Borough of Lehighton, PA
Carbon County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Lehighton: Art. I, as Ch. 130, Art. VII, of the 1975 Code; Art. II, 9-13-1993 by Ord. No. 436. Section 205-4 amended at time of adoption of Code; see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I. Other amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Property maintenance — See Ch. 171.
205a Addendum 1
[Adopted as Ch. 130, Art. VII, of the 1975 Code]
A. 
Terms defined. As used in this Article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
PERSON
Any natural person, partnership, association, firm or corporation.
B. 
Word usage. As used in this Article, the singular shall include the plural, and the masculine shall include the feminine and the neuter.
No person shall plant or maintain or permit to remain upon property owned by him/her any tree any part of which shall interfere with any of the electric lines of the borough or any of the branches of which shall have a clearance above the sidewalk of less than 7 1/2 feet or a clearance above any street or public alley of less than 14 feet.
Any person upon whose property any tree shall at any time be growing with any branch interfering with any electric line of the borough or with a clearance above any street or public alley of less than 14 feet or above any sidewalk of less than 7 1/2 feet shall, upon 10 days' notice from the Borough Manager, remove or cause such tree to be removed or trim or cause the same to be trimmed so that such tree shall no longer be growing in conflict with the requirements of § 205-2 of this Article. If any person shall fail to remove or trim such tree within such time limit, the borough shall have authority to cause the same to be done and to collect the cost of the work, with an additional amount of 10%, from the owner of the property upon which such tree is located.
[Amended 8-26-1991 by Ord. No. 413]
Any person who shall violate any of the provisions of this Article shall, upon conviction thereof before any District Justice, be subject to a fine of not less than $10 nor more than $600 and costs of prosecution and, in default of payment of such fine and costs, to imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 30 days. Such penalty and costs may be in addition to any charges made by authority of § 205-3 of this Article.
[Adopted 9-13-1993 by Ord. No. 436]
A Commission, to be known as the "Shade Tree Commission of the Borough of Lehighton," is hereby created under authority of the Borough Code, Act of February 1, 1966, P.L. No. 581,[1] as amended.
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 47721 et seq.
A. 
Definitions. The following words and phrases, when used in this Article, shall have the meanings hereby ascribed to them, except in those instances where the context indicates a different meaning:
BOROUGH
The Borough of Lehighton, Carbon County, Pennsylvania.
COMMISSION
The Shade Tree Commission of the Borough of Lehighton.
COUNCIL
The Borough Council of the Borough of Lehighton, Carbon County, Pennsylvania.
PERMIT
A document issued in writing by the Shade Tree Commission or through the Borough of Lehighton and kept on record in the borough office.
PERSON
Any natural person, firm, association, partnership or corporation.
PUBLIC HIGHWAY
Any street, sidewalk or alley open to the public and shall extend to the limits of the borough's legal right-of-way.
SHADE TREE
Any tree, shrub, hedge or other woody plant on any public highway, park or borough-owned property in the Borough of Lehighton, or any tree, shrub, hedge or other woody plant which extends within the limits of any public highway, park or borough-owned property.
TREE REMOVAL
Removing all woody tissue, including that below ground, to a depth of 12 inches.
B. 
Construction. In this Article, the singular shall include the plural, and the masculine shall include the feminine and neuter.
A. 
The Commission shall be composed of at least five residents of the Borough of Lehighton, who shall be appointed by the Council and shall serve without compensation. At least one of the members of the Commission shall have at least 10 years' experience as an arborist, tree surgeon or in a closely related field, unless there is no resident of the borough who has said qualifications and who is willing to serve as a member of the Commission.
B. 
Term. The Borough Council shall appoint the members of the Commission for terms of three years. Vacancies in the Commission shall be filled by the Council for the unexpired term of the member whose seat on the Commission became vacant.
A. 
The Shade Tree Commission shall perform all duties and may exercise the powers conferred to it by the Borough Code, Act of February 1, 1966, P.L. No. 581, as amended.[1] This shall include overseeing and enforcing shade tree regulations as delineated in this Article as follows:
(1) 
The Commission shall have exclusive custody and control of the shade trees in the borough which come under its jurisdiction as defined in § 205-6.
(2) 
The Commission is empowered to authorize planting, removal, maintenance and protection of shade trees under its jurisdiction as defined in § 205-6.
(3) 
Identification of new planting sites by the Commission is subject to the review and final approval of the Council's Streets, Buildings and Code Committee and Council's Public Works and Recreation Committee.
(4) 
The Commission, with the advance approval of the Council, may engage, hire or employ such arborists, foresters, tree wardens, engineers or other such professional persons as the duties and responsibilities of its office require.
