Article 5. Tree Board

Article 5. Tree Board

§8-501  TREES/ DEFINITIONS.

1. Sidewalk Space - "Sidewalk Space" is herein defined as the space between the street curb line and the abutting property line.

2.  Street Trees - "Street Trees" are herein defined as trees, shrubs, bushes and all other woody vegetation on land lying between property lines on either side of all streets, avenues or ways within the city.

3. Park Trees - "Park Trees" are herein defined as trees shrubs, bushes and all other woody vegetation in public parks having individual names, and all areas owned by the city, or to which the public has free access.

4. Community Forest - "Community Forest" is herein defined as all street and park trees as a total resource.

5. Community Forest Manager - The "Community Forest Manager" is herein defined as the official representative of the Tree Board and as such is responsible for administration of the community forestry program.

6. Nuisance Tree - Any Tree, shrub and all other woody vegetation  which is in a unsafe condition having died, is affected by insects or disease, has split, has been struck by lightning, is rotting or which poses harm due to insect invasion or other environmental causes shall be a nuisance tree which may be ordered removed.

7. Topping - "Topping" is herein defined as the severe cutting back of limbs to stubs larger than three inches (3") in diameter within a tree's crown to such a degree as to remove the normal canopy and the disfiguring of the tree.(Ord 2018-103)

§8-502   CREATION AND ESTABLISHMENT OF A CITY TREE BOARD.  There is hereby created and established a City Tree Board for the City of Falls City, Nebraska, which shall consist of seven (7) members appointed by the Mayor with the consent of the City Council.

§8-503   TREE BOARD; TERM OF OFFICE.  The Tree board shall consist of five(5) persons to be appointed by the Mayor.  Terms shall be for two(2) years. The term of three(3) of the members being appointed in January of odd numbered years and the term of two(2) members being appointed in January of even numbered years. In the event that a vacancy shall occur during the term of any member, a successor shall be appointed for the unexpired term by the Mayor. (Amended Ord.   95-102; Ord 2018-103)

§8-504    TREE BOARD; COMPENSATION.  Members of the Tree Board shall serve without compensation.

§8-505   TREE BOARD; DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES.  It shall be the responsibility of the Tree Board to study, investigate, counsel and develop and/or update annually, and administer a written plan for the care, replacement, maintenance, and removal or disposition of the community forest.  Such plan will be presented annually to the City Council and upon their acceptance and approval shall constitute the official comprehensive City tree plan for the City of Falls City, Nebraska.

The Tree Board, when requested by the City Council or City Administrator, shall consider, investigate, make findings, report and recommend upon any special matter or question coming within the scope of its work.

§8-506    TREE BOARD; OPERATION.  The Tree Board shall elect its own officers, make its own rules and regulations subject to the approval of the City Council and keep the minutes and proceedings of each meeting available for public inspection at the office of the City Clerk.  A majority of the members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. 

§8-507    TREES; STREET SPECIES TO BE PLANTED.  The office of the City Clerk shall maintain a list of all approved trees that can be planted in public areas and those defined as street trees.  The list shall be available to residents upon request to aid in the selection of trees for private properties.  The list of approved trees shall be updated periodically to reflect new development or species that will affect the population of the community forest.  

§8-508    TREES; SPACING AND DISTANCES.  Street trees may be planted no closer together than thirty feet (30') except in special plantings approved by the Tree Board or Community Forest Manager.

§8-509    TREES; DISTANCES AND CLEARANCES FOR PLANTING.  Street trees may be planted in the sidewalk space where there is more than ten feet (10') between the edge of the sidewalk and the curb of the street.  Street trees shall be planted no closer than five feet (5') from a sidewalk or a street.

No street tree shall be planted closer than thirty-five feet (35') from any street corner, measured from the point of the nearest intersection of curbs or curb lines.

No street tree shall be planted closer than ten feet (10') from any fireplug.

No tree or trees shall be planted within ten feet (10') from any point on a line on the ground immediately below any overhead utility wire, or within five (5) lateral feet of any underground water line, sewer line, transmission line or other utility.

§8-510    TREES; PUBLIC TREE CARE.  The City shall have the right to remove trees, plants and shrubs within the right-of-way or boundaries of all streets, alleys, lanes, squares and public grounds, as may be required to insure the public safety or to preserve or enhance the beauty of such public grounds.

The Tree Board may remove or order to be removed, any nuisance tree or any tree which by reason of its location is injurious to sewers, electric power lines, gas lines, water  lines, or other public improvements.

The abutting property owners shall be obligated and required to perform normal tree care and maintenance on all street trees and pay the cost of removal if required.

Unless the condition of a tree possess an eminent threat to public safety or property, notice of street trees to be removed shall be given to the owner of abutting property who shall have 30 days to have the tree removed at their cost.  If the abutting property owner fails to remove the tree the city shall remove the tree.

Cost of removal done by the city shall be the current amount kept on file at the City Clerk's Office. If the owner shall refuse to reimburse the municipality after being properly billed, the cost may be assessed against the real estate and the governing body shall have the assessment certified to the County Treasurer that the same shall be collected in the manner provided by law if the tree was a nuisance tree.  If the tree was not a nuisance tree but removal was required for other reason, than the City may proceed against the owner of the property in a civil action to collect for the cost of corrective action.  In the event the property owner is a nonresident of the county in which the property lies, the municipality shall before levying a special assessment against the property, send a copy of any notice required by law to be published by means of certified mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of the nonresident property owner. The last known address shall be that address listed on the current tax rolls at the time such required notice was first published.

