Division III. Urban Forestry

Chapter 8.40


8.40.010    General provisions.

8.40.020    Creation and establishment of tree committee.

8.40.030    Public tree preservation and protection.

8.40.040    Public tree maintenance standards.

8.40.010 General provisions.

A. This chapter is intended to promote and protect the public health, safety and general welfare by providing guidelines for the protection, maintenance and management of tree resources within the town of Sahuarita.

B. This chapter provides authority for the maintenance of trees located within any public right-of-way, parks, public places, and municipal facility areas and grounds, owned or operated by the town as described herein.

C. The following words, terms, and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:

1. “Department directors” means the public works director, the parks and recreation director, and the planning and building director, or their designee(s).

2. “Municipal trees” are trees, cacti, and other woody vegetation on the grounds of all areas, except for parks and streets, owned or operated by the town, including the municipal complex and wastewater treatment plant and similar.

3. “Park trees” are trees, cacti, and other woody vegetation in public parks having individual names, to which the public has free access as a park.

4. “Public trees” are all street trees, park trees and municipal trees.

5. “Street trees” are trees, cacti, and other woody vegetation within any public right-of-way on land lying between property lines on either side of all streets, avenues, ways, including medians, within the town. [Ord. 2019-145 § 1.]

8.40.020 Creation and establishment of tree committee.

A. There is hereby created and established a tree committee for the town of Sahuarita consisting of members appointed by the parks and recreation director. Members of the tree committee shall serve without compensation.

B. It shall be the responsibility of the tree committee to approve, and update as needed, a tree plan for the care, preservation, and protection of public trees. The plan will be compiled and presented by the department directors. Upon the approval of the tree plan by the tree committee, it shall constitute the official tree plan for the town of Sahuarita. The department directors shall be responsible for administering the tree plan and implementing the tree plan as applicable to their respective departments. [Ord. 2019-145 § 1.]

8.40.030 Public tree preservation and protection.

A. The town shall have the right to plant, prune, maintain, and remove public trees as may be necessary to ensure public safety or to preserve or enhance the symmetry and beauty of such public grounds. The town may use staff, the services of a contractor, or volunteers to accomplish its tree care in accordance with STC 8.40.040.

B. When the responsibility for tree care within a public right-of-way resides with a homeowner association, or a commercial or private owner, said homeowner association, or commercial or private owner, may determine the method to accomplish its tree care in accordance with STC 8.40.040.

C. The department directors may remove, or cause to be removed, any public tree or part thereof 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, or is infected with any injurious fungus, insect or other pest. [Ord. 2019-145 § 1.]

8.40.040 Public tree maintenance standards.

A. Pruning and maintenance of public trees shall be accomplished by properly trained personnel and using quality equipment, methods, and materials appropriate to tasks or operations performed.

B. The natural contours of the tree shall govern pruning operations. Pruning and trimming shall maintain natural form, and pruning and thinning shall be uniformly distributed. The overall removal of branches and limbs of a tree, in such a manner as to destroy the natural shape (“dethroning”) shall be avoided. Removal of the majority of the interior branches leaving only the terminal branches and leaves (“lion-tailing”) shall be avoided.

C. Pruning shall include the removal of dead, dying, diseased and broken portions of the tree.

D. The removal or retention of low-hanging branches shall be governed by the location of the tree in relation to buildings, other trees, traffic ways, and the predictable mature shape and spread of the tree. Branches hanging lower than a height of seven feet above ground, which are in conflict with traffic in the vicinity of the tree, shall be removed. Mature trees, at or above 12 feet in height overall, shall generally be lifted to a clear-vision level of seven feet above ground level. Young trees whose overall height is less than, or minimally exceeds, the defined cleared height shall be maintained in accordance with applicable National Arborist Association standards.

E. In those specific instances where the interest of public safety is in conflict with prescribed standards of horticultural or arboricultural maintenance practices, the public safety consideration shall prevail in determining pruning or other maintenance activities in those specific situations, so as to fully preserve and protect the interest of public safety.

F. In the event of a public safety consideration relevant to young trees, the public safety consideration shall be determinant of pruning procedures relevant to any such individual tree. Downward and horizontally growing limbs in direct or predictable conflict with traffic shall be removed.

G. Pruning when trees are flowering shall be avoided, except as may be necessary and required in the interest of public safety.

H. Parasitic growth, such as mistletoe, shall be removed.

I. Tree stakes and ties shall be monitored on a regular basis and adjusted or removed to prevent girdling of tree bark.

J. Tree stumps shall be removed below the surface of the ground so that the top of the stump does not project above the surface of the ground. Exceptions to public tree stump removal include tree stumps located in unimproved or natural resource areas where stumps and snags create habitat for wildlife. [Ord. 2019-145 § 1.]