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(a) Findings, Purpose, and Intent.
(1) The unregulated and unnecessary removal of protected trees is a threat to the public health, safety, and general welfare of the citizens of City of Lake Angelus through the elimination of important physical, aesthetic, recreational and economic assets for both present and future generations. Specifically, it is found that:
A. Protected trees provide for public safety through the prevention of erosion, siltation, and flooding in woodland areas;
B. Protected trees aid in the protection of public health through the absorption of air pollutants and contamination, including the reduction of excessive noise and mental and physical damage related to noise pollution;
C. Protected trees provide a significant aspect of the character of the City; and
D. Protected tree growth serves as an essential component of the general welfare by maintaining natural beauty, recreation and irreplaceable natural heritage.
(2) The purposes of this section are as follows, to be applied throughout the City:
A. To provide for the protection, preservation, proper maintenance and use of protected trees through effective management of woodlands in order to minimize disturbance to them and to prevent damage from erosion and siltation, a loss of wildlife and vegetation, and/or from the destruction of the natural habitat;
B. To assist in the sustainability of protected trees in woodlands to ensure their crucial role in contributing their economic support of community property values when allowed to remain in place, and for their natural beauty, character, and geological, ecological, or historical significance;
C. To provide for the paramount public concern for these natural resources in the interest of health, safety and general welfare of the residents of this City, in keeping with Section IV, Section 52 of the Michigan Constitution of 1963, and the intent of Public Act 451 of 1994, the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.
(b) Definitions. The following definitions shall apply to this section, with some of the definitions being illustrated at the end of this subsection (b):
(1) “Across Road Preservation Area.” Any area of private property that has both of the following characteristics:
A. The area is owned or controlled by the owner of a buildable lot (with or without a home);
B. The area is situated across the road from the buildable lot, whether or not the property across the road is technically a part of the legal description of the buildable lot.
(2) “Affected Tract.” A property that is vacant with no buildings or structures.
(3) “Diameter Breast Height (D.B.H.).” A tree’s diameter in inches measured by diameter tape at four and one-half (4 ½) feet above the ground. On multi-stem trees, the largest diameter stem shall be measured.
(4) “Drip Line.” The points on the ground where water drips off the widest-reaching branches of a tree.
(5) “Lakeshore Preservation Area.” The 50-foot lakeshore setback as defined and regulated in the lakeshore preservation special land use provisions of this Zoning Code (Section 1248.3(c)).
(6) “Minimum View Shed Preservation.” The prohibition on removing protected trees within a view shed that results in the retention of less than 50% of the number of protected trees within each of a series of contiguous ten-foot widths within the view shed, with such ten-foot widths to be measured on lines parallel to the lake shore. This calculation shall be made [as shown on the accompanying diagram] by preparing a plan with an arrangement of ten-foot wide contiguous rectangles having lengths perpendicular to the lakeshore within the view shed, and extending lines through the length of each rectangle toward the lake, and in this manner separately selecting the trees to be retained in order to achieve the 50% preservation within each ten-foot wide rectangle.
(7) “Outlot Area.” An area that consists of a parcel of property that has road frontage but is unbuildable under this Zoning Code due to its lack of lake frontage, and is owned by the owner of a buildable lot in the City.
(8) “Protected Tree.” Any tree having a diameter breast height (d.b.h.) of six (6") inches or greater.
(9) “Removal.” The direct or indirect act of removing or causing the removal of a tree by digging up, cutting down, or other activities that damage and cause the eventual death of a tree.
(10) “Roadside Preservation Area.” The area of a buildable lot (with or without a home) that abuts the road providing access to the lot, with borders as follows:
A. The line representing the frontage of the lot on the road;
B. The two side lot lines between the road frontage and a line parallel to and 75 feet from the road frontage; and
C. A line parallel to and 75 feet from the road frontage.
(11) “Side Yard Preservation Areas.” The two areas that are coterminous with those portions of the side yard setbacks on a buildable lot situated between the upland border of the 50-foot lakeshore setback as defined in the lakeshore preservation special land use provisions of this Zoning Code (Section 1248.3(c)) and the roadside preservation area.
