Chapter 12.28


12.28.010    Purpose and intent.

12.28.020    Definitions.

12.28.030    Authority.

12.28.040    Public nuisance, declaration and abatement.

12.28.050    Injury to trees and shrubs prohibited.

12.28.060    Planting, maintenance and removal of public trees and shrubs.

12.28.070    Penalty for violation of this chapter.

12.28.080    Appeals.

12.28.090    Performance evaluation of chapter.

12.28.010 Purpose and intent.

A.    The ordinance codified in this chapter establishes policies, regulations, and standards necessary to insure that the city will continue to realize the benefits provided by its urban forest. It is declared to be policy of the city of Brookfield, Wisconsin, to regulate, finance, and control the planting, removal, maintenance, and protection of trees and shrubs upon or in all public areas of the city in order to:

1.    Establish and maintain the appropriate amount of tree cover on public and private lands in the city;

2.    Maintain city trees in a healthy and nonhazardous condition through good arboricultural practices;

3.    Establish and maintain appropriate diversity in tree species and age classes to provide a stable and sustainable urban forest;

4.    Promote the preservation of valuable city tree resources;

5.    Centralize tree management under the jurisdiction of city personnel with the necessary expertise;

6.    Promote efficient and cost-effective management of the urban forest;

7.    Foster community support for the local urban forestry program, and encourage good tree management on privately-owned properties.

B.    The provisions of this chapter shall apply to all trees and shrubs presently or hereafter planted in or upon any public area; and also to all trees and shrubs presently or hereafter planted in or upon any private premises which may endanger the life, health or safety of persons or property.

C.    This chapter shall be known as the city of Brookfield urban forestry ordinance. (Ord. 1642 § 1 (part), 1998)

12.28.020 Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to them by this section:

“City” means the city of Brookfield, Wisconsin.

“Committee” when used in this chapter means the “forestation committee” as constituted under the code of general ordinances of the city.

“Park” means and includes all public parks owned by the city having individual names.

“Person” means and includes all individuals, firms, associations, corporations, and persons connected with such firms, associations and corporations.

“Private premises” refers to all lands not owned, controlled or leased by the city.

“Public areas” means and includes all public right-of-way, boulevards, parks and other lands owned, controlled, or leased by the city.

“Public nuisance tree or shrub” means any tree or shrub or part thereof which by reason of its condition or location interferes with the use of any public area; or which is infected with a plant disease; or which is infested with injurious insects or pests which may threaten public or private property; or which may endanger public health, safety and welfare.

“Public right-of-way” means and includes the established and legally recognized distance from the center line of the associated street or road, improved or not, for the purpose of vehicular or pedestrian travel.

“Public trees and shrubs” means any tree or shrub as herein defined, presently or hereafter planted in or upon any public area.

“Public utility” means any person, owning or operating any pole, line, pipe or conduit located in any public area or over any public easement or right-of-way for the transmission of electricity, gas, or telecommunication services.

“Shrub” means a woody plant usually with multiple stems, branched at or near the base, reaching a height of less than fifteen (15) feet.

“Tree” means a woody plant usually with a single stem, unbranched at the base, reaching a height of fifteen (15) feet or more.

“Tree program manager” when used in this chapter means the “parks, recreation and forestry department director” of the city, or appointed representative, designated for the purposes of direction, regulation, control, and enforcement of this chapter. (Ord. 1642 § 1 (part), 1998)

12.28.030 Authority.

The care of all trees and shrubs planted or hereafter planted in the streets, highways, parks, and public areas of the city is under the authority of the committee and shall be subject to rules and regulations established in the current urban forestry management plan and adopted by the committee, and such committee shall have the right to adopt and amend the rules and regulations as may be required.

A.    Tree Program Manager. Under the jurisdiction and control of the committee, the tree program manager shall have the authority to plant, remove, maintain, and protect the trees and shrubs, or cause such work to be done as may be necessary to preserve the beauty of public areas and to protect life and property.

B.    City Arborist. The city may employ a city arborist, who shall be under the supervision of the tree program manager and committee and who shall exercise the powers conferred in Section 27.09 Wisconsin Statutes. (Ord. 1642 § 1 (part), 1998)

12.28.040 Public nuisance, declaration and abatement.

A.    Declaration of Nuisance. Any tree or shrub or part thereof growing on public or private property which is: interfering with the use of any public area; infected with an infectious plant disease; or which is infested with injurious insects or pests; or which by reason of its location or condition endangers the life, health, or safety of persons or property is declared a public nuisance.

B.    Abatement of Nuisance.

1.    Trees and Shrubs on Public Areas. If the tree program manager shall determine with reasonable certainty upon inspection or examination that any nuisance tree or shrub, as herein defined, exists in or upon any public area in the city, he shall immediately cause it to be treated, trimmed, removed, or otherwise abated in such a manner as to destroy or prevent the spread of the nuisance. The manner in which the nuisance shall be abated shall be determined by the tree program manager.

2.    Trees and Shrubs on Private Premises. If the tree program manager or private property owner shall determine with reasonable certainty upon inspection or examination that a nuisance tree or shrub, as herein defined, exists in or upon any private premises, they shall in a reasonable and cooperative effort cause the treatment, trimming or removal of said nuisance tree or shrub with all associated costs borne by the private property owner. No damage shall be awarded the owner for the destruction of trees or shrubs destroyed pursuant to this chapter.

