Subd. 1. Policy and purpose. The city has determined that the health of oak, elm and ash trees is threatened by fatal diseases and pests known as Oak Wilt, Dutch Elm Disease, and Emerald Ash Borer. It has further determined that the loss of trees located on public and private property would substantially depreciate the value of property and impair the safety, good order, general welfare and convenience of the public. It is declared to be the intention of the Council to control and prevent the spread of these diseases and provide for the removal of dead or diseased trees, as nuisances.
Subd. 2. Definitions. For the purpose of this section, the following definitions shall apply unless the context clearly indicates or requires a different meaning.
1. Any living or standing tree infected to any degree with a shade tree disease or pests; or
2. Any logs, branches, stumps or other parts of any dead or dying tree, so infected, unless such parts have been fully burned or treated under the direction of the Tree Inspector.
B. SHADE TREE DISEASE. A disease affecting an over story deciduous tree such as Dutch Elm Disease or Oak Wilt Disease.
C. SHADE TREE PEST. Any vertebrate or invertebrate animal, plant pathogen, or plant in the community threatening to cause significant damage to a shade tree or community forest such as the Emerald Ash Borer.
D. TREE INSPECTOR. The City Forester or other employee of the city as the Council may designate and who shall thereafter qualify, together with his or her duly designated assistants.
Subd. 3. Scope and adoption by reference. M.S. § 18.023, as it may be amended from time to time, is hereby adopted by reference, together with the rules and regulations of the Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture relating to shade tree diseases or pests; provided, that this section shall supersede the statutes, rules and regulations, only to the extent of inconsistencies.
Subd. 4. Unlawful act. It is unlawful for any person to keep, maintain or permit upon premises owned by him or her or upon public property where he or she has the duty of tree maintenance, any nuisance, as herein defined.
Subd. 5. Inspection and diagnosis. It is the power and duty of the Tree Inspector to enter upon public and private property, at any reasonable time, for the purpose of inspecting for, and diagnosing, shade tree disease or pests. In cases of suspected shade tree disease or pests, and in performance of his or her duties, the Tree Inspector may remove specimens, samples and biopsies as may be necessary or desirable for diagnosis.
Subd. 6. Abatement of nuisance.
A. Abatement of a nuisance, defined herein, shall be by spraying, removing, burning or otherwise effectively treating the infected tree or wood to prevent the spread of shade tree disease or pests.
B. The abatement procedures shall be carried out in accordance with the current technical and expert methods and plans as may be designed by the Commissioner of Agriculture of the state.
C. The city shall establish specifications for tree removal and disposal methods consistent therewith.
Subd. 7. Procedure for removal of infected trees and wood.
A. Whenever the Tree Inspector finds with reasonable certainty that the infection/infestation, or danger of infection/infestation, exists in any tree or wood on any public or private property, he or she shall proceed as follows:
1. If the Tree Inspector finds that the danger of infection of other trees is not imminent because of dormancy of shade tree disease, he or she shall make a written report of his or her finding to the Council, which shall proceed by:
a. Abating the nuisance as a public improvement under M.S. Chapter 429, as it may be amended from time to time; or
b. Abating the nuisance as provided in Subpar. B of this subdivision.
2. If the Tree Inspector finds that danger of infection/infestation of other trees is imminent, he or she shall notify the owner of the property, or the abutting property, as the case may be, by certified mail that the nuisance will be abated within a specified time, not less than five days from the date of mailing of the notice. The Tree Inspector shall immediately report the action to the Council, and after the expiration of the time limited by the notice he or she may abate the nuisance.
3. If the Tree Inspector finds with reasonable certainty that immediate action is required to prevent the spread of shade tree disease, he or she may proceed to abate the nuisance forthwith. He or she shall report the action immediately to the Council and to the abutting property owner or to the owner of the property where the nuisance is located.
