Reviewed by Attorney Greco 2/13/17
Edited by Board 5/16/17
NORTHVILLE TREE ORDINANCE
SECTION 1. FINDINGS AND INTENT
The Northville Village Board of Trustees hereby finds that there is a direct and important relationship between the existence of trees in the Village of Northville and the health, safety and welfare of the community. Trees preserve air and water quality, provide shade to people and property, and enhance economic and aesthetic property values. Trees stabilize soil, control air and water pollution, and provide a natural habitat for wildlife. Accordingly, it is hereby declared to be the policy of the Village of Northville to conserve, protect, and regulate the planting, maintenance, and removal of trees along the public streets (right of way), parks, and other municipally-owned properties.
SECTION 2. JURISDICTION
The Village Board of Trustees shall have full jurisdiction over all trees, plants, and shrubs (excluding grass) located within street rights-of-way, public parks, public rights-of-way or easements, and other public places in the Village of Northville.
As used in this ordinance, “Park trees” are defined as trees in public parks and public grounds. “Street trees” are defined as trees within the right-of-way of all streets within the Village, including the terrace or buffer zone between streets and sidewalks.
SECTION 3. VILLAGE TREE COMMITTEE
- Creation and establishment. There shall be created and established a Village Tree Committee, which shall consist of no less than five residents of the Village, and two ex officio members, comprised of one member of the Village Board of Trustees and one staff member, who shall be appointed by the Mayor, subject to the approval of the Village Board of Trustees. The Village Tree Committee shall annually elect a Chairperson and advise the Village Board of Trustees of the name of such Chairperson.
- Term of office. The term of the five persons to be appointed by the Mayor shall be three years, except that the term of two of the members appointed to the first Committee shall be for only one year and the term of two members of the first Committee shall be for two years. In the event that a vacancy shall occur during the term of any member, his or her successor shall be appointed by the Mayor for the unexpired portion of the term.
Members of the Committee shall serve without compensation.
- Duties and responsibilities.
- Meetings of the Village Tree Committee shall be called by the Chairperson.
- The Village Tree Committee shall develop and update annually a written Tree Management Plan for the care, preservation, pruning, planting, replanting, removal or disposition of trees in parks, along streets, and in other public areas. Such plan will be presented annually to the Village Board of Trustees and, upon its acceptance and approval, shall constitute the official comprehensive Village Tree Management Plan for the Village.
- The Village Board (in consultation with the Tree Committee) shall consider obtaining the services of a New York State Certified Arborist, to serve as a consultant and advisor to the Village Tree Committee and Village Board of Trustees, on an as needed basis, this program cannot succeed without qualified technical support especially at the outset.
- The Village Tree Committee may also consider, research, report, and recommend upon any matter or question pertaining to the protection and enhancement of street and park trees.
- The Village Tree Committee will strive to raise consciousness of the importance of trees to the Village.
- A member of the Village Tree Committee will be available to assist any resident or homeowner who has questions or concerns about the intent and purposes of this ordinance as well as general questions and concerns about trees and/or landscaping on their property.
SECTION 4. INJURY TO TREES
- No person shall remove, destroy, or cause the removal or destruction of a tree on any Village street or in any Village park or village owned property, or undertake construction or any activity which may significantly and prematurely detract from the health or growth of a tree without first having obtained an application and written permission for such removal or construction at the office of the Village Clerk. All applications must be reviewed first by the Village Tree Committee and approved by the Department of Public Works and Mayor’s office.
For the purposes of this ordinance “removal and destruction of a tree” refers not only to the physical removal of a tree but any intentional act or conduct which causes a street or park tree to die after the commissions of said act or conduct, including but not limited to damage inflicted upon the root system or trunk as the result of:
1) Improper use of machinery on the tree
2) Storage of materials in or around the tree
3) Soil compaction
4) Altering the natural grade to expose the roots or cover the trunk, permitting the infection or
infestation of the tree by pests, fungus or harmful bacteria
5) Paving with concrete, asphalt, or other impervious surfaces within such proximity as to be
harmful to the tree
6) Off-street parking on the terrace or buffer zone between streets and sidewalks
7) Installation/repair of sidewalks
- The Village Tree Committee, Department of Public Works, and the Mayor’s office must be notified when any scheduled public or private project might affect or interfere with Village trees.
- Construction and private projects impacting Village trees must be reviewed by the Village Tree Committee. The Village Tree Committee will make a recommendation to the Village Board of Trustees for action to mitigate/ prevent damage to Village Trees. The Village Board of Trustees will strongly consider the recommendations of the Village Tree Committee when voting to approve projects involving Village Trees, and carefully balance these recommendations with the need for the public good.
