Town of North Salem, NY
Westchester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of North Salem 4-23-2013 by L.L. No. 3-2013.[1] Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Filling and excavation of land — See Ch. 89.
Flood damage prevention — See Ch. 100.
Freshwater wetlands — See Ch. 107.
Landmark and historic preservation — See Ch. 130
Historic road preservation — See Ch. 131
Stormwater management and erosion and sediment control — See Ch. 193.
Zoning — See Ch. 250.
[1]
Editor's Note: This local law also repealed former Ch. 189, Land Excavation, Filling, and Tree Removal, adopted 3-10-1987 as an appendix to the Zoning Ordinance, as amended. For current regulations regarding land excavation and filling, see Ch. 89.
This chapter shall be known as the "Tree Removal Law" of the Town of North Salem.
A. 
Purpose. The purpose of this chapter is to provide protection against the destruction and/or uncontrolled removal of trees, as well as the related adverse impacts resulting from same to property and adjacent land uses. Further, to ensure where tree removal is permitted, that it be conducted with minimum impact to the immediate and surrounding environment, and with implementation of appropriate safety precautions and measures.
B. 
Intent. The intent of this chapter is to safeguard Town residents, protect public and private property, and prevent damage to the environment by guiding, regulating and controlling activities involving the removal of trees within the Town of North Salem. The protection and conservation of trees is an integral requirement to maintain the integrity of the woodland habitats and forest areas within the Town of North Salem, which are important in maintaining a balanced and biodiversity rich ecology. Trees are important for both their ecological and visual functions. Therefore, it shall be the policy of the Town of North Salem to ensure that trees be maintained, managed and conserved in a manner consistent with the Town Comprehensive Plan so as to minimize undesirable environmental impacts thereto and on property values.
This chapter is based on the following:
A. 
Trees provide shade, impede soil erosion, aid water absorption and retention, inhibit excess runoff and flooding, and enhance air quality through oxygen production and greenhouse gas absorption.
B. 
Trees offer a natural barrier to noise, serve as natural habitat for wildlife, promote biodiversity and ecological connectivity, minimize fragmentation, and provide buffering and screening between land uses.
C. 
Trees provide color, seasonal variation, vertical relief and visual continuity across the broader landscape, enhancing property values, and adding to the visual appeal and aesthetic quality of the community.
D. 
Tree forests help provide a "critical mass" of prime habitat for many types of wildlife, including threatened or endangered species. A mix of forest types — young, old, large, small, softwood, hardwood, open, closed — are essential to retain and promote biodiversity.
A. 
Word usage.
(1) 
Unless otherwise listed below, the numbers, abbreviations, terms and words listed herein shall have the meanings of common usage as set forth in the latest edition of Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary. Terms of law shall have the meanings as set forth in the latest edition of Black's Law Dictionary.
(2) 
Unless the context clearly indicates to the contrary, words used in the present tense include the future tense; words used in the singular number include the plural; words used in the plural number include the singular; the word "herein" means "in this chapter"; the word "requirements" means "this chapter;" and the words "this chapter" shall mean "this chapter included herein as enacted or subsequently amended."
(3) 
The "Town" is the Town of North Salem in the County of Westchester, State of New York; and the "Town Board," "Planning Board" and "Building Inspector," are respectively, the Town Board, Planning Board and Building Inspector of the Town of North Salem.
B. 
Definitions. The definitions as set forth in Chapter 250, Zoning shall prevail except the following terms shall have the specific meanings indicated below:
DIAMETER AT BREAST HEIGHT (DBH)
A standard measurement of trees made at four feet six inches above ground level on the uphill side.
FARMING OPERATION
Any operation on a parcel of land, not less than four acres, that is used for soil-dependent cultivation of agricultural crop production and/or the raising of livestock, poultry or dairy products, raising of fur-bearing animals, the keeping of horses and livery or boarding stables, as permitted under Chapter 250, Zoning. The definition of "farming operation" excludes dog kennels.
PERSON
Includes but is not limited to an individual, a partnership, a joint venture, a corporation, an unincorporated association, a firm or any other form of entity, contractors, subcontractors or journeymen.
