FAQs on Shade Tree Construction
What is the Shade Tree Commission and the Borough's authority regarding Haddonfield's street trees?
The Shade Tree Commission, together with the Borough’s Construction Office and the Department of Public Works, work together to ensure that Haddonfield’s Borough-owned shade trees and Borough’s overall shade tree canopy is protected during the construction process, while assuring that homeowners can gain the necessary access for construction. The Borough’s ordinance, Section 56, governs their work regarding Borough-owned trees. Under Section 135, the Shade Tree Commission also advises the Planning Board with regard to certain trees on those properties being considered for subdivision.
What types of injury can occur to trees during construction?
Trees can be injured directly by construction equipment damaging the tree trunk or tearing branches, and by roots being cut either intentionally or unintentionally. If sufficient, the injury can affect the tree’s survival. Trees can also become unstable and then must be removed if enough anchoring roots are cut. Driving heavy equipment over roots or storing heavy equipment or construction materials on top of roots, particularly if the traffic close to the tree trunk, can crack structural tree roots. Finally, the weight of heavy equipment traffic and construction materials storage compacts soils, prevents roots from supplying the tree with needed oxygen and water, and can lead to tree death, particularly for mature trees.
What permissions are required for construction near Borough-owned trees?
As part of obtaining a construction permit in Haddonfield, homeowners must complete a Tree Protection Certification Form, available in the Borough’s Construction Office. The Form requires that homeowners certify that they have read the Haddonfield Shade Tree Commission Policy for Construction to Protect Borough-Owned Trees Further, homeowners must certify that they will comply with this policy and, if applicable, will protect the Borough-owned trees as required.
What happens if I do not get the appropriate permissions?
Section 56 of the Borough Code provides for a penalty of $1,500 per violation and a replacement assessment based on the diameter of the damaged or destroyed Borough-owned tree, up to $27 per square inch of the Borough-owned tree diameter, as measured approximately 4 feet above ground. For example, the replacement assessment for a 10 inch diameter tree could reach $2,120; the replacement assessment for a 24 inch diameter tree could reach $12,208. By contrast, the replacement assessments for permitted activities, including the permitted removal of Borough-owned trees, are much lower. See the Fees, Penalties and Replacement Assessment Schedule for more information. Depending on the circumstances, the Borough Construction Office may issue a stop work order until proper tree protection is in place.
How do I know if I have a Borough-owned tree near my property?
Haddonfield Borough owns, maintains and is responsible for approximately 9,000 trees planted along the streets within the Borough right-of-way and in the public areas of Haddonfield.
The Inventory of Borough Street Trees is available on this web page. It lists the Borough-owned trees by address, their location and their approximate diameter. In almost all cases, homeowners do not own the trees planted within the property between the street and the sidewalk, the so-called “park strip”. In some cases the Borough right-of-way may extend past the sidewalk onto areas often thought by residents to be private property. There are also some streets without curbs and sidewalks. These streets also have a right-of-way owned by the Borough, and may have Borough-owned trees planted in that right-of-way.
The width of the right-of-way varies throughout the Borough. To determine any given right-of-way, consult your property survey or the Borough tax maps maintained by the Office of Tax Assessment. The Department of Public Works can determine whether a specific tree is within the Borough right-of-way. For more information, read How to Identify and Measure a Borough Tree.
What must I do to protect any Borough-owned trees during construction?
The Shade Tree Commission has developed guidelines to protect Borough-owned trees during construction through the use of construction fencing. Further, for those properties in Haddonfield with narrow frontage that prevents the use of construction fencing, there is an alternate procedure to protect Borough-owned trees located along the street. See the Policy for Construction Fencing to Protect Borough-owned Trees for further details. Please contact the Shade Tree Commission or the Department of Public Works if you have specific questions or concerns as you develop your construction plans.
What if I need trimming of the Borough-owned trees in order to prevent damage during construction?
Please contact the Department of Public Works to request trimming prior to the construction process. DPW will evaluate your request to ensure that the level and type of trimming requested will not endanger the tree and, if appropriate, will schedule the trimming. If you require trimming before the DPW crew is available, DPW can give permission for qualified arborists to perform the specified trimming at the homeowner’s expense.
What if I want a Borough-owned tree removed in order for construction to proceed?
This request and the specific tree to be removed should be indicated on the construction plan submitted to the Borough Construction Office, and Part I of the Tree Protection Certification Form completed. The Shade Tree Commission will evaluate your request at the next meeting. If permission is given to remove the tree, the STC will calculate the replacement assessment due based on the diameter of the tree in question. Such permitted removal will occur at the homeowner’s expense. See the Fees, Penalties and Replacement Assessment Schedule for more information.