C.    Entrance Onto Private Premises. At the request of a private property owner, the tree program manager, as a consultant to the private property owner, may enter upon private real estate, excluding any buildings thereon, at reasonable times for the purpose of examining or taking the necessary samples of any suspected nuisance tree or shrub located on such premises. (Ord. 1642 § 1 (part), 1998)

12.28.050 Injury to trees and shrubs prohibited.

A.    Damage to Public Trees. No person shall, upon public property without a written permit from the tree program manager, do or cause to be done by others any of the following acts:

1.    Secure, fasten, nail, or run any rope, wire, sign, or other materials around, into, or through a tree or shrub, except in emergencies such as storms or accidents;

2.    Break, injure, mutilate, deface, kill or destroy any tree or shrub or permit any fire to burn where it will injure any tree or shrub;

3.    Permit any toxic chemical, gas, smoke, oil, or other injurious substance to seep, drain or be emptied upon or about any tree or shrub or their root zone;

4.    Remove any guard, stake or other device or material intended to protect a public tree or shrub, or close or obstruct any open space about the base of a public tree or shrub designed to permit access of air, water or fertilizer;

5.    Topping. It is unlawful as a normal practice for any person, firm, or city department to top any street tree, park tree, or other tree on public property. Topping is defined as the severe cutting back of internodal branch parts two inches or greater in diameter, thereby as to remove the normal canopy and disfigure the tree. Trees severely damaged by storm or other causes, or certain trees under utility wires or other obstructions where standard pruning practices are impractical, may be exempted from this chapter at the determination of the tree program manager.

B.    Excavations and Construction. No person shall excavate any ditches, tunnels or trenches, or install pavement within the dripline of any public tree, unless said plans have been noted and approved on an excavation and facilities placement permit from the department of public works engineering and have been reviewed and approved by the director of parks, recreation and forestry or his designee prior to issuance. In the process of obtaining an excavation and facilities placement permit for the proposed work, the applicant shall indicate conflicts with, and/or disruption to, existing public trees resulting from said work. All public trees near any excavation or construction of any building, structure or street work shall be sufficiently guarded and protected by those responsible for such work to prevent any injury to said trees. (Ord. 2486-17 § 2, 2017; Ord. 1642 § 1 (part), 1998)

12.28.060 Planting, maintenance and removal of public trees and shrubs.

A.    Permit Requirements and Conditions.

1.    Permit Required. No person, except upon order of the tree program manager, shall plant, remove, spray, or perform major alterations on a tree or shrub in the public right-of-way or cause such act to be done by others without first obtaining a written permit for such work from the tree program manager as herein provided. Tree surgery and trimming or pruning of more than one-third of the crown shall be considered to be a major alteration.

2.    Permit Exemptions. No permit shall be required for minor maintenance pruning/trimming, cultivating, fertilizing, or watering of trees or shrubs located on public right-of-way adjacent to private property. All work on public trees or shrubs must comply with recognized technical standards for tree care. These standards are outlined in the current urban forestry management plan.

3.    Permit Issuance. If the tree program manager determines that the proposed work or planting described in an application for a permit is necessary and in accord with the purposes of this section and all other applicable sections of the Municipal Code taking into account the safety, health and welfare of the public, location of utilities, drainage ways, public pathways, driveways, streetlights, traffic control signs and signals, general character of the area in which the tree or shrub is located or proposed to be located, type of soil, characteristics and physiological need of the genus, species and variety of tree or shrub, he shall issue a permit to the applicant.

4.    Permit and Duration. Permits shall be issued by the tree program manager on a standard form and shall include a description of the work to be done and shall specify the genus, species, variety, size, nursery grade, and location of trees and shrubs to be planted, if any. Any work done under such permit shall be performed in strict compliance with the terms thereof. The tree program manager may inspect all work performed pursuant to this section. Permits issued under this section shall expire three months after issuance.

B.    Permits to Public Utilities.

1.    Whenever a permit is issued under this section to a public utility to remove, trim, prune, cut, disturb, alter or do surgery on any public tree or shrub, the tree program manager shall limit the work to be done to the actual necessities of the utility and may assign an inspector to supervise the work done under the provisions of the permit, and the expense of such inspection or supervision shall be charged to the utility at the usual city rate.

2.    A public utility may secure an annual working agreement with the department of public works and the parks, recreation and forestry department which gives the tree program manager, or appointed representative, the authorization to supervise and direct work done associated with trees and shrubs.

C.    Planting, Pruning, Removals. The city recognizes as acceptable maintenance standards for the planting, pruning, and removal of trees on public property those standards set forth in the current city urban forestry management plan. (Ord. 1642 § 1 (part), 1998)

12.28.070 Penalty for violation of this chapter.

Any person, firm, partnership, or corporation who violates any part of this chapter shall be subject to the penalty and enforcement provisions in Chapter 1.12. (Ord. 2552-19 § 35, 2019: Ord. 1642 § 1 (part), 1998)

12.28.080 Appeals.

Any person aggrieved by the administration or interpretation of any of the terms or provisions of this chapter may appeal to the committee which, after a hearing, with notice to the appellant, may reverse, affirm or modify, in whole or in part, the order, requirement, decision or determination of the tree program manager. (Ord. 1642 § 1 (part), 1998)

12.28.090 Performance evaluation of chapter.

The tree program manager shall collect and maintain all records and data necessary to objectively evaluate whether progress is being made toward the stated goals of this chapter. An annual summary and analysis of the evaluation, and recommendations for action shall be prepared at the direction of the tree program manager and presented to the committee with review and comment by the parks and recreation commission and the board of public works. The committee shall consider the report and recommendations and take actions which may include, but are not limited to, revision or amendment of this chapter and/or the urban forestry management plan or the adoption of other resolutions or ordinances. (Ord. 1642 § 1 (part), 1998)