Division III. Critical Areas and Natural Resource Lands Protection

Chapter 15.60


15.60.010    Purpose.

15.60.020    Exemptions.

15.60.030    Tree removal – Conditions for authorization to remove protected trees.

15.60.040    Replacement of removed trees.

15.60.050    Protection of trees during development activities.

15.60.060    Enforcement.

15.60.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to establish a means to protect all trees within the town rights-of-way and minimize the loss of existing significant trees due to development within the town boundaries where feasible and provide guidance on removal and replacement where necessary. A significant tree is defined as an evergreen or deciduous tree at least six inches in diameter at a point five feet above ground level. [Ord. 671 § 4.1.A, 1995.]

15.60.020 Exemptions.

The following are exempt from the provisions of this chapter:

(1) Trees on residential lots except those in the Historic Preservation District.

(2) Tree removal for installation and maintenance of utilities provided the activity is conducted so as to avoid any unnecessary removal. Written notice of the removal shall be provided to the planning department five days prior to the removal, except that when the removal is needed to restore interrupted service under emergency conditions, no prior notice is required.

(3) Tree removal during emergencies caused by a natural or manmade disaster.

(4) Fruit trees, poplar, locust trees or any tree that has been deemed hazardous by a certified arborist. [Ord. 1096 § 2, 2013; Ord. 1040 § 2, 2010; Ord. 671 § 4.1.B, 1995.]

15.60.030 Tree removal – Conditions for authorization to remove protected trees.

(1) Authorization shall be granted to remove a tree only if the applicant has taken reasonable measures to design and locate the proposed improvements to preserve as many existing significant trees as possible.

(2) Authorization to remove a significant tree may be granted if the applicant can demonstrate one or more of the following conditions:

(a) A permissible use of the site cannot reasonably be undertaken unless specific trees are removed or relocated.

(b) The tree is located in such proximity to an existing or proposed structure that the safety, utility or structural integrity of the structure is materially impaired.

(c) The tree materially interferes with the location, servicing or functioning of existing utility lines or services.

(d) The tree creates a substantial hazard to motor, bicycle or pedestrian traffic by virtue of physical proximity to traffic or by impairing vision.

(e) The tree is diseased or weakened by age, abuse, storm or fire and is likely to cause injury or damage to people, buildings or other improvements.

(3) The requirements of LCMC 15.60.040 shall apply whenever an authorization to remove a tree pursuant to this section is granted. [Ord. 842 § 11, 2002; Ord. 671 § 4.1.C, 1995.]

15.60.040 Replacement of removed trees.1

Replacement trees shall, where practicable, be planted on site. The number of trees for replacement shall be based on number of diameter inches of the lost trees or appraised value as determined by the formula found in “A Guide for Plant Appraisal,” Eighth Edition, authored by The Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers. If not practicable, replacement trees may be donated, or a fee in lieu of replacement may be paid, to the town for purposes of planting trees on public property. The fee in lieu of replacement shall be based on the cost of purchasing the requisite size and number of replacement trees. Lombardy poplars are exempt from the replacement formula and shall be replaced with an appropriate urban tree at least two inches in diameter. Exception: If the tree being removed is diseased or an imminent safety risk to people and/or property, the decision authority may consider an alternate replacement plan. [Ord. 986 § 7, 2007; Ord. 963 § 8, 2005; Ord. 671 § 4.1.D, 1995.]

15.60.050 Protection of trees during development activities.

To assure the health and survival of significant trees that are not to be removed, the following kinds of tree injuries should be avoided during development activities:

(1) Mechanical Injuries to Roots, Trunk, and Branches. A protective barrier shall be placed around all protected trees to prevent damage due to equipment or construction materials or debris during construction or landscaping activity. No attachment, wires (other than supportive wires), signs or permits may be fastened to any tree. The protection barrier shall be placed around the tree at a distance from the tree equal to one foot for every one inch diameter. This area is called the Critical Root Zone (CRZ).

(2) Injuries by Chemical Poisoning. No fuel, paint, solvent, oil, thinner, asphalt, cement, grout or any other construction chemical or other materials or tools shall be stored or placed within the protective barrier or perimeter line of protected trees.

(3) Grades shall not be raised or lowered around trees without a review of soil condition and root location. No more than 30 percent of the CRZ should be raised or lowered or disturbed without causing potential loss of health and stability to the tree.

(a) Vegetation that must be removed within the CRZ shall be done by hand only while being careful not to damage tree roots.

(b) Fertilization is not recommended unless soil tests indicate deficiency. Mulch and root growth enhancers are recommended within CRZ during and after construction.

(4) Injuries by Excavations. Water, sewer and other utility lines should be routed around the tree protection zones. If a line cannot reasonably be routed around the tree protection zone, the line shall be tunnelled beneath the area within the zone. The tunnel shall be offset to one side of the trunk to prevent damage to the main tap roots.

(5) Injuries by Paving. Porous paving may be placed within the tree protection zone as long as no damage is inflicted to the tree by grade change, compaction of the soil, or any other cause. Porous paving shall be placed over a sandwich of fabric, porous washed rock, fabric then sand within CRZs of the tree roots to absorb moisture, and maintain critical gas exchange. [Ord. 671 § 4.1.E, 1995.]

15.60.060 Enforcement.

To ensure compliance with the foregoing sections, the following measures shall be taken:

(1) The applicant shall provide a scaled drawing of the lot, with elevation contours, showing all trees that must be removed in order to accommodate the foundation or accessory structures with a justification defined in LCMC 15.60.030.

(2) The planning director, or assistant, shall visit the site and personally band the significant trees that have been approved for removal.

(3) Prior to excavation or removal of any trees, the lot owner shall notify the planning director in no less than three working days. The planning director will inspect the premises to ensure that the protective barrier has been installed. The planning director will document by initials and date on the tree removal permit noting satisfactory protection.

(4) Failure to observe the protective barrier shall subject the lot owner to a fine per LCMC 15.135.330.

(5) In the event of any violation of the tree permit, the planning director shall, as a minimum, issue a stop work order. After meeting with the lot owner, the planning director will calculate the fines, if any, which must be paid in full prior to lifting the stop work order. Such fines are in addition to replacement requirements in LCMC 15.60.040 and shall be an additional $500.00 per incidence. [Ord. 963 § 8, 2005.]


Code reviser’s note: Ord. 986 amended this section without taking the amendments of Ord. 963 into account. At the city’s direction, the language added by Ord. 963 has been restored to the code text.