[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Liverpool 4-11-2019 by L.L. No. 2-2019. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Tree Law of the Village of Liverpool, County of Onondaga."
The purpose of this chapter shall be to provide for the health and maintenance of existing trees and for the planting of new trees and shrubs on Village of Liverpool property and within the public right-of-way, for the mutual benefit of its residents, and maintenance of a healthy community forest. Healthy trees and a healthy community forest support the design and environmental goals of the Village of Liverpool Comprehensive Plan, and promote the general welfare of Village of Liverpool residents and visitors. Publicly managed street and park trees are increasingly recognized as an important community resource for their aesthetic appeal and the social and ecosystem benefits they provide including improved air quality, reduced stormwater runoff, reduced energy use, greenhouse gas reduction, and increased residential property values.
This chapter will:
Create a Tree Committee to establish regulations governing the planting, maintenance, and removal of trees and shrubs in the public streets, rights-of-way, parks and other municipal property in the Village of Liverpool; and
Preserve and enhance green foliage on Village streets, rights-of-way and public property; and
Guide the replacement of trees that must be removed from public property because of disease or other tree health issues; and
Guide the maintenance or removal of trees on private property that harbor insects or disease, or which are dead or decayed or so damaged as to be a public nuisance and in danger of falling in whole or part, thereby having potential to cause damage to person or property of others.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ADJACENT PROPERTY OWNER
- The person, firm, entity, or corporation owning property bordering a public place, street or public right-of-way.
- Upper part of a tree including branches and foliage growing out from the trunk and main stems.
- DIAMETER BREAST HEIGHT (DBH)
- Tree trunk diameter measured in inches with a caliper at six inches from the natural grade in the case of trees measuring four inches or less in diameter; and at a height 4 1/2 feet above grade when the tree trunk is larger than four inches.
- A vertical line extending from the outermost edge of the tree crown or shrub branch to the ground.
- HARMFUL ROOT PRUNING
- The cutting back of tree roots inside 1.5 times the diameter of the dripline of the tree, or within an eight-foot radius around the trunk, whichever area is larger, that will be detrimental to the life or health of the tree, as determined by an expert in arboriculture or horticulture.
- MUNICIPAL PROPERTY
- Includes all grounds owned, leased or controlled by the Village of Liverpool, for public use, including, but not limited to, streets, public rights-of-way, parks and cemeteries.
- Anything or act that unreasonably annoys or disturbs, harms or interferes with a person's use of his or her property, or violates the public health, safety and welfare.
- Includes land designated as a park pursuant to New York State statutes as well as areas such as playgrounds, museum grounds, cemetery grounds, or other green spaces within the Village under the jurisdiction of the Village Board of Trustees.
- PUBLIC PLACE
- Includes all grounds owned, leased or otherwise controlled by the Village of Liverpool, for public use, including, but not limited to, streets, public rights-of-way, parks and cemeteries.
- PUBLIC TREE
- Any woody plant located in a public place, having at least one well-defined trunk and at least one inch in diameter measured at a height of six inches above the natural grade, or any woody plant planted by the Village.
- Several-stemmed plant with woody stems persisting season to season.
- A highway, road, avenue, lane, alley, culvert, embankment, or sidewalk to which the public has a right to use.
- Cutting back of limbs within the tree crown to such degree so as to change the natural or normal form and/or disfigure the tree, as defined by International Society of Arboriculture Standards, as last revised.
- TREE WORK
- Includes, but is not limited to, pruning, shaping, thinning, cabling, stump removal, root pruning, topping, fertilizing, removing, planting, and treating for insect and disease control, of a tree or shrub.
- Those entities that provide electricity, gas, sewer, water, telephone, cable television and internet service to properties within the Village.
- WOODY PLANT
- Plant having a hard stem or stems such as a tree, bush or shrub that persists season to season.
Establishment; membership; terms.
The Village Board of Trustees shall create an advisory committee known as the "Village of Liverpool Tree Committee." The Committee shall consist of five members, consisting of residents of the Village, or persons with a qualification in arboriculture, horticulture, landscape design or other environmental qualification and an interest in the Village of Liverpool. At least three members shall be residents of the Village. Each member shall be appointed by the Mayor, subject to approval by the Board of Trustees. The Mayor of the Village of Liverpool serves as an ex-officio member of all Village Committees.