STEEP SLOPES
Any area having a topographical gradient of 15% or greater (the ratio of vertical distance to horizontal distance) consisting of 5,000 square feet (over a contiguous horizontal area of 100 feet or more, one dimension of which is a minimum of 50 feet), whether created or natural, and whether formed by a retaining structure or not. For the purposes of this definition, area measurements shall be made along a horizontal plane from within the boundaries of the bounding property lines.
TREE REMOVAL
The cutting, grubbing, or other removal of a tree or trees with a diameter at breast height (dbh) of six inches or more.
Any person desiring to conduct a regulated activity as set forth in Subsection A shall first obtain a tree removal permit from the Planning Board as hereinafter provided. No permit shall be required in the case of an excluded activity as set forth in Subsection B.
A. 
Regulated activities. Tree removal as follows, except as excluded herein, shall require a tree removal permit subject to the regulations, standards and procedures of this chapter:
(1) 
Removal of any tree 36 inches dbh or greater.
(2) 
Removal of any tree within the common lands and facilities of an average density subdivision, as set forth in Chapter 250, Zoning, of the Code of the Town of North Salem.
(3) 
Removal of any tree within any Town of North Salem designated historic district as defined in Chapter 130, Landmark and Historic Preservation, or designated historic road as defined in Chapter 131, Historic Road Preservation, of the Code of the Town of North Salem.
(4) 
Removal of any tree on steep slopes as defined in this chapter.
(5) 
Removal of the number of trees listed below measuring six inches dbh or greater on a single property of the indicated acreage within any consecutive twelve-month period:
(a) 
Properties of two acres or less: five or more trees.
(b) 
Properties of more than two acres: three or more trees per acre. (NOTE: Round all decimals down.)
(c) 
Any size property: 20 or more trees.
B. 
Excluded activities. The following activities are excluded and shall not require a permit under this chapter, provided that the activity is conducted and completed in such manner as not to cause any danger to the public health or safety:
(1) 
Tree removal approved in connection with and in accordance with an approved subdivision, site development plan, land excavation and/or filling permit, and/or wetland permit as granted by the Planning Board.
(2) 
Tree removal specific to and in accordance with an approved building permit for the construction, reconstruction or enlargement of a building or structure, including the simultaneous construction and installation of site improvements related thereto.
(3) 
Tree removal in connection with a farming operation as defined herein, provided that the operator shall file with the Building Inspector a written notice of intent to engage in such activity, stating the approximate acreage, and number and size of trees to be affected, the general location thereof, the use or uses to be made of the land and the methods to be employed.
(4) 
Removal of a dead or diseased tree as certified by an arborist or the Building Inspector, and/or the removal of a tree that poses a striking hazard to the safety of persons and/or real property within 100 feet of an existing dwelling unit.
(5) 
Necessary tree removal in connection with required remediation work performed in accordance with the most current protocols and regulations of the Westchester County Department of Health and/or New York State Health Department.
A. 
Any person proposing to conduct or cause to be conducted a regulated activity as defined herein shall file an application for a Town of North Salem tree removal permit with the Planning Board in such form and number of copies as the Planning Board shall prescribe, executed by the property owner, together with the application fee, escrow fees as may be required, and showing the section, block and lot number of the parcel upon which the regulated activity is proposed.
B. 
Application submission requirements. An application for permit shall contain the following minimum information, unless a waiver is granted by the Planning Board in accordance with § 189-7E of this chapter.
(1) 
A narrative description of the proposed regulated activity indicating:
(a) 
Location of subject property and area to be affected.
(b) 
Intended purpose of the proposed activity or use and the applicant's interest in the subject property and area to be affected.
(c) 
Description of the existing site, trees and topographic conditions to be disturbed or altered.
(d) 
Description and environmental impact assessment of the proposed regulated activity.
(e) 
Considered alternatives to the proposed activity, and why the proposed regulated activity was chosen instead.
(f) 
The mitigation measures proposed to avoid or reduce related impacts.
