Model Ordinance: PDF
Small Community Model
CREATION OF A TREE COMMISSION TO ADVISE ON THE PLANTING, MAINTENANCE
AND REMOVAL OF TREES ON PUBLIC LAND IN THE CITY OF ____________________________,
IN THE STATE OF ________________________________________.
AN ORDINANCE TO MANAGE CITY TREE RESOURCES BY REGULATING THE PLANTING,
MAINTENANCE AND REMOVAL OF TREES IN PUBLIC PLACES ALONG WITH THE
ESTABLISHMENT OF A TREE COMMISSION. PRESCRIBING REGULATIONS RELATING
TO THE PLANTING, MAINTENANCE AND REMOVAL OF TREES ON PUBLIC LAND:
PROVIDING FOR THE ISSUING OF PERMITS FOR THE PLANTING, MAINTENANCE
AND REMOVAL OF TREES ON PUBLIC LAND: PROVIDING FOR THE PRUNING AND
REMOVAL OF TREES WHICH ARE DETERMINED TO BE A DANGER TO PUBLIC SAFETY.
PRESCRIBING PENALTIES FOR VIOLATION OF THESE ARTICLES.
BE IT ORDAINED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF __________________,
IN THE STATE OF ____________________.
Section 1. Summary of Title.
This Ordinance shall be known and may be cited as the TREE ORDINANCE,
for the city of _______________________, in the state of ____________________.
Section 2. Purpose, Intent, and Definitions.
For the purpose of this Ordinance the following terms, phrases,
words and any derivations shall have the meaning given herein.
Community Tree Plan – shall mean a written document
that guides the work of the Tree Commission.
City – is a city, town or political unit of the State
City Arborist – a citizen of the city/town and member
of the Tree Commission who volunteers to carry out the enforcement
of said Ordinance.
Large Trees – designated as those attaining a height
of forty-five (45) feet or more with a mature spread of 40 feet
Medium Trees – designated as those attaining a height
of thirty (30) to forty-five (45) feet with a mature spread of 30
feet or more.
Park – shall include all public parks having individual
Person – any person, firm, partnership, corporation,
company, association or organization of any kind.
Property Line – shall mean the outer edge of a street
or highway right-of-way (R.O.W.).
Property Owner – shall mean the person owning such
property as shown on city/town Plat Maps.
Public Places – shall include all grounds owned
by the city/town.
Public Trees – shall include all ornamental and
shade trees now or hereafter growing on any street or on any public
land where otherwise indicated.
Small Trees – designated as those attaining a height
of twenty (20) to thirty (30) feet with a mature spread of 20 feet
Street or Highway – refers to the entire width of
every public way or right-of-way when any part thereof is open to
the use of the public, as a matter of right, for purposes of vehicular
and pedestrian traffic.
Treelawn (R.O.W. edge) – that part of a street or
highway not covered by sidewalk or other paving, lying between the
property line and the edge of the street. (Note: R.O.W. = Right
Urban Forest – shall mean the collection of shrubs,
trees, vegetation and associated natural features that make up the
city tree canopy and its growing zone.
Section 3. Tree Commission Established.
There shall be created a commission to be known and designated as
the “Tree Commission.”
A. The Tree Commission shall be composed of seven (7) citizens,
with experience or knowledge of trees or gardening.
1. Six (6) voting members shall be appointed by the Mayor with
approval of the City Council. The Mayor shall be an ex-officio
2. The six (6) members initially appointed by the Mayor shall
be appointed as follows: two (2) for two (2) years; two (2)
for three (3) years, and two (2) for four (4) years, and serve
until their successors are duly appointed and approved by the
3. Successors to those members appointed by the Mayor shall,
thereafter be appointed for terms of four (4) years. Vacancies
caused by resignation, death or otherwise, shall be filled for
the unexpired term in the same manner as original appointments
B. All members of the Commission shall serve without pay.
Section 4. Authority Given to the Tree Commission.
The duties of the “Tree Commission” shall be as follows:
A. To assist the properly constituted officials of the city
as well as citizen and community groups, in the dissemination
of news and information regarding the selection, planting and
maintenance of trees within the corporate limits, whether they
be on private or public property.
