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Town of Huntington, NY
Suffolk County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Huntington 8-5-2008 by L.L. No. 22-2008.[1] Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Property maintenance; nuisances — See Ch. 156.
Zoning — See Ch. 198.
[1]
Editor's Note: This local law also repealed former Ch. 186, Tree Preservation, adopted 9-10-2002 by L.L. No. 35-2002.
A. 
The Town Board hereby finds that the indiscriminate and excessive cutting of trees and shrubs, or specimen trees, results in increased municipal costs for the control of drainage and erosion and impairs the natural scenic and aesthetic qualities of the environment, which the Town is obligated to protect. The maintenance of large and mature trees is one of the most significant factors in maintaining the character of the Town and protection of the large and mature trees is crucial to the health, safety and comfort and general welfare of the Town, its residents and property owners. It has been well established that trees provide a natural habitat for the wildlife of our area, absorb air pollution, provide oxygen, reduce energy costs, increase property values, deter soil erosion and flooding and offer a natural barrier to noise, and as the removal of trees deprives us of these benefits and disrupts the ecological balance in nature, it is therefore the purpose of this chapter to regulate the indiscriminate destruction, substantial alteration or removal of trees in unincorporated portions of the Town of Huntington.
B. 
Specifications and standards of practice. The Town of Huntington hereby adopts the Arboricultural Specifications and Standards of Practice of the International Society of Arboriculture as published under American National Standard for Tree Operations (ANSI A300-1995) or the most recent edition.
For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms, phrases and words shall have the meanings stated:
DEPARTMENT
The Department of Planning and Environment of the Town of Huntington.
DESTRUCTION or DAMAGE
Includes, but is not limited to, such practices as girdling, ringing the tree, excessive peeling of bark, excessive harmful pruning, improper use of machinery on the tree, compacting or overburdening the roots, trenching near the roots, application of herbicides, defoliants or poisons, altering the natural grade to expose the roots or cover the trunk, paving with concrete, asphalt or other impervious surfaces within such proximity as to be harmful to the tree by impeding the free passage of water, air or nutrients to the roots, attaching or maintaining any rope, wire, nails, advertising posters or other contrivance, allowing any gaseous, liquid or solid substance which is harmful to such trees to come in contact with them or set fire or permit any fire to burn when such fire or the heat therefrom will injure any portion of any tree, or any other practice or action which may reasonably be expected to cause disease or decline of a tree, either immediately or within the course of time, or result in the unnatural death of a tree, but shall not include regular maintenance such as pruning of a tree or elimination of dead or dangerous trees or limbs, if done within the accepted standards of arboriculture (ANSI).
DRIPLINE
That area extending from the trunk of the tree to the outer limit of tree canopy.
HABIT
The natural growing characteristics of any tree, which includes branch spread and distribution, branch height above the ground and root spread and distribution.
PRUNING
The selective removal of living or dead parts of a tree. Pruning can include, but is not limited to, maintaining shape, reducing size, improving health, regulating growth and reducing risk.
SUBSTANTIALLY ALTER
Any cutting or pruning in excess of the normal and customary cutting and pruning necessary to preserve the health of the tree or maintain its ornamental characteristics, as determined by the Town.
TREE
Any living, woody, perennial plant having a primary axis (trunk) emerging from the ground.
TREE, DEAD or DYING
A tree that is dead or has been damaged beyond repair, or is in an advanced state of decline, as determined by an official of the Town or an arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). This determination may require documentation via either resistograph readings or photographs.
TREE, HAZARDOUS
A tree that has a condition, disease or defect that poses an imminent danger to life or property as determined by the Town, an ISA Certified Arborist, or emergency service worker such as a police officer or fireman.
TREE, LANDMARK
Any tree that is defined as rare or endangered according to the Town of Huntington, or any other local, state, federal agency having jurisdiction; or any large or outstanding specimen of small species; or tree included in New York State's "Big Tree List"; or any tree or shrub that has been previously designated by the Town of Huntington or other agency as historic landmark; or any tree that has been designated a New York State Champion or United States Champion by the American Forestry Association.