(2) 
Project plans drawn to a scale of not less than one inch equals 50 feet which plans shall include at minimum the following:
(a) 
Existing conditions plan, based upon and including a copy of a current property survey.
(b) 
Proposed tree removal plan, including the following:
[1] 
A site location map at an appropriate scale showing the parcel, surrounding parcels within 200 feet, named area streets and the surrounding zoning designations of the area shown.
[2] 
Graphic scale and north arrow.
[3] 
The name and address of the applicant and property owner (if different).
[4] 
The name, address and telephone number of all plan preparers, including certification and signature thereon.
[5] 
The section, block and lot number of the subject parcel.
[6] 
Property owner name and address, and section, block and lot numbers of all abutting parcels, including those located across abutting streets.
[7] 
Existing buildings and structures such as drains, culverts, retaining walls, fences, wells, sewage disposal facilities and treatment fields within 50 feet of any proposed regulated activity.
[8] 
Existing and proposed topography based on a two-foot contour interval.
[9] 
The location and identification (by scientific and common name, dbh size and relative health status) of existing trees over six inches in diameter measured at breast height. Trees proposed to be removed, disturbed or otherwise protected shall be identified and detailed accordingly.
[10] 
Controlled areas (wetlands, watercourses and one-hundred-foot buffer) as defined and regulated in Chapter 107 of the Code of the Town of North Salem on or adjacent to the premises.
[11] 
Proposed vehicular access to and from the property, including details for maintaining stabilization of said entrance and the prevention of sediments leaving the site or being deposited on adjacent roadways.
(c) 
Proposed erosion and sedimentation control plan consistent with the standards and requirements set forth in Chapter 193 of the Code of the Town of North Salem.
(3) 
Such additional information as the Planning Board may deem necessary in order to evaluate the application and related potential impacts thereof.
A. 
Planning Board review procedures. The Planning Board in reviewing an application for a tree removal permit shall proceed according to the following permit review procedures:
(1) 
Optional initial review. A request for a nonbinding initial review for the purpose of obtaining preliminary feedback and evaluating specific requests for waivers as may be permitted herein may be submitted to the Planning Board prior to the submission of a complete tree removal permit application. Initial application review may involve a site visit by the Planning Board and/or its designees. Before preparing or submitting any application to conduct or cause to be conducted a regulated activity as defined herein, an applicant should become familiar with the regulations, standards and requirements contained herein.
(2) 
Review of application submission materials. The Planning Board shall review the scope of the proposed regulated activity and may request the applicant to submit such additional information in support of the minimum required application submission materials as set forth herein as it deems necessary to determine compliance with this chapter. The Planning Board may consult with the Town planning, engineering or other qualified consultant as deemed appropriate.
(3) 
Conservation Advisory Council referral. The Planning Board shall request the advice of the Conservation Advisory Council, and the Council shall furnish a written report of its findings and comments within 30 days after said request is received by the Conservation Advisory Council.
(4) 
The Planning Board and Conservation Advisory Council and their authorized representatives may enter upon the application property for the purposes of evaluating a proposed application.
(5) 
Notice and public hearing. The following notice and public hearing requirements shall be applicable:
(a) 
Within 45 days after receipt of a complete application which meets the requirements set forth herein, the Planning Board shall hold a duly noticed public hearing.
(b) 
The Planning Board shall provide the applicant with a notice of public hearing, which the applicant shall publish at its own expense in the official newspaper of the Town of North Salem at least five business days prior to the public hearing.
(c) 
Notice form and content. The public hearing notice shall be on forms approved by the Planning Board and shall include the name of the applicant and owner, the location of the property and a brief description of the regulated activity, and shall also specify the date, time and place of the public hearing to be held by the Planning Board.
(d) 
Notice circulation. Said notice shall be mailed by the applicant, certified mail return receipt requested, at least 10 business days prior to the public hearing to all owners of property in the Town within 500 feet of the application property, which owners and their addresses shall be as indicated in the current Town Tax Assessor's records.
(e) 
Certification. Prior to, or at the time of, the public hearing, the applicant shall provide the Planning Board a list of the owners of all lots to whom such notice was mailed and either an affidavit that the delivery or mailing was completed as required herein or copies of all mailing receipts.
