[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Mount Gretna as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Mount Gretna Borough is surrounded by lush forests and trees of varying age and condition. Through past experience, circumstances exist when trees either become diseased for various reasons or emergency situations arise involving dangerous trees. Diseased trees and emergency situations involving dangerous trees serve as a threat to the public health, welfare and safety of landowners, buildings and other surrounding trees, thus necessitating a uniform procedure for their removal. The purpose of this article is to provide uniformity for the removal of these public health, welfare and safety threats and to set forth the penalties for violation of this article.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Mount Gretna Borough.
- BOROUGH COUNCIL
- The duly elected governing body of Mount Gretna Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania.
- DISEASED TREE
- Any tree that is afflicted with a disease that threatens the public health, welfare and safety of landowners, buildings or other surrounding trees.
- EMERGENCY SITUATION
- A situation involving a dangerous tree that serves as a clear, present and immediate threat to the public health, welfare and safety of landowners, buildings or other surrounding trees.
- The legal owner of a property, whether an individual, firm, association, partnership or corporation.
- Cutting down a diseased tree or a dangerous tree in an emergency situation and disposing of said tree as authorized by the Borough.
- A plant having a permanently woody main stem or trunk, ordinarily growing to a considerable height, and usually developing branches at some distance from the ground.
Except as set forth in § 176-4 of this article that pertains to emergency situations, if the Mount Gretna Director of Public Works believes that a particular Tree is diseased, upon written notice, a landowner shall have 30 days to cut and remove the diseased tree.
Within 10 days following receipt of written notice, the landowner may appeal the Mount Gretna Director of Public Works' determination by filing a protest with the Secretary of the Borough, whereupon at the next scheduled public meeting, Borough Council shall reconsider the Mount Gretna Director of Public Works' determination after hearing such matters as may be presented by the landowner. The Secretary of the Borough shall ensure that the affected landowner is provided with written notice of the time, date and location of the next scheduled public meeting of Borough Council. If a majority of members of Borough Council reaffirms the initial determination of the Mount Gretna Director of Public Works that a diseased tree must be removed, the landowner shall be afforded 15 days from the date of Borough Council's written decision to cut and remove the diseased tree. The decision by Borough Council shall be final.
Upon failure of any landowner to comply with the requirements as to the cutting and removal of any diseased tree after the time given following a Borough Council meeting as set forth in Subsection B, or after the time given in the original written notice provided for in Subsection A has elapsed without protest by the landowner, Borough Council may cause the necessary work to be done by a Borough employee or a contractor and levy and collect the cost thereof from the landowner.
Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, the Borough shall have the right, but not the obligation, to perform any acts necessary to eliminate an emergency situation involving a dangerous tree that serves as a clear, present and immediate threat to the public health, welfare and safety of landowners, buildings or other surrounding trees or parts thereof. The Mount Gretna Director of Public Works shall provide written notice of the emergency situation and afford the landowner five days to eliminate the emergency situation by removing the dangerous tree. After five days, the Borough shall have the right to eliminate the emergency situation by removing the dangerous tree. If any such emergency situation is the result of any landowner's action or inaction, the Borough will assess the costs of such summary abatement against that landowner. If, in the opinion of the Mount Gretna Director of Public Works, the emergency situation is of such an immediate danger, the written notice to the landowner, as set forth herein, is hereby waived.
Whenever it is necessary for the Borough to have removed diseased trees by reason of the failure of the landowner to do so as either set forth in § 176-3A or B of this article, whichever applies in a particular case, or whenever it is necessary for the Borough to terminate an emergency situation as set forth in § 176-4 if any such emergency situation is the result of any landowner's action or inaction, the Borough may levy and collect the costs of removing the tree from the landowner. The cost of such work shall be a lien upon the premises from the time of the commencement of the work, which date shall be fixed by the Mount Gretna Director of Public Works and shall be filed with the Borough Secretary. Any such lien may be enforced by the filing of a municipal lien in the Court of Common Pleas of Lebanon County. A municipal lien shall include the costs of removing the tree, any additional administrative costs and attorneys' fees. The Borough Secretary shall cause 30 days' written notice to be given to persons against whose property an assessment has been made, which notice shall state the amount of the assessment, the time and place of payment and certificates from the Borough Council and Mount Gretna Director of Public Works as to the work performed. In the event of nonpayment within 30 days thereafter, the same may become a municipal lien.
The Borough employees or its designated contractor shall have full power and authority to enter upon any property within the Borough for the purpose of inspection of or ascertaining the existence of any diseased tree or an emergency situation necessitated by a dangerous tree that serves as a clear, present and immediate threat to the public health, welfare and safety of landowners, buildings or other surrounding trees and to cause the cutting and removal of said trees.