[HISTORY: Adopted by the Municipal Council of the Borough of Hawthorne 11-16-2009 by Ord. No. 1999-09. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Bushes, hedges, trees and other plant life — See Ch. 153.
Uniform construction codes — See Ch. 185.
Landscapers and tree service providers — See Ch. 287.
Subdivision of land — See Ch. 450.
Shade trees — See Ch. 491.
Zoning — See Ch. 540.
The Borough of Hawthorne finds that the development of unimproved or vacant land, or partially developed but largely unimproved tracts, for the purpose of erecting buildings or structures, has resulted in indiscriminate and excessive removal of trees upon tracts of land and has resulted in creating increased surface drainage and soil erosion, thereby increasing municipal costs to control drainage within the Borough. It further finds that such excessive removal and destruction of trees impairs the proper occupancy of existing residential areas and impairs the stability and value of improved and unimproved real property in such areas, with attendant deterioration of conditions affecting the health, safety and general welfare of the inhabitants of the Borough, and further finds that regulation of the indiscriminate removal of trees is within the police power of the Borough.
For the purposes of this chapter, the following words shall have the meanings indicated:
- BUFFER AREA
- The distance from the side and rear property lines beginning at the front setback line of the lot and running to the rear line.
- BUILDING PLOT
- A parcel of land upon which a building or structure has been or may be erected in accordance with Ch. 540, Zoning.
- A license issued by the Construction Official to remove or destroy trees from any unimproved or vacant land as defined in this chapter.
- Any living tree having a trunk of a diameter of eight inches or greater measuring at a height of three feet above natural grade.
- UNIMPROVED OR VACANT LAND
- Such privately owned land upon which no building or structure has been completely built, for a period of two years after the certificate of occupancy is issued. Included within this definition is partially improved land which is any tract containing improvements but for which an application for development has been filed, other than a single-family home where the application for development solely relates to improvements to the single-family home upon such lands, containing 2.5 acres of land or more.
The provisions of this chapter shall apply to all unimproved or vacant lands within the Borough and all tracts of land or combination of tracts of land containing 2.5 or more, whether improved or unimproved, where an application for development, other than improvements to an existing single-family home on the tract, has been made to the Zoning Officer, Zoning Board of Adjustment or Planning Board of the Borough of Hawthorne.
Permit required. No property owner shall remove or destroy or cause to be removed or destroyed by any person any tree on any unimproved or vacant tract of land or partially improved tract of land as defined above, within the Borough, unless a permit is obtained for such removal.
Application fee. The permit shall be obtained from the Construction Official upon an application being made therefor and a fee of $10 being paid with each application.
Application information where no building permit is requested. An application for a permit for removal or destruction of any tree on a tract where no building permit is requested or contemplated shall contain the name of the applicant, the name of the owner of the property with the consent of the owner if different from the applicant, the location and species of trees on a sketch of the property and the reasons for the removal or destruction.
Application information where building permit is sought. An applicant/owner shall file, along with an application for a permit for removal or destruction of trees where a building permit for construction is being sought, a site plan, and a tree plan showing the location and species of trees on site and which trees on the property are to be removed, together with the condition of such trees shown on the plan by the architect or engineer, under the seal of such architect or engineer.
Determination of Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment; issuance of permits. In the event of an application for development pending before the Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment, the Board shall determine which trees may be removed, and the permit for such removal shall be issued by the Construction Official at the time of the issuance of the building permit.
Referral to other agencies. The Planning Board or Zoning Board shall refer all applications to the Shade Tree Commission for their examination and opinion. Their report shall be submitted to the Board within 20 days of receipt of same. The Board shall not be bound by the recommendations of these committees, and failure to submit a report to the Board within 20 days shall not be construed as a restriction at any time following the expiration of the twenty-day period.
Surety bond required where building permit is sought. In all cases of application for permit where a building permit is applied for, there shall accompany the application a cash or surety bond in a minimum sum of $500 for each acre with the application for building permit, with the amount to be determined by the Construction Official, which bond shall assure compliance with the preservation of those trees not to be removed, which bond shall be returned with the certificate of occupancy, less any costs expended by the Borough to replace trees improperly removed or destroyed in violation of the permit.
The reviewing board may require in certain cases that there is a need for the use by the board of the services of a tree expert. In such event, the cost thereof shall be borne by the applicant and payment of the same shall be a condition precedent to the release of the bond filed or the issuance of a permit.
Appeal. In the event of denial of any permit by the Construction Official, the applicant may appeal that decision to the Zoning Board of Adjustment as provided by statute.
The following shall be the standards to be applied in determining which tree may be removed:
Hardship in such cases shall be based on an examination of all the circumstances considering the applicant's hardship. If the hardship of the owner outweighs the public benefit promoted by retention of trees, a hardship requiring removal may be found to exist.
Any area to be occupied by a building, driveway, walkway, drainage field, septic tank or recreation area (tennis courts, swimming pools or similar facilities) may have the trees removed but not more than 15 feet around the perimeter of such facilities.
The area in the required buffer shall remain undisturbed.
The area that has a cut or fill deemed injurious or dangerous to trees may have removal of trees in such area, as determined by the Construction Official.
The Construction Official shall view the land where the tree or trees are to be removed, as well as drainage or other physical conditions existing on the subject or adjoining property, and may consider the opinion of the Shade Tree Commission.
The permit shall be granted if there is a finding that the removal and destruction will not impair the growth and development of remaining trees on the property of the applicant or adjacent properties and would not cause erosion of soil, impair existing drainage, lessen property values in the neighborhood or impair the aesthetic value of the area.
Protection of trees. No soil material, permanent or temporary, shall be placed within six feet of any tree. Where grading may be required, trees shall be walled in with extension tile to the outer crown of the tree. No structure, equipment or movable machinery which would injure the tree shall be permitted to operate within six feet of any trees in order not to disturb the soil and thereby injure the tree. Prior to removal for construction activity, all trees to be retained shall be tagged. Said tagging shall be reviewed by the office of the Construction Official.
No fee shall be charged or a permit required for the removal of diseased or damaged trees.
Any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall be subject to fines, imprisonment or community service not exceeding the penalties provided in N.J.S.A. 40:69A-29(b).