Chapter 8.25


8.25.010    Short title.

8.25.020    Definitions.

8.25.030    Town arborist.

8.25.040    Purpose and intent.

8.25.050    Tree removal permit – Required.

8.25.060    Tree removal permit – Application.

8.25.070    Tree removal permit – Issuance.

8.25.080    Emergency tree removal.

8.25.090    Mitigation for significant tree removal.

8.25.100    Mitigation and significant tree species.

8.25.110    Reconsideration and appeals.

8.25.120    Violation – Penalty for unpermitted tree removal.

8.25.130    Construction site tree protection.

8.25.010 Short title.

This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the “tree code” of the town of Hunts Point. [Ord. 548 § 1 (Exh. A), 2020; Ord. 480 § 2, 2010]

8.25.020 Definitions.

(1) “Caliper” means a synonym for tree trunk diameter used to measure the size of nursery stock; by convention, measured six inches above the ground for stems less than or equal to four inches and at 12 inches above the ground for stems greater than four inches.

(2) “Canopy cover” means the proportion of ground surface covered by the canopy layer(s) when projected vertically downwards. Cover is usually expressed as a percentage.

(3) “Crown cleaning” means the removal of dead, dying, diseased, crowded, weakly attached or low-vigor branches, and new sprouts from a tree’s crown which will not adversely affect the health of the tree. All pruning should comply with American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A300 standards.

(4) “Crown raising” means the removal of the lower branches of a tree in order to provide a height of up to eight feet for pedestrian clearance, up to 16 feet for vehicular clearance, or such other increased height as deemed appropriate for an allowed use on the lot upon which the tree is situated which will not adversely affect the health of the tree. All pruning should comply with American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A300 standards.

(5) “Crown reduction” means reducing the height or spread of a tree by performing appropriate pruning cuts. This is an appropriate method to reduce the end weight of lateral branches. All pruning should comply with American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A300 standards.

(6) “Crown thinning” means the selective removal of branches not to exceed more than 25 percent of the leaf surface to increase light penetration and air movement, and to reduce weight. All pruning should comply with American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A300 standards.

(7) “Deciduous tree” means any tree or other plant that loses its leaves sometime during the year and stays generally leafless during the cold season.

(8) “DSH” means the diameter of a tree at standard height; the diameter of the trunk measured 54 inches (four and one-half feet) above grade.

(9) “Evergreen tree” means any tree that stays green all year, has needles or scales for leaves, and produces seeds in protective cones.

(10) “Groves” means a group of eight or more trees of the species listed in HPMC 8.25.100 with a DSH of six inches or greater that form a continuous canopy. Trees that are part of a grove shall also be considered significant if they meet these criteria.

(11) “Hazardous tree” means (a) any tree receiving a high or extreme risk rating under the latest version of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ) method, or (b) any tree with a demonstrable likelihood of failure and a high likelihood of impacting a target or causing damage to a residential foundation or structure, as determined by a licensed arborist.

(12) “Qualified professional” is an individual with a minimum of three years’ experience in tree evaluation and, where applicable, works directly with the protection of trees during construction along with one of the following qualifiers:

(a) American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA) registered consulting arborist;

(b) International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) board certified master arborist;

(c) International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certified arborist with an associate degree and/or a minimum of two years of college-level credit and/or 120 continuing education units; or

(d) Washington State registered landscape architect.

To undertake tree risk assessment, a qualified professional must be tree risk assessment qualified (TRAQ) as established by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).

(13) “Root protection zone (RPZ)” means the ground area around a tree with one foot of radius in all directions for each inch of trunk diameter measured at four feet, six inches above grade. In no event shall the root protection zone be less than a 10-foot radius. In cases with substantial size trees, 24-inch DSH and greater, a suitable RPZ should be established at the discretion of the town arborist.

(14) “Significant tree” means any evergreen tree, and all deciduous trees set forth in HPMC 8.25.100(2), with a trunk diameter greater than 10 inches, measured at four feet, six inches above grade, or that meets the criteria of grove trees, or any tree planted as mitigation under this chapter.