TREE, LARGE
Any tree that is one hundred and thirteen (113) inches in circumference, or greater, measured at a height of four and one half (4 1/2) feet from the ground.
TREE, MEDIUM
Any tree which is thirty-two (32) inches or greater in circumference measured at a height of four and one-half (4 1/2) feet above grade that has not grown to the size of a Large Tree.
TREE, SMALL
Any tree that is less than thirty-two (32) inches in circumference measured at a height of four and one-half (4 1/2) feet above grade.
WOODLAND
A group of trees of any size forming a common canopy and including any under-story vegetation.
A. 
Written consent of property owner required. It shall be unlawful for any person or business entity to cut, damage, carve, dig, remove or substantially alter any tree, whether living or not living, standing or downed, on public or private property, without the prior written consent of the property owner. Any person or business entity having the prior written consent of the property owner shall display the consent, upon demand, to any police officer or town officer empowered to enforce local laws and ordinances of the Town of Huntington. The failure to produce the written consent upon request shall be a violation of this Chapter.
B. 
Public property.
(1) 
No person or business entity shall plant, spray, fertilize, treat, prune, disturb the root system or cause or permit the destruction, or damage, or removal, or substantial alteration of any tree of any size on town-owned or maintained land, public right-of-way, or other public place, without written permission or directive by the owner.
(2) 
No person or business entity shall fasten or attach to any publicly owned or maintained tree any sign, poster, bill, notice or advertisement of any kind.
(3) 
No person or business entity shall deposit, place, store or maintain upon any town-owned or maintained lands, public right-of-way, or other public place any stone, brick, sand, concrete or other material which may cause destruction or damage or removal of any tree growing therein except as approved by the owner.
(4) 
No person or business entity shall cause or permit excavation or construction on land that will reasonably be expected to destroy or damage any publicly owned or maintained tree, including its roots, without first obtaining permission from the owner.
C. 
Protection of trees during construction activity. All trees near any excavation or construction shall be guarded by a substantial fence, frame or box of not less than four (4) feet in height. Whenever possible, such fence, frame or box should run along the edge of the trees' dripline. All soil, debris, rubble or construction material shall be kept outside the enclosure. At no time shall the fence, frame, or box extend beyond the sidewalk into the street, nor shall such fence, frame, or box cause a hardship for those using the sidewalk.
D. 
Obstruction. It shall be unlawful for any property owner or person in charge of property adjoining any public right-of-way to permit any tree, shrub, or woodland on their property to obstruct the passage or visibility of pedestrians or motorists.
A. 
It shall be unlawful for any person or business entity to cause, permit or allow the removal, destruction, or substantial alteration of any Landmark Tree, Large Tree, Medium Tree or more than three (3) Small Trees or Woodland, within a one (1) year period, without first obtaining a permit from the Department.
B. 
Exemptions. No permit shall be required where the following exists:
(1) 
Work consistent with an approved landscape, grading, drainage or clearing plan where a building permit has been issued. Where the proposed plan does not have a landscaping plan, no permit is required for the removal of any tree, vegetation or woodland located within twenty-five (25) feet of any proposed building, drainage structure or driveway proposed for construction.
(2) 
Emergencies: The removal or substantial alteration of hazardous trees in an emergency to protect persons, wildlife or property from imminent danger, as determined by the Town, an ISA Certified Arborist, emergency service worker, or as documented by photographic evidence;
(3) 
Dead or dying tree. The removal of a dead or dying tree;
(4) 
Surveying, data collection, or soil investigation. The removal or pruning of trees, except the removal of any Landmark Tree, to allow sufficient access for surveying, data collection or soil investigation activities involving an application under review by the Town;
(5) 
Legally-established nurseries and farms. The removal of a tree by a legally-established nursery or farm, as defined in the Huntington Town Code, provided that such activity is in furtherance of their normal business operations. This exemption does not apply to the removal of any Landmark Tree, any tree located within a required buffer or the expansion of their operations;
(6) 
Public utilities. The normal trimming, cutting or substantial alteration of trees by a utility company to install, maintain or replace utility lines or cables located within the utility company's right-of-way. Prior permission from the Town Highway Office is required before such work commences;
(7) 
Public land. The removal, trimming or substantial alteration of trees on public land or public right-of-way for the purpose of regular maintenance provided proper authorization has been obtained by the governmental agency having jurisdiction.