The members shall be appointed initially as follows: two members shall be appointed for a term of one year or remainder of one year; two members shall be appointed for a term of two years or remainder thereof; and one member shall be appointed for a term of three years or remainder thereof. Thereafter, all appointments shall be for three years. Terms shall run concurrent with the Village organizational year.
If a Committee member does not serve the full term for reasons other than the expiration of the term, the Mayor shall appoint a successor, to serve for the unexpired term.
Tree Committee duties. The Tree Committee shall have the following duties that include, but are not limited to:
Studying, investigating, developing and/or updating a Village written plan for caring, preserving, pruning, replanting, removing or disposing of trees and shrubs in parks, the cemetery, along Village streets, and on other Village property and in public areas.
Maintaining reference materials relating to trees and shrubs.
Providing and assisting to maintain a current inventory of the location of street, park, cemetery and other public trees, including planting spots where such trees could exist but are absent.
Providing and managing the implementation of a community forest management plan for the Village of Liverpool.
Establishing a suggested species list for the Village and recommending to the Village the type and kind of trees to be planted upon Village property, as well as establishing a list of prohibited invasive or other problematic species.
Identifying trees for pruning and/or removal.
Providing the Village Board of Trustees with a yearly estimate of personnel, contractor, consultant, planting and other costs to maintain the public community forest. Such plan shall be provided annually to the Village of Liverpool Board of Trustees.
The Committee shall ideally meet on a monthly basis, but at a minimum meet six times per calendar year. The Committee may call additional meetings as needed.
If a Committee member misses four consecutive meetings, the position may be deemed vacant by action of the Board of Trustees.
Annually the Committee shall set and review its policies for its own governance such as setting agendas, keeping record of its meetings and providing for the public's participation.
The municipality or its authorized agent(s) shall perform all necessary maintenance on municipal trees, plants and shrubs to preserve and protect plants in a safe and healthy condition, including trimming, pruning, spraying, fertilizing, watering, staking, root pruning, mulching, treating for disease or injury, and removal if necessary.
The Village shall have the sole authority and right to plant, prune, maintain and remove trees, plants and shrubs within Village-owned property and Village public places as may be necessary to ensure public safety, or to preserve or enhance the symmetry and beauty of such public grounds, or to provide for a healthier community forest.
The Village shall have the right to plant, prune, maintain and remove trees, plants and shrubs within municipal rights-of-way and areas subject to municipal easement as may be necessary to ensure public safety and the function of utilities.
The Village of Liverpool Tree Committee, or an ISA-certified arborist it approves, shall provide recommendations and advice to the Village of Liverpool Superintendent of Public Works regarding all actions in Subsections A, B and C above, except when time is of the essence to protect the public safety such as in emergency situations.
The Village Tree Committee may recommend a tree or part of a tree or shrub on private property be removed if the plant:
Poses a potential public safety risk or hazard; or
Causes an unsafe condition; or
Is injurious to sewers, electric power lines, gas lines, waterlines or other public improvements, and the situation cannot be mitigated by other means; or
Is affected with any injurious fungus, insect or pest that threatens municipal trees;
Notwithstanding the above, where a property owner has the legal responsibility to take action to remove a plant, the Village may elect to advise the owner to take such action immediately.
No property owner shall be permitted to allow a tree, shrub, or other plant growing on his or her private property to obstruct or interfere with the view of drivers of vehicles or pedestrians on the sidewalk to create a traffic hazard or public safety danger. If such tree, shrub or other plant does overhang or does otherwise adversely affect any street, sidewalk, or right-of-way within the Village, the property owner shall, at the owner's expense, prune or if necessary remove the tree, shrub or plant so that it shall not obstruct the view of any street intersection, or obstruct or hinder passage on any street or sidewalk, or otherwise create an unsafe situation. If an owner must trim a tree, shrub, or other plant, the owner must provide for a clear space of eight feet above the surface of the sidewalk and up to 14 feet above the surface of the street. Clearance of a minimum of one foot should be provided on either side of sidewalk for plowing purposes in winter and public safety considerations. Such owner, prior to taking such action, must first consult with the Village of Liverpool Department of Public Works Superintendent to confirm the extent and necessity of such action.