Tree disease may periodically sweep through the United States that have the potential to decimate virtually all trees of a particular species.  In these cases, the Tree Board my request the City to perform a planned and systematic removal of the affected street tree species before the disease reaches the community forest at the cost of the City.  If an abutting property owner wishes to treat a tree instead of having it removed by the City said owner shall notify the City and shall be responsible for all cost of treatment.(Ordinance 2018-103)

§8-511   TREES; LIST OF APPROVED STREET TREES.  The City Clerk shall have on file a list of approved street trees which shall be provided to any property owner desiring to plant a tree within the street right of way.(Ordinance 2018-103)

§8-512  TREES; STREET TREE REMOVAL AND REPLACEMENT.  No person shall remove any community forest tree without permission of the tree board.  The Tree Board as a condition to allowing removal may require that a replacement tree be planted.  When the removal of a tree has been required by the City, abutting property owners shall be encouraged to plant a replacement tree but shall not be mandatory. (Ordinance 2018-103)

§8-513   TREES; TOPPING.  It shall be unlawful as a normal practice for any person, firm, or City department to top any street tree, park tree or other tree on public property.  Trees severely damaged by storms or other causes, or certain trees under utility wires or other obstructions where other pruning practices are impractical may be exempted from this section at the determination of the Tree Board or the Community Forest Manager. 

§8-514    TREES; CLEARANCE OVER STREETS, ALLEYS AND SIDEWALK SPACE

The clearance of tree branches over streets, alleys and the sidewalk space shall be the responsibility of the abutting property owner.  A clearance of eight feet(8') must be maintained over the sidewalk  space and a clearance of twelve feet {12') must be maintained over streets and alleys.  Property owners are responsible for the trees on their own property as well as trees on the sidewalk space that abuts their property. Upon the failure of the owner of any such real estate to trim and clear said branches or limbs as set forth herein,  the City shall mail or serve notice to the said owner to do so.  Failure to trim and clear all such branches and limbs within thirty (30) days of notice shall be deemed an offense as provided in this section and/or the City may cause the same to be trimmed and cleared and the costs thereof shall be chargeable to the property owner.  If the owner shall refuse to reimburse the Municipality after being properly billed; the cost may be assessed against the real estate  and the Governing Body shall have the assessment certified to the County Treasurer and the same' shall be collected in the manner provided by law.  In the event the property owner is a nonresident of the County in which the property lies, the Municipality shall,  before levying any special assessment against the property, send a copy of any notice required by law to be published by means of certified mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of the nonresident property owner. The last known address shall be that address listed on the current tax rolls at the time such required notice was first published.  Any person failing to trim and clear said branches or limbs as provided heretofore shall be guilty of an offense as provided by this Chapter in addition to any special assessment for cost of removal of said branches or limbs.  Whenever, in any action, it is established that a nuisance exists, the Court may together with the fine or penalty imposed, enter an order of abatement as part of the judgment. (Ordinance 2013-104; Ordinance 2018-103)                          

§8-515    TREES; DEAD OR DISEASED TREE REMOVAL.  The City may remove or cause to be removed any dead or diseased tree within the City limits not located on the sidewalk space.  Diseased trees are defined as those trees that may constitute a hazard to life and property, or harbor insects or disease which represent a potential threat to other trees within the City. The City will notify in writing the owners of such trees.  Removal is the responsibility of the owners of such trees and shall be accomplished within sixty(60) days of notification.  In the event of failure to remove by the owner, the City shall have the authority to remove such trees and charge the Cost of removal done by the city shall be the current amount kept on file at the City Clerk's Office. If the owner shall refuse to reimburse the municipality after being properly billed, the cost may be assessed against the real estate and the governing body shall have the assessment certified to the County Treasurer that the same shall be collected in the manner provided by law if the tree was a nuisance tree. If the tree was not a nuisance tree but removal was required for other reason, than the City may proceed against the owner of the property in a civil action to collect for the cost of corrective action.  In the event the property owner is a nonresident of the county in which the property lies, the municipality shall before levying a special assessment against the property, send a copy of any notice required by law to be published by means of certified mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of the nonresident property owner.  The last known address shall be that address listed on the current tax rolls at the time such required notice was first published. (Ordinance 2018-103)

§8-516    TREES; REMOVAL OF STUMPS.  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.

Cost of removal done by the city shall be the current amount kept on file at the City Clerk's Office. If the owner shall refuse to reimburse the municipality after being properly billed, the cost may be assessed against the real estate and the governing body shall have the assessment certified to the County Treasurer that the same shall be collected in the manner provided by law if the tree was a nuisance tree.  If the tree was not a nuisance tree but removal was required for other reason, than the City may proceed against the owner of the property in a civil action to collect for the cost of corrective action.  In the event the property owner is a nonresident of the county in which the property lies, the municipality shall before levying a special assessment against the property, send a copy of any notice required by law to be published by  means of certified mall, return receipt requested, to the last known address of the nonresident property owner. The last known address shall be that address listed on the current tax rolls at the time such required notice was first published. (Ordinance 2018-103)                  

§8-517    INTERFERENCE WITH CITY TREE BOARD.  It shall be unlawful for any person to prevent, delay or interfere with the Tree Board, Community Forest Manager or any of its representatives or agents, while performing their duties as authorized by this Article.

§8-518    REVIEW BY CITY COUNCIL.  The Governing Body of the City of Falls City shall have the right to change, amend or overrule any decision, order, act or recommendation of the Tree Board.  Any person may appeal from any ruling or order of the Tree Board to the Governing Body.  Any person wishing to appeal a ruling or order of the Tree Board must do so by filing a written objection with the City Clerk within ten (10) days of the notice of the ruling or order by the Tree Board.  The written objection must state specific reasons or violations to this Article.      

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