Findings & Establishment of Ordinance
- There is hereby established the County of Union Tree Protection Ordinance.
- The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders (“the Board”) recognizes the numerous ways in which trees throughout Union County provide an essential benefit to the residents of Union County. Some examples of the benefits provided by trees include producing oxygen, cleaning our air, providing shade, protecting our streams and rivers, reducing soil erosion, and conserving energy resources. The Board is committed to sustaining the amount of tree cover on lands owned or maintained by the County of Union and ensuring their continued vitality. The Board desires to continue the maintenance of County trees in a healthy and safe condition through good forestry and arboriculture practices. This ordinance establishes policies, regulations, and standards necessary to ensure that the residents of the County of Union will continue to realize the benefits provided by our trees.
For purposes of this ordinance, the following terms and phrases shall have the following meaning:
- “Abuse” shall mean the physical destruction or damage of any County-owned tree.
- “Compaction” shall mean the packing down of soil by means of stockpiling of debris within the root zone of any county-owned tree or shrub or passing over, or parking within, the root zone of any County-owned tree or shrub with heavy equipment, trucks or automobiles. Compaction of soil in the root zone of a tree or shrub causes suffocation.
- “County-owned tree” shall mean any tree growing in whole or in part on property owned or maintained by the County of Union.
- “Destruction” shall mean the rendering of any County-owned tree useless or ineffective. This definition shall also include the felling of any tree.
- “Drip Line” shall mean that area surrounding the tree or shrub to which the outer most leaves of the tree or shrub extend.
- “Grading”, “Trenching” or “Compacting the Root Zone” shall mean the damaging of the soil near any tree, such that the root structure or health of the tree may be negatively affected.
- “Mutilation” shall mean cutting off or destroying an essential part of a tree, such as a limb or the rendering of any tree imperfect by cutting up or altering any part of it.
- “Person” shall mean the masculine or feminine or plural and may include a partnership, firm, corporation, or other legal entity as circumstances dictate.
- “Root Zone” shall mean that part of the plant that is below the soil and the area surrounding it. Typically, the root zone is the area from the plants trunk out to the drip line of the plant.
- “Shrub” shall mean any woody plant with a caliper of less than one inch (1”).
- “Suffocation” shall mean the deprivation of essential oxygen to the roots of trees.
- “Tree” shall mean any woody plant with a caliper of one inch (1”) or greater.
- “Trimming” shall mean the removing of any leaves or branches by cutting or breaking.
Ownership and Control of Trees on County Property
The County of Union shall have exclusive control over all trees, shrubs, and other plantings now or hereafter located on any property owned or maintained by the County, including but not limited to, all parks, reservations, golf courses, and other recreational or conservation areas. The County maintains the exclusive right and power to plant, care for, maintain, remove, and replace such trees, shrubs, and other plantings as necessary in accordance with good forestry and arboriculture practices.
The following acts shall be considered a violation of this ordinance and subject to the penalties provided herein:
- The abuse, destruction, mutilation, cutting, or trimming of any County-owned tree or shrub; or
- The removal of any tree from County property; or
- Attaching any rope, wire, signs, posters or any similar objects to County-owned trees; or
- Causing or permitting any substance that is harmful to trees or shrubs to come into contact with its roots, trunk or foliage; or
- Installing any concrete or pavement over tree or shrub root zones; or
- Grading, trenching, or compacting within the root zone or drip line of any county-owned tree.
It is a separate violation of this section for an action proscribed above as to each tree or shrub affected. It is also a separate violation of this section each day that a condition proscribed in section (a), (c), (d), (e) and (f) occurs or continues.
A person who violates any provision of this ordinance, for a first offense, shall be fined a sum not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500.00) for each violation; for a second and subsequent offense shall be fined a sum not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500.00) and/or imprisonment in the county jail for a term not exceeding ninety (90) days for each violation. In lieu of imprisonment, the Court should consider requiring community service related to horticultural restoration and maintenance. Nothing contained herein shall prevent the County from seeking restitution, in a civil action, for the cost of repair or replacement, as appropriate, for any damaged trees or shrubs.
The County of Union’s Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation is hereby charged with the responsibility for the enforcement of this ordinance and may serve notice to any person in violation thereof; however, such notice shall not be a prerequisite for the issuance of a summons. The Director will notify the Union County Police Department (“County Police”) of any violation(s), who shall investigate said violation(s). The County Police is independently authorized to issue any summons for violations of this ordinance, as appropriate. The County Counsel and/or municipal prosecutors are hereby authorized to prosecute violators in any legal proceedings as may be required.
Should any part or provision of this ordinance be declared by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, the same shall not affect the validity of this ordinance as a whole or any remaining part thereof.
Supersedes Prior Ordinance
This ordinance is intended to supercede Ordinance 581-2003.
This ordinance shall take effect at the time and in the manner provided by law.