(8) 
Activities in the performance of the Town's governmental function.
A. 
Application procedure. Each application for a tree permit shall include the following:
(1) 
Name, address and signature of the applicant. Where applicant is not the property owner, written consent of property owner is required.
(2) 
Address and Suffolk County Tax Map Number of the property where work is to be performed.
(3) 
Name and address of the person or business entity performing the work, including the company's Suffolk County Home Improvement License Number and signature of company's representative.
(4) 
Photograph(s) of the tree(s) or woodland proposed to be removed or substantially altered, and photograph(s) from the tree(s) showing the view toward all neighboring properties. All photographs shall include a point of reference to determine scale, such as a yardstick or person.
(5) 
Condition of the tree(s) or woodland to be removed or substantially altered.
(6) 
Purpose for the removal or substantial alteration of the tree(s) or woodland.
(7) 
A site plan or subdivision map which received a final approval from the Planning Board and which includes the location and circumference of each tree(s) to be removed. Circumference is to be measured at four and one half (4 1/2) feet from grade. If no such plan is available, a survey, an accurate sketch or plan of the area shall include the following:
(a) 
Property boundary lines.
(b) 
An outline of existing heavily wooded areas on the site.
(c) 
Location and circumference of each tree(s) to be removed. Circumference is to be measured at four and one half (4 1/2) feet from the ground.
(d) 
Location of any structures on the property.
(e) 
Location of any proposed development or improvement on the property.
(f) 
North arrow and scale.
(8) 
A proposed mitigation plan, if any, to plant the same or alternate species of vegetation as determined to be necessary by the Department.
(9) 
When the proposed tree removal occurs within a hillside area, as defined in the Town Code, a sketch of the proposal on an accurate topographical survey showing two (2) foot contours shall be required.
(10) 
The condition of the tree(s) or woodland to be removed or altered with respect to disease and public safety.
(11) 
The reason for the removal or substantial alteration of the tree(s) or woodland.
(12) 
Whether the tree in question is a Landmark Tree.
(13) 
The percentage of trees that are proposed to be removed in relationship to the total number of trees on the property as a whole.
(14) 
Designated Wetlands. A Letter of Non-jurisdiction or Letter of Approval from New York State Department of Environmental Conservation must accompany any application for a tree permit for any tree or woodland located within one hundred (100) feet of a designated wetland.
(15) 
Additional information that the Department may deem necessary for the proper evaluation of the application.
B. 
Permit Application Fee.
(1) 
Each application shall be accompanied by personal or certified check or money order, in the amount of twenty-five ($25.00) dollars for every five (5) trees or portion thereof to be removed or substantially altered. For single-family residential property, the fee shall be no greater than five hundred ($500) dollars.
(2) 
Unauthorized work. The application fee shall be three (3) times the amount established if removal, destruction, or substantial alteration of any tree, group of trees, or woodland has commenced or been completed at any time before a permit is issued by the Department.
The Department may approve or deny an application in whole or in part. The Director may condition the issuance of a permit, as he deems advisable or necessary to protect and safeguard the health, welfare and safety of persons or property. Failure to comply with the terms and conditions of the permit is a violation of this Chapter and may be a basis for revocation. In reviewing the application the Department shall consider the following:
(1) 
The condition of the tree(s) or woodland to be removed or altered with respect to disease and public safety.
(2) 
The reason for the removal or substantial alteration of the tree(s) or woodland.
(3) 
Whether the tree in question is a Landmark Tree.
(4) 
The effect of the removal on existing habitat, including soil erosion impacts, loss of species designated as endangered, threatened or of special concern by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, or the loss of New York State protected plant species;
(5) 
(Reserved)
(6) 
The character of the community and the impact, if any, on the views and vistas;
(7) 
The nature and extent of the mitigation proposed, if any, with respect to replanting of replacement vegetation.
