Chapter 16.56
LANDMARK TREE PROTECTION

16.56.000    Chapter Contents

Sections:

16.56.010    Purpose.

16.56.020    Definitions.

16.56.030    Applicability of chapter.

16.56.040    Landmark tree registration.

16.56.050    Prohibition of landmark tree removal.

16.56.060    Exceptions.

16.56.070    Enforcement -- Penalties.

16.56.010 Purpose

The purpose of these regulations is to protect landmark trees and to establish a register of these trees. Landmark trees require protection due to their special value in that they are irreplaceable by any means. They may be associated with historic figures, events, or properties; or be rare or unusual species; or they may have aesthetic value worthy of protection for the health and general welfare of the residents of this city.

Therefore, the purpose of this chapter is:

A.    To provide for the preservation and proper maintenance of landmark trees located in this city, to minimize disturbance to the trees themselves, and to prevent other environmental damage from erosion or destruction of wildlife habitat;

B.    To protect the health, safety and general welfare of the residents of this city; and

C.    To implement the goals and objectives of the city’s comprehensive plan.

(Ord. 5181 §1(1), 1991).

16.56.020 Definitions

For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms shall have the following meanings:

A.    "City" means the city of Olympia, Washington.

B.    "Director" means the Director of the Public Works Department or the director’s designee.

C.    "Landmark tree" means a tree or group of trees designated as such by the city because of its exceptional value to the residents of the city. Value is determined by factors such as

1.    association with historic figures, events, or properties,

2.    rare or unusual species, or

3.    exceptional aesthetic quality.

D.    "Person" means any individual, organization, society, partnership, firm, association, joint venture, public or private corporation, trust, estate, commission, board, public or private institution, governmental agency, public or private utility, cooperative, interstate body, or other legal entity.

E.    "Remove" or "removal" means the act of removing a tree by digging up, cutting down or any act which is likely to cause a tree to die within a period of five years, including, but not limited to, damage inflicted to the root system by machinery, storage of materials, or soil compaction; changing the ground level in the area of the tree’s root system; damage inflicted on the tree permitting infection or infestation; excessive pruning; paving with concrete, asphalt or other impervious material within the drip-line, or any other action which is deemed harmful to the tree.

F.    "Qualified professional urban forester" means a professional with academic and field experience that makes him or her a recognized expert in urban forestry. This may include arborists certified by the International Society of Arboriculture.

G.    "Advisory board" means the Urban Forestry Advisory Board of Olympia.

(Ord. 5181 §1(2), 1991).

16.56.030 Applicability of chapter

This chapter shall apply to all land within Olympia’s city limits.

(Ord. 5181 §1(3), 1991).

16.56.040 Landmark tree registration

Within one year of the enactment of the ordinance codified in this chapter the city shall prepare and thereafter maintain a list of landmark trees within the city limits. The inventory may include a map identifying the location of the trees and a brief narrative description of each landmark tree. The landmark tree inventory shall be prepared and amended at any time following the procedures established below.

A.    Nomination. A tree may be nominated for landmark tree status by the property owner, a neighborhood organization, or any person by submitting a map, a photograph, and a narrative description including the location, species, approximate age, and the characteristics on which the nomination is based.

B.    Review. The director upon receipt of a nomination shall review the nomination and confer with other city personnel as may be appropriate. Notice of the nomination shall be mailed to the property owner and shall be posted by the city on the subject site for a period of ten days. The director shall inspect the tree, consider public comments, and decide in each case whether or not the tree is to be designated a landmark tree. The city shall place each designated landmark tree on the landmark tree register. In the event the owner of the tree does not approve of its designation as a landmark tree, the nomination will be disapproved.

C.    Notification of the Director’s Decision. Notice of the director’s decision shall be mailed to the property owner and shall be posted by the city on the subject site for a period of ten days.

D.    Appeal. Any person may appeal the director’s decision to the advisory board. Appeals must be submitted in writing within ten days of the posting of the director’s decision.