(5) 
The Commission may make, enforce and recommend regulations for the care and protection of shade trees in the borough. No regulations shall be in force until they have been approved by the Council and enacted as an ordinance or resolution of the Council.
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 47721 et seq.
B. 
No person shall prevent, delay or interfere with the Commission, Council or borough employees or any person employed to execute or enforce the regulations contained in this Article, provided that nothing herein shall be construed as an attempt to prohibit a public hearing or the pursuit of any remedy, legal or equitable, in any court of competent jurisdiction for the protection of property rights by the owner of any property within the borough.
The regulations for the Shade Tree Commission of the Borough of Lehighton are as follows:
A. 
Permits must be obtained to do anything to a shade tree, and the Commission is hereby authorized set a fee for the processing of such a permit. No shade tree shall be removed, planted, pruned, broken, sprayed, injured, destroyed, have the growth altered in any manner or be interfered with in any way, in or on any public highway, park or other borough property in the Borough of Lehighton, unless a permit has been obtained and is on file at the borough office indicating approval or permission of the Commission, in writing, for the action to be taken. If a contractor is to do the work sought to be authorized by the permit, the name, address and telephone number of the contractor must be identified on the permit.
B. 
Routine maintenance. Once permission is secured, in writing, through such a permit, the property owner shall have a time limit of one year from the date of the permit, or such other time frame as may be specified by the Commission, to accomplish the work.
C. 
Removal (also consult § 205-12D).
(1) 
The Commission may require owners of property to cut, prune or remove shade trees in the interest of public safety or to conform to the regulations of this Article.
(a) 
Condemnation. Upon written notification from the Commission, the property owner will have 60 days to take the required measures.
(b) 
Emergency removal of trees. (See §§ 205-11 and 205-12D).
(c) 
Failure to comply. If the property owner fails to comply with such notice or requirements, the borough may cause the work to be done and levy and collect the cost thereof from the owner of the property.
(2) 
Shade trees that are removed, including the removal of the stump [See §§ 205-6 and 205-12D(3)], and which are required to be replaced shall be replaced as soon as practical (fall planting is preferred) but within one year of the removal of the original shade tree.
D. 
Cost.
(1) 
The cost of pruning or removing any shade trees and stumps along public highways in the borough and planting a replacement tree shall be the responsibility of the property owner.
(2) 
In addition, the cost of the necessary suitable guards, curbing or grading for the protection thereof and the replacement of any pavement, driveway or sidewalk necessarily disturbed in the execution of such work shall also be paid by the owner of the real estate abutting where the work is done.
(3) 
If the borough has to arrange for a condemned tree to be taken down [See § 205-9C(1)], the cost of such work shall be a lien upon the premises from the time of the commencement of the work, the date of which shall be determined by the borough. Any such lien may be collected by an action in assumpsit or by lien filed in the manner provided by law for the filing and collection of municipal claims.
E. 
Location and species of new trees.
(1) 
Replacement trees. The species and location of replacement trees are subject to the guidelines contained in § 205-12A.
(2) 
Planting trees.
(a) 
Property owners of sites approved for the planting of new trees according to the most current shade tree inventory will be systematically requested to voluntarily plant trees in the identified site within a specified time.
(b) 
If such a request has been made and a property not brought into compliance voluntarily by planting a tree at the specified site within the time specified, then the tree may be planted by the borough and a lien placed against the property to cover the costs incurred by the borough.
F. 
Regulation of shade trees on private property.
(1) 
If any shade tree on a public highway, street, park or other public property is being injuriously affected or is likely to be so affected or if the public safety is being endangered by a tree on private property, as determined by the Commission or Council, the property owner will be required to prune, spray, cut or remove such tree(s), shrubs, hedges or plants at the property owner's expense.
(2) 
If the owner of the property does not take the required actions as ordered within the time specified from the date of such order, the Commission or Council may then have the work done at the property owner's expense.
A. 
Nothing may be attached to a shade tree without the advance written permission of the Commission. Except as provided below, no cables, ropes, wires, nails, spikes or injurious fasteners may be attached to, placed upon or put into any shade tree in or upon any public highway, park or other public property. The Commission may grant permission for cables, ropes, wires, nails, spikes or fasteners to be attached to, placed upon or put into a shade tree following the Commission being satisfied that such cables, ropes, wires, nails, spikes or fasteners are either necessary to repair an injury to a shade tree, necessary to ensure the continued health and vitality or structural support of a shade tree or necessary to ensure the safety of persons or property. The Commission may also grant permission for the attachment of temporary official signs and notices to shade trees which shall be attached with string or tape which may be removed without doing damage to the tree.