(8) 
Additional information that the Department may deem necessary for the proper evaluation of the application.
Term of Permit. Each permit issued shall expire one (1) year from the date of issuance. All work shall be completed within such period. An additional extension of three (3) months may be granted by the Director upon good cause shown, as long as an extension is requested prior to the expiration of the original term.
The permit shall be properly posted in a conspicuous place on the frontage of the premises for which it was issued so as to be easily inspected. All permits shall be posted at all times during the performance of the work and shall not be removed until the work is completed. A property owner or permit holder who fails to post a permit shall be deemed in violation of this Chapter.
It shall be unlawful to alter, obscure, deface, change, transfer to another property or otherwise tamper with any portion of a permit issued by the Town. The property owner and/or permit holder shall be strictly liable for a violation of this Section. In addition to any other penalty provided for herein, the Town may issue a stop-work order, and the Director may revoke the permit.
A. 
In the event any tree is removed or substantially altered without the proper permit or the filing of written confirmation that a tree is dead or dying, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the tree was not dead or dying, the exemptions in § 186-5 do not apply, and that a permit for such action should have been obtained.
B. 
There shall be a rebuttable presumption that the owner or occupant, on whose land any tree has been removed, cut down, destroyed or substantially altered without the necessary permit, is responsible for performing or allowing the act to occur, except on publicly-owned or maintained land, or other public right-of-way.
C. 
There shall be a rebuttable presumption that the person or business entity who removed, cut down, destroyed or substantially altered a tree without the necessary permit had the permission of the property owner or occupant of the land to perform such activity, except on publicly-owned or maintained land or other public right-of-way.
[Amended 11-6-2019 by L.L. No. 56-2019]
(A) 
Any person or business entity that violates any provision of this Chapter or any rule, regulation or specification promulgated hereunder shall be guilty of an offense. Each tree removed, cut down, destroyed or substantially altered in violation of this Chapter shall constitute a separate offense, punishable in like manner.
(B) 
Any person or business entity convicted of violating any provision of this Chapter or any rule, regulation and specification promulgated hereunder shall be subject to the following penalties:
(1) 
A fine of not less than three hundred dollars ($300) and not more than seven hundred fifty dollars ($750) for each tree that is removed in excess of those allowed to be removed pursuant to this Chapter or, in the case of woodland, not less than three thousand dollars ($3,000) and not more than fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) per acre or any portion thereof, whichever is calculated to be greater, with the maximum fine trebled for any unauthorized tree removal on Town property; and/or
(2) 
Imprisonment not exceeding fifteen (15) days for each offense.
(C) 
Any person or entity found by the Bureau of Administrative Adjudication to have violated any provision of this Chapter shall likewise be subject to a monetary penalty within the range of fines authorized in subdivision (B) for any offense or continuing offense.
(D) 
In addition to the penalties set forth herein, the applicant may be:
(1) 
Ordered to plant replacement trees, shrubs and/or groundcover, on the affected premises, planting plan to be approved by the Department; and/or
(2) 
Ordered to pay the replacement value of each tree illegally removed, destroyed or substantially altered. Replacement value for the purposes of this Section shall be determined utilizing the most recent edition of the "Guide of Plant Appraisal" published by the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers. Said funds shall be deposited into a Town Tree Program to be administered by the Director and used by the Town for the planting and/or maintenance of Town trees.
(E) 
Any person convicted of violating the provisions of this Chapter or any rules, regulations and specifications promulgated hereunder, or found by the Bureau of Administrative Adjudication to have violated any provisions of this Chapter, shall be prohibited from receiving any other tree permits for the same property for a period of six (6) months after a violation has occurred.
(F) 
In addition to the criminal and civil penalties set forth herein or in other applicable law, rule or regulation, the Town Attorney is authorized to pursue civil and equitable relief in the name of the Town in a court of competent jurisdiction, including but not limited to compensatory actions; civil penalties in the amount of up to two hundred and fifty ($250) dollars per day, or any part thereof; an action to compel compliance with or to restrain by injunction the violation of this Chapter; and other remedies which in the opinion of the Town Attorney may seem necessary and proper.