If an obstruction on private property persists, the Code Official shall mail a notice, in writing, to the private property owner to prune or remove the tree, shrub or plant within 10 days. If the owner fails to comply with the notice, the Village may undertake the necessary work and charge the cost for such work to the property owner. If such charge remains unpaid for 60 days, the expense shall be added to the next real estate tax bill of the property owner.
No unauthorized person or utility shall plant, spray, fertilize, treat, prune, remove, cut aboveground, disturb the root system or otherwise disturb any public tree or shrub along a street, in any park, cemetery or other public place without prior authorization by permit from the Village of Liverpool Code Official in consultation with the Tree Committee and Superintendent of Public Works.
Further, no person shall fasten or attach to any tree any sign, poster, bill, notice or advertisement of any kind.
No person or utility shall cause or permit any brine, oil, gasoline, liquid dye or other substance deleterious to tree life to lie, leak, pour, flow or drip on or into the soil within 1.5 times the diameter of the dripline of a tree, or within an eight-foot radius around the trunk, whichever area is larger, which could injure such tree.
No person shall fasten or cause to be fastened any animal to a public tree or shrub in any street or public place, or permit any animal owned by him or in his charge to stand so near any such tree that the tree may be gnawed or otherwise injured by the animal.
No trees shall be planted or allowed to grow on private or public lands within the limits of, or which will interfere with, any drainage, sewer, water, or utility easement that cannot be mitigated by other means. Should interference with a public asset by a privately owned tree or shrub necessitate removal of the plant, the Code Official shall follow the process of notification in § 353-5G as needed for compliance.
Application to plant in a public place. No one, except the Village of Liverpool or its express agents acting on the Village's behalf, shall plant a tree or shrub upon municipal property or in a public right-of-way without submission of an application on forms available from the Village of Liverpool, positive review by the Tree Committee, and approval by the Superintendent of Public Works with regard to location of utilities and proximity to existing infrastructure.
Information required. Anyone submitting an application shall state the number of trees or shrubs to be set out; the location, species or variety of each tree to be planted; the method of planting; plans for maintenance until the tree or shrub becomes established; commitment if any toward future maintenance after plantings are established; and any other information as the Tree Committee shall find reasonably necessary for its recommendation to the Code Official whether to issue the appropriate permit.
Removal, replanting and replacement. No one except the Village of Liverpool or its express agents acting on the Village's behalf, shall remove, replant or replace a tree or shrub on Village property or Public right-of-way for any reason, including an adjacent property owner, without first applying to the Tree Committee on forms provided by it and receiving a positive recommendation by the Tree Committee and permit from the Code Official. Such planting or replacement shall meet the standards of size, species and placement as set by the Tree Committee and according to specifications set forth by this chapter in § 353-12. Replacement shall take into account equivalent dollar value as measured by public benefits, species diversification and other factors in the most recently adopted Village Community Forest Management Plan, and enhanced natural and aesthetic beauty.
Recipients of permits for planting or removal on municipal property shall be responsible to contact Dig Safely New York (Call 811) in advance and comply with all requirements to protect underground facilities.
Notice of completion. Notice of completion of any actions taken in accordance with these regulations shall be given to the Code Official within two business days of completion so an inspection may be made. Original tags with genus and species identification by a nursery shall remain attached to all plants until inspection and approval.
Should inspection of a permitted planting or removal in a public place reveal any deficiencies, the Code Official shall advise the permittee of steps necessary to rectify the condition and satisfy inspection, in consultation with the Tree Committee as needed. The permittee shall be responsible to complete the steps within seven days of notification.
The Tree Committee working together with the Code Official shall ensure that steps such as frequent watering of new plantings committed to in the application for a permitted planting shall be undertaken. If the permittee does not undertake such steps, the Tree Committee, or Code Official as needed, shall contact the permittee to advise of steps necessary to rectify the situation. A permitted planting project shall be considered complete upon establishment of the plantings, as determined by the Tree Committee.
