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					                                           ORDINANCE NO. 175

                 A TREE ORDINANCE FOR THE CITY OF HOUSTON, MINNESOTA

The City Council of the City of Houston does ordain:

I. STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

         It is the purpose of this ordinance to promote and protect the public health, safety and general
welfare by providing for the regulation of the planting, maintenance and removal of trees, shrubs, and other
plants on public property within the City of Houston.

 II. AUTHORITY AND POWER
          There is hereby created and established a City Tree Board for the City of Houston, which shall
consist of five members, who shall be appointed by the mayor with the approval of the city council and
shall serve without compensation.

         The Board shall choose its own officers, make its own rules and regulations, and keep a journal of
its proceedings. A majority of the members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of any business.

          Recommend the adoption and alteration of all rules, regulations and ordinances which it shall from
time to time deem the public interest and most likely to enhance and beautify the urban forest, and for the
purposes of carrying out this chapter;

         Recommend policies for the review and approval of capital projects where trees or other
vegetation will be planted or removed on city property;

         Encourage landscaping, installation and maintenance on private property by providing information
on the value of landscaping and on the proper planting and care of trees and other vegetation;

         Recommend policies and procedures to identify, mark, publicize and preserve historic and notable
trees on both public and private property;

         Promote appreciation of trees and the urban forest through annual Arbor Day observations and
other activities in conjunction with the school district and community organizations.

         Review those portions of the city budget allocated for the planting and care of trees and other
vegetation, and advise the mayor on the appropriateness of the funding levels;

       Encourage improvement of the urban forest through planning, policy development and to
recommend obtaining professional assistance when needed.

         Assist city departments in every way possible to enhance the urban forest in the city;

         In all instances, serve as an advocate of the city’s urban forest.

III. TERM OF OFFICE

          Te term of the five persons, with on person being a council member, to be appointed by the mayor
shall be three years, except that the term of two of the members appointed to the first board shall be for
only one year and the term of two members of the first board shall be for two years. In the event that a
vacancy shall occur during the term of any member, his or her successor shall be appointed for the
unexpired portion of the term. Board member may not serve no more than two consecutive terms.
IV. APPLICABLILTY

          This ordinance provides full power and authority over all trees, plants and shrubs located within
street right –of–ways, parks and public places of the City. However, it does not alleviate the responsibility
of adjacent property owners for boulevard trees, shrubs, etc, even though herein designated as public trees.

V. DEFINITIONS

         City – The City of Houston, Minnesota

         Public Property – Any area or building publicly owned including but not limited to: boulevards,
parks, playgrounds, school sites, parkways and streets.

          Public Right-of-way – Portion of property reserved for public use and accepted for such use by the
city to provide circulation and travel to abutting properties, including, but no limited to: streets, alleys,
sidewalks, provisions for public utilities, cut and fill slopes and open public spaces.

         Public Tree – All trees growing on any street, park, or any public place owned and/or managed by
the City of Houston.

         Private Tree – Any and all trees growing on private property within the city limits.

          Hazard Tree – Any tree or stump with an infectious disease or insect problem: dead or dying trees;
a tree or limb(s) that obstruct street lights, traffic signs, the free passage of pedestrians or vehicles; a tree
that poses a threat to safety, ect.

         Boulevard Tree – A tree, shrub, bush or other woody vegetation on land lying between property
lines on either side of all streets, avenues, boulevards, or within the City.

        Park Tree – A tree, shrub, bush or other woody vegetation in public parks having individual
names, and all areas owned by the City, or to which the public has free access as a park.

         Boulevard – An area between curb and the private property line that is publicly owned.

         Small Tree – Any plant material that will grow to a height of 30 feet or less.

         Medium Tree – Any plant material that will grow to a height of 50 feet.

         Large Tree – Any plant material that will grow to a height of over 50 feet.

          Public utility – Any public, private or cooperatively owned line, facility or system for producing,
transmitting or distributing communications, power, electricity, light, heat, gas, oil products, water, waste
or storm water, which directly or indirectly serves the public or any part thereof within the corporate limits
of the city.

