Borough of West Cape May, NJ
Cape May County
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[Ord. No. 494-2015 § 1; Ord. No. 515-2016; Ord. No. 529-2017]
The intent and purpose of this section is to establish standards for the Borough for the protection and preservation of certain trees defined herein growing in a natural state within this municipality.
For purposes of Section 30-1, and Section 27-36, a "tree" shall mean any woody perennial plant with a main stem or trunk exceeding three (3") inches in diameter measured at a point four and one-half (4.5') feet above the ground level on the downhill side of such tree.
A "replacement tree" shall be of at least two (2") inches in diameter at four and one-half (4.5') feet above the ground.
[Ord. No. 494-2015 § 1; Ord. No. 515-2016; Ord. No. 529-2017]
A Significant Specimen Tree shall include any tree with a diameter at breast height (DBH) larger than sixteen (16") inches or has a trunk diameter exceeding 60% of that of the largest similar tree listed in the West Cape May List of Approved Trees and Shrubs that is prepared and annually updated by the West Cape May Shade Tree Commission.
[Ord. No. 515-2016; Ord. No. 529-2017]
The Borough Commissioners shall appoint a Tree Specialist. This individual shall be responsible for the inspection of sites for which application(s) are filed under this Chapter.
A Tree Specialist is either of the following:
a. 
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.
b. 
A conservation officer who shall be certified as a certified tree expert by the State of New Jersey.
[Ord. No. 494-2015 § 1; Ord. No. 515-2016; Ord. No. 529-2017; Ord. No. 566-19]
The restrictions in this section shall apply to the removal of all trees as defined in Section 30-1.1 that grow on any land in the Borough, or Significant Specimen Trees, unless such trees are 1) permitted to be removed under the provisions of this section, or 2) are otherwise regulated as part of the Borough's site plan, subdivision or zoning regulations, as set forth in subsection 30-1.6 below.
In the case of an emergency where, for example, trees are blown over, damaged beyond repair, or in such a condition that risks damage to person or property, a tree may be removed immediately. Within five business days following an emergency requiring removal of a tree, the property owner must submit an application pursuant to subsection 30-1.5. The applicant shall provide evidence demonstrating the need for the emergency removal and comply with any replacement obligations as determined by the Shade Tree Commission pursuant to subsection 30-1.6. Such evidence shall include but not be limited to, photographs.
All tree care services within the Borough shall be conducted by a person or entity licensed pursuant to N.J.S.A. 45:15C-11, et seq., unless the person, entity, or activities are exempt pursuant to N.J.S.A. 45:15C-31. Exemptions include the following:
a. 
Any public utility or any employee of a public utility while engaged in the actual performance of his duties as an employee;
b. 
Any employer under contract with a public utility who is engaged in tree trimming or any other utility vegetation management practice for purpose of line clearance, or any employee of the employer while engaged in the actual performance of duties in regard to tree trimming or other utility vegetation management practice or for the installation of underground facilities or associated site construction;
c. 
Any forestry activities that are conducted under the forest management and stewardship programs approved by the State Forester, provided that tree climbing is not performed, nor are aerial lifts, cranes, or rope and rigging operations used;
d. 
Landscape construction activities, including those performed by, or under the direction of, a landscape architect, or ground based landscape maintenance activities such as pruning, fertilization, insect and disease control, planting, transplanting and all other forms of ground based landscape maintenance, in compliance with the sections of the American National Standards Institute practice standards set forth by the board by regulation, with applicable safety standards and regulations promulgated by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and with any pesticide regulations promulgated by the Department of Environmental Protection. For the purposes of this subsection, ground based landscape maintenance means operations that do not involve climbing, the use of aerial lifts, cranes, rope and rigging operations, or the removal of trees over 6 inch D.B.H;
e. 
Any person or employer that does not offer tree care services for hire;
f. 
Any trees being removed pursuant to an approved site plan or subdivision approval, provided that the tree removal activities are performed in compliance with the sections of the American National Standards Institute practice standards set forth by the board by regulation, with applicable safety standards and regulations promulgated by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and with applicable safety standards of the American National Standards Institute as designated by the board by regulation; and
g. 
Any employee of a municipality or county while engaged in the actual performance of his duties as an employee.
[Ord. No. 494-2015 § 1; Ord. No. 515-2016; Ord. No. 529-2017]
a. 
No person shall remove or destroy any tree subject to the regulations contained in this section without first obtaining a tree removal permit from the Borough.
b. 
All applications for tree removal shall be filed with the Zoning Officer of the Borough of West Cape May. The applicant shall file an application for a tree removal permit on forms made available in the office of the Borough Clerk. When the application is filed, the applicant shall pay a fee of $35 for each tree to be removed.
c. 
The application shall be forwarded to the Tree Specialist who shall assess and provide a report to the Shade Tree Commission within two weeks of receiving the application. Once the Tree Specialist report is received, the application should be placed on the next Shade Tree Commission Meeting Agenda.
d. 
Tree removal permits shall be reviewed, approved or denied, and a decision shall be issued by the Shade Tree Commission to the owner or his authorized contractor, within three days of the Shade Tree Commission meeting where the application was reviewed. Permits shall contain the name and address of the owner of the lands upon which the tree or trees sought to be removed are located, and the type, size and location of tree or trees sought to be removed.
e. 
The tree removal permit shall be valid for one year from the date of issuance. If, at the end of the term, the Shade Tree Commission is satisfied that the standards set by this section have been met and that no violations of this section have taken place, it may renew the permit, subject to any conditions in subsection 30-1.5 above.
f. 
