[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Hyde Park 3-28-2011 by L.L. No. 2-2011. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter is enacted pursuant to the authority granted by the Legislature under Town Law § 263 and Municipal Home Rule Law § 10.
The forest resources of the Town of Hyde Park help provide clean water, a diversity of habitat for wildlife, outdoor recreational activities, and a wide range of wood products. Franklin Delano Roosevelt recognized the importance of forestry in the Town of Hyde Park and he planted 20,000 to 55,000 trees per year on his property from 1930 to 1945. FDR actively harvested his forest lands.
Chapter 602 of the Laws of New York of 2003 established an affirmative right to practice forestry in the State of New York. The purpose of that act was: "(1) to respect the existing common law right to engage in forestry practices in order to maintain such practices for the benefit of the state; (2) to protect the existence and operation of existing forest activities; (3) to encourage the initiation and expansion of additional forestry businesses; (4) to discourage inadvertent impediments to the practice of forestry that may result from well meaning but poorly constructed local ordinances concerning forestry activities; (5) to improve understanding of the economic and environmental contributions that well managed forests bring to the state; and (6) to deter the unlawful taking of trees by increasing criminal and civil penalties." Section 5 of Chapter 602 amended NY Town Law § 263 to direct all Towns in New York State that their zoning laws shall "facilitate the practice of forestry."
Zoning laws that discourage forestry uses, or that make the practice of forestry uneconomical, force forest owners to change their property to uses out of forest cover. At present several properties within the Town have forest tax exemptions. Conservation easements on other properties in the Town permit forestry as a conservation activity. It is in the best interest of the Town to keep these properties as forest land, to encourage other forest parcels to be continued as forest land and to create new forest land where possible.
The 2005 publication A Municipal Official's Guide to Forestry in New York State, a joint publication of the New York State Planning Federation, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Empire State Forest Products Association, published in 2005 with a grant from the United States Forest Service, recommends that towns have a streamlined approval process that is generally not subject to SEQRA review when best management practices are followed.
The Town recognizes that timber resources are of significant value and should be harvested. The Town also recognizes that if harvesting practices are carried out poorly, they can result in significant and direct environmental damage to water quality, land and infrastructure. This chapter requires the landowner, logger and his agent to be responsible for implementation of the best management practices as outlined in this chapter.
For the purpose of this chapter, the following terms shall apply:
- Any person, corporation, firm, partnership or other entity having written authorization from the owner of property for the purpose of representing the property owner in his or her dealings with the Town and its officers and certified by the property owner in writing, over his signature on the permit application form for this purpose. Examples of agents include but are not limited to loggers, foresters, family members, tenant and adjacent landowners.
- The act of the landowner and/or the landowner's agent, of submitting a completed permit information form to the Code Enforcement Officer, signed by the property owner and his agent (if applicable).
- BASAL AREA (BA)
- The cross-sectional area of all stems of a species or all stems in a stand measured at breast height (4.5 feet or 1.37 meters above the ground) and expressed per unit of land area.
- BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES
- Devices and procedures to be considered and used as necessary to protect the values and functions of forested land during harvesting and during other forest management operations. For purposes of this chapter, the "best management practices" shall be defined as the current best management practices of forestry accepted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, including but not limited to: A Landowner's Guide to Building Forest Access Roads, by Richard Wiest, USDA NA-TP-06-98, July 1998, and Best Management Practices for Water Quality BMP Field Guide, New York State Forestry (Last Revised 2007), as such documents may be amended or supplemented from time to time.
- Any cutting of trees over six inches in diameter at breast height over any ten-year cutting cycle where the average residual basal area of such trees after such cutting is less than 30 square feet per acre, measured within the area harvested.
- CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER (CEO)
- The official designated by resolution of the Town Board to enforce the provisions of the chapter.
- COMMERCIAL TIMBER HARVESTING
- The business of felling trees for commercial forest products and/or firewood production and/or sale other than:
- A. Felling trees for firewood production for the personal use of the landowner or the immediate family members of such landowner fewer than 25 standard cords within a twelve-month period.
- B. Production of saw logs by the landowner for the personal use of the landowner or the immediate family members of such landowner of fewer than 10,000 board feet within a twelve-month period.