B. 
No injurious substances may be placed on shade trees. No chemicals, salt water, oil, gasoline or other materials which are hazardous or injurious to plant life shall be poured, sprayed, placed or allowed to fall upon any street, highway, sidewalk or pavement in such a way as to injure any shade tree growing thereon. (See § 205-12E concerning spraying.)
C. 
Roots.
(1) 
There may be no surface impediments to the roots at the base of the shade tree. No person shall deposit, place, store or maintain upon any public area of the borough any asphalt, concrete, stone, sand or other material which may impede the free passage of water, air and fertilizer to the roots of any shade tree growing thereon, except by written permission of the Commission.
(2) 
No gas leaks near roots. No person shall knowingly permit any leak to exist in any gas pipe within the root area of any shade tree.
(3) 
No toxic materials near the roots. No person shall knowingly permit any other toxic material to seep, drain or be emptied on or about the root area of any shade tree.
(4) 
No digging near shade trees. No person shall excavate any ditches, tunnels, holes or trenches or lay any driveway within a radius of six feet from any shade tree without first obtaining written permission from the Commission.
(5) 
In the event of imminent danger to life or property, digging near a shade tree may be undertaken without permission of the Commission, provided that such action must be reported to the Borough Manager's office and a permit placed on file within 48 hours of its occurrence. Otherwise, it shall be deemed a violation of this Article.
D. 
No electrical wires may come in contact with any shade tree.
(1) 
No person shall knowingly permit any electrical wires to come in contact with any shade tree unless protected by methods approved by the Lehighton Light and Power Department and the Commission.
(2) 
When electricity needs to be cut off for safety. Whenever the director of Lehighton Light and Power Department determines it is necessary to move, protect or cut off the electricity from service wires so that the department's work can be conducted safely and properly, the director shall serve written notice on the owners of such wires, and such owner shall comply with such orders within 24 hours after service of said notice.
E. 
No injuries from fire. No person shall permit any fire to burn where such fire will injure any portion of a shade tree on any highway or in any public area of the borough.
F. 
In the event of accidental damage to or the destruction of any shade tree in or on any public highway or public property:
(1) 
A report thereof must be submitted within five days to the Borough Manager's office by the person responsible for the damage.
(2) 
Repair, removal and/or replanting necessitated by such damage or destruction may be accomplished by the person(s) responsible or may be initiated by the Commission. The borough may collect the expense of such repair, removal and/or replacement from the person(s) responsible for such damage or destruction.
(3) 
Pruning guidelines: in the case of limbs broken during a storm and treating other tree wounds, see Addendum 2, The National Arborist Association Standards for Pruning of Shade Trees, etc.,[1] for more specific details.
[1]
Editor's Note: Addendum 2 is on file in the borough office.
In the case of imminent danger to life or property, a shade tree on any public highway, street, park or other public property may be cut, pruned or removed without permission of the Commission or Council, provided that such action must be reported to the Borough Manager's office and a retroactive permit placed on file within 48 hours after its occurrence. Otherwise, it shall be deemed a violation of this Article.
A. 
Planting. Any shade tree which is planted on any public highway, park or public property in the borough must meet the following guidelines:
(1) 
Species. First, the exact species of the tree must be listed in Addendum 1, Approved Shade Tree Species,[1] which are the only species approved by the Commission.
[1]
Editor's Note: Addendum 1 is included at the end of this Article.
(2) 
Site.
(a) 
The precise site at which a shade tree will be planted must be approved first by the Commission, and then the specific location is subject to the review and final approval of the Council's Streets, Buildings and Code Committee and Council's Public Works and Recreation Committee.
(b) 
All shade trees planted along the public highways in the borough shall be set so as to form as nearly as possible a straight or uniform line with the other shade trees growing along the same highway.
(c) 
Spacing. Shade trees shall be planted or set at a minimum distance of 25 feet apart where practicable with the first tree from any corner set at a minimum distance of 25 feet from the outside near curbing of the intersecting street.
(d) 
No tree shall be planted within 25 feet of any lamppost or within 10 feet of any fire hydrant or within five feet of any sewer, gas, water or other pipe or conduit.
(3) 
Minimum size and other requirements for new trees.
(a) 
Height. A shade tree must be a minimum of eight feet in height and have a single trunk with a minimum diameter of two to 3 1/2 inches, measured six inches above the ground level, with a well-defined leading branch or leader.
(b) 
Leader. No shade tree which has had the leader cut back or cut out shall be planted.
