Shade Tree Law Delayed Until New Year

The damage done to Montclair trees during Hurricane Sandy motivated the township council to push back the law.


The new shade tree law -- and accompanying fines  -- set to take effect this month will instead be delayed until the start of the new year.

The Montclair Township Council decided to shelve the shade tree law on Tuesday night due to unprecedented damage to town trees during Hurricane Sandy. The original ordinance was adopted on June 12 and was to take effect on Nov. 1. 

"[The] recovery efforts to restore the Township are considerable," read Councilor William Hurlock from the ordinance on Tuesday, "and require all of the Township’s resources, preventing implementation of the Preservation of Shade Trees Ordinance at the present time ...." 

The law will now begin on Jan. 1, 2013.

Under the new law, residents will need a $15 permit to cut down any tree greater than 8 inches in diameter. However, the fee will be waived if the tree is deemed either diseased or a hazard, or if the resident is under “financial hardships,” according to the ordinance. 

A licensed contractor must now remove all trees, who must register with the township at a cost of $75.

When a tree is taken down for whatever reason, residents will still have to replace the lost foliage with a native species or one “suited to urban environments,” according to the ordinance. 

Of course, a resident can choose not to replace the tree and instead pay a $250 fine to the town Tree Fund. 

The full law can be seen here. 

jim November 28, 2012 at 11:12 PM
It's like living in a town run by the Mafia, only worse.
Victoria Hanks November 29, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Who is responsible for the maintenance of trees that are close to the curb--on the street side a sidewalk? Also, who is responsible for pruning trees that begin to interfere with power lines? It would seem to me this tree ordinance needs some verbiage to answer those questions if it does not already. Maintaining trees is expensive and as we know if they are not kept cut back, become dangerous hazards. What does the town do with the tree fund? Why should residents pay into it if they get rid of a tree on their property? Same question for the contractor fee--why charge and what is done with this money? Who evaluates whether a tree is hazardous or diseased? It seems to me that some of the trees that came down may have already been compromised by overdevelopment. In other words if pavement had encroached so far that the roots of the tree may have been damaged so perhaps the tree was not as stable as it looked. Who can pass judgment on something like that?
Susan straten November 29, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Susan Straten Who is going to make these evaluations and enforce tree purchases? Our arborist is only part time. Is this what the tree fund will be used for... to pay for tree planting enforcers. Does this mean more expensive bureaucracy?
Townie November 29, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Curbside trees are town trees. There is no ongoing maintenance and any activity is catastrophy-related. The town will remove dead trees and the utilities will prune only when absolutely necessary. The tree ordinance is not comprehensive and does not address maintenance. It only addresses replacing larger (8" diameter and up) healthy trees when a private property owner chooses to remove them.
John B November 29, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Just makes me want to take all the trees down now there’s a large amount on our property and most are disgusting we only put it off because of the price to take them down I’d rather pay a tree company to do that work that this town for doing nothing expect spending my money While I appreciate the green effort this just seems like another shake down - they'll want to charge for montclair air next
Debbie Villarreal November 29, 2012 at 05:24 PM
If the town is collecting fines for trees they should also make the town arborist available to advise citizens about how to keep our trees healthy and when they are at risk. I had a huge tree come down on the border of my property, but it happened very early on in the storm before the winds picked up. A friend who is also an arborist surmised that the tree came down because its roots were damaged by neighbors who installed a patio adjacent to my property this summer. We need the town to use the money they collect to educate the public about how to maintain our shade trees and the town arborist to intervene when called upon to help assess potential risk.
chris November 29, 2012 at 07:04 PM
You hit the nail on the head Victoria -- I truly believe all these beautiful trees fell because their root systems were developed upon. You aren't supposed to build on the footprints of the branch length, so what's to say re-planting trees it won't happen again and again. I love shade trees and do think they beautify the town, but you have to be realistic.
DG November 30, 2012 at 01:39 PM
What's left to extract more money from residents - perhaps parking permits for our driveways? This just makes me want to move.
Kevin Reagan Ryan December 01, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Leaf blowers or trees - it is over reach of local government that is not effectively addressing the town's real issues. These policy are based on ideology not sound governing. Protect our power grid - For public safety and health PSE&G and government should remove trees that are too close to power lines.


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