B. To study the urban forest including problems involving the
city tree population, determine needs, compose and review annually
a Tree Plan and seek ways to implement it.
C. To provide regular and special meetings at which the subject
of the urban forest may be discussed by the citizens of the town.
1. Within a reasonable amount of time after the appointment
of the Tree Commission, the Commission shall meet and organize
by the election of a chairman, vice-chairman and standing committee
chairs as needed. The Commission shall elect from their membership,
a City Arborist who will act as secretary and conduct the normal
affairs of the Tree Commission as described below.
2. A majority of voting members shall constitute a quorum for
the transaction of business.
D. The Tree Commission shall provide for the adoption of rules
and procedures and for the holding of regular and special meetings
as said Commission shall deem advisable and necessary in order
to perform the duties set forth. A journal of proceedings and
activities is to be recorded.
E. The Tree Commission may engage in any other lawful activity
in pursuit of the mission of this commission which may benefit
the urban forest including such activities as:
1. Apply for Tree City Status with the National Arbor Day
2. Conduct seminars and public education programs.
3. Plan and coordinate an annual Arbor Week Observance.
4. Develop a community forest preserve.
5. Organize community tree planting projects.
Section 5. Qualifications of the City Arborist
City Arborist shall, where possible, be a person skilled or trained
in forestry, horticulture or other closely related field.
Section 6. Duties of the City Arborist
The City Arborist shall have the following duties:
A. The City Arborist shall make rules governing the planting,
maintenance and removal of trees on the streets or other public
sites in the city.
Section 7. Authority of the City Arborist.
A. The City Arborist shall report to the Tree Commission on
a regular basis and shall be in attendance at all regular and
special meetings of the Tree Commission, Tree Commission Sub-committees
or other community meetings as designated by the Chairman.
1. The City Arborist shall record all activities of the Commission
or subcommittees of the Commission.
B. The City Arborist shall have the authority and jurisdiction
of regulating the planting, maintenance and removal of trees on
streets and other publicly owned properties to insure safety or
preserve the integrity of such public sites by granting permits.
1. The City Arborist shall have the authority to affix reasonable
conditions to the granting of a permit in accordance with the
terms of Ordinance.
Section 8. Community Tree Plan.
A. Community Tree Plan. The Tree Commission shall have the authority
to formulate a Community Tree Plan with the advice of consultants,
agencies and approval of the Mayor.
1. The Community Tree Plan shall include but not be limited
to the goals and missions of the Tree Commission, an inventory
of resources, needed work, associated cost and time schedules
for work and relevant information such as activities of the
Tree Commission, standard tree maintenance and planting specifications
and permit application procedures.
Section 9. Required Permits.
The following tree permits are required.
A. Planting, Maintenance and Removal
1. No person shall plant, spray, fertilize, remove, prune
or otherwise disturb any tree on any street or public owned
property without first procuring a permit from the City Arborist.
B. Planting Permit
1. Application Data. When making application for a plating
permit on publicly owned property, the Applicant shall illustrate
the number and types of trees or other plants to be planted.
2. Proper Planting. When any tree shall be planted on public
land it shall be planted, staked, fertilized, watered, mulched
and otherwise cared for according to proper planting specifications
issued by the City Arborist.
C. Maintenance Permit
1. Application Data. When making application for a maintenance
permit the Applicant shall state the number and kinds of trees
to be sprayed, fertilized, pruned or otherwise preserved; the
kind of treatment to be administered; the composition of the
spray materials to be applied; and other such information as
the City Arborist shall deem reasonably necessary to determine
issuance of permit.
D. Removal and Replacement Permit
1. When making application for a tree removal permit the Applicant
shall describe the number and kinds of trees to be removed,
their size, location, health/age condition and the proposed
method of removal and other such information as the City Arborist
shall deem reasonably necessary to determine issuance of permit.
Section 10. Trees on Private Property.
A. It shall be the duty of any person or persons owning or occupying
real property bordering on any street upon which there may be
trees, to prune such trees in such manner that they will not obstruct;
utilities (such as power lines or street lights), the passage
of pedestrians on sidewalks, vision of traffic signs or views
of any street or drivable intersection.
