[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Council of the Township of Willingboro as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Article I Forestry Management and Tree Removal
[Adopted 6-4-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-8]
Indiscriminate, uncontrolled and excess destruction, removal and cutting of trees upon lots and tracts of land within Willingboro Township may cause increased drainage control costs, increased soil erosion and sedimentation, decreased fertility of the soil, degradation of water resources, decreased groundwater recharge, increased buildup of atmospheric carbon dioxide, the establishment of a heat island effect and increased dust and pollution. The singular or cumulative effect of any of the foregoing could adversely impact the character of Willingboro, decrease property value, render the land unfit and unsuitable for its most appropriate use and negatively affect the health, safety and general welfare of Willingboro residents. Thus, Willingboro Township desires to regulate and control indiscriminate and excessive cutting of trees within Willingboro.
It is recognized that there is a strong interrelationship between the integrity of Willingboro water resources, development on steep slopes, tree removal, soil disturbance, stormwater management and the general use of the land resources. Fewer trees throughout Willingboro may also correlate with increased air pollution. Therefore, Willingboro finds that the appropriate management of these resources is an important health, safety and general welfare concern. Managing Willingboro tree resources is consistent with Willingboro and state-approved Community Forestry Management Plan, as P.L. 1996, c. 135. The appropriate management guidelines for tree preservation to be utilized are:
The American National Standard, ANSI A300 (Part 5) - Management;
Trees and Development: A Technical Guide to Preservation of Trees During Land Development, Nelda Matheny and James R. Clark; and
Protection and Care of the Urban Forest, NJDEP Division of Parks and Forestry.
Editor's Note: See N.J.S.A. 13:1L-17.1 et seq.
Trees are declared to be an important cultural, ecological, scenic and economic resource. Proper management of this resource will ensure its maintenance and result in economic returns. A forestry management program is intended to meet the objectives of preserving, protecting, enhancing and maintaining trees and providing opportunities for the continued use of forest resources which are compatible with the maintenance of the environment. This will be accomplished by ensuring proper management of forest and trees through the application of sound management practices. To that end, it shall be unlawful to cut down, damage, poison or in any other manner destroy or cause to be destroyed any trees covered by this article, except in accordance with the provisions of this article.
The enforcement of this article shall be the duty of the Township of Willingboro and its agents, such as the Tree Specialist, through the regulation, planting, care and control of shade, ornamental and evergreen trees and shrubs in the streets, highways, public places of Willingboro and tree removal on all lands within Willingboro.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- CALIPER: ANSI Z60 FOR NURSERY STOCK
- Caliper is a type of diameter measurement used in the nursery industry. The height measurement shall be taken from ground level for field grown stock and from the soil line for container grown stock, which should be at or near the top of the root flare. Caliper measurement of the trunk shall be taken six inches above the top of root flare up to and including four-inch caliper size. If the caliper at six inches above the ground exceeds four inches, the caliper should be measured at 12 inches above the top of root flare. Seldom are tree trunks perfectly round. The most accurate measurement will result from the use of a diameter tape. Caliper measurements taken with manual or electronic "slot" or "pincer" type caliper tools should be the average of the smallest and largest measurements.
- COMMUNITY FORESTRY MANAGEMENT PLAN
- A plan developed by the Township or county outlining the goals and objectives for managing trees on municipal/county property with the intent of minimizing liability to the municipality/county and maximizing the useful life of the tree resource. The plan shall be approved by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Parks and Forestry, New Jersey Forest Service. The Township Manager, Director of Public Works, or their designees, and the Environmental Commission shall oversee the implementation of the Community Forestry Management Plan.
- DIAMETER BREAST HEIGHT ("DBH")
- The diameter of a tree measured 4 1/2 feet above the ground level.
- The detachment and movement of soil or rock fragments by water, ice, wind, and gravity.
- EXEMPT AREA
- The lot area as provided in this article for which tree replacement shall not be required.
- FOREST MANAGEMENT PLAN
- A plan for the management of timbered or forested lands approved by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, New Jersey Forest Service, or similar state or federal agency.
- HISTORIC TREE
- A tree that has been found by a professional forester, horticulturalist, or other professional plantsman to be of notable historic interest to the Township because of its age, type, size or historic association and which has been so designated and that designation has been officially made and promulgated as part of the official records of the Township, county or state.
- OPEN SPACE
- Any parcel or area of land or water essentially unimproved and set aside, dedicated, designated or reserved for public or private use and enjoyment or for the use and enjoyment of owners and occupants of land adjoining or neighboring such open spaces, provided that such areas may be improved with only those buildings, structures, streets and off-street parking and other improvements that are designated to be incidental to the natural openness of the land.