(12) “Transplant.” The relocation of a tree from one place to another on the same property.
(13) “Tree.” Any self-supporting, woody plant of a species which normally grows to an overall height of 15 feet or more.
(14) “Undeveloped.” A property which is unimproved by virtue of building(s), structure(s), or other improvement(s).
(15) “View Shed.” An area that is visible from a specific location. For purposes of this section, a “View Shed” will involve the visibility of the lake from the residence of an applicant seeking to remove protected trees from the “View Shed” envelope.
(16) “View Shed Envelope.” That part of a front (lakeside) yard on a privately owned buildable lot (with or without house) with the following four borders:
A. A line parallel to and 15 feet toward the lake from the front of the house, and if there is no house on the property, a line parallel to and 100 feet from the lakeshore on the lot (the "Front of House Line");
B. Two side lines coterminous with the two side yard setbacks in the area between the front of house line and the 50-foot lakeshore setback as defined in the Lakeshore Preservation special land use provisions of this Zoning Code (Section 1248.3(c)); and
C. The border of the 50-foot lakeshore setback as defined in the Lakeshore Preservation special land use provisions of this Zoning Code which is closest to the house (or closest to the line 100 feet from the lakeshore if there is no house).
Diagram of Areas Referenced Throughout Ordinance Section
(c) Actions Requiring a Woodlands Management Permit. Except as otherwise provided in this section of the Zoning Code, no person shall remove, cause or knowingly permit to be removed, or destroy any protected tree without first obtaining a woodlands management permit.
(d) Actions Not Requiring Permit.
(1) Unregulated Areas. Removal of trees in an area designated as unregulated. Protected trees shall be unregulated on a buildable lot within an area enclosed by the following borders:
A. A line at the edge of the roadside preservation area closest to the lake;
B. A line parallel to and fifteen feet toward the lake from the front of the house, and if there is no house on the property, a line parallel to and 100 feet from the edge of the lakeshore on the lot; and
C. Two side lines coterminous with the two side yard setbacks in the area between the lines described in subsections (d)(1)A. and (d)(1)B., above.
(2) Occasional Removal. The owner of a lot may, in the exercise of good faith discretion, and without advanced approval by the City, remove a protected tree on an occasional basis in areas of a lot other than the lakeshore preservation area, which is governed by the special land use provisions of this Zoning Code (Section 1248.3(c)). "Occasional basis" shall mean the random and infrequent removal of an isolated tree that does not immediately, either on its own or together with other protected tree removals, impair the screening effect of improvements on the lot as viewed from offsite, and does not otherwise alter the natural character of the lot as viewed from offsite. Each protected tree removed under this provision shall be replaced on the lot by a minimum of two trees having a caliper of three inches or more.
(3) General Exemptions. The following activities, unless otherwise specified by statute or other ordinance provision, shall not require a woodlands management permit:
A. Tree removal and transplant activities not involving a protected tree.
B. Protected tree removal activities protected by rights accorded to citizens by the Right to Farm Act.
C. Protected tree removal activities necessary by an emergency, such as tornado, windstorm, flood, freeze, dangerous and infectious insect infestation or disease, or other disaster, in order to prevent injury or damage to persons or property or restore order.
D. Protected tree removal performed by, or on behalf of, governmental entities or agencies.
E. Repair or maintenance work performed by public utilities necessitating the trimming or cutting of protected trees.
F. Removal demonstrated to the City Planning Consultant to be needed in order to remove an obstruction from the functioning of the on-site sanitary sewage disposal on the site.
G. Removal or trimming of dead, diseased or damaged protected trees, where the damage resulted from an accident or non-human cause provided that the City Planning Consultant, with expert advice deemed needed by the Consultant, has verified in advance the condition that is the basis for removal.
(4) Areas on Which a Generalized Woodlands Management Plan Has Been Approved. A separate permit shall not be required for the removal of protected trees undertaken in accordance with an effective generalized woodlands management plan.
