Chapter 12.22


12.22.010    Purpose.

12.22.020    Definitions.

12.22.030    Scope.

12.22.040    Tree planting.

12.22.050    Tree pruning and maintenance.

12.22.060    Tree removal.

12.22.070    Penalties.

12.22.080    Variance and appeal process.

12.22.010 Purpose.

The purpose of these regulations is to encourage responsible management of public tree resources within the city of Shelton in a fashion consistent with the goals and policies of the comprehensive plan. Because trees growing on public property provide benefits to the greater public at large, they are deserving of greater protection than that afforded to privately owned trees. Proper protection, planting, and maintenance is required to promote tree health and aesthetics; foster species diversity; and to preserve the public tree canopy. Therefore, the purposes of this chapter are:

A.    Encourage the planting of new trees and the maintenance of existing trees for all the benefits they provide to the community.

B.    Maintain public trees in a healthy and nonhazardous condition through good arboricultural practices.

C.    Manage trees and vegetation on public property in a manner that represents the best interests of the public.

D.    Encourage a diversity of appropriate species of trees.

E.    Remove and replace trees in a timely manner so they do not cause damage to city infrastructure such as streets, sidewalks, sewer and water pipes, conduit, and other subsurface elements. (Ord. 1876-1115 § 1 (part), 2016)

12.22.020 Definitions.

For the purpose of this chapter certain words and terms are defined as follows:

A.    Appropriate Tree. An appropriate tree is a tree suited at maturity for the space which it occupies without creating a hazard to public health and safety.

B.    “City” means the city of Shelton.

C.    “Climbing spurs” means sharp, pointed devices affixed to the climber’s leg used to assist in climbing trees (also known as gaffs, hooks, spurs, spikes, climbers).

D.    “Crown reduction pruning” means the reduction of the top, sides, or individual limbs by the means of removal of the leader or longest portion of a limb to a lateral no less than one-third of the total diameter of the original limb removing no more than one-quarter of the leaf surface.

E.    Hazard Tree. A hazard tree is any tree with a combination of structural defect and/or disease (which makes it subject to a high probability of failure) and a proximity to persons or property which makes it an imminent threat.

F.    “Public tree” means trees growing on property owned in fee-simple by the city of Shelton.

G.    “Specimen tree value” means an objective evaluation process used to determine the public value of a tree. The evaluation looks at the size, condition, and location of a public tree to determine whether a tree has a significant public value. The procedure for evaluating a specimen tree is identified in the Urban Forestry Manual.

H.    “Street tree” means trees growing within the city’s rights-of-way.

I.    “Topping” means cutting a branch or stem back to a stub or lateral branch not sufficiently large enough to assume the terminal role (also known as heading, stubbing, lopping).

J.    “Vegetation management plan” means a plan identifying how vegetation is to be managed on city-owned property.

K.    “Urban forester” means the city of Shelton’s designated urban forester, either a designated city employee within the parks department, or a certified arborist contracted by the city.

L.    “Urban Forestry Manual” means the technical manual outlining urban forestry standards of practice for the city of Shelton. (Ord. 1876-1115 § 1 (part), 2016)

12.22.030 Scope.

The provisions of this chapter shall apply to the planting, maintenance, removal, and protection of all public trees as defined in this chapter.

A.    Trees on Roadsides, and Lands Managed by the Shelton Metropolitan Park District. Tree removal, pruning and/or planting in these areas shall be subject to this policy and review and approval of the Shelton metropolitan park district.

B.    Trees on Land Managed by the City of Shelton for Street/Stormwater Management Purposes. Tree removal, pruning and/or planting in these areas shall be subject to review and approval of the public works department.

C.    Trees within Critical Areas as Defined in Chapter 21.64. Tree removal in these areas will be subject to review and approval of the city’s community development department. (Ord. 1876-1115 § 1 (part), 2016)

12.22.040 Tree planting.

A.    Tree Planting on City of Shelton Property. Private parties may plant trees on property owned by the city with written permission. To obtain permission the applicant(s) shall:

1.    Submit a written request to the city a minimum of thirty days prior to the scheduled planting.

2.    Prepare a tree planting plan identifying the species, size, and location of trees to be planted. The proposed species and locations of trees must not create sight distance issues and be consistent with current and potential future uses of the property as determined by city staff review.

3.    Comply with the standards for planting, contained in the Urban Forestry Manual, or as required per public works standards and policy.

4.    Have underground utilities located and obtain approval from any utilities located within fifteen feet prior to planting.

B.    Nuisance Tree Abatement. Any planting of public trees that fails to comply with the standards established in the Urban Forestry Manual is declared a public nuisance and may be abated. (Ord. 1876-1115 § 1 (part), 2016)

12.22.050 Tree pruning and maintenance.

A.    Pruning Public Trees. Private parties may have public trees pruned with written permission from the city. To obtain permission the applicant(s) shall:

1.    Submit a written request to the city a minimum of thirty days prior to pruning;

2.    Identify the trees to be pruned and describe the specific work to be performed;

3.    Pay for all costs associated with the proposed pruning; and

4.    Comply with the pruning standards in the Urban Forestry Manual.

B.    Topping and climbing trees with spurs is prohibited. Topping of public trees is prohibited. Climbing spurs may be used to climb a public tree only if it is to be removed.

C.    Insect and Disease Abatement. The city may prune, spray, or otherwise maintain public trees in order to control infestations of insects or disease or to maintain public safety. Private parties may with written permission hire a certified pest controller to spray public trees adjacent to their property under a city permit. (Ord. 1876-1115 § 1 (part), 2016)

12.22.060 Tree removal.

A.    Hazard Trees—City’s Authority to Remove. The city may remove any public tree determined to be a hazard by the urban forester.

B.    Public Tree Removal Process. No city trees shall be cut down, killed, or removed for any reason without complying with the following procedure:

1.    File an application with the urban forester;

2.    Procure a permit for removal from the urban forester; and

3.    Mitigate the loss of the removed tree(s) pursuant to the mitigation section of the Urban Forestry Manual. (Ord. 1876-1115 § 1 (part), 2016)

12.22.070 Penalties.

A.    It shall be a gross misdemeanor for any person, firm, or corporation to knowingly cut down, prune, kill, or otherwise damage any public tree without lawful authority. The penalty for such violation shall be a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars, and/or imprisonment not to exceed ninety days or both such fine and imprisonment. Each tree cut, pruned or damaged shall constitute a separate offense. In the event of 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 and/or imprisonment for not more than three hundred sixty-five days or both such fine and imprisonment.

B.    As an additional concurrent penalty, it shall be a civil infraction for a person, firm, or corporation to cut down, prune, kill, or otherwise damage any public tree without lawful authority. Each tree cut, pruned or damaged 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 (fifty dollars), not including statutory assessments.

2.    Second offense arising out of the same facts as the first offense: Class 2 (one hundred twenty-five dollars), not including statutory assessments.

3.    Third offense arising out of the same facts as the first offense: Class 1 (two hundred fifty dollars), not including statutory assessments. (Ord. 1876-1115 § 1 (part), 2016)

12.22.080 Variance and appeal process.

The administrative process for appeals shall be governed by Chapter 2.36. (Ord. 1876-1115 § 1 (part), 2016)