HomeCherry Hill NewsCherry Hill adopts tree ordinance on second reading

Cherry Hill adopts tree ordinance on second reading

Measure to keep township green, hold builders accountable

Cherry Hill council recognizes the Cherry Hill Wildcats’ 12U Lacrosse team who played an undefeated season of 18-0 which included their 16 regular games, the semi-finals and the league’s championship. Featured with the team and its coaches are Council President David Fleisher and council members William Carter and Jennifer Apell. (EMILY LIU/The Sun)

After months of anticipation, township council unanimously approved the Tree Preservation, Removal and Replanting ordinance on second reading at its June 15 meeting.

The decision was met with overwhelming support from residents during the  public hearing. Since it was last presented, the ordinance has undergone several minor revisions in response to community input.

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Council President David Fleisher explained that the three key objectives of the ordinance are to keep Cherry Hill green, to hold developers accountable and to maintain flexibility for individual residents. Highlights from the ordinance included the establishment of a tree fund, the hire of an arborist, consultation with the environmental board and flexibility for homeowners. 

The last point had been revised to indicate that homeowners would not have to pay a permit fee when removing trees, clarified that there were no restrictions on the number of dead trees or trees under imminent threat on a property and that residents could remove up to three healthy trees per year without having to replace them.

Cosmas Diamantis, Cherry Hill director of community development, gave a more thorough presentation of the ordinance.

“The most notable definition is the definition of a person,” he explained. “That definition has been expanded to include pretty much everybody, whether it’s an individual person, business, nonprofit, contractor and the officers of those respective businesses. 

“This is important when it comes to enforcement of the tree ordinance, and when trees come down without permits, who becomes responsible and who we pursue for the appropriate remedy?”

As reiterated in public comments, the expanded definition means that if a contractor takes down a tree without a permit – or without replacing it or contributing to the tree fund – he or she can be held liable rather than the responsibility falling solely on the homeowner.

With the ordinance, when a homeowner takes down more than three healthy trees, or if a commercial entity removes trees, they need to be replaced on a one-for-one basis. If a tree can’t be replanted on site, a $300 fee per tree will go  to the newly established tree fund to support planting projects. 

Trees that are removed because they are dead, pose an imminent threat or are an invasive species do not have to be replaced.

The full ordinance can be read at https://www.chnj.gov/civicalerts.aspx?aid=1601

Council also recognized the Cherry Hill Wildcats 12U Lacrosse Team of fifth and sixth grade girls who played an undefeated season. 

The next council meeting will take place on June 27 at 7:30 p.m.

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