(15) “Snag” refers to a standing, partly or completely dead tree, often missing a top or most of the smaller branches. [Ord. 548 § 1 (Exh. A), 2020; Ord. 520 § 1, 2016; Ord. 480 § 2, 2010]

8.25.030 Town arborist.

The office of town arborist is appointed by the town council and is hereby established for the purpose of assisting the town, when called upon to do so, in supervising, administering, making recommendations to the mayor (or mayor’s designee), and enforcing the provisions of this chapter. The town arborist shall review and prepare a written recommendation for each tree removal permit application received by the town. The town arborist shall review the tree canopy every five years to ensure that the town maintains a canopy cover of 50 percent as provided in HPMC 8.25.040. [Ord. 548 § 1 (Exh. A), 2020; Ord. 520 § 2, 2016; Ord. 480 § 2, 2010]

8.25.040 Purpose and intent.

The town council has determined that an overall objective of this tree code is to retain or maintain a canopy cover of 50 percent of the land area of Hunts Point in order to maintain and protect the privacy of residents and the established character of the community. An instrument by which this will be achieved is through the enforcement of these regulations.

The tree preservation code recognizes trees and other vegetation as important elements of the physical environment that are integral to Hunts Point’s community character. Protecting the sylvan nature and enhancing and maintaining healthy trees and vegetation are key community values. A goal is to achieve an overall tree canopy coverage of 50 percent for the community with a variety of ages and species and to periodically measure the overall tree canopy, and to create a process for replacement of trees off site and in public rights-of-way, public parks or a Town Hall upon recommendation of the town arborist.

To replace, protect and maintain trees impacted by improvements to SR-520 and to protect trees within and adjacent to town rights-of-way.

These regulations are adopted for the following purposes, which shall serve as standards for significant tree protection, the issuance of tree removal permits under HPMC 8.25.070, and the issuance of permits under Chapter 15.45 HPMC:

(1) To promote the public health, safety, and general welfare of the citizens of Hunts Point and the preservation of town property in a manner consistent with the purposes addressed in the town’s comprehensive plan;

(2) To preserve and enhance the town’s physical and aesthetic character by preventing indiscriminate removal or destruction of trees on developed and undeveloped property;

(3) To preserve and enhance the dominance of the following characteristics historically present in the community:

(a) Shade from tall trees upon the public streets and ways;

(b) The presence of trees of substantial size (24-inch DSH or greater); to obscure the view of artificial structures or surfaces from the public streets and ways and from adjoining properties; and

(c) The presence of spacious areas of natural trees indigenous to forested lands of western Washington and historically present in the town;

(4) To encourage the retention of large trees for the abatement of noise, and for wind protection;

(5) To promote building and site development practices consistent with the town’s natural topography and historically dominant vegetation features;

(6) To minimize surface and ground water runoff and diversion, to retain undisturbed native soil for absorbing, filtering, and reducing runoff and water pollution to prevent erosion of the soil, siltation and water pollution in Lake Washington, and to minimize the need for additional storm drainage facilities;

(7) To preserve the existing and unique advantages of the town environment for quiet, secluded, and peaceful residential living;

(8) To retain trees and ground cover for the purpose of reducing air pollution, and providing wildlife habitat;

(9) To implement the goals and objectives of the Washington State Environmental Policy Act and the State Shoreline Management Act;

(10) To promote and ensure careful construction methods, techniques, and procedures that will minimize impact to significant trees, on and off site, and to require site restoration and replanting following construction;

(11) To protect significant trees as a community resource and to prevent a net loss of trees and canopy cover; and

(12) To provide procedures to implement the town’s current and future tree management plans. [Ord. 548 § 1 (Exh. A), 2020; Ord. 480 § 2, 2010]