SECTION 5. TOPPING AND PRUNING TREES
- It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or other entity to top any street or park tree. “Topping” is defined as the cutting back of limbs to stubs larger than three inches in diameter with the tree’s crown to such a degree so as to remove the normal canopy and disfigure the tree. Trees severely damaged by storms or other causes, or trees under utility wires or other obstructions where other pruning practices are impractical shall be exempted from this section at the determination of the Department of Public Works. Topping and pruning done by a utility company, such as National Grid, deemed necessary by it for the protection of its poles, wires and equipment is also exempt from this Section. The Department of Public Works will notify the Village Tree Committee if an exception does occur.
- The Department of Public Works shall have the right to prune any street tree within the right-of-way. Every effort shall be made to maintain the aesthetics of the tree while pruning. The following are the reasons for which pruning shall be done:
(1) Tree branches are obstructing light from street lamp or obstruct the view of street intersections, traffic control devices or sign.
(2) To provide a clear space of approximately eight feet above the surface of the sidewalk.
(3) To provide a clear space of approximately 13 feet above the street surface.
SECTION 6. AFFIXING MATERIALS TO TREES
No person shall fasten any sign, wire, rope or other material to or around or through any street or park tree in the Village of Northville, except by written permission from the Department of Public Works, excepting cases of emergency.
SECTION 7. RESPONSIBILITY FOR TREE REMOVAL
- When the Village determines that it is necessary to remove a street or park tree in accordance with the provisions of this ordinance, it shall be the responsibility of the Village to remove or cause to be removed said tree at Village expense.
- Private property owners adjacent to said trees will be absolved of all responsibility for the removal of the tree and stump and notified in writing prior to the removal of the tree.
- Private property owners adjacent to trees that have been removed by the Village shall be consulted regarding the location of replacement trees.
SECTION 8. REMOVAL OF TREES AND STUMPS
- The Village Department of Public Works may remove or cause or order to be removed, any tree or part thereof on public property which is in an unsafe condition or which by reason of its nature is injurious to sewers, electric power lines, gas lines, water lines or other public improvements.
- All stumps of street and park trees shall be removed below the surface of the ground so that the top of the stump shall not project above the surface of the ground.
SECTION 9. TREE REPLACEMENT
Trees removed by the Department of Public Works or ordered to be removed shall be replaced on a one-for-one basis within one year. The location and species of any replacement tree shall be determined by the Department of Public Works with the advice of the Village Tree Committee in consultation with the owners of the property where such trees are located.
SECTION 10. PLANTING, MAINTENANCE, AND LOCATION OF TREES
- The Village shall have the right to plant and maintain trees within the right-of-way of all streets, avenues, highways and on public grounds, as may be necessary to enhance the beauty of such public grounds.
- The Department of Public Works and the Village Tree Committee shall develop and maintain a list of suitable and desirable types and species of trees able to thrive on Village streets and public places within the Village. The master tree list shall be housed at the Village offices and be drawn from:
1) Recommendations of the Village Tree Committee;
2) Cornell University’s “Recommended Urban Trees for USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 6 and Colder;”
3) National Grid’s “Recommended Small Trees for Planting Under Low Overhead Utility Lines
or Confined Spaces;”
The master list shall identify two sizes classes of trees for planting along streets based on mature height: small (under 20 feet) and large (over 20 feet). Efforts shall be made to ensure a sufficient diversity of tree species. A list of trees not suitable for planting will also be maintained.
- The spacing of trees shall be in accordance with the two species size classes listed in this chapter, and no new trees may be planted closer than the following: small trees 20 feet, large trees 30 feet, except in special plantings designed or approved by a landscape architect, or at the discretion of the Department of Public Works with the advice of the Village Tree Committee.
- No new street trees may be planted closer than two feet from any curb or sidewalk except at the discretion of the Department of Public Works with the advice of the Village Tree Committee. No new street trees shall be planted closer than 10 feet from any fire hydrant.
SECTION 11. CORRECTION OF DAMAGE DUE TO TREE ROOTS
Where sidewalk or curb damage due to tree roots occurs, every reasonable effort shall be made to correct the problem without removing or damaging the tree. The Department of Public Works in consultation with the Village Tree Committee shall be responsible for developing or approving corrective measures.
SECTION 12. TREE PLANTING AND MAINTENANCE FUND
Each year in its annual budget the Village Board of Trustees shall include funding of a Village Tree and Maintenance Fund. Such fund and its amount shall be determined by the Board of Trustees in conjunction with the annual Tree Management Plan.
SECTION 13. REVIEW BY VILLAGE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
The Village Board of Trustees will have the right to review any decisions regarding trees.
SECTION 14. PENALTIES AND OFFENSES
Violations of any of the provisions of this ordinance shall be offenses punishable by a fine up to $ 250.00 plus replacement cost of involved trees. Trees will be replaced in accordance with the guidelines listed in Section 9 of this Ordinance.
SECTION 15. REPEALER
Any local laws, ordinances, rules and/or regulations heretofore adopted by the Village of Northville which are or may be inconsistent with this Ordinance are hereby repealed to the extent of such inconsistency.
SECTION 16. EFFECTIVE DATE
This ordinance shall become effective immediately upon its filing in the Office of the New York Secretary of State.