VI. EDUCATION/PROFESSIONAL CARE

         City Hall will maintain a list of licensed arborists for any person wanting to plant, cut, trim, prune,
remove spray, or otherwise treat any tree. This office will also offer at no cost to any person educational
material on the proper care and maintenance of planting material.

VII. INSURANCE

         Any contractor hired by the city must first file evidence of possession of liability insurance in the
minimum amounts of $1,000,000 for bodily injury or death and $100,000 property damage indemnifying
the City or any person injured or damaged resulting from the pursuit of such endeavor as herein described.
VIII. LANDSCAPING

         In new subdivisions or when the development of commercial property occurs, the Tree Board will
review landscaping plans and may require street trees to be planted in any of the streets, parking lots, parks
and other public places abutting lands henceforth developed and/or subdivided.

         When an application for a conditional use permit or building permit is filed the tree board reviews
the landscape improvement design and makes recommendations to the zoning administrator.

IX. TREE PLANTING, MAINTENANCE, AND REMOVAL

         No species may be planted on public property within the City of Houston without obtaining a
permit. Prior to the Tree Board taking action, it shall review all requests for planting to assure that the
species are appropriate. The Tree Board shall submit written reports to the City Council on those matters
of special of requests by the Council prior to taking official action.

Tree Species – The Tree Board develops and maintains a list of desirable trees for planting along streets in
three size classes: small, medium and large. A lit of trees not suitable for planting will also be created by
the Tree Board.

Spacing – The spacing of street trees will be in accordance with the three species size classes listed in this
ordinance, and no trees may be planted close together than the following: small trees, 6-10’; medium trees,
10-40’; and large trees, 40-50’; except in special plantings designed or approved by the tree board.

Utilities – It is recommended that no street trees other than those species listed herein as small trees may be
planted under or within 10 lateral feet of any overhead utility wire, or over or within 5 lateral feet of any
underground water line, sewer line, transmission line or other utility.

Distance from Curb and Side walk – Te distance trees may be planted from curbs or curblines and sidewalk
will be in accordance with the tree species size classes listed in Section V. of this ordinance, and no trees
may be planted closer to any curb or sidewalk than the following: small trees, 2 feet; medium trees, 3 feet;
and large trees, 4 feet.

Distance from Corners, Fire Hydrants and Driveways – No street tree shall be planted closer than 30 feet to
any intersecting curbs or curblines. No street tree shall be planted closer than 10 feet to any fire hydrant,
nor 5 feet from any driveway or walkway.

Care of Street Trees – The City of Houston shall have the right to plant, prune, maintain, and remove trees,
plants, and shrubs within the lines of all streets, alleys, avenues, lanes, squares, and public grounds as may
be necessary to insure the public safety or to preserve or enhance the symmetry and beauty of such public
grounds.

Removal of Trees Endangering Utilities or Other Public Improvements – The City Tree Board may
remove, cause or order to be removed any tree, stump or part thereof which is in an unsafe condition or
which by reason of its nature is in an unsafe condition or which by reason of its nature is injurious to sewer,
electric power lines, gas lines, water lines, or other public improvement, or is affected with any
overhanging any street or right-of-way within the City shall be pruned so that the branches shall no obstruct
the light from any street lamp or obstruct the view of any street intersection and so that there shall be a
clear space of at least 12 feet above the street or 8 feet above the sidewalk. Dead, diseased, or dangerous
trees or broken or decayed limbs which endanger the safety of the public shall be removed.

Topping – It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, or city department to top any street tree, park tree, or
other tree on public property. Topping is defined as the severe cutting back of limbs to stubs larger than
three inches in diameter within the tree’s crown to such a degree so as to remove the normal canopy and
disfigure the tree. Trees severely damaged by storms or other causes, or certain trees under utility wires or
other obstructions where other pruning practices are impractical may be exempted from this ordinance at
the determination of the City Tree Inspector.

X. ADJACENT LANDOWNER RESPONSIBILITY

          No person shall plant, remove, cut above ground, or disturb any tree on any street, park or other
public place without first procuring a permit from the city administrator. The person receiving the permit
shall abide by the standards set forth in this ordinance.