Applicant shall notify the Zoning Office within three days of a tree being removed for final inspection by the Zoning Officer.
[Ord. No. 494-2015 § 1; Ord. No. 515-2016; Ord. No. 529-2017]
The Shade Tree Commission shall grant or deny the permit with reference to the standards contained in this subsection. In applying such standards, the Commission may condition the grant of the permit upon such reasonable conditions as may be deemed necessary to effectuate the purpose of this section.
a. 
The Commission shall be satisfied that the removal of any particular tree is required for the effective utilization of the lands in question, and that no alternative to removal is available.
b. 
The Commission shall be satisfied that the proposed removal shall not impair the growth and development of the remaining trees on the lands where the proposed tree or trees are located, as well as on adjacent lands.
c. 
The Commission shall be satisfied that adequate precautions shall be taken with respect to the removal of the tree or trees, so that other trees will not be damaged by removal, and that the roots of remaining trees will not be cut. Wood may be cut to fireplace size and stacked at an appropriate location for owner's use.
d. 
Should the Commission authorize the removal of any tree, it shall require the applicant to provide a replacement tree, or trees, of a size and type, and at a location, in accordance with the following:
1. 
All existing trees outside a building footprint having a three (3") inch diameter trunk measured at a point four and one-half (4.5') feet above the ground on the downhill side of such tree, shall remain if said trees are in excess of six (6') feet from the outside of the exterior wall of the proposed structure. In the event that an applicant wishes to remove a tree or trees as above described, that applicant shall then be required to plant two trees for each tree removed, which replacement trees shall be of at least two (2") inches in diameter at a point four and one-half (4.5') feet above the ground at a location on the property to be chosen by applicant.
2. 
In addition to the replacement of removed trees above described, the applicant shall replace at a location of his or her choice on the property, any trees located within the footprint of the proposed structure, plus six (6') feet, if said trees have a trunk at least three (3") inches in diameter measured at a point four and one-half (4.5') feet above the ground on the downhill side of such tree.
For every tree removed within the footprint of the existing or proposed structure, plus six (6') feet, the applicant shall plant one tree along the side yard and rear yard which tree shall be of the same size as the replacement tree above described. The applicant shall be permitted to plant two bushes in lieu of a tree if said bushes are a minimum of two (2') feet in diameter and are classified by the West Cape May List of Approved Trees and Shrubs. This requirement is to make up for the replacement of shrubs and is in addition to trees from outside the building envelope. However, the applicant shall not be required to plant trees closer than ten (10') feet between the two, said distances measured from center trunk to center trunk. The replacement trees need not be of the same species as the trees removed, however, they shall be of the same height classifications as the trees removed.
3. 
The location of the tree to be removed determines the replacement obligation. All replacement trees or bushes may be installed in a location determined by the applicant in accordance with this section. The example graphic below depicts the areas subject to d,1 and d,2.
030--Image-1.tif
e. 
The Commission may permit an exemption from the replacement requirements of this section upon a showing of extraordinary circumstances or undue hardship. An example of a circumstance that may qualify for an exemption pursuant to this section includes but is not limited to instances where an applicant demonstrates the property is in excess of the vegetation coverage requirements in Section 27-36.
[Ord. No. 494-2015 § 1; Ord. No. 515-2016; Ord. No. 529-2017]
Removal of trees as part of any development subject to the Borough's site plan, subdivision or zoning regulations shall not require a tree removal permit. That removal shall conform instead to those regulations, and to the relevant determination of the appropriate land use board. Any tree removed from a property in conformance with the Borough's land use regulations shall be deemed to be permitted by this section.
[Ord. No. 494-2015 § 1; Ord. No. 515-2016; Ord. No. 529-2017]
Any person aggrieved by a decision of the Shade Tree Commission shall be entitled to a full hearing before the Commission if a written request is filed within 10 days from the Commission's decision.
[Ord. No. 494-2015 § 1; Ord. No. 515-2016; Ord. No. 529-2017]
It shall be a violation of this section, punishable under Section 30-2, for any person, corporation or entity to remove a tree in order to avoid the provisions of this section.
[Ord. No. 494-2015 § 2; Ord. No. 515-2016; Ord. No. 529-2017]
a. 
Any person violating the provisions of this Chapter shall, upon conviction, be subject to a fine of not less than $100 nor more than the maximum penalty set forth in Section 1-5 of the Borough Code.
b. 
In addition to the penalties provided for herein, any person who removes or otherwise destroys a tree in violation of this Chapter shall, upon conviction, pay a replacement assessment to the Borough. The replacement assessment of each tree removed or otherwise destroyed in violation of this Chapter shall be calculated by multiplying the area of the tree trunk, in square inches, measured 4.5 feet above the ground, times $27. The area of the tree trunk shall be computed by multiplying 3.14 times the radius squared (ex. a tree having a radius of four inches results in 3.14 x 42 = 50.24 square inches).
c. 
Any person, corporation, firm or other entity convicted of violating this Chapter within one year of the date of a previous violation of this Chapter shall be sentenced by the court to an additional fine as a repeat offender, in accordance with N.J.S.A. 40:69A-29.
d. 
The Code Enforcement Officer shall be responsible for enforcing of this Chapter.
e. 
Nothing herein shall be deemed to limit the remedies available to the Borough of West Cape May or other person seeking to compel enforcement of this Chapter, and the remedies of compelling replacement of a tree or trees by paying money damages shall be considered cumulative.