(5) Outlot Areas. In outlot areas, protected tree removal shall not be permitted in any of the following areas: within 75 feet from the road on which the lot is situated; and within 15 feet of any other outer boundary of the outlot, however, in other parts of outlot areas, protected tree removal shall be unregulated.
(e) Prohibition on Removal in Preservation Areas. Subject to the provisions of subparagraph (d), above, and to a generalized woodlands management plan, removal of protected trees shall be prohibited in any of the following areas:
(1) Across road preservation area.
(2) Roadside preservation area, subject to the following: protected trees may be removed within the area 15 feet of the house on the lot, even if such area is within the roadside preservation area; and second, if the distance between the house and the road frontage line on the lot is less than 75 feet, the roadside preservation area shall be reduced to conform with the actual distance on the lot between the house and the road frontage line.
(3) Side yard preservation areas.
(4) Lakeshore preservation area. The provisions of the lakeshore preservation special land use provisions of this Zoning Code (Section 1248.3(c)) shall govern activities within the lakeshore preservation area.
(5) Outlot areas. In outlot areas, protected tree removal shall not be permitted in any of the following areas: within 75 feet from the road on which the lot is situated; and within 15 feet of any other outer boundary of the outlot (in other parts of outlot areas, protected tree removal shall be unregulated).
(f) Permit Requirements for Removal Within "View Shed Envelope" Areas. Removal of protected trees shall be permitted within the view shed envelope (as defined in this section) if and to the extent the requirements in subsections (f)(1), (f)(2), and (f)(3), below, are satisfied. The plan and calculations made in the administration of this subsection (f) shall be retained in the City's file for each respective property in order to provide an understanding of the history of protected tree removal on the property for the benefit of City officials, owners, and subsequent owners.
(1) View of the Lake. Removal in the view shed envelope to establish a view of the lake from the principal residence, provided that such removal shall not violate the minimum view shed preservation, as defined in this section; or
(2) Leisure Activities. Removal in the view shed envelope to establish a reasonably-sized area for leisure improvements or activities, such as a patio, deck, or garden area. An area shall be considered to be reasonably-sized if it is not greater than the larger of 1,000 square feet or 10% of each acre within a contiguous area of the view shed envelope; provided, considering the location of protected trees in both the view shed envelope and the area of lakeshore preservation, removal of protected trees within the view shed envelope of the property shall in all events not violate the minimum view shed preservation, as defined in this section.
(3) Restorative Removal. The issuance of a permit for the removal of protected trees under subsections (f)(1) and (f)(2), above, is intended to be a one-time occurrence on a given property (with permits under (f)(1) and (f)(2) being considered as separate authorizations). However, after a period of years following the removal of protected trees by permit, if the growth in diameter of trees preserved, or the planting of new trees in the view shed envelope, causes an unreasonable reduction of the view shed or area for leisure improvements or activities as intended in this section, the owner of the property may apply for variance relief under subsection (m) below, to obtain a new permit for the removal of additional protected trees to update or restore the view shed or leisure area. In determining the scope of protected tree removal to be permitted by the grant of variance relief, the Council shall be guided in the exercise of its discretion by the extent of view shed or leisure area shown on the plan and calculations made for the prior permit, and by the intent of this section of the ordinance as stated in subsection (a) above.
(g) Application for Woodlands Management Permit.
(1) Applications for woodlands management permits shall be submitted, along with the required fees and escrow, to the City Planning Consultant for review and approval before removing protected trees in accordance with the review schedule established by the City Council.
(2) In cases in which site plan review is required, review under this section shall be part of that review.
(3) In cases in which site plan review is not required, the City Planning Consultant shall conduct a woodlands management permit review based on the standards of this section in order to provide for a streamlined administrative review process based on a woodland management plan as specified in subsection (h), below, including both specific plan and generalized plan.
