Article III. Trees

Section 24-47 Purpose.

It is the purpose of this ordinance to establish a policy for the planting, maintenance, and removal of trees located on public property in the Town of Easton and to name the Town of Easton’s Public Works (PW) Department as the agency responsible for carrying out the provisions of this ordinance. This ordinance is intended to act as guidance for PW in carrying out its duties. However, it is not intended to replace the Town Engineer’s and the Superintendant of PW’s ability to make decisions in their best judgment, nor is it intended to supersede the Town of Easton’s Zoning Ordinance or any other provision of the Town’s Charter or Code. The provisions of this ordinance are in addition to any other responsibilities or rights of the Town to enforce any provision of the Town’s Charter, Code, or other regulation applicable within the Town. (Ordinance 464 effective 1/5/2004)

Section 24-48 Goals.

This article establishes policies to act as guidance to accomplish the following goals:

  1. Establish and maintain the appropriate amount of tree cover on public lands and maintain an inventory of Town trees.
  2. Maintain and conserve Town trees in a healthy and non hazardous condition through good
  3. arboricultural practices.
  4. Establish and maintain diversity toward native tree species and age classes to provide a healthy and stable urban forest.
  5. Assist and work with persons as they develop their properties, including new residential, commercial or industrial sites; preserve existing trees or oversee proper replacement of trees removed from the site being developed.

(Ordinance 464 effective 1/5/2004)

Section 24-49 Definitions.

ANSI A300—American National Standards Institute, Inc. Standard Practices for Tree Care Operations—Tree,

Shrub and Other Woody Plant Maintenance.Conservation—maintenance of the existing order from loss, waste, or harm. dbh—is the diameter/caliper of the tree trunk at a height of 4.5’ from the ground.

Developer includes an individual, group of individuals or corporation or other entity having intent to develop and/or subdivide or improve a lot, piece or parcel of land for the purpose of transfer of ownership or leasehold or building development.

Emergency situations—emergency situations, i.e. fallen limbs, where immediate attention to protect the public’s safety is required.

ISA—International Society of Arboriculture.

Large tree should be selected to be any tree exceeding 45’ at maturity.

Medium tree should be selected not to exceed 45’ in height at maturity.

Park trees are herein defined as trees and shrubs in public parks, public open spaces and all areas to which the public has free access, except right-of-ways owned by the Town.

Person—a natural person, individual, partnership, corporation, limited liability company, trust, voluntary association, club, society or any group of persons acting as a group.

PW —The Town of Easton’s Public Works Department

Street trees are herein defined as trees and shrubs on public land located along any Town streets, avenues or alley rights-of-ways.

Small tree should be selected not to exceed 15’ — 20’ in height at maturity.

Topping/Pollarding—is the severe internodal cutting back of limbs to stubs larger than three inches (3”) in diameter within the tree’s crown to such a degree so as to remove the normal canopy and disfigure the tree. (Ordinance 464 effective 1/5/2004)

Section 24-50 Objectives of the Department of Public Works (PW).

  1. Complete a street/park tree inventory; review and update the information every two years.
  2. Develop and maintain a street/park tree master plan document for the Town of Easton. Such a plan shall contain a recommended tree species planting list and shall govern the sizes of trees that can be planted in areas of its jurisdiction.
  3. Study, investigate, develop and/or update a written plan for the care, conservation, pruning, planting, replanting, removal or disposition of trees and shrubs in parks, along streets, and in other public areas. Such plan will be presented annually to Town Council; and be used as the basis for budget funding.
  4. Prepare and submit a tree planting, garden and maintenance budget to Town Council as directed by the Mayor. This budget shall be discussed during workshop sessions with the Mayor and Town Council for consideration in the final Town of Easton budget.
  5. Make application for and receive grants or contributions of money, technical assistance and labor from any person, organization or agency, if and when they are available and are deemed to be appropriate for Easton.
  6. Define work specifications in order to request bid submissions from qualified contractors, initiate contracts and arrangements for the proper care, planting or conservation of trees, when required.
  7. Educate the public about the benefits of trees and their proper care.

(Ordinance 464 effective 1/5/2004)

Section 24-51 Specifications for Planting.

  1. Spacing of trees: Spacing of street trees will be in accordance with the growth characteristics of the ultimate tree canopy with the three species size classes, and in accordance with the Easton Zoning Ordinance.

    Small—plant no closer than 30’ apart.
    Medium—plant no closer than 40’ apart
    Large—plant no closer than 50’ apart.
    Note: no street trees should be planted so as to create a safety hazard.

  2. Utilities: no street trees should be planted so as to constitute a hazard or obstruction to utilities, whether those utilities are above or below the ground.
  3. Tree size: all street trees shall conform to American Association of Nurserymen Standards and be at least 1-1/4” to 1-1/2” in dbh and at least eight to ten feet tall when planted unless special conditions exist and the Superintendant of Public Works or the Town Engineer approves a deviation.
  4. Planting: MD’s Department of Natural Resources Forest Service Urban program recommended planting techniques for the type of tree to be planted (balled & burlap, containerized, bare root) should be followed. Such specifications are to be given to contractors each time a contract for tree planting is awarded.
  5. Species to be planted: The Town Engineer and Planning & Zoning shall determine the appropriateness of trees within the Town of Easton. No individual person or organization is allowed to plant on any public property without first receiving written permission from the Town Engineer or the Town Planner. The Tree Management Plan and recommended species list shall be the guideline followed with exceptions for special plantings to be approved by the Town Engineer or the Town Planner.

(Ordinance 464 effective 1/5/2004)

Section 24-52 Maintenance.

