date; and may state other conditions or requirements that must be met.
An application for a permit shall be a written request to perform major pruning in the street right-of-way and shall include: name and address of property owner; name of person or organization doing the work; description of work to be performed; location and type of tree; application date; and reason work is required.
Before any permit shall be issued, each applicant shall first provide proof of liability insurance in the minimum amounts of $300,000 for bodily injury and $100,000 property damage indemnifying the Borough or any person injured or damaged as a result of the pursuit of such endeavors as herein described.
Fee for a permit issued shall be $5.
A permit denial shall be issued in writing by the STC with reasons given and appeal procedure noted.
Planning; planting of street trees.
As set forth in 8 Pa.C.S.A. § 2720.3, the STC shall give notice of plantings, transplantings or removal of shade trees.
Street tree plantings initiated by the STC shall be planned on paper; plantings by residents through the STC shall be planned on paper; these plans must include the location, dimensions and species of shade tree, be approved by the STC and filed by the STC.
It is recommended that groups of trees be evenly spaced wherever possible; twenty- to forty-foot space between trees is most desirable.
Overhead wires call for lower growing tree species or careful training to form open crotch thereby preventing interference with wires; it is important that tall trees with a strong central leader not be planted in these locations.
Trees shall be planted 10 feet or more from a stormwater inlet; no closer than 10 feet from a sanitary sewer line.
Be aware of overhead service lateral and location of underground electric (underground rural distribution).
Willow, poplar, Norway maple and trees with undesirable characteristics shall not be planted along Borough streets.
Commission shall seek Council's assistance where lack of sufficient curb plot interferes with or prevents the orderly planting of street trees.
The minimum size of trees planted along right-of-way shall be 1 1/2 inch in diameter when measured at 4 1/2 feet above grade.
Planning: planting in other public areas.
Plans shall be finalized on paper with accurate dimensions and approved by the STC before any work is done; approval shall require a majority vote at a regularly scheduled meeting and signature of the Chairperson.
The STC is directed to select Pennsylvania native species and their associates wherever possible.
Norway maple shall not be planted in public areas.
Paving with impervious material shall not be done within the tree protection zone (TPZ) of any shade tree in a Borough public area other than street right-of-way.
Shade tree removal.
No shade tree shall be cut down or removed from any public area or street without first obtaining a permit.
Stumps must be removed to a minimum depth of four inches below grade.
In accordance with the provisions of 8 Pa.C.S.A. § 2720, the STC may require a property owner to remove a hazardous tree from the street frontage. In such case, the STC may recommend replacing it with a species and type in keeping with the plan and design of that street; the permit fee shall be waived and the replacement cost of the shade tree shall be borne by the STC.
Clearance over street and sidewalk. Shade trees must not impede the normal flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic; branch clearance over state roads must be no less than 14 feet; over sidewalk clearance must be at least eight feet.
When excavating or repairing sidewalks or curbs within the TPZ, no lateral root over three inches in diameter shall be severed or injured.
Work on sidewalks and pit-planting areas shall follow approved arboricultural standards.
The practice of curving sidewalks to allow for tree expansion, rather than cutting tree roots, shall be promoted.
Work done by utility companies.
Prior to beginning work involving shade tree trimming, removal or digging within the TPZ, the utility company must present worksheets for all proposed work to the STC for review and approval.
The utility company or agent must obtain permission from abutting property owner before any work proceeds involving a shade tree.
All work must be done under STC supervision and conform to approved arboricultural standards.
Stumps must be removed to a minimum depth of four inches below grade.
The STC shall review each application for a permit and shall approve or disapprove the application. The STC's decision to approve or disapprove an application shall take into consideration the reasons and/or necessity for the proposed work; especially in light of the health of the tree and the appearance and contribution said tree makes to the street planting, and the stated purpose of this article.
In case of emergency such as windstorms or other catastrophe, the requirements of this article may be waived by the administrator of this article during the emergency period so that the provisions herein would in no way hamper private or public work to restore order in the Borough.
The following activities are harmful to trees:
Chemical sprays, herbicides or defoliants shall not be applied or deposited in the TPZ. A waiver may be granted by the STC for removal of poison ivy or poison oak.
Salt and ice-melting chemicals shall not be scattered, spread or piled on curb plots.
The climbing with spurs of any shade tree shall not be allowed.
The topping of any shade tree shall not be allowed.
The piling of soil, salt, rock, debris or any material, except landscaping mulch, shall not be allowed within the TPZ of any Borough shade tree.
Vehicles other than grass-cutter shall not be driven or parked in an unpaved TPZ of any Borough shade tree.
The peeling of bark, damaging or defacing of any Borough shade tree shall not be allowed.
Weed-wackers or lawn-mowing equipment shall not contact the trunk, branch or surface roots of any Borough shade tree.
Nails, screws, wire or cable shall not be attached to any shade tree excepting that which is permissible under approved arboricultural standards.
When through willful or wanton disregard for the life of any shade tree any person causes injury, damage or death to any Borough shade tree, such action shall incur the maximum penalties allowed by law. Such person shall also be charged the cost of repair and/or replacement of the shade tree. The STC shall review and recommend on what constitutes "willful or wanton disregard" on a case-by-case basis.
Any person or persons, firm or association of persons who shall violate or fail to comply with any of the terms or provisions of this article, upon conviction in the courts, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $600 and/or imprisonment in the county jail for a period not exceeding 20 days. Each tree involved will constitute a separate offense. Penalties shall follow those spelled out in 8 Pa.C.S.A. § 2720.4. See § 195-16B of this article. Such fines or penalties shall be collected in the manner prescribed by law.
Enforcement shall be by person or persons designated by Borough Council.
The right to appeal any decision of the STC must be presented in writing to the STC within 30 days of disapproval. The STC will review and make recommendations to Council for decision.