(f) 
A copy of the notice of public hearing shall be transmitted to the Town Clerk, Building Inspector and Conservation Advisory Council.
(g) 
All such applications, and the accompanying maps and documents, shall be open for public inspection at the office of the Planning Board.
B. 
Permit determination.
(1) 
Within 65 days of receipt of a complete application or from the close of the public hearing, whichever is later, the Planning Board shall determine if the proposed regulated activity conforms to the standards for approval set forth in this subsection, and shall approve or deny the application accordingly. The Planning Board, with the mutual consent of the applicant, may extend this time period.
(2) 
Standards for approval.
(a) 
A tree removal permit may be granted provided the Planning Board finds that the approved regulated activity will not result in soil erosion, impairment of adjacent trees to remain, adverse drainage or other conditions which would impair the use of the property in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 250, Zoning, of the Code of the Town of North Salem, and that such activity will be in harmony with the general purpose and intent of Chapter 250, Zoning, and this chapter, and if the Planning Board further finds that the permit to be granted is capable of being completed within a reasonable time.
(3) 
Conditions. The Planning Board may impose requirements for the modification of a proposed regulated activity and require conditions or limitations with respect to the conduct of such activity consistent with the declaration of policy of this chapter. Conditions of approval may include but not be limited to the following:
(a) 
Limitations on the number, size and type of machinery utilized. No fixed machinery shall be erected or maintained in connection with an approved tree removal activity, and no construction related building shall be erected on the premises except for temporary shelters for machinery and field offices.
(b) 
Installation of erosion controls, site stabilization measures during and following tree removal activity, and temporary protective or containment fencing of such type, height and location as the Planning Board may specify. Any ground holes created shall be backfilled by creating an acceptable grade and covering.
(c) 
Measures to control the dispersal of dust and/or noise.
(d) 
Acceptance of the manner of disposal of cut trees or portions thereof. In no event shall burial of cut trees or portions thereof be permitted, nor shall the disposal in any controlled area as defined in Chapter 107 of the Code of the Town of North Salem be permitted.
(e) 
Adherence to an established work schedule, including:
[1] 
Limitations on the days of the week or hours of the day during which any work may be performed on the premises.
[2] 
Limitations on the time of transporting cut trees or portions thereof off site. In no event shall disposal off site occur prior to 7:30 a.m. or after 5:00 p.m., nor at any time on Sundays or legal holidays.
[3] 
Submission of periodic reports detailing the status and progress of the approved regulated activity.
(f) 
An inspection fee in an amount deemed necessary by the Planning Board to defray the cost of inspection of the operation.
(g) 
Mitigation measures. An applicant may be required to prepare and implement a mitigation plan to off set the impacts of the proposed regulated activities, including replacement of removed trees, as well as replacement of any damaged trees intended to remain.
(4) 
The Planning Board shall file a copy of its written permit determination with the North Salem Town Clerk, Building Inspector and Conservation Advisory Council. Said permit determination shall specify the basis on which an application has been approved or denied and, in the case of the approval of an application, shall set forth any modifications, conditions or limitations which shall be imposed thereon.
C. 
Permit expiration.
(1) 
Approval of a tree removal permit shall expire unless such conditions have been met and final plans as may be required have been submitted for endorsement by the Planning Board Chair and Secretary within 180 days of the date of approval. Failure to timely submit final plans shall result in expiration of the approval, thereby making it null and void.
(2) 
Approval shall expire unless a certificate of compliance relating thereto has been obtained from the Building Inspector within a time period not to exceed two years from the date of said approval as granted by the Planning Board.
D. 
Extension of permit approval time. An extension of the permit approval time period may be granted by the Planning Board upon a showing of reasonable cause and/or upon determination that the public interest and environment will be best served by not interrupting the implementation of the approved activity, if commenced, as follows:
(1) 
A request for an extension of permit approval shall be submitted in writing a minimum of 45 days prior to the expiration date for which an extension is requested and shall state at minimum the following:
(a) 
The reasons and circumstances for the requested extension.
