[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Lebanon by Ord. No. 15-2003 (Ch. XXI of the 1985 Revised General Ordinances). Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Township Committee of the Township of Lebanon does herein decide and find that the indiscriminate, uncontrolled and excess destruction, removal and cutting of trees upon lots and tracts of land particularly on steep slopes and along stream corridors within the Township has resulted in creating increased municipal costs to control drainage and road repairs and has further caused increased soil erosion, decreased fertility of soils and increased dust, which has caused deterioration of property values. This has further rendered land unfit and unsuitable for their most appropriate use, with the result that there has been deterioration or will result in a future deterioration of conditions affecting the health, safety, and general well-being of the inhabitants of the Township of Lebanon and has caused the passage of this chapter to regulate and control the indiscriminate and excessive cutting of trees in the Township.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- PROFESSIONAL FORESTER
- An individual recognized by the Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Parks and Forestry, New Jersey Forest Service as a New Jersey State approved forester.
- Any woody perennial plant, having a diameter greater than 10 inches, measured from a point 4 1/2 feet above ground. No person shall cut or remove any tree upon any lands within the Township of Lebanon, in the County of Hunterdon, unless the aforesaid accomplishes a cause in accordance with the regulations and provisions of this chapter.
Single-family dwellings. Any tree located on a tract of land five acres or less in size where slopes do not exceed 25% on which a single-family dwelling has been erected. This chapter applies to all properties where slopes exceed 25% except for an exempt area of 100 feet in all directions from an existing residence.
Nurseries, garden centers, etc. Any tree growing on property actually being used as a nursery, garden center, Christmas tree plantation, or orchard.
Land used for surface mining or public utilities. Any tree growing on land actually being used for surface mining or public utilities.
Public right-of-way. Any tree growing in a public right-of-way as shown on an approved preliminary or final subdivision or site plan map, official map or current tax map.
Dead or diseased trees; agricultural advancement purposes. Any dead or diseased tree that is likely to endanger the occupant, the public, or an adjoining property owner, or any tree cut for use as firewood, posts, rails, or building materials, provided it is for the personal use of the owner or occupant of the land on which the tree was located before cutting and for use on that land and not for resale or commercial purpose. Any tree growing on property actively operated under farmland assessment which is removed for reasons that advance agricultural purposes for that farm and not resold.
Cutting or removal in accordance with woodland management plan. Any tree cut or removed in accordance with a woodland management plan developed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), New Jersey Forest Service, or other professional forester, and filed with the enforcing office duly appointed by the Township of Lebanon. The woodland management plan shall be approved by the New Jersey Forest Service when required to qualify the property for farmland assessment values.
Editor's Note: Pursuant to Ordinance No. 15-2003, the duly appointed officer may be the Township Forester, Construction Code Official, Township Engineer, certified tree expert or other persons knowledgeable in these duties.
Application for permit of removal. Any person of a corporation desiring to destroy, cut or remove any such tree in excess of the aforesaid size shall apply to the Zoning Officer of the Township of Lebanon for a permit to remove such trees. The applicant shall identify the land upon which the tree or trees are located and shall disclose the name and address of the owner, tenant, or duly authorized agent of said owner or tenant, and shall identify and place the location of said tree or trees sought to be cut, removed or destroyed. This shall apply to all subdivisions, site plans and any lot of record.
Issuance of permit. If the applicant discloses that no more than five trees, in excess of the size referred to aforesaid in this chapter, are to be removed or destroyed from the lot or tract of land identified in said application, then, and in that event, said Zoning Officer may issue a permit for the removal of said tree or trees.
Removal of more than five trees; determinations; certification by a professional forester. In the event said applicant, together with any previous applicant or application, indicates that more than five trees of the size hereinbefore referred to are to be cut, removed or destroyed from said land, the Zoning Officer shall review the site to determine whether the cutting, removal or destruction of said trees shall impair the drainage conditions, create soil erosion, increase the dust, or cause the deterioration of the property value and shall further determine the overall effects of the physical and aesthetic values of the land. In the event that the Zoning Officer is unable to determine if the removal of such trees would be detrimental to the property in question, the Zoning Officer may require that the applicant provide a certification by a professional forester that the cutting, removal or destruction of said trees shall not impair the drainage conditions, create soil erosion, increase the dust, or cause the deterioration of the physical and aesthetic values of the land. The cost of this determination shall be borne totally by the applicant.