B. It shall be the duty of any person owning or occupying real
property, bordering on any street, park or other public land,
on which there may be trees that are diseased or insect infested,
to remove, spray or treat said trees in such a manner that they
will not infect, damage or endanger any nearby public vegetation
or citizens in use of area.
C. The City Arborist may order the pruning, treatment or removal
of trees on private land that cause obstructions, present insect
or disease problems or are an otherwise present danger to public
health or safety.
Section 11. Abuse of Public Trees.
No person shall intentionally damage, cut, transplant, carve or
remove any tree; attach any wire, rope, advertisements, nails, posters
or other apparatus to any tree; allow any gaseous liquid or solid
substance which is deemed harmful to trees to come in contact with
them; or set fire or permit any fire to burn when such fire or the
heat thereof will injure any portion of the tree.
Section 12. Interference with City/Town Arborist.
No person or persons shall delay, hinder, prevent or interfere with
the City Arborist while engaged in carrying out the execution or
enforcement of this Ordinance.
Section 13. Protection of Municipal Trees.
All public trees shall be protected during construction.
A. All trees on any street or other publicly owned property
near any excavation or construction of any building, structure
or street work, shall be guarded with an appropriately substantial
fence, frame or box. The “Tree Guard” shall not be
less than four (4) feet high and eight (8) feet square, or at
a distance in feet from the tree trunk equal to the diameter of
the trunk at breast height (D.B.H.) in inches, whichever being
the greater. All building materials, dirt or other debris shall
be kept outside the Tree Guard.
B. No person shall change natural drainage or attempt to excavate
any ditches, tunnels, trenches or lay any drive within a radius
of ten (10) feet from any public tree without first obtaining
a written permit from the City Arborist.
Section 14. Placing Materials on Public Property.
No person or persons shall place, deposit, store or maintain upon
any public place, any stone, sand, concrete, brick or other material
which may impede the passage of water, air or fertilizer to the
roots of any tree growing therein. Sunlight to any public tree shall
no be permanently blocked by placement of materials without written
authorization of the City Arborist.
Section 15. Enforcement, Penalty, and Appeals.
Any person, firm or corporation in violation of compliance with
any of the provisions of this Ordinance shall be guilty of a misdemeanor,
and upon conviction thereof shall be fined a sum no less than one
hundred ($100.00) dollars, nor more than two thousand ($2,000.00)
dollars or may be imprisoned for a term not exceeding sixty (60)
days, or both.
Section 16. Administrative Guidelines.
A. Permits may be applied as set forth below.
1. Application for permits must be made to the City Arborist
no less than forty-eight (48) hours in advance of the time the
work is scheduled to be done.
2. Standards of Issuance. The City Arborist shall issue the
permit provided for herein if, in fair judgment, the proposed
work is desirable and the proposed method and workmanship thereof
are of a satisfactory nature. Any permit shall be rendered null
and void if its terms are violated.
3. Notice of completion shall be given within seven (7) days
to the City Arborist for inspection.
B. Approved Tree List. The following list constitutes the Official
Tree Species for the City/Town of _________________________. This
list has been extracted from the official Tree Plan. No other
species outside those included in this list may be planted as
street, park or ornamental trees on public property without written
consent of the Tree Commission. (This list should be adjusted
to community needs.)
(INCLUDE LIST OF AREA-SPECIFIC APPROVED SMALL, MEDIUM, AND LARGE
Section 17. Conflicts.
In the event any section, clause or provisions of this Ordinance
be declared by the Courts to be invalid, the same shall not affect
the validity of the Ordinance as a whole, or parts thereof, other
than the part so declared to be invalid.
Section 18. Severability.
Should any section, subsection, sentence, clause, provision or part
of this Ordinance be held invalid for any reason, the remainder
of this Ordinance shall not be affected thereby, but shall remain
in force and effect.
Section 19. Effective Date.
This Ordinance is hereby declared to be of immediate necessity for
the preservation of public peace, health and safety and shall be
in full force and effective from and after its passage and publication
as provided by law.
Passed this _________day of _______________, 20___.
Signed this _________day of _______________, 20___.