(4) Standards for the review of applications and approval of permits. The following standards shall govern approval of a woodlands management permit based on a specific plan:
A. Construction of a Building, Structure, or Other Site Improvement. Removal is necessary for the construction of a building, structure, or other site improvement permitted in this Zoning Code. The determination that removal is necessary shall be made by the Planning Commission as part of site plan review based on a showing by the permit applicant that there is no reasonable and prudent alternative location on site for improvement; such determination shall be made by the Planning Official if application is made after site plan approval. Where the proposed activity consists of land clearing, it shall be limited to areas to be improved for street roadways, sidewalks, drainage and utilities and areas necessary for the construction of buildings, structures or other site improvements as shown on an approved site plan or subdivision plat.
B. Health and Viability of the Protected Trees. The density of protected trees is proposed to be reduced to preserve the health and viability of the protected trees in accordance with an approved woodlands management plan, as provided in this section.
C. Importance of Preservation. Protected tree preservation and conservation shall be of paramount concern and importance, provided, that an application shall not be denied solely because of the presence of individual protected trees scattered throughout an affected tract.
D. Reasonable and Prudent Alternatives. Preservation and conservation of protected trees shall have priority over land development when there are reasonable and prudent location alternatives on site for proposed buildings, structures or other site improvements.
E. Diversity of Species. Diversity of protected tree species shall be maintained where essential to preserving protected trees.
F. Compliance with Law. The proposed activity shall comply with all applicable statutes and ordinances.
(h) Woodlands Management Plans. Two types of woodland management plans shall be recognized under this section of the Zoning Code:
(1) Specific Plan. A apecific plan to be approved by the City Planning Consultant for the one-time removal of protected trees for the purpose of reducing the density of woodlands so as to promote and maintain the health and viability of the remaining protected trees. Following the establishment of an escrow to cover the anticipated cost to be incurred by the City, the City Planning Consultant is authorized to engage the services of a registered forester as a woodlands consultant to provide scientific expertise and analysis during permit application processing. As part of a permit application process, an applicant shall provide documentation of the means and process by which protected trees shall be removed from the property without damaging remaining protected trees.
(2) Generalized Plan. A generalized plan to be approved by the City Council intended to last for a period of time in the future specified in an approved plan for the purpose of achieving stated objectives according to conditions and principles specified in the plan documents that are found by the City Council to be consistent with the findings, purpose, and intent of this section of the Zoning Code, as particularly stated in subsection (a), above. An application for a generalized plan shall include a statement specifying the manner in which the objectives, conditions and principles specified in the plan are consistent with the findings, purpose, and intent of this section of the Zoning Code. Following the establishment of an escrow to cover the anticipated cost to be incurred by the City, the City Planning Consultant is authorized to engage the services of a registered forester as a woodlands consultant to provide scientific expertise and analysis during permit application processing. An approved permit for a generalized plan shall serve as the permit required for the removal of protected trees during the effective period of the plan. The permit issued pursuant to an approved generalized plan shall specify its duration and clearly explain the protected tree removal authorized under the permit, and shall specify whether periodic escrows and expert monitoring of the plan shall be required.
(i) Unauthorized Removal; Replacement Obligation. If protected trees not authorized by permit and a permit is not exempted as provided in this section, are removed, the City Planning Consultant may require replacement of such removed trees with comparable protected trees to the extent required by the City Council. Replacement shall mean that a sufficient number of new trees shall be planted so that the aggregate caliper of the replacement trees shall equal or exceed the aggregate D.B.H. of the protected trees removed without a permit.
(j) Performance Guarantees.
(1) The applicant shall post an acceptable form of an irrevocable letter of credit, cash escrow, certified check, or other City approved performance security in an amount determined by reference to the City's fee schedule resolution to complete all woodlands management activities as specified in the permit, together with reasonable administrative expenses. Required performance guarantees shall be provided to the City after approval of the woodlands management permit but prior to the initiation of any of the activities governed by the permit.
(2) After all woodlands management activities are completed in compliance with the woodlands management permit, the letter of credit or other securities shall be released.
(k) Woodlands Management Permit; Contents and Requirements During Implementation.
(1) The City Planning Consultant shall:
A. Attach to an approved permit any reasonable conditions established as necessary to ensure the purpose of this section will be fulfilled.