(b) 
The reasons why the authorized activity has not been initiated or completed within the time frame allowed.
(c) 
Any changes in the facts or circumstances involved with or affecting the resources involved, or the property for which the expiring permit was issued.
(d) 
The status of the authorized activity which is the subject of the expiring permit, including a description of the extent of work completed at the time of the extension request and the proposed schedule for completing the remaining authorized work.
(2) 
A maximum of two extensions, not exceeding 90 days each, may be granted, provided it is determined that the extension is warranted by the circumstances involved.
(3) 
The Building Inspector is not authorized to extend the time periods related to a permit review or expiration for a tree removal permit issued by the Planning Board, except as may be expressly authorized in a Planning Board resolution of approval.
(4) 
The Planning Board in consideration of a request for an extension may require a public hearing consistent with the standards for public hearing as set forth elsewhere in this chapter.
(5) 
The granting of an extension may include additional conditions or limitations as deemed appropriate or necessary
E. 
Waivers.
(1) 
The Planning Board may upon written request by an applicant, waive or modify the required application materials to address the specific instances of the application under consideration. Any such waiver or modification shall not be automatic, but rather shall only be granted if such required application materials are deemed not applicable to the application under consideration and are not requisite in the interest of public health, safety and general welfare.
(2) 
The Planning Board may upon written request by an applicant, waive the required public hearing, provided all of the following minimum conditions are met:
(a) 
The activity will disturb a cumulative gross area of less than one acre;
(b) 
The activity will not disturb or impact any areas of slopes of 15% or greater; and
(c) 
The activity will not occur within any minimum required front, side or rear yard area, as set forth in Chapter 250 of the Code of the Town of North Salem.
(3) 
The Planning Board may modify the standards and conditions for approval set forth herein, provided such alteration is deemed necessary to maintain the purpose and intent of this chapter.
A. 
Planning Board review of applications for tree removal permits. The review, and approval or denial, of tree removal permits shall be under the jurisdiction of the Planning Board.
B. 
Building Inspector administration and enforcement.
(1) 
This chapter shall be administered and enforced by the Building Inspector.
(2) 
The Building Inspector may enter upon the application property for the purpose of inspection to determine compliance with this chapter, compliance with Planning Board issued tree removal permits, and for the purpose of undertaking any investigation, examination, survey or other activity necessary for the purposes of this chapter.
(3) 
The Building Inspector shall keep records of all identifiable complaints of any offense of this chapter and all notices of an offense served by the Building Inspector and the action taken consequent thereon. The Building Inspector shall file with the North Salem Town Clerk a copy of each order or decision rendered by the Building Inspector. The Town Clerk shall keep records of all applications and permits.
C. 
Tree removal permit compliance administration and inspections by Building Inspector.
(1) 
The Building Inspector shall administer, enforce and verify compliance with all tree removal permits according to the resolution of approval as issued by the Planning Board.
(2) 
Field changes. During the implementation of a tree removal permit, the Building Inspector may allow a field change due to unexpected site conditions which otherwise prevent or limit the implementation of the tree removal permit as approved by the Planning Board, provided said field change is minor in scope and intensity; and will not substantively alter the intent, design, safety or mitigation functions of the aspect to be changed.
(a) 
All requests for a field change shall be submitted to the Building Inspector in writing, with a copy to the Planning Board, indicating the substance of said requested field change and how said change is minor in scope and intensity, and consistent with the approved tree removal permit.
(b) 
The Building Inspector shall file a copy of the approved field change, detailing the scope and substance of said field change, with the Planning Board within five days of said approval.
(3) 
Certificate of compliance. Upon the completion of all authorized work conducted pursuant to an authorized tree removal permit, the permit holder shall request in writing to the Building Inspector for a final inspection thereof. The Building Inspector shall confirm the completion of the approved regulated activities in accordance with the issued permit and the provisions of this chapter, and if deemed complete, shall issue a certificate of compliance thereby closing the permit.
D. 