- SPECIMEN TREE
- Any tree in fair or better condition which is so designated by the Township Tree Specialist based on considerations of whether the tree is a rare species of specimen thereof; is abnormal in height, trunk diameter or dripline circumference for a tree of its species; has foliage of an unusual quality for a tree of its species; occupies a location which confers special shade tree, fragrance, erosion control, aesthetic, scenic enhancement, historic, preservation or cultural values to the community. For purposes of this definition, "in fair or better condition" shall mean that a tree has a relatively sound and solid trunk with no evidence of extensive decay or visual evidence of being hollow and with no major insect or pathological problem.
- Any deciduous or coniferous species which has a DBH of six inches or greater.
- TREE PLANTING PLAN
- A specific plan adopted by the Township of Willingboro for the location and placement of trees on public property.
- TREE PRESERVATION AND REMOVAL PLAN (TREE SAVE PLAN)
- A specific plan that contains tree locations and other information in accordance with this article.
- TREE REMOVAL PERMIT
- The permit issued by the Township, or its designee, to remove or destroy a tree or trees.
- A. The Township Council shall direct the Director of Public Works to have a tree specialist on retainer or available to assist in tree-related activities within the Township. This individual shall be responsible for the inspection of sites for which application(s) are filed under this article. This individual will be responsible for the administration and protection requirements of this article and enforcement of this article as directed by the Township.
- B. Tree specialist is either of the following:
- (1) A forester who shall have a bachelor's degree in forestry or arboriculture from a college or university shall be certified as a certified tree expert by the State of New Jersey and shall have a minimum of three years' experience in planting, care, and maintenance of trees. The forester shall also have the responsibility of reviewing an approved forest management plan and inspecting the forested site for plan compliance if requested by the Township.
- (2) A conservation officer who shall be certified as a certified tree expert by the State of New Jersey and shall have a minimum of three years' experience in planting, care and maintenance of trees.
The terms and provisions of this article shall apply as follows:
Unless specifically excepted in Subsection D below, it shall be unlawful for any person to remove or cause to remove trees with a DBH of six inches or more without first having obtained a tree removal permit as provided herein.
Specimen and historic trees. Trees which have been designated as specimen or historic under the provisions of this article shall be maintained in a living condition, and it shall be unlawful for any person to remove such tree without an approved tree removal permit. No specimen or historic tree shall be removed unless the applicant has obtained the approval of the Township Council, with consideration of the Township's responsible agent or agency recommendations.
The condition of trees proposed to be saved shall be evaluated by use of guides as follows:
Exceptions. The provisions of this article shall not apply to the following:
Any property upon which no trees are located, as confirmed by a statement of no tree verification.
Any tree of less than six inches DBH.
Any tree or trees removed or cut in accordance with a forest management plan, provided that such plan is filed with the Tree Specialist.
Any tree or trees removed or cut in accordance with an approved conservation plan prepared by the Soil Conservation District, provided that such plan has been filed with the Tree Specialist.
Any tree or trees planted and grown for commercial purposes on property used as a commercial nursery, tree farm, garden center, Christmas tree plantation or tree orchard.
Any tree growing in a utility right-of-way or fire trail subject to the approval of the Township Tree Specialist.
Any person wishing to obtain a tree removal permit shall make application to the Township by filing a written application with the Inspections Department and paying such fees as set forth in § 352-8. No permit shall be issued until a tree preservation and removal plan for the lot or parcel has been reviewed and approved as compliant with § 352-5B by the Township.
Where an application, as required by this article, has been submitted, no permit shall be issued until a tree save plan for the lot or parcel has been reviewed and approved as compliant with § 352-5B by the Tree Specialist and until the filing of a written report of an on-site inspection by the Tree Specialist. Where an application is made in connection with the construction of a building or other improvement, no building permit shall be issued until the tree removal permit has been issued.
All required escrow and bond fees for any application, including required tree replacements or fees, shall be verified as paid prior to the issuance of the tree removal permit.
Tree removal permit applications shall be filed at the Inspections office and shall be completed in full. The application must be deemed complete and all required fees, as set forth in § 352-8, be paid prior to review.
Inspections. Upon the approval of the Planning/Zoning Boards, and after the application is complete and reviewed, the Tree Specialist shall inspect the trees and property which are the subject of the permit application within 30 days. The Tree Specialist may, upon inspection, provide recommendations to the applicant.
Permit approval or denial. Upon the Township's or Tree Specialist's recommendation, the Township shall approve or deny the tree removal permit within 10 business days after completion of the inspection. The Township shall notify the applicant, in writing, of the factual basis and criteria for any denial. The final decision of the Tree Specialist may be appealed to the Township Council by filing written notice with the Township Clerk within 10 days of the Township's final decision. The Township Council shall hold a public hearing and issue its decision within 60 days after notice of appeal is filed, unless the applicant requests, and the Township Council consents to, an extension of time.