B. Fix a reasonable time for permitted activities to be undertaken and completed. Permitted activities that are not completed before the permit deadline will be cause for the permit to become null and void and will require new application.
C. Identify on the permit any performance guarantee requirement in accordance with paragraph (f) above.
(2) Protected tree conservation during construction shall be specified in the permit.
(3) During construction, no person shall:
A. Conduct any activity within the drip line of any protected tree designated to remain, including, but not limited to, placing solvents, building material, construction equipment or soil deposits within the drip line.
B. Attach any device to any remaining protected tree except for the protection of a tree in accordance with forestry procedures.
(4) Street right-of-way and utility easements may be cordoned by placing stakes a minimum of 50 feet apart and tying ribbon, plastic tape, rope, etc. from stake to stake along the outside perimeters of areas authorized under the permit to be cleared.
(5) Large property areas separate from the construction or land clearing area onto which no equipment will venture may also be cordoned off as described in subsection (k)(3)B. above.
(6) Protective barriers shall be required and maintained in accordance with permit conditions established by the City Planning Consultant.
(7) Display of permit; stop work, certificate of occupancy.
A. The woodlands management permit shall be conspicuously and continuously displayed on-site during the active timeframe of the permit.
B. The permit grantee shall allow the City Planning Consultant and Building Official to enter and inspect the premises at any reasonable time, and failure to allow inspection shall constitute a violation of this section.
C. The City Building Official may issue a stop work order or withhold issuance of a certificate of occupancy, permits or inspections if this section is being violated and/or until the provisions of this section, including any conditions attached to a woodlands management permit, have been fully met.
(l) Fees. The City Council shall establish by resolution a schedule of fees and escrow requirements intended to cover the costs of processing and approving a woodlands management permit, and permit compliance monitoring. Fees and escrow account payments shall be sufficient to cover administrative and technical review costs anticipated to be incurred by the City including the costs of on-site inspections.
(m) Variance and Appeal Power of City Council. The City Council shall have full power and authority to vary the application of the provisions of this section. The City Council shall hear appeals from any requirement, decision or determination made by the City Planning Consultant, and from decisions on a generalized woodlands management plan made without considering the grant of a variance, in the enforcement and administration of this section. In passing upon such matters, the City Council shall consider:
(1) All technical factors and standards specified in this section.
(2) Danger to life, health or property by improperly managed protected trees.
(3) Special conditions and circumstances which are unique to a property and which are not generally applicable to other properties.
(4) Restorative removal of protected trees under subsection (f)(3) above, shall be a sufficient basis for granting a variance.
(5) Other factors as are in keeping with the purpose of this section.
(n) Violations; Civil Infraction. Any person who shall violate the provisions of this section shall, in addition to other obligations imposed in this section, be responsible for a municipal civil infraction, subject to the following penalties:
(1) Fines. The following civil fines shall apply in the event of a determination of responsibility for a municipal civil infraction, unless a different fine is specified in connection with a particular ordinance:
A. First Offense. The civil fine for a first offense violation shall be in an amount of one thousand dollars ($1,000.00), plus costs and other sanctions, for a tree removed in violation of this section.
B. Repeat Offense. The civil fine for each additional tree, or any offense which is a repeat offense, shall be in an amount of five thousand dollars ($5,000.00), plus costs and other sanctions for each tree removed in violation of this section.
(2) Enforcement. In addition to ordering the defendant determined to be responsible for a municipal civil infraction to pay a civil fine, costs, damages and expenses, the judge or magistrate shall be authorized to issue any judgment, writ or order necessary to enforce, or enjoin violation, of this section, including the replacement of any and all trees removed in violation of this section.
(3) Remedies not exclusive. In addition to any remedies provided for by this section, any equitable or other remedies available may be sought.
(4) The judge or magistrate shall be authorized to impose costs, damages and expenses as provided by law.
(5) A municipal civil infraction shall not be a lesser included offense of a criminal offense or of an ordinance violation which is not a civil infraction.
(Ord. 145. Passed 10-10-17.)