[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Cheektowaga 10-19-1992 by L.L. No. 7-1992; amended in its entirety 7-6-1999 by L.L. No. 1-1999. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
The Town Board hereby finds that there is a direct relationship between the planting of trees in sufficient number in populated areas and the health, safety and welfare of communities, and as related to the natural, scenic and aesthetic values of trees and the physical and visual qualities of the environment which municipalities are authorized to protect. Trees abate noise, provide welcome shade to people, preserve the balance of oxygen in the air by removing carbon dioxide and fostering air quality, and add color and verdure to human construction. They also stabilize the soil and control water pollution by preventing soil erosion and flooding, yield advantageous microclimatic effects and provide a natural habitat for wildlife. The destructive and indiscriminate removal of trees causes increased municipal costs for proper drainage control, impairs the benefits of occupancy of existing residential properties and impairs the stability and value of both improved and unimproved real property in the area of destruction, and adversely affects the health, safety and general welfare of the inhabitants of the town. It is the purpose and intent of this chapter to regulate the removal of trees from public and private property within the town in order to preserve, protect and enhance a most valuable natural resource. It is also the intent of this chapter to establish standards limiting the removal and ensuring the replacement of trees sufficient to safeguard the ecological and aesthetic environment necessary for a healthy community.
Tree removal permit. Subject to the exceptions of Subsection B of this section, it shall be unlawful for any owner of real property, or any other person, to cause, permit or allow the removal or destruction of any tree growing on land within the town without obtaining a tree removal permit from the Town Building Inspector.
Exceptions to tree removal permit. The requirement of a permit in Subsection A of this section shall not apply to the following activities:
Cutting down, killing or otherwise destroying trees on developed property being 1/2 acre or less in area, which trees have a caliper of less than 12 inches, measured six inches above grade.
Cutting down, killing or otherwise destroying trees on developed property being more than 1/2 acre, or on vacant property (any size), which trees have a caliper of less than four inches, measured six inches above grade.
Cutting down, killing or otherwise destroying trees on properties while being operated and maintained as farms, nurseries, orchards or commercial forest. This exception shall not permit lumber harvesting incidental to or in preparation for development of the land or the change of use thereof to a use not specified in this subsection.
Cutting down, killing or otherwise destroying trees by public utility and natural gas companies performing normal construction and maintenance pursuant to and in compliance with the law; provided, however, that the town may review the procedures employed by such companies to determine whether they comply with all applicable laws and meet the purposes of this law.
Cutting down, killing or otherwise destroying trees which have become a danger to human life or property due to disease, accident, natural forces or other emergency.
Cutting down, killing or otherwise destroying trees where required bylaw.
Cutting down, killing or otherwise destroying trees on residential property which was developed for residential use prior to January 1, 1992, and which property has a lot area not exceeding 10,200 square feet and has a lot width not exceeding 60 feet.
Subdivision or site plan approval required. If a person is required to submit a subdivision or site plan for a development of property, he shall, prior to such subdivision or site plan approval, submit an application for a tree removal permit. Such application shall be subject to review and approval by the Town Planning Board or Town Board, as applicable.
If a person shall deem it necessary to remove, cut down or otherwise destroy any tree requiring a tree removal or other permit from the town, he shall first make application for a tree removal permit to the Building Inspector.
The application shall include, but not be limited to, the following information:
The name and address of the applicant and owner, if not the same.
The site of the proposed tree removal/destruction.
The purpose of the proposed tree removal/destruction.
An attached tree preservation plan or tree survey (scale: one inch equal to 40 feet, or other scale acceptable to the Building Inspector) of the area indicating the following:
An outline showing all trees over the specified sizes and listing the tree species/types.
The location and size of the tree(s) to be removed.
The location of any improvements on the property, existing or proposed.
Any additional information that the Building Inspector may deem necessary for evaluation of the application.
Fee. The Town Board shall establish by resolution the fee to be charged, collected and received for the review of each tree removal application. The fee for the same shall be paid in advance upon submission of the application. No fee shall be charged if the property in question is residentially developed and if the applicant proposes to remove three or fewer trees.
The decision of the Building Inspector to grant or deny an application for tree removal shall be based on the following criteria:
The extent to which the actual or intended use of the property in accordance with the regulations of the zoning district in which the property lies requires cutting down, killing or destroying trees, following approval of a tree preservation plan and development/site plan.
Any unreasonable hardship to the applicant which will result from modification or denial of the requested permit.
