The Medford Township Council approved Ordinance 2020-22 effective as of Nov. 1st, 2020 establishing Chapter 123 of the Administrative Code, regulating the removal of trees on residential properties. Under this Ordinance, a permit from the Zoning Office is required in order to remove three or more trees, (or more than 10 trees in any five year period).
Some of major points of the Ordinance are:
- A zoning permit is required in order to remove three or more trees or 10 over a five-year period. This is primarily to allow the Township staff to check for wetlands, wetlands buffers, deed restrictions, conservation easements, etc. where tree removal may be restricted. In addition, HOA permission is required to make sure any proposed tree removal complies with the HOA requirements, which in several neighborhoods are more restrictive than this Ordinance.
- More than three trees may be permitted to be removed if none of the above conditions are applicable. Three is not the limit.
- The permit is $25, and by state law must be acted on within 10 business days.
- Every tree company must have a licensed tree care expert (LTCO or LTE) on staff per NJ law as administered by the NJ Board of Tree Experts. This licensed individual can provide a statement as to any dead, diseased, drying or imminent hazard trees that need to be removed. This is the only document needed to approve a tree permit. A property owner also retains the option to consult with an arborist or other certified expert.
- In the event of an emergency, trees can be removed and either photo documented or a signed statement from the licensed tree care expert can be submitted retroactively.
- During states of emergency and other extreme weather situations, the Ordinance requirements can be temporarily suspended by order of the Township Manager.
Please note that the Pinelands Commission Comprehensive Management Plan regulations limit tree clearing to 1,500 square feet on wooded/vacant lots that are proposed to be developed. See Medford Land Development Ordinance Section 802-E (f).
IMPORTANT TIP: On Jan. 1, 2018 the Tree Expert and Tree Care Operators Licensing Law was adopted. This new law permits the New Jersey Board of Tree Experts to fully implement the Act to promote proper industry and tree care practices and standards while providing consumer protection against unscrupulous tree care. Every tree care firm working in the State must have a licensed Tree Care Operator (LTCO) or Licensed Tree Expert (LTE) on staff. Residents are highly encouraged to insure any tree contractor working on private property meets these requirements. For more information, visit: www.njtreeexperts.org.
A licensed and insured arborist (a professional who is trained and licensed to care for trees and other woody plants by pruning, fertilizing, monitoring for insects and diseases) consults on tree related issues and makes recommendations on the need to remove trees or selectively prune them.
Many unlicensed “fly-by-night” companies may offer a lower cost, but often clear cut properties rather than selective removal of dead, diseased and dying trees and/or limbs. If a violation is found, please remember the property owner is held responsible, not the tree company!
As trees have the power to increase property values, improve air quality, reduce household energy costs, improve water quality, both the Pinelands Commission and Medford Township insure their protection through education and active enforcement. Trees of the right variety (i.e. Pinelands native species) placed properly and cared for professionally provide enormous benefits and have significant economic and environmental value.