Permit suspension and revocation. Any permit issued pursuant to the provisions of this chapter may be revoked by the Planning Board after notice as issued by the Building Inspector, in writing, and a hearing for noncompliance of any conditions of the resolution of approval for the regulated activity or the doing of any act constituting or creating a nuisance or endangering the life or property of another.
(1) 
Notice. The notice shall describe the offense charged and may either be delivered personally or mailed postage prepaid to the address appearing on the application.
(2) 
Suspension. Any permit granted pursuant to this chapter may be suspended for cause by the Building Inspector for a period not exceeding five days without a hearing. All work under any permit shall be suspended following notice of a hearing to revoke as provided for in this chapter.
E. 
Offenses. Any person who shall violate any order of the Building Inspector or conditions of a Planning Board resolution of approval issued under this chapter shall be deemed to have committed an offense of this chapter.
F. 
Penalties for offenses.
(1) 
Any person committing an offense against any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000 for an individual per tree and $5,000 for a corporation per tree, or by imprisonment for a period not to exceed one year, or both. The continuation of an offense against the provisions of this chapter shall constitute, for each day the offense is continued, a separate and distinct offense hereunder.
(2) 
In addition to any other penalty authorized by this chapter, any person, partnership or corporation convicted of an offense of the provisions of this chapter shall be required to restore the site to the condition existing prior to commission of the offense to the extent possible or as deemed appropriate by the Planning Board.
(3) 
In addition to the above-provided penalties, the Town of North Salem may maintain an action or proceeding in a court of competent jurisdiction to compel compliance with or to restrain by injunction a violation of any provision of this chapter or the terms and conditions of any permit granted hereunder.
A. 
Rules and procedures. The Building Inspector and/or Planning Board may promulgate rules and establish procedures for the administration of this chapter, including the submission of applications.
B. 
Amendments.
(1) 
Referral to Planning Board. This chapter or any part thereof may be amended, supplemented or repealed from time to time by the Town Board, on its own motion or upon recommendation by the Planning Board or by petition. Prior to a public hearing, every such proposed amendment shall be referred by the Town Board to the Town Planning Board for a report, unless the proposed amendment was initiated by the Town Planning Board. The Town Board shall not take action on any such amendment without such report from the Town Planning Board unless the Planning Board fails to render such report within 60 days following the date of such referral, unless an extension of time is agreed upon by the Town Board.
(2) 
Public hearing; notice of hearing. The Town Board shall fix the time and place of a public hearing on the proposed amendment and cause notice thereof in the official newspaper of the Town of North Salem at least 15 business days prior to the public hearing. The cost of the publication of any notice required for such hearing originating from a petition by an applicant shall be at the cost and expense of the applicant.
Fees shall be in accordance with the Standard Schedule of Fees for the Town of North Salem.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: The Schedule of Fees is on file in the Town offices.
A. 
In their interpretation and application, the provisions of this chapter shall be held to be the minimum adopted for the promotion of the public health, safety, comfort, convenience and general welfare.
B. 
Compliance with other regulations, ordinances and laws. Approval of an application and issuance of a permit under this chapter shall not be construed to constitute compliance with any other regulation, ordinance or law, nor relieve an applicant from responsibility to obtain a permit thereunder. The Building Inspector may, at his discretion, withhold issuance of a permit or work authorized hereunder until any other required permit has been obtained by an applicant.
C. 
Other permit approvals required prior to permit implementation. Compliance with this chapter is in addition to and does not abrogate or lessen the effect of any other regulation, ordinance or law pertaining to activities regulated hereunder and to which this chapter is applicable. It is further stated that approval of permits by any other agency or authority does not limit or eliminate the necessity of such local approval.
D. 
Compliance with SEQR. An application shall not be deemed complete until and unless an applicant has complied fully with the procedures and requirements of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (Article 8 of the New York State Environmental Conservation Law) and any corresponding local law.
A. 
An applicant or any other person duly aggrieved by any order or decision under this chapter may seek judicial review pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules in the Supreme Court for the County of Westchester within 30 days after the date of the filing of such order or decision with the North Salem Town Clerk.
B. 
Automatic stay. Any appeal shall operate to automatically stay the effectiveness of any permit issued under the provisions of this chapter.