The desirability of preserving any tree by reason of its size, age or some other outstanding quality, such as uniqueness, rarity or status as a landmark or species specimen.
The extent to which the area would be subject to increased water runoff and other environmental degradation due to removal of the tree(s).
The heightened desirability of preserving tree cover in densely developed or densely populated areas.
The need for visual screening in transitional zones or relief from glare, commercial or industrial ugliness, or any other affront to the visual sense in any part of the town.
The location and size of the tree to be removed.
The condition of the tree(s) with respect to disease and potential for creating hazardous conditions.
The proximity of the tree(s) to existing or proposed structures and utility appurtenances.
The environmental effect of the removal, destruction or killing of the tree(s).
The intention of the applicant to replant additional trees at the site.
Noncorrectable damage or obstruction to sewer services.
The Building Inspector shall, within 30 days from the date such application is submitted to him, approve or disapprove the application. In the event that the Building Inspector fails to act upon the application within the aforesaid thirty-day period, the applicant may notify the Building Inspector in writing of such inaction and the Building Inspector shall approve or disapprove the application within 15 days after such notification.
Any applicant aggrieved by a decision of the Building Inspector may, within 30 days of the date on which the decision was mailed to the applicant, appeal such decision to the Town Board. The appeal shall be in writing and include a copy of all papers filed with the Building Inspector and a copy of the decision of the Building Inspector. The appeal shall be deemed filed when it is received by the Town Clerk. The Town Board shall act upon such appeal within 30 days after such notice of appeal is filed with the Town Clerk. In the event that the Town Board fails to act with respect to such appeal within 30 days after the appeal is filed with the Town Clerk, the applicant may notify the Town Board in writing of such inaction and the Town Board shall approve or disapprove the application within 15 days after such notification.
Where a building permit or site/subdivision plan is required and/or where more than three trees are to be removed, the applicant must make provision for new trees to be planted on the site as a mitigation measure. Replacement trees shall be required as a condition to approval even when a building permit, site plan or subdivision plan is not required. Such new trees shall be of a caliper of at least 21/2 inches, measured six inches above grade, and shall be planted on a one-for-one basis (one tree replaced for each tree removed), unless a lesser quantity shall be approved by the Building Inspector based on the criteria enumerated in § 229-4 of this chapter. Such new plantings shall be subject to approval by the Building Inspector or Planning Board, as applicable.
The Town Board, in lieu of replacement trees, may accept moneys from an applicant when it is determined by the Building Inspector that physical limitations prevent the replacement of trees on a one-for-one basis as herein above mentioned. Moneys accepted by the town will be deposited into a dedicated account for the purpose of town-wide reforestation efforts.
Where extensive tree cutting or removal of trees is planned, the Town Building Department may require the person doing so to pay the cost of an inspector to be assigned by the Town Building Department to supervise the orderly development of the land and ensure the protection of the tree(s) in accordance with the approved plan. In doing so, the Town Building Department may require additional information about the design of the storm drainage and any other information pertinent to the individual circumstance. No cutting or removal of such tree(s) shall commence or take place until a representative from the Town Building Department has completed his final inspection and given his approval.
The provisions of this chapter shall be administered and enforced by the Town Building Inspector or his duly authorized representative.
Whenever the Town Building Inspector finds that there has been a violation of this chapter, he/shall issue a violation order to the person or persons responsible for such violation. The order shall:
The Town Building Inspector, if he finds a violation and if irreparable damage would be done by allowing such violation to continue, may issue a stop-work order on the project.
Every violation by any person, firm, association or corporation of any of the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed to be an offense against this chapter and, upon conviction therefor, such person, firm, association or corporation shall be subject to a fine of not more than $500 or imprisonment not to exceed 15 days, or both, for each and every offense; and a civil penalty for the removal or destruction of any tree on private property to its value, not to exceed $2,500 per tree.
If any trees are unlawfully cut down, cleared, killed or otherwise destroyed by any person(s), firm(s) or corporation(s) in connection with or preparatory to any development, improvement or change of use or proposed rezonings for which a permit or permission is required by the town, then, in addition to any other fine or penalty provided for in this chapter or elsewhere, said person(s), firm(s), association(s) or corporation(s) shall not be granted such permit or permission by the town unless and until a remedial tree planting plan for the subject premises is accepted and approved by the Town Building Inspector and/or Planning Board as part of the coordinated review process.