8.25.050 Tree removal permit – Required.

No person, corporation or other entity shall remove or destroy, or cause to be removed or destroyed, a significant tree within the town of Hunts Point without first having obtained a tree removal permit from the town. A permit shall not be required for pruning that complies with American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A300 standards. A permit shall not be required for the removal of trees less than six inches DSH that are part of a grove’s contiguous canopy if in the opinion of the town arborist their removal does not damage the health of the groves. A permit shall not be required for the removal of trees on public property that are identified in an approved plan or program recommended by the planning commission after a public hearing and approved by the town council after a public hearing. [Ord. 548 § 1 (Exh. A), 2020; Ord. 520 § 3, 2016; Ord. 480 § 2, 2010]

8.25.060 Tree removal permit –Application.

(1) An application for a tree removal permit shall be submitted on a form provided by the town and shall be signed by the owner of the property and shall be accompanied by all of the following documents and information, except where determined to be unnecessary by the town:

(a) Name, address, and telephone number of the applicant and the owner (if different);

(b) A plot plan showing the location of improvements, the location of the tree(s) proposed for removal, and adjacent significant trees that may be impacted from proposed activities, including those on adjacent property within 20 feet of the property line;

(c) Reason for removal;

(d) A preliminary plan indicating the locations and species for all trees to be planted as mitigation;

(e) Where the plot plan identifies significant trees within the 20 feet of the property line on adjacent property, proof that the applicant has notified the neighboring property owner(s) or manager(s) of the application, either by signature or by United States Postal Service return receipt if the property owner is unavailable for signature; and

(f) Any other information as deemed necessary by the town to further the purposes of this chapter.

(2) Where a tree removal permit is issued for new construction or additions to existing structures and there is a change in the location of any of the proposed improvements, the applicant shall be required to get approval from the town for a revised tree permit application and comply with any notice requirements if the town arborist determines that the revision would impact different or additional trees.

(3) The town shall complete its review of the application and any recommendations from the town arborist and make its decision as soon as reasonably possible after a complete application is submitted.

(4) Any permit granted for the removal of a significant tree shall expire six months from the date of issuance. Upon a showing of good cause, a permit may be extended for an additional six months. [Ord. 548 § 1 (Exh. A), 2020; Ord. 480 § 2, 2010]

8.25.070 Tree removal permit – Issuance.

(1) A tree removal permit will be issued when it is determined by the town that such tree removal will be consistent with the purposes stated in HPMC 8.25.040 and also that it is reasonably necessary for one or more of the following reasons:

(a) The tree is dead;

(b) The tree is hazardous, as defined in HPMC 8.25.020;

(c) To accommodate the building of new construction or additions to existing structures which cannot be located without such tree removal, and which otherwise comply with zoning and building code requirements; for purposes of this section, “new construction or additions to existing structures” includes pools, sport courts, and associated appurtenances;

(d) A new driveway of customary and reasonable width cannot be reasonably located without such tree removal or an existing driveway cannot be reasonably utilized due to the proximity of the tree to the driveway;

(e) To avoid a demonstrated risk of substantial damage to town property or improvements, an existing residential structure or garage, or an electrical, telephone, or other utility line; provided, no permit shall be issued if said risk may reasonably be avoided by pruning, trimming, or any other operation without the complete removal of the tree or the creation of a snag;

(f) The installation and maintenance of public utilities or public streets by the town or its contractors cannot be reasonably accomplished without such tree removal.

(2) If the applicant asserts that the tree removal is necessary solely to assure that the property enjoys reasonable amounts of light and view, the tree removal permit application shall be processed as a variance by the hearing examiner, pursuant to the procedure set forth in Chapter 18.55 HPMC. The town arborist shall prepare a report, at the expense of the applicant, and make a recommendation whether the proposed removal and mitigation meet the intent of the code.

(3) All work for which a permit is required under this chapter shall be subject to inspection by the town and shall be done in accordance with all town conditions and requirements.