A tree preservation and removal plan shall be submitted to the Tree Specialist's office. Applications that require Planning Board or Zoning Board approval shall have tree preservation and removal plans as part of the submittal to the Planning Board or Zoning Board, and said plans shall be provided to the Tree Specialist for review and approval in accordance with this article. Tree preservation and removal plans shall contain the following:
The name and address of the applicant.
The name and address of the owner of the property from which the trees are to be removed.
The lot and block of the property.
The shape and dimensions of the lot or parcel, including the location of all easements. If the tree removal permit is for a single-family residence, the plan shall consist of a tree location sketch containing the minimum amount of pertinent information to enable the determination of compliance with the regulations in this article, including the information set forth in Subsection D(1) and (2) below and, if necessary, in Subsection D(6) and (8) below. The plan for any other property shall include a survey prepared by a licensed land surveyor that contains tree locations. The survey shall contain, at a scale of no less than one inch equals 50 feet, the following information:
The existing and proposed tree preservation limits.
The proposed limit of the clearing and all individual trees to be retained outside the tree clearing identified by some approved method as determined by the Tree Specialist such as flagging, prior to the field inspection. For any clearing greater than or equal to three acres, a representative 5% of the wooded areas proposed to be cleared shall be inventoried. The representative 5% shall be determined by agreement between the Tree Specialist and the applicant. Where less than three acres is proposed to be cleared, all trees to be removed shall be inventoried.
The installation and limits of a temporary existing tree protection fence along the limits of the proposed tree removal shall be in compliance with § 352-9.
Locations of all forest types shall be identified by common and botanical names of dominant tree species.
All specimen and historic trees to be removed shall be indicated on the plan. All reasonable efforts shall be made to preserve such trees, including, but not limited to, if feasible, relocation of infrastructure, roadways and buildings. Removal of such trees shall require specific written approval of the Township Council with consideration of the Tree Specialist's recommendations.
A proposed tree replacement plan in accordance with this article. A tree replacement plan shall be considered the proposed landscaping plan required for all subdivision and site plan approvals.
A North arrow.
The location of existing and proposed structures and improvements, if any.
Any and all permits approved by the Township shall be declared null and void if the tree removal is not completed within a reasonable time, not to exceed 30 days after permit issuance. Permits not used within this period will require a new application and the payment of new fees. For purposes of this section, a permit shall no longer be valid when the work authorized by the permit is completed.
Upon completion of the Tree Specialist's field inspection report and review of any requested recommendations, the Tree Specialist shall recommend approval of a permit if:
The tree replacement plan is approved;
At least one of the criteria as follows has been satisfied:
The tree is located in an area where a structure or improvements will be placed according with the approval of Planning/Zoning Boards and the tree cannot be relocated on the site because of age, type or size of the tree.
The tree is dead, diseased, injured, in danger of falling, is too close to existing or proposed structures, interferes with existing utility service, creates unsafe vision of clearance or conflicts with other ordinances or regulations.
The tree is to be removed for harvesting as a commercial product or for the purpose of making land available for farming or other agricultural activity, or is to be removed in furtherance of a forest management plan or soil conservation plan, or to serve some other purpose which is consistent with the purposes of this article.
The Township, with recommendations considered from the Tree Specialist, may deny a permit if the removal will contribute to extra runoff of surface water onto adjacent properties; erosion; or silting, and such conditions are not otherwise satisfactorily abated; or if the tree removal causes:
Prior to construction and any tree removals, suitable tree protective barriers shall be erected, and this protection, where required, shall remain until such time as the protection is authorized to be removed by the Tree Specialist or after issuance of a final certificate of occupancy. In addition, during construction, no attachments or wires shall be attached to any of said trees so protected. Where some grading must take place within the dripline of trees in the protection zone, appropriate measures shall be taken to minimize impact to the trees. Any trees seriously damaged during construction must be professionally treated by a New Jersey certified tree expert or replaced if the damage is beyond treatment.
A detail of the existing tree self-supported protective barrier shall be provided on all applications. The protective barrier shall be a minimum of four feet high.
The self-supported protective barrier shall be placed, as determined by the Tree Specialist, at the dripline of any tree along the limit of clearing and around the entire dripline for trees to remain undisturbed within the limit of clearing. Refer to Trees and Development, Table 6.2, page 74.
It shall be unlawful for any person in the construction of any structure or other improvement to place solvents, material, construction machinery or temporary soil deposits within the dripline.
Street right-of-way and utility easements may be delineated by placing stakes a minimum of 50 feet apart and tying ribbon, plastic tape, rope, etc., from stake to stake along the outside perimeters of such areas to be cleared.
In all commercial and nonresidential developments, 50% of the lot area may be exempt area. The exempt area should be calculated to minimize any adverse environmental impacts.