- C. Harvesting Christmas trees derived from a managed Christmas tree operation whether dug for transplanting or cut from the stump.
- D. An on-farm timber operation as such is defined under Agriculture & Markets Law § 301, Subdivision 14.
- New York State Department of Environmental Conservation or its successor agency.
- HAUL ROADS
- A constructed road of dirt and/or gravel utilized for moving cut trees from the point where they are loaded on a truck to exit from the site.
- An open or cleared area used for loading logs onto trucks or used for any purpose such as storing logs or servicing equipment.
- An individual, corporation, firm, partnership or other entity contracting with an owner of property in the Town for the purpose of commercial timber harvesting on said property.
- MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE
- A concise, time-specific statement of measurable planned results that correspond to pre-established goals in achieving a desired outcome. (An objective commonly includes information on resources to be used, forms the basis for further planning to define the precise steps to be taken and the resources to be used and assigned responsibility in achieving the identified goals.)
- A planned series of treatments designed to change current stand structure to one that meets management goals taking into account ecological, economic, and societal constraints.
- QUALIFIED FORESTER
- An individual who is:
- A. A professional member of the Society of American Foresters;
- B. A member of the Association of Consulting Foresters;
- C. A forester approved by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection Watershed Agricultural Council; or
- D. A person having a degree in forest management from a college or university program recognized by the United States Department of Education, the New York State Board of Regents, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the Society of American Foresters.
- The art and science of controlling the establishment, growth, composition, health, and quality of forests and woodlands to meet the diverse needs and values of landowners and society on a sustainable basis.
- SKID TRAIL
- Temporary trail or rough road used to move a tree-length log from the place where it was cut to a pile or landing where it is loaded onto a truck.
- STANDARD CORD
- Cut wood stacked four feet high by four feet wide by eight feet long. A standard cord is equivalent to 128 cubic feet or solid wood equivalent to 85 cubic feet.
- A body of running water flowing continuously in a defined channel with bed and banks on the ground surface.
No person, firm, partnership, corporation or other entity (hereafter referred to as "person") shall engage in commercial timber harvesting as defined in this chapter without a permit issued in accordance with the provisions of § 102-6.
All commercial timber harvesting pursuant to this chapter shall be supervised by a qualified forester and shall comply with the following standards:
In order to minimize erosion, all haul roads and skid trails shall be constructed and maintained in accordance with the best management practices set forth in A Landowner 's Guide to Building Forest Access Roads, by Richard Wiest, USDA NA-TP-06-98, July 1998, and Best Management Practices for Water Quality BMP Field Guide, New York State Forestry (Last Revised 2007).
In order to minimize streambank erosion there shall be no skidding up and down any stream channel. All logging slash and debris shall be promptly removed from any such channels. There shall be no skidding on any public roads.
In order to minimize streambank erosion the applicants will be responsible for complying with all DEC and Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) permitting requirements during stream and/or wetland crossings.
Clear-cutting shall only be allowed with a permit issued pursuant to § 102-6(F).
In order to maintain the integrity of streambanks, all operations within the area of streams shall conform to the Best Management Practices for Water Quality BMP Field Guide, New York State Forestry, or any succeeding standards adopted by DEC.
Landings shall not be in the public right-of-way and shall be properly graded to prevent sediment from washing into streams, public roads or drainage ditches along public roads.
If applicable, all operations shall comply with the terms of the incidental taking permit issued by DEC pursuant to the provisions of 6 NYCRR 182.
Site reclamation shall be performed as soon as site conditions allow either during, or upon completion of the harvesting activity, and shall conform to the Best Management Practices for Water Quality BMP Field Guide, New York State Forestry, or any succeeding standards adopted by DEC. The following shall be considered to complete site reclamation:
Haul roads, skid trails and landings shall have permanent erosion control and drainage structures installed as necessary to prevent soil movement and water quality degradation. Waterbars, dips, diversion ditches or other appropriate management structures should be placed in accordance with Best Management Practices for Water Quality BMP Field Guide to reduce erosion.
Any person desiring to engage in commercial timber harvesting in the Town shall file a timber harvesting permit application with the Code Enforcement Officer (CEO), together with payment of the permit fee in an amount which shall be set from time to time by resolution of the Town Board. The application shall be signed by the owner of the real property on which the activity will occur or their designated agent.