(4) Any tree removal permit that is issued shall not be effective for 10 days until the appeal period has expired. Any tree removal permit that is timely appealed shall be stayed during the pendency of the appeal. [Ord. 548 § 1 (Exh. A), 2020; Ord. 480 § 2, 2010]

8.25.080 Emergency tree removal.

(1) A significant tree may be removed prior to the issuance of a tree removal permit only in an emergency situation involving immediate danger to life or property as long as the following requirements are met:

(a) The town is notified within five business days of the tree having been removed; and

(b) The town is provided such information as the town requests in order to verify the emergency; photographic documentation will be required.

(2) A tree removal permit must be applied for within 20 days following the emergency removal of the tree along with a proposed mitigation/replacement plan. [Ord. 548 § 1 (Exh. A), 2020; Ord. 480 § 2, 2010]

8.25.090 Mitigation for significant tree removal.

(1) Whenever a significant tree is removed or destroyed in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, the owner of the property upon which said tree was located shall replace it with two similar trees of the same species or such species as recommended by the town arborist. Replacement evergreen trees shall be a minimum height of 10 feet tall and have a full, well-developed crown of foliage. Deciduous trees shall be three inches in caliper. Mitigation is to occur on site unless other arrangements are made with the town, as set forth in subsection (4) of this section, or at a location determined by the town arborist.

(2) Mitigation requirements must be met within six months of the tree removal or within six months of the expiration of a building permit, whichever is later. In the case of concurrent new construction or site development, mitigation requirements must be met before final inspection or certificate of occupancy is issued. If trees are removed pursuant to new construction, grading, excavation, or a development project work, mitigation must occur in accordance with the provisions in this chapter. At the sole discretion of town staff, the town may require the applicant to post a bond to guarantee compliance with the provisions of this chapter.

(3) Trees planted as mitigation must be maintained with adequate water and care to survive a three-year warranty period or be replaced at the applicant’s expense. An annual site inspection by the town arborist, or an annual report by a qualified professional, shall be provided to the town for each of the three years. The report shall discuss the health condition of the trees and be approved by the town arborist. The cost of the inspection, report preparation and report review report shall be paid for by the applicant.

(4) At its sole discretion after request by a tree removal permit applicant, the town may agree to replant new trees required as mitigation under subsection (1) of this section within the right-of-way or on other public property. In such cases, the permit applicant shall pay into the town’s tree mitigation account the installed tree cost value of the mitigation trees otherwise required by subsection (1) of this section, as that installed tree cost value is determined by the town arborist pursuant to the then-current edition of the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture’s Species Ratings for Landscape Tree Appraisal, and hereby adopted by reference as Exhibit C. Payments into the tree mitigation account shall be used by the town for acquiring, maintaining, and preserving wooded areas, and for the planting and maintaining of trees within the town. Penalties and other sanctions for unpermitted tree removal are set forth in HPMC 8.25.120 and 8.25.130. [Ord. 548 § 1 (Exh. A), 2020; Ord. 480 § 2, 2010]

8.25.100 Mitigation and significant tree species.

(1) Trees planted as mitigation, whether on the applicant’s property, adjacent property (with the owner’s permission) or on public property pursuant to HPMC 8.25.090(4), should replace the same species removed wherever possible or with a species recommended by the town arborist. The following list of tree species should be used as mitigation:

Western Red Cedars (Thuja plicata);

Douglas Firs (Pseudotsuga menziesii);

Western and Mountain Hemlocks (Tsuga heterophylla or T. mertensiana); or

Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens).

(a) Dwarf varieties of the above species can be used when appropriate and approved by the town arborist.

(b) When native conifers are not practicable, the following nonnative species, if approved by the town arborist, are recommended: Japanese Black Pine (Pinus thunbergiana); Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris); or Italian Stone Pine (Pinus pinea).

(2) The following significant deciduous trees shall be protected:

Oak (Quercus sp.);

Pacific Madrone (Arbutus menziesii);

Dogwood (Cornus);

Horse Chestnut Tree (Aesculus hippocastanum).