Street trees – Private property owner responsibilities. Any owner of private property, abutting city
parking/boulevards upon which street trees are located, shall have the following responsibilities: A.
Periodic watering and fertilization of street trees when necessary to maintain good health and vigor; B.
Protection of street trees against damage caused by lawnmowers, weed trimmers, snow blowers and similar
equipment.

Street/public trees – Private property owner requests. In cases where an owner of private real property
abutting city property requests city actions on street trees or public trees, the requesting owner shall be
financially responsible for the following: A. Removal of trees, limbs or roots preventing house moving or
other construction activities; B. Removal of trees, limbs or roots for alteration if nuisance exists; C.
Spraying, fertilizing or treatment other than may be regularly conducted on a city-wide basis by the city.
Financial responsibility does not eliminate the requirement of obtaining necessary permits required by this
chapter.

In the even that the city tree inspector must condemn a street tree because of unsafe conditions or that the
tree or stump is diseased the city will cover 50% of the cost of removal with the other 50% to be paid by
the landowner.

XI. TREE PROTECTION

         Upon the discovery of any destructive or communicable disease or other pestilence which
endangers the growth or infestations, the city tree inspector shall at once cause written notice to be served
upon the owner of the property upon which such diseased or infested tree is situated, and remove or
otherwise control such condition within reasonable time to be specified in such notice.

The city tree board shall have as one of its duties the location, selection and identification of any trees
which qualify as “Landmark Trees.” A tree may qualify as a Landmark Tree if it meets one or more of the
following criteria: species rarity, old age, historical significance, abnormality, scenic enhancement.

It shall be unlawful for any person to remove, alter, or destroy any street tree or park tree without the prior
authorization of the City of Houston.

Public nuisance defined and designated. The following are defined and declared to be public nuisances
under this chapter:

A. Any tree or shrub located on private or public property having a destructive or communicable disease or
other pestilence which endangers the growth, health, life or well-being of trees, shrubs or plants in the city
or which is capable of causing an epidemic spread of a communicable disease or insect infestation;

B. The roots of any tree or shrub, located on private property, which cause the surface of the public street,
curb or sidewalk to be up heaved or otherwise disturbed;

C. Any tree, shrub or portion thereof located on private property, which by reason of location or condition
constitutes an imminent danger to the health, safety or well being of the general public on city property.
Responsibility for public nuisance fixed. Where a nuisance exists upon property, and is the outgrowth of
the usual, natural or necessary use of property, the landlord thereof, or his or her agent, the tenant or his or
her agent, and all other persons having control of the property on which such nuisance exists, shall be
deemed to be the authors thereof, and shall be equally liable therefore.

Nuisance creation and maintenance. It is unlawful for any person, either as owner, agent, or occupant, to
create or aid in creating or contributing to or to maintain a public nuisance.

Nuisance abatement. The City may serve a notice in writing upon the owner, occupant or agent of any lot,
building or premises in or upon which a nuisance may be found, or upon the person who may be the cause
of such nuisance, a notice requiring the person to abate the nu9isance within a twenty day period. Failure
to give a notice as provided herein shall not relieve the author of any nuisance from the obligation to abate
such nuisance, or from the penalty provided for the maintenance thereof. Notice of appeal may be filed
with the city administrator within twenty days of service of notice. Appeals from the city administrator’s
decision shall be heard by a hearing officer designated by the mayor within twenty days.

Expense of abatement – Responsibility of offender. In case of neglect or refusal of any person to abate any
nuisance defined by this chapter after notice in writing has been served upon them, as provided in this
chapter, and within the time specified in the notice, the city may abate or procure the abatement thereof,
and the expense of such abatement shall be collected from the person so offending.

Abuse or mutilation of public trees. It is unlawful for any person to damage, transplant, top, remove, or
mutilate any tree on public property.

Protection of public trees near construction activities. Any tree located on city property in the immediate
vicinity of any excavation, demolition or construction site of any building, structure, street or utilities work
which has potential for injury, shall be protected from such injury.

