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(A) No trees, vines, undergrowth, or other vegetation shall be removed from areas zoned Conservation without written approval from the town. Approval from the town will only be granted for the purpose of:
(1) Preserving the existing maritime vegetation and related ecosystem; or
(2) In support of a permitted use in the areas zoned Conservation, said permitted use only being permitted to the extent that it can be accomplished in a manner and in a location which will not harm, impair, diminish, or degrade the existing maritime vegetation.
(B) Before trees, vines, undergrowth, or other vegetation can be removed for any reason from areas zoned Conservation the town may require that the property owner submit a plan certified by a licensed certified professional stating that the removal of vegetation or trees is:
(1) Necessary for the benefit and preservation of the existing maritime vegetation and related ecosystem; or
(2) Is necessary in support of a permitted use and is designed so that it will not harm, impair, diminish, or degrade the existing maritime vegetation.
(C) The town reserves the right to have the submitted certified plan reviewed by a licensed certified professional of the town’s choosing. Should a disagreement arise between the town’s and property owner’s expert the opinion of the professional selected by the town shall prevail. Federal, state and town infrastructure projects shall be exempt from this section.
(D) For reference, although this chapter shall apply to any future area that may be zoned Conservation, the principal areas currently zoned Conservation are:
(1) Any lands bordering the marsh/sound that are outside of the individual property lines; and
(2) The areas comprising what is known as the Maritime Forest along Caswell Beach Road, and the south side of Caswell Dunes and Ocean Greens Condominiums.
(E) The maximum fine for violation of this chapter exceeds $50 and is $500 for each individual violation of this chapter. Damage or removal of each piece of vegetation is a separate violation of this chapter and will be subject to a $500 fine. For example, if a tree limb on which a vine is growing is removed, the total fine will be $1,000; $500 for damaging the tree and $500 for damaging the vine. Violation of this chapter may result in the town applying to the appropriate division of the General Court of Justice for an injunction or order of abatement. Should the town take the steps required to execute the order of abatement and restore the property to its prior condition the town shall have a lien against the property for its cost incurred executing the order of abatement. Violation of this chapter is a misdemeanor offense.