The town arborist shall recommend, and the town shall determine, the species to use as mitigation when deciduous trees are removed. [Ord. 548 § 1 (Exh. A), 2020; Ord. 520 § 4, 2016; Ord. 480 § 2, 2010]

8.25.110 Reconsideration and appeals.

(1) Any person or persons aggrieved by any decision of the town relating to a tree removal permit, including any person receiving a civil citation or order imposing fines, may, within 10 days of such action, request that the mayor reconsider the decision. All requests for reconsideration by the mayor shall be accompanied by a report from an accredited arborist (other than the town arborist) that supports the request for reconsideration, along with any other information or argument that the requester wishes to present for review. This arborist report must include reasoned analysis and data or test results sufficient to justify the arborist’s opinions or conclusions. Upon request, the mayor, in his or her sole discretion, may grant up to 20 additional days to file the arborist report (and any other materials) in support of the request for reconsideration. The mayor shall issue his or her decision within 10 days after receiving the request for reconsideration, unless an extension of time for submitting the arborist report has been granted, in which case the mayor shall issue his or her decision within 10 days after the extended due date. Any person or persons aggrieved by the mayor’s decision on reconsideration may file a notice of appeal to the hearing examiner as described in subsection (2) of this section.

(2) Any appeal to the hearing examiner of a town decision on a tree removal permit shall be filed no later than 10 days after the tree removal permit decision is issued, unless reconsideration by the mayor has been requested, in which case any notice of appeal to the hearing examiner is due no later than 10 days after issuance of the mayor’s decision. A request for reconsideration by the mayor is not a prerequisite to filing an appeal with the hearing examiner. The appeal to the hearing examiner shall set forth all grounds for appeal that the appellant wishes to be considered. The hearing examiner shall hear and determine appeals of tree removal permit decisions in accordance with the rules and procedures set out in HPMC Title 18 and may affirm, modify or disaffirm the administrative decision within 45 days of the filing of the notice of appeal. [Ord. 548 § 1 (Exh. A), 2020; Ord. 480 § 2, 2010]

8.25.120 Violation – Penalty for unpermitted tree removal.

(1) A violation of any of the provisions of this chapter shall be a civil infraction and any person, corporation or other entity that violates this chapter shall receive a fine of $1,000 per violation plus $1,000 per inch of diameter (DSH) for each significant tree that is illegally removed; provided, that the maximum fine for the illegal removal of trees listed in HPMC 8.25.100(2) shall not exceed $25,000. It shall be a separate offense for each and every act in violation of any of the provisions of this chapter. It shall furthermore be a separate offense for each and every tree removed in violation of this chapter.

(2) In addition to the penalty set forth in subsection (1) of this section, trees that were unlawfully removed or damaged shall be replaced in accordance with HPMC 8.25.090 and 8.25.100.

(3) Fines levied under this chapter shall be deposited into the tree mitigation account and shall be used by the town for acquiring, maintaining, and preserving wooded areas, and for the planting and maintaining of trees within the town. [Ord. 548 § 1 (Exh. A), 2020; Ord. 480 § 2, 2010]

8.25.130 Construction site tree protection.

(1) A preapplication meeting with appropriate town staff and the town arborist is required prior to the submittal of a tree removal permit on properties proposed for construction. The applicant shall sign a form attesting to the fact that it had a preapplication meeting and received certain materials from the town staff and/or town arborist.

(2) All significant trees on the property and within the building envelope and within 20 feet of the applicant’s property shall be accurately located on a current site survey prior to performing any work. All staging areas must be defined on the survey and on the ground and be preapproved prior to issuance of a tree removal permit. All site work shall be accomplished so as to avoid damage to trees or other vegetation and not occur within the RPZ of significant trees and in accordance with Chapter 15.45 HPMC. All areas to be disturbed must be reviewed by the town arborist.