Utility line clearance operations, provided that such plan is filed with the Township and provided to a tree specialist and work performed in accordance with ANSI A300 Part 7: BMP, "Utility Pruning of Trees," and Board of Tree Experts, "Pruning Standards for Shade Trees," Section 5.5.
In case of emergencies such as hurricanes, fire, windstorm, ice storm, flood, freezing temperatures or other disaster, or in the case of dead or diseased trees which are a hazard to persons or property, the requirements of the regulations set forth in this article may be waived by the Township with consultation of a tree specialist upon a finding that such waiver is necessary so that the public or private work to restore order on the property in Willingboro Township will not be impeded.
The Township is hereby authorized to issue stop-work orders to the holder of the tree removal permit, and the Tree Specialist, if required, is authorized to recommend the issuance of stop-work orders to the Township officials in the event that there is:
The stop-work order shall remain in effect until the Township, upon recommendation of the Tree Specialist, has determined that the resumption of work will not violate the plans, permit or the provisions of this article.
The Township, in conjunction with the Tree Specialist, shall oversee all tree removals pursuant to an issued tree removal permit. The Tree Specialist shall conduct adequate inspections of all sites for which a tree removal permit has been issued. Upon the ascertainment of a violation of this article, the Tree Specialist shall refer enforcement actions to the Code Enforcement Officer or Public Works Supervisor.
All provisions of this article shall apply to any person removing trees on behalf of any other person, including all tree removal construction companies or persons in the business of removing trees or construction. It shall be unlawful for any person or company to remove or cause to be removed any tree or undertake any work for which a permit is required pursuant to this article unless a valid permit therefor is in effect and is displayed in accordance with the provisions set forth in § 352-15; such removal or work shall constitute a violation of this section and shall subject the person or company violating this section to all penalties provided herein.
The applicant shall prominently display on the site the tree removal permit. Such permit shall be displayed continuously while trees are being removed or replaced or work done as authorized on the permit and for 10 days thereafter. In addition, the person or persons cutting or removing trees, if other than the applicant, shall carry with him/her authorization from the owner or applicant authorizing such person to cut or remove trees. In the event that the trees are being cut or removed in accordance with a forest management plan or a soil conservation plan, a copy of the plan shall be in the possession of the person cutting or removing such trees.
As a condition for the issuance of the permit, the applicant shall agree, in writing, to the entry onto his/her premises by representatives of Willingboro and all law enforcement officers as necessary to effectuate the provisions of this article, and such entries shall be deemed lawful. Failure to allow such entry shall be unlawful and shall constitute a violation of this article and shall constitute failure to display the permit as required herein. It shall be unlawful and considered a violation of this article for any person to engage in the business of plant cutting, trimming, removal, spraying or otherwise treating trees, shrubs or vines within the Township and without the applicable certification or license for the designated work. All contractors offering tree care services for hire within the Township shall register annually with the Inspections Department, provide a current certificate of insurance showing evidence of employer liability and workers' compensation coverage for the work to be performed, and shall comply with applicable OSHA regulations, ANSI A13.1 Safety Standards, New Jersey Board of Tree Experts Pruning Standards for Shade Trees and ANSI A300 Practice Standards. All work to be performed for Willingboro shall be by or under the direction of a New Jersey certified tree expert and in compliance with New Jersey Board of Tree Experts Pruning Standards for Shade Trees, ANSI Z133.1 Safety Standards and ANSI A300 Practice Standards, unless otherwise directed by or approved by the Tree Specialist and the Township.
The Tree Specialist shall perform the duties set forth in this article and shall be responsible for the enforcement of the provisions of this article as directed by the Township. In this regard, the Tree Specialist is authorized and shall perform any necessary inspections and is further authorized and shall issue violation notices and shall sign complaints and provide testimony in the Municipal Court for violations of this article. The Tree Specialist has the authority to enter onto private property whereon there is located a tree, shrub, plant or plant part that is suspected to be a public nuisance and to order its removal if necessary. A public nuisance is any tree or plant with an infectious disease or insect problem; dead or dying trees; a tree limb(s) or root(s) that obstruct streetlights, traffic signs, free passage of pedestrians or vehicles; a tree that poses a threat to safety; etc.
Any person, firm, partnership, corporation, association or other legal entity violating any of the provisions of this article shall, upon conviction of such violation, be punished by a fine of up to $2,000 for each offense or to imprisonment for a term not to exceed 90 days, or both, in the discretion of the judge before whom conviction may be had. Each illegally removed tree shall be considered a separate violation. Each violation of any of the provisions of this article and each day the same is violated shall be defined and taken to be a separate and distinct offense. In addition, the court may order restitution (fine and/or appraised value, whichever is greater) and/or replacement of the tree illegally removed.
In addition to other remedies, the Township, Tree Specialist or other authorized official may institute any appropriate legal action to prevent a continuing violation of the terms of this article.