[HISTORY: Adopted by the Common Council of the City of Watertown by Ord. No. 83-20 (§ 8.16 of the former City Code); amended in its entirety by Ord. No. 06-26. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
The Park, Recreation and Forestry Commission shall have exclusive jurisdiction, authority, control, supervision and direction over all trees, shrubs or other growth planted or growing upon any public thoroughfare or public place in the City and the maintenance, care or removal thereof.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- BOULEVARD and/or MEDIAN STRIPS
- Those open lands which divide a traveled roadway.
- PUBLIC PROPERTY
- Any lands owned by the City and used by the public, including parks, playgrounds, parking lots and any and all other public lands, as well as streets and their adjacent rights-of-way.
- That portion of the street right-of-way lying between the sidewalk and back of the curb. Where no sidewalk and/or curbing exists, the terrace shall be determined by a field inspection conducted by the City Forester or his representative.
- Any tree of a species that has the genetic trait to develop a trunk diameter or caliper of one inch or greater at a height of four feet above the surface of the ground.
- TREE TOPPING
- The severe cutting back of limbs to stubs larger than three inches in diameter within the tree's crown to such a degree so as to remove the normal canopy and disfigure the tree.
General powers and duties. The Director of Park, Recreation and Forestry Department shall be designated the "City Forester" and shall have the following general powers and duties:
To direct, manage, supervise and control the City street tree program to include all planting, trimming, spraying, removal, maintenance and protection of all trees and shrubs on all terraces, boulevards, median strips, or public property and to supervise Park, Recreation and Forestry Department personnel in the planting, trimming, spraying, removal, maintenance and protection of trees and shrubs in these areas.
To guard all trees and shrubs within the City, whether on public property or private property, so as to prevent the spread of disease or pests.
To maintain, trim or remove all trees or shrubs within the City, whether on public property or private property, to prevent any such tree or shrub from overhanging or encroaching upon any boulevard, median strip, terrace or other public property within the City so as to eliminate dangerous conditions which may affect the life, health or safety of person and property at the discretion of the City Forester.
To protect and guard all trees and shrubs within the City on private property, other than private property which adjoins or abuts public property, so as to eliminate dangerous conditions which may affect the life, health or safety of person or property, only under such circumstances as are brought to the attention of the City Forester by a citizen complaint.
To plant, trim, spray, remove, maintain and protect trees and shrubs on all terraces, boulevards, median strips, or public property as may be necessary to ensure safety, to protect interference with public or private utility services lying above or below ground, to guard traffic/pedestrian visibility, and to preserve the symmetry and beauty of such grounds.
Such other powers and duties as are provided by the laws of the State of Wisconsin, particularly § 27.09, Wis. Stats., by ordinance of the City, and by the written rules, regulations and guidelines of the Watertown Park, Recreation and Forestry Commission.
Specific authority of City Forester to enter private premises.
The City Forester shall have the authority to enter private property for the purpose of examining, inspecting and physically collecting test samples of any tree or shrub on the premises for the purpose of preventing the spread of disease and the purpose of eliminating dangerous conditions which may affect the life, health or safety of person or property.
The City Forester or his representative, after giving at least 24 hours' advance notice to the owner or tenant having charge of the premises, shall have the authority to enter upon private premises at reasonable times for the purpose of examining and inspecting any suspected diseased tree or shrub.
In the event entry to private property is denied to the City Forester by the owner or tenant in charge of the premises under this section, the City Forester shall have the authority to obtain a special inspection warrant through the Watertown Municipal Court or other court of competent jurisdiction, pursuant to § 66.0119, Wis. Stats.
Specific authority to order removal of trees or shrubs.
No person shall prevent, delay or interfere with the City Forester or any of his or her agents or employees from entering upon any public or private premises for the purpose of trimming or removing any tree or shrub which the City Forester has determined to be diseased or determined to have created a dangerous condition.
