[Ord. No. 9-00-1 § 90-1]
This chapter shall be cited as the "Protection of Trees and Shrubs Regulations of the Borough of Rockleigh."
[Ord. No. 9-00-1 § 90-2.1]
The Borough finds that the development of unimproved or redevelopment of improved land for the purpose of erecting homesites has resulted in indiscriminate and excessive cutting of trees upon tracts of land and has resulted in creating increased surface drainage and soil erosion, thereby increasing municipal costs to control drainage within the Borough. It further finds that such excessive removal and destruction of trees impairs the proper occupancy of existing residential areas and impairs the stability and value of improved and unimproved real property in such areas with attendant deterioration of conditions affecting the health, safety and general welfare of the inhabitants of the Borough, and further finds that regulations for the indiscriminate removal of trees is within the Police Power of the Borough. Furthermore, the Borough recommends retaining and preserving "the unique character of the Borough of Rockleigh with respect to preservation of the large tracts of open space and park land which provide scenic vistas, natural habitats and other positive attributes to improve the overall quality of life for Rockleigh residents." This chapter is intended to protect the quality of life and the character of the natural and built environment.
[Ord. No. 9-00-1 § 90-2.2]
As used in this chapter:
- BUILDING PLOT
- Shall mean a parcel of land upon which a building has been or may be erected in accordance with the Zoning Chapter.
- Shall mean any person or business which is in any way responsible for installation and/or removal of trees.
- IMPROVED LOT
- Shall mean any clearly defined piece of land which contains a permanently affixed structure with a roof and intended for shelter, housing or enclosure.
- Shall mean any person having the title to any lot, plot, piece or parcel of land.
- Shall mean a license issued by the Building Inspector to remove or destroy trees, from any improved or unimproved land as defined in this section.
- Shall mean any individual, firm, association, partnership or corporation, or any group or two (2) or more of the foregoing.
- Shall mean any person in possession of any lot, piece or parcel of land, with or without a lease but with the permission of the owner.
- Shall mean any living tree having a trunk caliper of six (6) inches or greater measured at a height of three (3) feet above natural grade in a buffer area or having a trunk caliper of nine (9) inches or greater measured at a height of three (3) feet above the natural grade in all other areas outside a buffer area, as defined herein.
- TREE EXPERT
- Shall mean a specialist in trees and tree care.
- UNIMPROVED LOT
- Shall mean any clearly defined piece of land, the location, dimensions and boundaries of which are determined by the latest official record, upon which no structure permanently affixed to the land, with a roof and intended for shelter, housing or enclosure has been constructed.
[Ord. No. 9-00-1 § 90-2.3]
The provisions of this section shall apply to all improved and unimproved lands within the Borough.
[Ord. No. 9-00-1 § 90-2.4]
Permit Required. No person, contractor, property owner or tenant shall remove or destroy or cause to be removed or destroyed by any person, contractor, property owner or tenant any trees as defined in this section on any improved or unimproved tract of land or lot within the Borough unless a permit is first obtained for such removal.
Exception. Exempt from the permit requirement are the following:
The cutting, pruning or trimming of trees in a manner which is not harmful to the health of the tree.
The cutting, destruction or removal of trees which are diseased or dead or which endanger public safety. A certificate from a qualified tree expert must be obtained and submitted with a permit waiver request.
Application Fee. The permit shall be obtained from the Construction Official upon an application being made therefor and a fee of twenty-five ($25.00) dollars with each application.
Application Information Where No Building Permit, Septic Permit or Demolition Permit Is Requested. An application for a permit for removal or destruction of trees where no building permit, septic permit or demolition permit is requested or contemplated shall contain the name of applicant, name of owner of property with consent of the owner, if different from the applicant, location of trees on a sketch of property and reasons for the removal or destruction.
Application Information Where Building Permit, Septic Permit or Demolition Permit Is Sought. An application for a permit for removal or destruction of trees where a building permit for construction involving any exterior alteration to the building foundation or property, septic permit or demolition permit is being sought, the property owner shall file with the site plan. The plan shall show which trees on the property are to be removed within a radius of twenty-five (25) feet from any area of disturbance related to the building permit for construction as described herein, together with the species and condition of such trees shown on the plan by the architect or engineer, under the seal of such architect or engineer, and also show the same information as to the trees to remain on the land.
Determination of Planning Board; Issuance of Permits.
Where a site plan or subdivision application is involved, the Planning Board shall determine which trees may be removed and the permit for such removal shall be issued by the Construction Official at the time of the issuance of a building permit.
Where there is no site plan or subdivision application, the permit for such removal shall be issued by the Construction Official.
For any tree removal permit which is issued, the Construction Official shall be at the subject site in order to supervise the removal of any trees, as authorized. Should any trees be removed incorrectly, the representative shall immediately notify the County Police Department, and the Borough Construction Official shall determine if the issuance of a stop work order is warranted based on the provisions of paragraph k of this subsection.
