Residents' guide to the protection of Township trees

Date: March 5, 2018

It is very likely that a portion of your front yard is Ferguson Township right-of-way, and a tree that may appear to be part of your property may actually belong to the Township.

Before you consider removing, treating or otherwise altering what may be a Township tree, please consult the Ferguson Township Tree Ordinance for guidelines (you'll find excerpts below), or contact the Ferguson Township Arborist.

You'll also need to determine where your property line is located. Where your property line ends is where the Township right-of-way begins. Right-of-way widths vary depending on the street and location, but one thing you can be sure of: Any tree in the space between the sidewalk and the curb is the property of the Township. In neighborhoods without sidewalks, identifying the right-of-way can be difficult. Typically, utility boxes, telephone poles, and public signage are located in the right-of-way, and can be helpful to approximate whether a tree is Township property, but this is not always an exact science.

Ferguson Township's street and park trees are protected under the Township's Code of Ordinances. Violations of the Tree Ordinance carry a penalty payable by fine and the cost of replacing the tree. 

If you are uncertain about a tree in your front yard that appears to need attention, please contact the Ferguson Township Arborist at (814) 238-4651. 
 

Ferguson Township Tree Ordinance:

"...in any public right-of-way to which the Township has title, no person shall without written permission, as outlined in § 25-106 of this Part, cut, prune, break, destroy, overthrow, injure, scrape, paint, deface or remove any public tree; or cut, disturb or interfere in any way with the roots of any tree; or remove leaves, flowers or fruit from any tree; or spray with any chemicals or insecticides any tree; or place any rope, sign, poster or other fixture on a tree or tree guard or other device erected to protect such tree; or injure, misuse, or remove any guard or device placed to protect such tree. The penalties for violations of this section which shall be those provided in § 25-110, Subsection 2A and B.

Regulations and Standards for Arbor Work. The planting, removal, pruning, treatment or maintenance of any public tree shall be done in accordance with the Township's Regulations and Standards for Arbor Work. These rules and regulations may only be amended by the Board of Supervisors by resolution to add new technical standards and criteria recognized by the tree care profession.

Township Tree Planting List. The planting of any public tree shall be done in accordance with the Township's Tree Planting List. The tree planting list may only be amended by the Board of Supervisors by resolution to add new technical standards and criteria recognized by the tree care profession.

Anyone who wishes to plant, remove or prune a Township tree must obtain a written permit from the Department of Public Works. 

“No person shall plant any tree in a location, or of a different species or variety, or of a different size, or contrary to the specifications as given on the permit by the Department of Public Works.

B. 
A permit will be granted by the Department of Public Works to any person to plant, remove or prune trees on the condition that the work to be performed shall be under the supervision and control of the authorized agents of the Department. All permitted work must be done in accordance with the Township's Regulations and Standards for Arbor Work. Each such permit shall be certified by a written permit issued from the office of the Department of Public Works.
2. 
Permit Application; Review by Tree Commission. The Township Tree Commission shall review and recommend for approval or denial all permit applications for the planting, removing and pruning of public trees requested by property owners. The Commission shall recommend for approval or denial all requests for planting, removing and pruning of public trees requested by the Township's Department of Public Works, other department or in neighborhood development or other development proposals.

Permit; Removal of Public Trees to Accommodate Grading or Construction on Private Property. If grading or construction on private property requires the removal or canopy or root pruning of any public tree a permit from the Department of Public Works shall be required. Approved and permitted work shall be performed in accordance with the Township's Regulations and Standards for Arbor Work. If a permit for the removal of a public tree is granted by the Township to accommodate development on private property the applicant shall provide one of the following as a condition of the permit:

Permit Approval/Denial by Tree Commission; Appeal to Board of Supervisors. The applicant or all affected property owners shall have 10 days following the approval or denial of a tree planting, removal or pruning permit by the Tree Commission to appeal in writing to the Board of Supervisors. The Board of Supervisors shall hear the appeal and make a determination within 60 days of the receipt of the appeal. Appeals shall be recorded and decisions shall be written and shall include findings of fact. Further appeal as provided by law.