If the City Forester or any of his or her authorized agents finds on examination and/or inspection in or upon any private or public property any tree or shrub infested with injurious insects or plant diseases, or if any tree or shrub on private property shall endanger the public or shall be injurious to private utility services or public improvements, the City Forester shall notify the owner or person having charge of such premises, under § 27.09(4) through (7), Wis. Stats., in writing, at least two weeks prior thereto, of a hearing on such removal or trimming before the City Forester. The owner or person in charge of the premises shall have a right to be present at such hearing and be afforded an opportunity to be heard. After such hearing, the City Forester shall either abandon such work or proceed under Subsection C(3) below. If the City Forester shall cause the work to be done, the costs shall be charged against the property as a special charge. No damages shall be awarded to the owner for the value of the destroyed trees or shrubs removed pursuant to an order entered under this subsection.
Prior to proceeding to perform any work under Subsection C(2), the owner or person having charge of such premises shall be given at least 30 days to cause the removal and/or destruction of the tree or shrub as ordered. The City Forester shall determine the time specified and shall provide written notice of such time period to the owner or person having charge of such premises, depending on the severity of the problem and the scope of correction needed to remedy the problem. The City Forester may direct the immediate removal of the tree(s) or shrub(s) without such prior notice if the City Forester determines that an emergency condition warrants such action.
Should this order not be complied with within the time specified in the order, the City Forester shall cause such work to be completed unless the owner or person in charge of such premises shall have appealed the order of the City Forester entered under Subsection C(3).
In the event any tree or shrub is located partially on private property and partially on public property within the City, any such tree or shrub is deemed to be solely the responsibility of the City Forester and the City of Watertown to plant, trim, spray, remove, maintain and protect the entire tree or shrub. The root system or the root flare of the tree does not factor in for determination of the percentage of ownership of any tree or shrub under this subsection.
In the event any tree or shrub on private property appears to be located on the boundary line between parcels, in the estimation of the City Forester, and the adjoining property owners cannot agree on the percentage of liability for compliance with any order or remedy for any violation issued by the City Forester, the City Forester shall proceed under this section. The root system or the root flare of the tree does not factor in for determination of the percentage of ownership of any tree or shrub under this subsection.
The City Forester shall retain a licensed surveyor to conduct a survey to determine the boundary line between the property owners' parcels, showing the location of the tree or shrub in relation to the boundary line and providing a written report of his or her findings.
The City Forester shall allocate the percentage of liability to the adjoining property owners based upon the written survey report submitted for the cost of preparation of the survey and for compliance with any violation order issued by his or her office.
A person who receives an order from the City Forester and objects to all or a part thereof may, within 30 days of the date of the mailing of the order to such person, notify the City Park, Recreation and Forestry Commission and the City Forester, in writing, of the nature of the objection and of a request for a hearing thereon. The written order under § 484-3C(3) above shall be deemed the initial determination and the municipal authority charged with conducting the review, pursuant to § 10-8B of this Code, shall be the Watertown Park, Recreation and Forestry Commission. The Commission shall proceed to conduct a hearing on the appellant's objection, pursuant to § § 10-9 and 10-10 of this Code. The City Forester shall be present at such hearing. The appellant may be represented by counsel. The Commission may affirm, cancel or modify the order of the City Forester, in its discretion, to best conform such order to the intent of this chapter.
Trees or shrubs standing on any private property adjacent to a boulevard, terrace or other public property shall be trimmed and kept trimmed by the owner of such tree or shrub so as to maintain a clear space of not less than eight feet above the sidewalk or public property, except as indicated under Subsection B. The owner of said trees shall remove all dead, diseased or dangerous trees or limbs which constitute a menace to the safety of the public. The City shall have the right to prune or trim any tree or shrub on private property when it interferes with the proper spread of light along the street from streetlights or interferes with visibility of any traffic control device or sign or approaching pedestrian or vehicular traffic.
All trees and shrubs on private or public property shall be trimmed and kept trimmed so as to maintain a clear space of not less than 12 feet above the roadway, except the Public Works Commission may make special provisions in exceptional cases.
No person shall authorize any tree or shrub on public property to be trimmed, cut, removed or topped without permission of the City Forester.
All trees and shrubs on any boulevard, median strip, terrace or other public property and on private property adjoining public property shall be trimmed or removed, as necessary, where the foliage obstructs the streetlight illumination pattern. Such work shall be done by the City upon the recommendation of the City Forester and at the direction of the Park, Recreation and Forestry Commission.
