[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Washington 9-4-2012 by Ord. No. 6-2012. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Trees — See Ch. 83.
Weeds and obnoxious growths — See Ch. 91.
Zoning and land development — See Ch. 94.
Editor's Note: This ordinance superseded former Ch. 76, Shade Tree Commission, adopted 3-13-1979 by Ord. No. 6-79.
Trees constitute natural resources contributing to the value of property throughout the Borough of Washington and promoting the general welfare of the citizens thereof.
The Borough Council deems essential the protection of trees from needless removal or destruction with resulting damage from soil erosion, loss of soil fertility, drainage problems and loss of air quality as well as water quality.
The preservation of trees will be advanced by the establishment of rules and regulations regarding their protection or removal.
The regulation, planting, care and control of shade trees upon or in the streets, highways, public places, parks or parkways of this municipality shall be exercised by and be under the authority of a Commission.
There shall be a Commission consisting of five residents of this municipality, which Commission shall be known as the "Shade Tree Commission of Washington Borough, New Jersey." The five persons shall be appointed by the Mayor and shall serve without compensation. In the event that a vacancy shall occur during the term of any member, his or her successor shall be appointed for the unexpired portion of the term. The terms of office of said Commission shall be in accordance with N.J.S.A. 40:64-2.
The Shade Tree Commission of the Borough of Washington shall have the power to:
Exercise full and exclusive control over the regulation, planting and care of shade and ornamental trees located in the right-of-way area, or which may hereafter be planted, in any public highway, park or parkway, including the planting, trimming, spraying, care and protection thereof.
Regulate and control the use of the ground surrounding the same, as far as may be necessary for their proper growth, care and protection.
Move or require the removal of any tree, or part thereof, dangerous to public safety.
Care for and control such parks and parkways; encourage arboriculture; make, alter, amend and repeal, in the manner prescribed for the passage, alteration, amendment and repeal of ordinances by the governing body of the municipality, any and all ordinances necessary or proper for carrying out the provisions hereof.
Administer treatment to or remove any tree situated upon private property which is believed to harbor a disease or insects readily communicable to neighboring healthy trees in the care of the municipality and enter upon private property for that purpose, with the consent of the owner thereof, provided that the suspected condition is first confirmed by a certificate issued by or on behalf of the Division of Parks and Forestry.
Except as hereinafter provided, the initial cost of all trees planted by the Commission, the cost of planting the same, the cost of the posts and boxes or guards used for the protection thereof and the cost of the removal of any tree or part thereof dangerous to public safety shall, if the Commission shall so determine in accordance with uniform rules and regulations promulgated for this purpose, be a charge upon the real estate in front of which such tree or trees shall be planted or removed as an improvement thereof. Such cost, if it is so determined that it is to be paid by the owner, shall, unless paid directly to the Commission, be certified by it to the Collector of Taxes of the municipality, shall thereupon become and be a lien upon said real estate, shall be included in the next tax bill rendered to the owner or owners thereof and shall be collected in the same manner as other taxes against that property.
In every case where the property of an abutting owner will be chargeable with the cost of planting of any shade tree or trees, the Commission shall give notice of the meeting at which it is proposed to consider said planting by publishing the notice at least once, not less than 20 days before the meeting, in a newspaper circulating in the municipality, or by personal service of a copy of the notice upon the abutting owner at least 10 days before the meeting. The notice shall specify the street, streets or portions thereof on which such planting is proposed and require all persons who may object thereto to present their objections in writing at the office of the Commission at or before the meeting. Before final action shall be taken, all objections so filed shall be considered. The Commission shall give reasonable notice of its intention to remove, or cause the removal of, a tree or part of a tree dangerous to public safety, unless public safety requires immediate removal, in which case no notice shall be necessary.
No person shall plant, remove, cut above the ground, or disturb any tree on any street, park, or other public place in the right-of-way area without writing a letter to the Commission stating their intent. The person receiving permission needs to hire a licensed professional tree service to carry out any action.
The Commission may prescribe a fine for the violation of each of its ordinances in a minimum amount not to exceed $500 for each violation; and the courts which now or hereafter shall have jurisdiction over actions for the violation of ordinances of the municipality shall have jurisdiction in actions for the violation of such ordinances as the Commission shall enact. Each violation will be individually evaluated, based on the circumstances. If, as a result of the violation of any provision of this chapter, the injury, mutilation, or death of a tree in the right-of-way area is caused, the cost of repair or replacement, or the appraised dollar value of such tree, shall be borne by the party in violation.