B. Upon receipt of the Tree Inspector’s report required by Subpar. A, Item 1, the Council shall, by resolution, order the nuisance abated. Before action is taken on the resolution, the Council shall publish notice of its intention to meet to consider taking action to abate the nuisance. This notice shall be mailed to affected property owners and published once no less than one week prior to the meeting. The notice shall state the time and place of the meeting, the streets affected, action proposed, the estimated cost of the abatement and the proposed basis of assessment, if any, of costs. At the hearing or adjournment thereof, the Council shall hear property owners with reference to the scope and desirability of the proposed project. The Council shall, thereafter, adopt a resolution confirming the original resolution with the modifications as it considers desirable and provide for the doing of the work by day labor or by contract.
C. The Tree Inspector shall keep a record of the costs of abatements done under this subdivision and shall report monthly to the City Administrator all work done for which assessments are to be made stating and certifying the description of the land, lots, parcels involved and the amount chargeable to each.
D. On or before September 1 of each year, the City Administrator shall list the total unpaid charges for each abatement against each separate lot or parcel to which they are attributable under this section. The Council may then spread the charges or any portion thereof against the property involved as a special assessment under M.S. § 429.101, as it may be amended from time to time, and other pertinent statutes for certification to the County Auditor and collection the following year along with current taxes.
E. No damage shall be awarded the owner for destruction of any tree, wood or part thereof pursuant to this section.
Subd. 8. Treating trees.
A. Whenever the Tree Inspector determines that any tree or wood is infected or threatened with Dutch Elm Disease, he or she may spray or treat all nearby high value trees with an effective concentrate or fungicide or both. Activities authorized by this subdivision shall be conducted in accordance with technical and expert opinions and plans of the Commissioner of Agriculture and under the supervision of the Commissioner and his or her agents whenever possible.
B. The Tree Inspector will provide residents available information on Emerald Ash Borer pesticides when requested, but will remain neutral on whether or not to use pesticides. Residents may use state approved pesticides only and chemical treatment does not preclude future removal of the ash tree if deemed necessary by the city.
C. The notice and assessment provisions of Subd. 7 apply to spraying and treatment operations conducted under this subdivision.
Subd. 9. Transporting wood prohibited. It is unlawful for any person to transport elm wood into or through the city unless the same is debarked, or, in the months of April, May or June, to transport any oak wood, without having obtained a permit from the Tree Inspector, or into or through any designated “disease control area,” as defined by M.S. § 18.023, as it may be amended from time to time. The Tree Inspector shall grant the permits only when the purposes of this section will be served thereby. This prohibition shall not apply to movement of the wood pursuant to an approved wood disposal or utilization program authorized by M.S. § 18.023, as it may be amended from time to time, or to transportation of elm wood intended for industrial use not to include firewood, provided the transportation of elm logs for industrial use continues without interruption through the city or “disease control area” to their intended destination lying outside the city and “disease control area.”
Subd. 10. Interference prohibited. It is unlawful for any person to prevent, delay or interfere with the Tree Inspector while he or she is engaged in the performance of duties imposed by this section.
Subd. 11. Additional duties of Tree Inspector. It is the additional duty of the Tree Inspector to coordinate, under the direction and control of the Council, all activities of the city relating to the control and prevention of shade tree disease. He or she shall recommend to the Council the details of a program for the control of the diseases, and perform the duties incident to such a program adopted by the Council.
Subd. 12. Diseased/infested trees in streets. The rights, duties and responsibilities of property owners set forth in this section shall be equally applicable to, and binding upon, abutting property owners with tree maintenance responsibilities hereunder.
Subd. 13. Subsidies. The duty of any property owner to bear the cost of removing or maintaining trees, whether by private contract or assessment, shall be subject to a subsidy policy, if any, established by the city for the treatment or removal of trees infected with shade tree disease or pests.
(`80 Code, § 10.08) (Ord. 596, passed 9-4-12) Penalty, see § 1.99