All tree trimming or pruning shall be performed by any person, firm or organization according to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) under its Regulation Section A300 (1995), as amended.
Clean smooth cuts are to be made so as not to disturb the branch collar or the branch bark ridge.
Dead branches are to be cut back to a healthy lateral branch.
No branch stubs shall be allowed.
No person shall cause any wire charged with electricity or any wire or cable used as a conductor to come into contact with any tree located in or upon any public property.
No wire or cable intended to be used as a guy or support wire shall be anchored, attached or fastened to any tree located in or upon any public property in the City.
Public utility companies or private improvement work affecting trees or shrubs on any boulevard, median strip, terrace or public property shall be limited to the actual necessities of the services of the company, and such work shall be done in a neat and professional manner and according to the following standards, under the supervision of the City Forester.
In order to provide and preserve a safe and healthy urban forest, all public agencies, private persons, firms or organizations, or public utilities contemplating a construction project in or upon any street, boulevard, median strip, terrace or other public property, prior to the commencement of construction activities, must obtain a "Tree Protection During Construction Permit" from the City Engineer or City Forester and abide by the written policy guidelines issued with the permit. Application for the permit shall be made on a form to be provided by the City Engineer's office, subject to review and approval of the City Forester.
All public agencies, private persons, firms or organizations, or public utilities which are subject to the requirements of a permit under Subsection A and which perform a construction project in or upon any street, boulevard, median strip, terrace or other public property are subject to the following regulations. No person, firm or organization shall:
Secure any rope, wire, sign, unprotected electrical installation or other device or material to, around or through a tree or shrub.
Break, mutilate, deface or remove any tree or shrub or permit any fire to burn where it will injure any tree or shrub.
Permit any toxic chemical, gas, smoke, oil or other injurious substance to seep, drain or be emptied on any tree or shrub.
Place cement or other solid substances around the base of any tree or shrub.
Remove any protective device from a tree or shrub.
Attach any sign or notice on any tree, or fasten any guy wire, cable, rope, nails, screws or other device to any tree, except that authorized City employees may post temporary "No Parking" signs on trees when necessary.
Fail to make reasonable and necessary efforts to protect trees to be retained during construction of streets, sidewalks, boulevards, parks and buildings.
No person, firm or organization shall plant or allow to grow any tree or shrub or other growth in or upon any boulevard, median strip, terrace or public property without permission of the City Forester and in conformance with the following regulations:
No tree or shrub shall be planted in the terrace at an intersection of two streets nearer than 25 feet to either corner measured on the property line, in compliance with the Watertown Zoning Code setback requirements in Chapter 550 of this Code.
No tree or shrub shall be planted in the terrace nearer than 35 feet to the next nearest tree, except as approved by the City Forester.
No tree or shrub shall be planted in the terrace where the clear terrace space is less than 4 1/2 feet or as may be otherwise provided by City Forester.
No tree or shrub shall be planted nearer to the back of curb than 1/2 of the clear space of the terrace.
No tree or shrub shall be planted in the terrace nearer than 10 feet to a water stop box, waterline or sewer line.
No softwood tree or any tree that is not hardy for the Watertown area, as determined by the City Forester, shall be planted in any street terrace.
No tree or shrub shall be planted in the terrace near an ornamental streetlight when the foliage of the tree will obstruct the streetlight illumination pattern.
No trees or shrubs other than those species listed as small trees in the City's Approved Species List may be planted under or adjacent to any overhead utility wires where such tree or shrub will be likely to interfere with such overhead utility wires.
Editor's Note: Said list of approved tree species is on file with the Street Department.
No person, firm or organization shall plant or set out a tree or shrub in or upon any boulevard, terrace or public property unless the tree or shrub is a species listed in the City's Approved Species List or a species approved by the City Forester.
All trees and shrubs planted in boulevards, median strips, terraces and on other public property in the City shall be planted according to tree/shrub planting standards developed by the Park, Recreation and Forestry Commission and made available to the general public by the City Forester.
Any person who shall violate any provision of this chapter or any order, rule or regulation made by the Park, Recreation and Forestry Commission or the City Forester hereunder shall be subject to the penalties provided herein or those penalties set forth in § 1-4 of this Code.