Referral to Other Agencies. Nothing herein contained shall prevent the Construction Official from referring the application to the Planning Board or other committee for their examination and opinion.
Surety Bond Required Where Building Permit for Tree Removal Is Sought. In all cases of application for permit where a building permit for tree removal is applied for, there shall accompany the application a cash bond in an amount to be determined by the Planning Board or the Construction Official in the amount of one thousand ($1,000.00) dollars for each acre or part thereof with the application for building permit, which bond shall assure compliance with the preservation of those trees not to be removed, which bond shall be returned with the certificate of occupancy less any cost expended by the Borough to replace trees improperly removed or destroyed in violation of the permit.
Display of Permit. A tree removal permit must be adequately displayed on any property where tree removal has been authorized so that the permit is visible from the nearest public street until such time as the authorized cutting has ended and a final inspection has been conducted by the appropriate Borough Official(s).
Appeal. In the event of denial of any permit, the applicant seeking appeal from the decision of the Construction Official may send a letter to the Planning Board for its decision and may be heard informally thereon by the Planning Board.
Stop Work Order Issuance. If upon a building site inspection, the Construction Official finds that trees have been removed without regard to this chapter, or he has reasonable cause to believe that there may have been a violation of this chapter, then in that event, no building permit shall be issued until the alleged violation has been prosecuted and disposed of in the Municipal Court of Rockleigh. In addition, should the Construction Official, the Borough Engineer or their duly appointed agents discover that a possible violation of this chapter has occurred, including any violation of an approved survey, subsequent to the granting of a building permit, the Construction Official, Borough Engineer or their duly appointed agents shall issue a stop-work order until such time as the violation is finally disposed of in the Municipal Court of Rockleigh Borough. Where there are repeated violations, the Construction Official shall also have the authority to withhold the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy for that property. If the stop work order is contested at that time by the applicant, the burden of proof shall be the responsibility of the applicant.
[Ord. No. 9-00-1 § 90-2.5]
All trees as defined in this section within the area of disturbance shall be indicated on the required site plan or sketch plan. Every effort shall be made to provide a layout to avoid any disturbance within the specimen trees drip line. An estimate of all trees over nine (9) inches in caliper or greater shall be presented by the developer in all areas. If in the opinion of the approving authority, the estimate is not a reasonable projection of actual field conditions, a precise count shall be required. The elimination of deciduous trees of this caliper shall be replaced by trees of at least three (3) inch caliper, the species of which is either identical to the tree being removed or is otherwise referred to in the U.S. Soils Conservation Service as compatible with the soil type, or a coniferous tree of at least eight (8) feet in height at the time of planting. Coniferous trees shall be replaced by a similar coniferous tree at least eight (8) feet in height at the time of planting. Tree replacement and the number of trees required shall be determined by the Planning Board by the ability of the land to accommodate these trees. If sufficient space is not available on the lot on which the development is proposed, the Planning Board may require the applicant to plant the replacement trees on other lands owned by the applicant within the Borough of Rockleigh, on Borough park lands, within public street rights-of-way or any combination thereof. In lieu of off-site replacement, the applicant may contribute to a Municipal Tree Bank, which is to provide trees on public property, based on a replacement cost estimate prepared by the Borough Engineer.
All diseased trees on the subject property subject to removal must be documented by a qualified tree expert.
Hardship in such cases shall be based on an examination of all the circumstances considering the applicant's needs. If the needs of the owner outweigh the public benefit promoted by retention of trees, the hardship requiring removal shall be found to exist.
Any area to be occupied by a building, driveway, drainage field, septic tank, recreation area (tennis courts, swimming pools or similar facilities) may have the trees removed but not more than fifteen (15) feet around the perimeter of such facilities.
The area has a cut or fill deemed injurious or dangerous to trees, and which may require removal of trees in such area, as determined by the Construction Official or Planning Board, as appropriate.
The permit shall be granted if there is a finding that the removal and destruction will not impair the growth and development of remaining and new trees on the property of the applicant or adjacent properties and would not cause erosion of soil, impair existing drainage, lessen property values in the neighborhood or impair the aesthetic values of the area.
The spirit of the provisions of this section shall be to grant permits in all areas only for compelling reasons as it is essential to maintain aesthetic values, preserve privacy and drainage control.
[Ord. No. 9-00-1 § 90-2.6]
Protection of Trees. No soil material, permanent or temporary, shall be placed within six (6) feet of any trees. Where grading may be required, trees shall be walled in with extension tile to the outer crown of the tree. No structure, equipment or movable machinery shall be permitted to operate within six (6) feet of any tree in order not to disturb the soil and thereby injure the tree.
Exempt Lands or Activities. The following lands or activities shall be exempt from the provisions of this section: Orchards, Borough, County and State land.
[Ord. No. 9-00-1 § 90-2.7]
No fee shall be charged for a permit authorizing the removal of diseased or damaged trees in accordance with subsection 17-2.4b2.