As a basis for determining permitted tree removal, the Zoning Officer shall give due consideration to the following:
Clearance for road or driveway right-of-way. Clearance of trees for proposed road or driveway right-of-way shall be approved by the Zoning Officer only for the paved or stoned portion of such rights-of-way plus 15 feet width on each side only for alignments on plans as approved by the Planning Board or Board of Adjustment or Township Engineer.
Clearance for construction. Clearance of trees for construction of residence or other primary and accessory building plus a twenty-five-foot-wide area surrounding such buildings shall be approved by the Zoning Officer only upon receipt of preliminary or final subdivision or site plan application as approved in writing by the Planning Board or Board of Adjustment.
Clearance for off-street parking facilities or outdoor storage areas. Clearance of trees for proposed off-street parking facilities or outdoor storage areas shall be approved by the Zoning Officer only for cleared locations as indicated on site plans approved by the Planning Board or Board of Adjustment.
Clearance for construction of septic tanks, etc. Clearance of trees for construction of septic tanks, cesspools, leaching fields, sewer plants and the like shall be approved by the Zoning Officer only after receipt of a site plan as approved by the Health Officer or Municipal Board of Health or Township Engineer.
Consideration of permits granted. All permits granted for removal of trees shall be issued with due consideration to the intent and purpose of this chapter. Properties which are subject to a permit shall be managed and restored in accordance with the New Jersey Forestry and Wetlands Best Management Practices Manual.
Generally, the removal of trees shall be permitted where the cut-and-fill operations as part of site grading are in excess of one-foot elevation on all sides of a tree or trees in question.
Where, in the opinion of a professional forester or engineer, the change in the existing drainage pattern will result in the general destruction of trees.
Where prohibited or subject to special consideration.
Where the purpose of tree removal is to provide better visibility to expose vacant land, signs and billboards, such removal shall be prohibited.
Where the existing trees form part of a planning greenbelt in any buffer zone, wetlands area, or transition area, such removal shall be prohibited.
Where trees are considered to be special by virtue of history, unusual size, or the like, such removal shall be prohibited.
The removal of trees near utility substations, transmission towers, warehouses, junkyards, landfill operations and other similar uses or structures shall be prohibited except where in conflict with public safety requirements.
In the vicinity of such uses or structures, in the absence of existing trees or forest cover, provisions shall be made for screen planting preferably using evergreen species.
The Zoning Officer, after reviewing the site and the certification of a professional forester, if required, shall determine whether the applicant shall be granted a permit and shall issue a tree removal permit or denial in writing within 10 days of the date of such application. The Zoning Officer shall from time to time designate another officer for a particular application who shall be the Construction Code Official or the Township Engineer of the Township of Lebanon. That designated official shall have the same duties and responsibilities as the Zoning Officer pertaining to that application.
If said determination of the applicant's request is unfavorable, the Zoning Officer shall promptly notify the applicant in writing with respect thereto and shall not issue said permit.
The applicant at the time of filing said application shall deposit with the Zoning Officer a fee for the permit according to the following schedule:
The applicant shall have the right to appeal the aforesaid decision to the Board of Adjustment of the Township of Lebanon within 15 days of receipt of the Zoning Officer's decision. The Board shall, by written notice to the applicant, address the applicant within 30 days after the filing of said notice of appeal or hearing, where applicable, of its decision. The Board of Adjustment may in its discretion and upon complete review of the application, and after hearing the testimony of the Zoning Officer and the applicant, reverse, modify or affirm the aforesaid decision.
Any person violating any provision of this chapter shall be subject to a fine not exceeding $500 per tree removed or imprisonment for 30 days, or both, at the discretion of the Judge of the Municipal Court of the Township of Lebanon.