The CEO shall not accept for review any application which does not contain the required information. The CEO shall make available to the applicants the permit application and a copy of this chapter. Copies of Best Management Practices for Water Quality BMP Field Guide, A Landowner's Guide to Building Forest Access Roads, by Richard Wiest, and other appropriate educational materials shall be available in the Town Clerk's Office for public inspection and links to such publications shall be maintained on the Town's website.
A forest management plan, Real Property Tax Law § 480-a management plan, a forest stewardship incentive plan, or any other qualified forest management plan approved by DEC can be used in place of the permit application.
Basic timber harvest application.
A basic timber harvest application requires the following information:
Names, signatures and addresses of landowner and his or her logger, forester or agent (if applicable);
The name of the forester who prepared the application, and his or her forestry qualifications;
Tax map number(s) of the property to be harvested;
A copy of a United States Geological Survey 7.5-minute quadrangle topographic map, a US TOPO Map, or a property survey with elevation contours at a scale of 1:24,000 or less, showing the area to be harvested and all lands within 1/4 mile thereof, wetlands, waterbodies (including permanent streams), roads and the approximate locations of property boundaries, landing areas, haul roads, and skid trails clearly marked;
Approximate dates of harvesting and approximate volume of timber to be harvested;
A silvicultural prescription including the following:
An incidental taking permit for endangered, and threatened species issued by DEC pursuant to the provisions of 6 NYCRR 182 or a letter from DEC issued pursuant to 6 NYCRR 182.9 that the proposed activity is not subject to regulation. A forest management plan, Real Property Tax Law § 480-a management plan, a forest stewardship incentive plan, or any other qualified forest management plan previously approved by DEC is exempt from this provision as the review has previously been done;
A description of the best management practices that are proposed to be applied to skid trails, landings and haul roads within the harvest area for erosion and sediment control and any other information that is necessary to comply with the provisions of Chapter 93 of this Code (Stormwater Management and Erosion and Sediment Control); and
If the CEO determines that the basic application is complete, it is not an application for clear-cutting, the haul roads in the area to be harvested do not have slopes exceeding 15% for more than 200 feet, and no streams are present in or contiguous to the harvest area, as shown on the topographic map(s), the above steps will complete the information needed, the CEO shall issue a permit within 10 business days of receipt of the complete application.
A forest management plan, Real Property Tax Law § 480-a management plan, a forest stewardship incentive plan, or any other qualified forest management plan previously approved by DEC is deemed to be a complete basic timber harvest application if it is accompanied by a driveway permit or equivalent as set forth in Subsection D(1)(i) above.
Full timber harvest application.
If the haul roads in the harvest area have a slope greater than 15% for more than 200 feet or there is a stream in the harvest area, as shown on the topographic map(s), then the following information is required for a full timber harvest application:
The approximate location of haul roads, skid trails and stream crossings will be identified on the project application map;
A description of the best management practices applied to the harvest area pertaining to riparian areas, haul roads, skid trails and landings;
A copy of any necessary permits issued by the DEC and/or the US Army Corps of Engineers necessary to cross any streams.
If the CEO determines that the full application is complete and all the necessary permits have been issued, the CEO shall issue a permit within 20 business days of receipt of the complete application.
A forest management plan, Real Property Tax Law § 480-a management plan, a forest stewardship incentive plan, or any other qualified forest management plan previously approved by DEC is deemed to be a complete full timber harvest application if it is accompanied by a driveway permit or equivalent, as set forth in Subsection D(1)(i) above, and copies of all permits required by DEC and/or the US Army Corps of Engineers.
In addition to the general requirements for applications shown above, no application for a clear-cutting permit shall be deemed complete unless it includes a draft harvest plan prepared by a qualified forester containing:
A description of the location and nature of any harvesting on the area to be clear-cut or within 1/4 mile thereof within the prior 10 years.
A description of harvest methods (including use of portable chippers), preharvest and postharvest techniques and harvest objectives.
In the event pesticide or herbicide use is proposed, the name of the chemical, the applicator and the manner and rate of application.
Standards for the review of clear-cutting.
If the CEO is not a qualified forester, the CEO shall retain the services of an independent qualified forester in the manner provided for by § 102-7A to review the clear-cutting application.