E.    Advisory Board. The advisory board shall hold a public meeting on the appeal within 30 days of receipt of the appeal. At least 10 days prior to the public meeting, the city will mail a notice to the applicant and the appellant, and post a notice at the subject site. The advisory board will make a decision which will constitute a recommendation to the city council. All recommendations of the advisory board will be considered by the Olympia City Council at the next available council meeting.

F.    Notification of Registration. Each property owner who has one or more registered landmark trees shall be notified by first class mail of the designation within 30 days of designation.

G.    Recording of Landmark Tree Covenant. Each property owner who has one or more registered landmark trees shall execute a landmark tree covenant in a form agreeable to the city. The landmark tree covenant shall require that the tree be maintained in a manner which is consistent with the provisions of this chapter. The landmark tree covenant shall be recorded by the county auditor. Recording fees shall be paid by the applicant.

H.    Duration of Covenant. The landmark tree covenant shall be effective from the date of recording until such a time that a tree removal permit has been issued by the director pursuant to Section 16.56.060 of this chapter.

I.    Education -- Benefits. From time to time the city may prepare public information programs on landmark trees and provide qualified professional tree care advice to owners of the landmark trees.

(Ord. 5181 §1(4), 1991).

16.56.050 Prohibition of landmark tree removal –Requirement established

Subject to the exceptions enumerated in Section 16.56.060 of this chapter, no person shall remove, or cause to be removed, any landmark tree.

(Ord. 5181 §1(5), 1991).

16.56.060 Exceptions

A.    When A Tree Removal Permit Has Been Issued by the City. No landmark tree shall be removed without first applying for and receiving a tree removal permit. The applicant for the permit shall be the property owner or the city.

1.    Application. An application for a tree removal permit shall be submitted on a form provided by the city. The applicant must state the justification for removal on the tree removal application.

2.    Review. If justification for removal is based upon health of the tree, and a visual inspection by the director cannot establish that the tree is dead, diseased, or hazardous, the applicant shall pay for the city to hire a qualified professional forester to make a determination. If it is determined by the forester that the tree is dead, diseased, or otherwise hazardous and cannot be saved, the director may approve the removal. If the tree is determined to be healthy, or with treatable infestation or infection, the director shall deny the permit.

If justification is due to reasons other than health of the tree, the director shall confer with other city personnel as may be appropriate in evaluating the justification and make a decision within 20 working days from the date of submission of a completed application, unless an extension is authorized by the applicant.

3.    Notification. If the director decides that a permit is justified, notice of the director’s decision shall be mailed to the applicant and posted by the city on the subject site for a period of ten days, during which no work shall commence. No work shall commence during the notice periods or when appeals are pending disposition.

4.    Appeal. The property owner or any person residing or owning property within 300’ of the tree may appeal the director’s decision to the advisory board, whether that decision is positive or negative. Appeals must be submitted in writing within 10 days of the posting of the director’s decision.

5.    Advisory Board. The advisory board shall hold a public meeting on the matter within 30 days of receipt of an appeal. The city will mail a notice to the applicant and the appellant, and post a notice at the subject site for 10 days prior to the public meeting. The advisory board decision will constitute a recommendation to the city council. All recommendations of the advisory board will be considered by the Olympia City Council at the next available council meeting. The city council decision shall be final. No work shall commence during the notice periods or when appeals are pending disposition.

6.    Permit for Tree Removal. Any tree removal permit granted under this chapter shall be valid indefinitely. In addition to the permit, the property owner will execute a revocation of covenant in a form agreeable to the city. The revocation of covenant shall be recorded by the county auditor. Recording fees shall be paid by the property owner.

B.    To Protect the Public Safety or Public or Private Property from Imminent Danger. The director may issue an emergency tree removal permit in order to protect public safety or private or public property from imminent danger in the event of an emergency or from a hazard tree. The applicant for the permit may be the property owner or a utility company or the city. The city will not remove a tree from private property unless it is declared to be a public nuisance per se (see Chapter 8.24). The property owner will execute a revocation of covenant in a form agreeable to the city. The revocation of covenant shall be recorded by the county auditor. Recording fees shall be paid by the property owner.

