East Brunswick Council introduces ordinance to potentially increase tree removal fees

EAST BRUNSWICK–The Township Council introduced an ordinance, which if adopted, will amend the municipal code to increase the tree removal fees for residential and non-residential properties.

“This is a very simple change where we’d like to bring in some additional revenue to the township to purchase trees. When a resident takes down a tree they are now charged $5 if they don’t replant the tree and we’re seeing an upward trend of people saying, ‘Well I won’t replant the tree, it’s easier [and] cheaper just to get the $5,’ ” Business Administrator Joseph Criscuolo said.

Criscuolo said the township wants to change that fee to $10 so that when Parks Director Michael Reissner goes out to bid to plant additional trees, whatever is in that fund can be used to plant trees throughout town, at town hall or during a community tree planting event.

“As you all know the ash trees are dying and we’re going to see a sizable amount of them needing to be taken down so we’d like to replenish the trees that are going to die of natural causes,” Criscuolo said.

The council introduced the ordinance on May 10 during the council meeting via video conference.

The second and final reading is scheduled for May 24.

“The existing landscape ordinance is designed to provide East Brunswick with the ability to protect our existing trees and to provide for new plantings whenever existing trees are removed,” Director of Planning and Engineering Keith Kipp said in a letter dated April 27.

Kipp said the recommended update would increase the $5 fee to $10 for residential properties, increase the $20 fee to $25 for new residential building lots, and increase the fee from $20 to $25 for all other lots; and also increase the overall maximum charge for new development.

“When trees are removed and property owners do not wish to replant, trees can be planted elsewhere on public lands through the funds collected into the Tree Fund,” Kipp said in the letter. “Protecting trees within a community can have a multitude of benefits for the environment as well as for the health and safety of residents. Trees help to prevent flooding, sequester carbon, and improve air and water quality and provide habitat.”

Kipp said trees also contribute to climate control, reduce soil erosion and sedimentation. Therefore it is to the benefit of the entire township to continue to plant trees wherever possible.

“East Brunswick has been awarded the Tree City USA Award since 1975 and has been a member of Sustainable Jersey since 2009 which also shows the level of importance that the township gives to this issue,” Kipp said in the letter. “The stated purposes of the ordinance is to address the adverse effects of tree removal on private property, protect the environment and promote the ‘healthy, safety and general well-being ‘ of the township’s inhabitants.”

This ordinance will take effect 20 days after final passage, adoption and publication according to law, according to the council.

For more information, visit www.eastbrunswick.org/129/Agendas-Minutes.

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com.