The CEO will not issue a permit to allow clear-cutting unless:
The clear-cutting is for a recognized silvicultural purpose;
There are adequate buffers on the shorelines of lakes, ponds, rivers or streams; along major travel corridors, and, if necessary, around dwellings on adjacent lands, so as to preserve water quality and visual quality and to control noise;
If applicable, habitats of rare and endangered species will be protected in accordance with the provisions of any incidental taking permit issued pursuant to 6 NYCRR 182;
Regeneration of timber is assured;
If proposed, and if allowed by the CEO, any use of pesticides and herbicides will be strictly controlled;
Harvest will be controlled by qualified personnel by contract, marked stand, direct supervision, or other adequate means;
The storage, mixing, or bulk handling of fuel, chemicals, or other hazardous materials will be strictly controlled;
The provisions of this chapter will be strictly adhered to; and
The independent forester has approved the clear-cutting application in writing.
It shall be the duty of the CEO to enforce the provisions of this chapter. The Town may at its sole discretion ask for assistance from a separate individual including but not limited to the Soil and Water Conservation District and/or a qualified forester of the Town's choice to review timber harvesting applications and make recommendations on permit approval to the Town Code Enforcement Officer. The Town will have ultimate authority to decide on permit acceptance and enforcement.
The Town may require the applicant to establish an escrow account to pay the reasonable costs at prevailing rate for the services of a qualified forester to review the permit. If an escrow is required, the application is not complete until such escrow is posted.
By receipt of permit application the Town and its agents are given authority to inspect and enforce provisions of this chapter. The Code Enforcement Officer, or his or her designee, may after serving a notice of inspection upon the owner enter, examine and survey all grounds affected by the timber harvest in order to ascertain whether such rules and regulations in this section are complied with by any person regulated by this chapter. The Town may at its discretion inspect the site upon completion of the timber harvesting operation to determine if all reclamation efforts have been completed.
Upon notification by the CEO to the applicant of any violation hereunder, the timber-harvesting permit granted to such applicant may be suspended and/or revoked. Upon suspension or revocation, as the case may be, all operations shall immediately cease, and the applicant shall take immediate steps to implement the actions necessary to come into compliance with the application and timber-harvesting permit. Such suspension or revocation notice may contain conditions to be met to obtain reinstatement of the permit.
Pursuant to § 150.20 of the Criminal Procedure law and in accordance with § 10, Subdivision 4(a) of the Municipal Home Rule Law, the CEO, Town police officers, and the Zoning Administrator of the Town are hereby authorized to issue and serve appearance tickets with respect to any violation of this chapter.
In addition to or as an alternative to the above provided penalties, the Town Board may also maintain an action in the name of the Town in a court of competent jurisdiction to compel compliance with or restrain by injunction any violation of this chapter.
An enforcement action for violations of this chapter may be brought against the owner, an agent, a logger, and any or all of them, where a violation of any provision of this chapter has been committed or shall exist.
A permit issued pursuant to this chapter shall be valid for 10 years from the date of issuance.
A violation of this section shall be deemed an offense punishable by:
For a first offense, a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $1,000.
For a second offense committed within five years of the first offense, a fine of not less than $300 nor more than $2,000, or a period of imprisonment not to exceed 15 days, or both.
For a third offense committed within five years of the first offense, a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $5,000, or a period of imprisonment not to exceed 15 days, or both.
Each day's documented violation and notice after the original notice thereof shall have been given shall be deemed a separate and distinct offense hereunder. Such notice shall be in writing, signed by the CEO, and shall be served upon the person or persons, personally, or at his or their last known address or at the address listed in the application.
There may be situations where strict adherence to certain provisions of this chapter is impossible or impractical. The Zoning Board of Appeals shall have the power, upon an appeal from a decision or determination of the CEO, to grant variances from the strict application of this law. Substantial variation from the law may require separate SEQR review.
Neither the issuance of a permit, nor the compliance with the provisions hereof or with any conditions imposed in the permit issued hereunder, shall relieve the permittee from the full responsibility for any damage whatsoever to other persons or property, nor impose any liability upon any officer, agent or employee of the Town for damage to persons or property.
Special permits for logging issued by the Town of Hyde Park Planning Board prior to the effective date of this chapter shall continue in effect, and no new application under this chapter is required.