(3) All significant trees identified on the site survey with potential to be impacted by site development or construction, as determined by the town arborist, must be protected in accordance with this section during such development or construction activities.

(4) Prior to development or construction activity, documentation shall be provided by the applicant to the town that demonstrates that neighboring property owners have been made aware, by letter or email, that a significant tree is identified on the neighboring property as one with the potential to be impacted by applicant’s site development.

(5) The following tree protection requirements are required at a minimum and must be included on site permit documents:

(a) Tree protection fencing or other barriers shall be installed along all clearing limits just outside of a tree’s root protection zone (RPZ). Tree protection fencing shall be the installation of a rigid cyclone fence, six feet in height located just outside the root protection zone. In the case of trees along a driveway, public right-of-way, or high-traffic areas, plywood fencing no less than six feet in height may be used in lieu of a rigid cyclone fence. A moveable panel or gate should be part of the fencing or barrier to allow access to the RPZ.

(b) All tree protection fencing shall be installed and its location approved by the town arborist prior to the commencement of work on site.

(c) A two- to four-inch-deep layer of arborist woodchip mulch shall be placed over the soil in the RPZ. Hog fuel is acceptable.

(d) No debris or construction materials may be stored, nor grade changes occur, within this protected area. No parking, dumping, or burning is allowed.

(e) Work required for removal of unwanted vegetation within the RPZ areas will be hand work only; no heavy equipment.

(f) When removing trees outside of the RPZ determined to be unacceptable for retention, use methods such as directional felling to avoid damage to trees and other valuable vegetation that is being retained. Small trees and other native vegetation in these areas should be carefully preserved.

(g) Where construction or utility trenches are required in the rights-of-way, side property setbacks, and RPZs; it is required to tunnel under or around roots by drilling, auger boring, pipe jacking or hand digging.

(h) Tree stumps that are within a RPZ or immediately adjacent to the RPZ of a preserved tree or other vegetation shall be removed by grinding.

(i) Where it has been determined that roots of a significant tree may be encountered during excavation or grading, a certified arborist shall be on site to supervise any root pruning and to assess the potential impact of such pruning. Any root greater than one-and-one-half-inch diameter that is encountered shall be carefully cut with a sharp tool. Roots cut shall be immediately covered with soil or mulch and kept moist.

(j) Where access for machinery or any vehicle is required within the RPZ of any significant tree, the soil should be protected from compaction. Acceptable methods may include 18 inches of wood chips or hog fuel, plywood, or steel sheets. The town arborist should be contacted a minimum of 48 hours before entering into the RPZ.

(k) Tree protection fencing shall not be moved without authorization from the site supervisor. All fencing is to be left in place until the completion of the project.

(l) Landscaping specified within the RPZ areas shall be designed to limit disturbance of surface soils and preserved vegetation. No root pruning is permitted. New plants added in these areas should be of the smallest size possible to minimize disturbance.

(m) Any trees adjacent to high-traffic areas or building envelopes shall be pruned by an International Society of Arboriculture certified arborist using ANSI A300 American Standards for pruning to remove dead wood, provide clearance, and cabling or bracing.

(n) Supplemental irrigation for all protected trees is required during the summer months or prolonged periods of dry weather as determined by a qualified professional.

(o) All significant, preserved, and replacement trees shall be maintained for a period of three years after site development or mitigation.

(6) Exceptions to this requirement may be requested, and must be accompanied by a report prepared by a qualified professional arborist. Exceptions will be granted by the town only if an appropriate alternative plan for significant tree protection is proposed which will result in the protection of all significant trees.

(7) There shall be a rebuttable presumption that any development or construction activity within the RPZ of a significant tree is responsible for the failure of any tree to thrive or that experiences rapid decline within three years from the date that a development or construction activity receives final approval. A tree that fails within this time period shall be subject to the mitigation set out in HPMC 8.25.090(1). [Ord. 548 § 1 (Exh. A), 2020; Ord. 480 § 2, 2010]