  1. The Town shall have the right to treat, plant, prune, maintain and remove trees, plants, and shrubs within the lines of all streets, alleys, avenues, parks, and public grounds, as may be necessary to ensure public safety or to preserve or enhance the symmetry and beauty of such grounds. It shall be the responsibility of PW to provide adequate maintenance for all Town trees.
  2. PW may remove or order the removal of any tree or part thereof (using ANSI A300 Standards) which is in a hazardous condition or which by reason of its nature is injurious to sewer lines, electric power lines, gas lines, water lines, or other public improvements; or is infected with a non-treatable, infectious disease, infested with pests, or cannot be treated economically.
  3. No property owner shall plant, spray, prune, remove, cut above or below ground or otherwise disturb any Town street or park trees. Any street or park trees removed by a property owner shall be replaced at the property owner’s expense. (In the interest of good conservation, practices are acceptable when agreed upon by PW and tree care professionals.)
  4. Any individual or firm contracted by PW to provide pruning maintenance on street or park trees is required to follow ANSI A300 standard practice.
  5. Tree topping/pollarding: except as otherwise stated, it shall be unlawful for any person, firm, Town department, or utility company to top any street tree, park tree, or other tree on public property. No street or park trees are to be exempted from this specific practice unless unusual damage (storm, etc.) allows best care practice via a Certified Arborist consultation for best practices.
  6. Pruning of Overhanging Trees; Cost: Any property owner with a tree overhanging any street or right-of-way within the Town shall prune the branches so that such branches shall not significantly obstruct the light from the public street lights or obstruct the view of any street intersection. Trees or other vegetation shall also be pruned to provide a clear space above the surface of sidewalks and streets to allow for unobstructed passage of pedestrians and vehicles. The owners should remove all dead, infectious, diseased or hazardous trees, or broken or decayed limbs that constitute a hazard to the safety of streets. Upon finding any of the above conditions, PW shall request a Town Code Enforcement Officer to notify the property owner of the problem(s) and direct the property owner to correct the problem(s) in a timely manner. After the expiration of the time provided in the notification letter, PW and/or its contracted agent shall have the right to prune any tree when it interferes with the proper spread of street lighting or interferes with visibility of any traffic control device or sign. The property owner shall be responsible for the cost of this maintenance.
  7. Removal/treatment of dead, diseased, infectious, non-treatable pest-infested, non correctable, or otherwise hazardous trees.
    1. PW shall have the right to remove any dead, diseased, pest-infested or other hazardous trees on Town-owned property when such items constitute a hazard to life or property in the public right-of-way.
    2. PW shall have the right to request that a Code Official notify private property owners in accordance with established procedures to have dead, diseased or pest-infested trees on their property treated by an ISA certified arborist or a MD licensed pesticide applicator, or removed when said trees are in such close proximity to Town trees so as to pose a threat to the health of Town owned trees or a threat to the public health, safety, or welfare.
    3. When PW plants a tree, costs involved in removing the tree/stump, and repairing damage to sidewalks and curbs caused by the Town-owned trees are the Town’s responsibility.
  8. Removal of Stumps: all stumps of street and park trees should be removed to 6” below grade as near to the time the tree is removed as possible so they do not pose a hazard to the public.
  9. Replacement/Mitigation Policy: a tree is to be planted and allowed to become established in close proximity to a declining tree, for a period of at least five years prior to the removal of the declining tree. When such replacement/establishment policy, in accordance with the Tree Management Plan cannot be followed due o time constraints or budgetary constraints, prior to removal of the declining tree, any tree that is removed should be replaced by one or more trees of an appropriate species as noted in the table below. One of the required numbers of trees should be planted in as close proximity to the one removed as is feasible and the remaining specified number within one year from the date of removal.
DHB of Tree RemovedReplacement Qualitydbh of Repalcement(s)
less than 6"11-3/4" minimum
6"-9" 1 1-3/4" minimum
9"-12"2 1-3/4" minimum

A State of MD Roadside Tree Expert or licensed MD Tree Expert or the equivalent certification is preferred for tree pruning, treating, or removal.

(Ordinance 464 effective 1/5/2004)

Section 24-53 New Developments; Street Renovation Projects.

  1. In new residential, commercial or industrial developments, refer to the Town of Easton’s Zoning Ordinance, as amended.
  2. Town street renovation projects shall make provision for Street Tree plantings. The Town Planner, Town Engineer, and PW shall work with the contracted project engineer/landscape architect during the design and implementation phases of the project, and shall be responsible for making final recommendations.

(Ordinance 464 effective 1/5/2004)

Section 24-55 Certification; Insurance.

  1. Any firm contracted by PW to prune or remove a Town-owned tree shall show proof of ISA Certified Arborist or MD Licensed Tree Expert certification to PW and shall be familiar with and follow ANSI A300 standard pruning practices before a contract for the work can be awarded.
  2. Any firm contracted by PW or its agents to spray for or otherwise treat pests and diseases shall show proof that it has an ISA Certified Arborist or an MD Licensed Tree Expert status and holds a current MD Pest Control Operator’s License.
  3. Firms contracted by PW or its agents, shall provide to PW Superintendent proof of Workman’s Compensation Insurance and adequate Liability Insurance coverage in the minimum amounts of $1,000,000 for bodily damage and $100,000 for property damage, indemnifying the Town from liability for any person or property injured or damaged resulting from the pursuit of such endeavors as described herein.

(Ordinance 464 effective 1/5/2004)

Section 24-56 Penalty.

A violation of any provision of this Article by any private person or failure to comply with any requirement thereof, shall constitute a municipal infraction. Each day on which a violation continues shall constitute a separate offense. (Ordinance 464 effective 1/5/2004)