The costs initiated by an adjacent property owner for tree or shrub planting, tree removals, or tree replacements shall be solely borne by such adjacent property owner. The Tree Committee may recommend to the Village that the Village share in the expense of this work or perform this work wholly at the Village's expense as long as such expenses are within budget limitations established annually by the Board of Trustees and the action meets the express goals and objectives of the Village of Liverpool's Community Forest Management Plan.
The costs for work performed by or for utilities shall be borne by the respective utility.
Private property owners shall have the duty, at their own expense, to prune, cut down or remove any trees on their property which are deemed dangerous by an arborist, or that harbor insects or disease, or which are so damaged as to be a public nuisance and in danger of falling, thereby causing damage to person or property of others. The Village Tree Committee may recommend to the Code Official to provide the property owner with written notification that a tree or part of tree or shrub should be removed for the reasons stated above. Owners shall, at their sole cost and expense, prune or remove such trees. Owners shall have 15 days after the date of service of the notice, other than in an emergency or life-threatening situation, to inform the Code Official as to when the tree shall be pruned or removed. Owners shall have no more than 30 days after informing the Code Official, other than in an emergency or life-threatening situation, to remove or prune such trees unless the Code Official indicates otherwise in writing. If owner fails to comply with such provisions, the Village may remove or prune such trees and charge the cost of removal to the property owner upon Notice and hearing. If the cost of such removal remains unpaid for 60 days, the cost of removal shall be added to the next real estate tax bill of the property owner.
It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, entity, corporation, or utility to top any public tree or shrub, or to engage in harmful root pruning. Trees severely damaged by storms or certain trees under utility wires or other obstructions, where other pruning practices are impractical, may be exempted from this chapter upon the recommendation of the Tree Committee.
No person or utility shall excavate any ditches, tunnels or trenches, or lay any drive within 1.5 the diameter of the dripline of a public tree without first obtaining approval from the Code Official.
No person or utility shall remove a tree or shrub from Village-owned property or public right-of-way for the purpose of construction or for any other reason without first filing an application and receiving a permit from the Code Official.
All trees on any street or other public place near any excavation or construction of any building, structure, or street work shall be guarded with a substantial fence, frame, or box not less than four feet high. Whenever possible, the diameter of such fence, frame or box should be at least 1.5 times the diameter of the dripline, or an eight-foot radius around the trunk, whichever is larger, to avoid damage to the tree and especially its root system.
When construction, excavation, and/or material deposits result in the damage, destruction and/or removal of a public tree or shrub, the person or utility responsible for that damage shall replace the public tree or shrub where appropriate with either a tree or trees of equivalent dollar value measured by public benefits according to a resource used within the field of arboriculture and accepted by the Tree Committee, subject to positive recommendation by the Tree Committee and approval by the Superintendent of Public Works.
No one shall hinder, prevent, delay, or interfere with the Village of Liverpool or its agents, including the Tree Committee, or any of its assistants, or any contractors while engaged in carrying out the enforcement of this chapter or duly adopted regulations.
The Village of Liverpool hereby adopts the Arboricultural Specifications and Standards of Practice of the International Society of Arboricultural as published under American National Standard for Tree Care Operations (ANSI A300) most recent edition, which is available for review.
All tree work done by or in the Village of Liverpool shall conform to these specifications and standards.
Penalty for unauthorized removal or destruction of a municipal tree shall be $25 per inch of diameter breast height (DBH) of tree for the first offense (date of occurrence), and $100 per inch of DBH for each offense thereafter (all subsequent dates) to provide the Village funds for replacement of the municipal trees lost, and provide restitution in part for the entire value lost to the public deriving from shade, energy savings, stormwater uptake, carbon sequestration, bird and wildlife value, property values and the general welfare of the residents of the Village of Liverpool.
Penalties for offenses other than removal. Any person, firm, entity, or corporation violating or failing to comply with any of the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be fined no more than $250 or may be imprisoned for a term not exceeding 15 days, or both.