XII. PRIVATE TREES

The City Tree Inspector shall have the authority to order the trimming, treatment, and removal of trees,
shrubs or plants upon private property when such action is necessary to public safety or to prevent the
spread of disease or insects to trees, shrubs, or plants located on public property. Any tree or shrub situated
upon private property, but so situate as to extend its branches over the improved portion of a public street
or highway easement, shall be so trimmed by the owner of the real property upon which the same is
located, so that there is a clear height of at least (12) feet over that portion of such easement that is used for
vehicular traffic and at least 8 feet over that portion of such easement used for pedestrian travel; and such
persons shall remove the dead or diseased branches or stubs of trees which are may become hazardous to
the public use of such easement. Any trees obstructing traffic control signs or devices from the view of the
pedestrian or motorist shall be pruned to a height established by the City Tree Inspector to insure proper
safety for motorists or pedestrians.

All orders to trim, remove, or treat trees, shrubs, or plants given pursuant to this section, shall be in writing
and shall be unlawful for any owner of the property where such trees, shrubs, or plants are located. Such
orders shall afford the owner of the property not less than twenty (20) days from the date of the mailing of
such notice to comply with such order. It shall be unlawful for any owner to property receiving such an
order to fail to comply with the order in the time specified.

If the required action is not taken by the property owner within the specified time, the City Tree Board may
cause the tree, shrubs, or plants concerned to be trimmed, removed, or treated, with the costs being borne
by the property owner. If not voluntarily paid to the City by such owner, the costs of such trimming,
removal or treatment may be recovered by the City by special assessment upon the property owner.
XIII. PERMITS

It is unlawful for any person to plant or remove any public tree, without first obtaining a permit at the cost
of $2.00 from the City Administrator. Permits shall not be required for work performed by the city
personnel.

Planting and maintaining public trees: The city will provide Urban Forestry Standards and Specifications
which shall be used ax a guideline for planting and pruning public trees.

Removing trees: The tree inspector may approve a permit for removal of public trees and as a condition,
the permitee may be required to compensate the city for the value of the tree(s) removed either by
replacement thereof or by monetary assessment.

XIV. ENFORCEMENT

The City Tree Board shall have the power to enforce rules, regulations and specifications as set out above
or as recommended by the City Tree Board and adopted by the City Council concerning the trimming,
spraying, removal, planting, pruning and protection of trees, shrubs, vines, hedges and other plants upon the
right-of-way of any street, alley, sidewalk, or other public place in the city.

XV. PENALTIES, CLAIMS AND APPEALS

Violations – Any person who violates any provision of this ordinance or who fails to comply with any
notice issued pursuant to provisions of the ordinance, upon being found guilty of violation, shall be subject
to a fine not to exceed $500 and/or imprisonment not to exceed 90 days. If, as the result of the violation of
any provision of this ordinance, the injury, mutilation, or death of a tree, shrub, or other plant located on
city-owned property is caused, the cost of repair or replacement of such tree, shrub or other plant shall be
borne by the party in violation. The replacement value of trees and shrubs shall be determined in
accordance with the latest revision of the International Society of Arboriculture/Council of Landscape
Appraisers system.

Assessment of Claim – In the event that a nuisance is not abated by the date specified in the notice, the City
Tree Inspector is authorized to cause the abatement of said nuisance. The reasonable cost of such
abatement shall be filed as a lien against the property on which the nuisance was located. In addition, the
owner of the property upon which the nuisance was located shall be subject to prosecution.

Any person aggrieved by any ruling or order of the City Tree Board may appeal to the City Council, which
shall hear the matter and make a final decision. The City Council shall have the right to review the conduct
and decisions of the City Tree Board. The Council may modify, affirm, or reverse any determination of the
City Tree Board.

XVI. CONSTITUTIONALITY

If any section, subsection or any smaller part of the ordinance is found invalid or unconstitutional by any
court, that portion of ordinance shall be deemed a separate, distinct and independent portion of the
remainder of the ordinance, and shall not affect the validity of the rest of the ordinance.

         Adopted by the City Council of the City of Houston this 15 day of November, 1993.


                                                                      ________________________________

                                                                                   Ronald R. Evenson, Mayor
Attest:
By: _________________________________
    Larry Jerviss, City Administrator

				
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