1.    Emergencies may include emergencies declared by the city, county, state or federal governments. Such emergencies may include a windstorm, mud slide, flood, freeze, dangerous and infectious insect infestation or disease, or other disaster.

2.    Hazard trees may include trees that are dying, dead, structurally unsound, or diseased to the point that restoration to sound condition is not practical, or that a disease can be expected to be transmitted to other trees and to endanger their health.

C.    To Perform Routine Tree Maintenance. No landmark tree shall have major pruning (removal of over 20 percent of the tree’s canopy or disturbance of over 10 percent to the root zone within a 3 year period) without first applying for and receiving a major pruning permit. The owner shall file an application with the director and shall state the reasons for the pruning or disturbance to the root zone, the methods and degree of pruning or disturbance to the root zone, and the time when this is planned to occur. The city adopts the National Arborist Association’s standards for pruning and shall evaluate the proposed pruning against said standards. If the plan meets or exceeds said standards, it shall be approved. If the plan does not meet said standards, it shall be denied or modified such that it can be approved. Decisions of the director under this subsection may be appealed to the advisory board. The advisory board decision will constitute a recommendation to the city council.

(Ord. 5181 §1(6), 1991).

16.56.070 Enforcement –Penalties

A.    Any person, firm, or corporation who knowingly violates or fails to comply with any term or provision of this chapter shall be deemed to have committed a misdemeanor, and if found guilty, shall be subject to a fine not to exceed One Thousand Dollars ($1,000), and/or to imprisonment not to exceed ninety (90) days or to both such fine and imprisonment. Each day shall be a separate offense. In the event of a continuing violation or failure to comply, the second and subsequent days shall constitute a gross misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000) and/or imprisonment not to exceed three hundred and sixty-five (365) days or both such time and imprisonment. Continuing violation shall mean the same type of violation which is committed within a year of the initial violation.

B.    As an additional concurrent penalty, it shall be a civil infraction for a person, firm, or corporation to violate or fail to comply with any term or provision of this chapter. Each day shall be a separate infraction. A person, firm, or corporation found to have committed a civil infraction shall be assessed a monetary penalty as follows:

1.    First offense: Class 3 ($50), not including statutory assessments.

2.    Second offense arising out of the same facts as the first offense: Class 2 ($125), not including statutory assessments.

3.    Third offense arising out of the same facts as the first offense: Class 1 ($250), not including statutory assessments.

See also OMC Chapter 4.44, Uniform Code Enforcement.

C.    Injunction. Any activity conducted in violation of this chapter is declared to be a nuisance per se, and the city may commence a civil suit in any court of competent jurisdiction for an order abating or enjoining the violation.

D.    Penalties for Violation.

1.    Fees and Replacement. In addition to any penalty provided for in this chapter, and whether or not the city has commenced a civil suit or action for injunctive relief, any person who violates this chapter shall be subject to a civil fee and/or be required to replace the trees. The city may use any reasonable means to estimate the tree loss or destruction of the illegally removed or damaged trees. The fee here created may be collected by an action in any court of competent jurisdiction. The fee shall accrue to the city, and, if necessary, the city may place a lien against the property in the amount of the fee. The city shall place any sum collected in the city tree account, created in Section 16.60.045.

a.    The civil fee shall be equal to the total value of trees illegally removed or damaged, as computed by the International Society of Arboriculture shade tree value formula.

b.    Replacement trees shall be planted pursuant to the director’s instructions as to species, quality, size, quantity and location. Replacement trees shall be maintained pursuant to the director’s instructions for a period of two years. Failure to maintain the trees according to the director’s instructions shall constitute a new and separate violation of this chapter. At the director’s discretion, the cost of replacement trees may be deducted from the amount of any civil fee assessed.

2.    Revocation of Permits. In addition to other actions, the director may issue a stop-work order or withhold issuance of a certificate of occupancy, permits or inspections until the provisions of this chapter have been fully met.

(Ord. 6081 §60, 2001; Ord. 5382 §2, 1993; Ord. 5181 §1(7), 1991).