(c) 
Staking. New shade trees shall be staked for one year.
(4) 
The planting hole. Care should be taken when digging the planting hole not to dig deeper than the depth of the tree ball. Shade trees shall be planted so that the root collar remains even with the adjoining grade.
(5) 
Any stone or grid work at the base of a shade tree must be approved by the Commission.
B. 
Pruning.
(1) 
The owner of the property on or in front of which shade trees are located shall secure a permit to remove limbs and branches on otherwise healthy shade trees and keep them trimmed so as not to interfere with the proper lighting of public highways and street signs by the streetlights. In doing so, it is not necessary to clear the main trunk of limbs to a great height, but subdivisions can be removed, giving the branches a graceful upward turn.
(2) 
Branches.
(a) 
In order not to interfere with the unimpeded use of the street and the sidewalks by vehicular traffic, the branches of any shade tree must be kept trimmed so that:
[1] 
Sidewalk clearance. They will not be any lower than 10 feet from the surface of the sidewalk on which they abut.
[2] 
Street clearance. They will be no lower than 15 feet from the surface of the adjoining roadway at a distance of three feet from the curbing. The Commission shall have the authority to designate a higher clearance on any public highway where heavy traffic or other conditions make it expedient.
(b) 
Mature shade trees shall be headed up to the prescribed level with the advice of the Commission. On young trees, the fixing of the branches shall be done gradually year by year after planting.
(c) 
Since larger trees with lower branches must grow in diameter as well as in height, in order to support the top without bending, the lower branches shall be removed only at intervals of a year or more with the advice of the Commission until the proper height of clean stem is reached.
(d) 
See Addendum 2, The National Arborist Association Standards for Pruning of Shade Trees, etc.,[2] for more specific details on pruning standards.
[2]
Editor's Note: Addendum 2 is on file in the borough office.
C. 
Cutting roots of shade trees.
(1) 
Not recommended. In general, cutting the roots of a tree condemns the tree and weakens it on the side of the cut, making it more inclined to fall in that direction in a high wind. Therefore, it is recommended that other remedies be tried first.
(2) 
Exceptions. There are instances, however, when the roots of mature trees lift sidewalks to such an extent that the Commission may determine that uneven sidewalks create an even greater hazard and may make an exception and allow the roots of a shade tree to be cut according to the following guidelines for cutting roots:
(a) 
No damage to the bark or the trunk of the shade tree should be incurred at the time that roots are cut.
(b) 
The cut must be as far from the base of the tree and as close to the sidewalk as possible.
(c) 
The cut must be done cleanly with a sharp knife, hatchet or saw. No hacking away or partial cutting shall be allowed; it allows disease, fungus and insects to attack the tree.
D. 
Removing trees.
(1) 
Permit required. A request to remove a shade tree must be approved, in writing, with a permit on file at the Borough Manager's office.
(2) 
Duration of permit. Once permission is obtained, the requestor will have one year from the date of said written permission to accomplish the work unless the tree has been condemned or presents imminent danger. [See §§ 205-9C(1) and 205-11.]
(3) 
Stump must be removed. If a shade tree is removed, the entire stump shall also be removed at the same time, i.e., removing all woody tissue including that below ground to a depth of 12 inches.
(4) 
Tree replacement. Any time a shade tree is removed, the property owner will have up to one year from the date of removal to plant a replacement tree according to the guidelines contained in this Article.
E. 
Spraying. All spraying of shade trees shall be done with approved materials under the Pennsylvania Pesticide Control Act of 1973, 3 Pa.C.S.A. § 111.21, et seq., and shall performed pursuant to the provisions of the Pennsylvania Pesticide Control Act of 1973, above.
A. 
Enforcement. This Article shall be enforced by the Commission in conjunction with the Mayor and the borough police.
B. 
Violations and penalties.
(1) 
Any person who violates any provision of this Article shall, upon conviction thereof, be guilty of a summary offense punishable by a fine of not more than $300 and costs of such proceedings or, upon default of payment of such fines and costs, by imprisonment in the county jail for a term of not more than 30 days.
(2) 
The continuation of such violation for each successive day shall constitute a separate offense, and the person or persons allowing or permitting the continuation of the violation may be punished as provided above for each separate offense.
C. 
Liens. If not collected sooner, liens for work done on the property as well as any fines and costs outlined above will be collected at the time the real estate is transferred to a new owner.
A. 
Any property owner aggrieved by any section of this Article may apply for a variance to the Commission by filling out a shade tree variance request.
B. 
Appeal process. If a variance request is denied by the Commission, the variance may be appealed to the Borough Manager.