SECTION 1103.01 Finding:
The City Council of Sunfish Lake hereby finds and determines that hazardous conditions may now or in the future, exist within the city limits of the City of Sunfish Lake with respect to disease or insect infestations, or other factors resulting in the death or weakening of all or major parts of individual trees. These conditions will adversely affect the health and welfare of Sunfish Lake.
SECTION 1103.02 Declaration of Policy:
The City of Sunfish Lake has determined that trees within the municipal limits are currently or may in the future be subject to hazardous conditions resulting from insect infestation or disease; storm or mechanical damage; or other biotic or abiotic agents. It has further determined that such hazardous conditions resulting in the spread of disease or insect infestation, or in the potential danger of windfall (or other breakage) of significant, weakened or dead standing tree material situated in the vicinity of common property boundaries or travel lanes, would substantially depreciate the value of property within the City and impair the safety, good order, general welfare, and convenience of the public. The health of oak trees within the municipal limits is specifically threatened by a fatal disease commonly known as Oak Wilt, caused by infection of the fungus Ceratocystis fagacearum. It is declared to be the intention of the City Council to control and prevent the spread of any disease or insect infestation, and to control the potential danger posed by significant, weakened or dead standing tree material falling across common property boundaries or onto common travel lanes. This Ordinance is enacted for such purpose.
SECTION 1103.03 City Forester:
The position of City Forester is hereby created and the powers and duties of such office are hereby conferred upon the City Forester by the City Council of Sunfish Lake, Minnesota. Such powers and duties of the City Forester shall be designated from time to time by the Mayor with the concurrence of the City Council.
It is the duty of the City Forester to coordinate, under the direction and control of the City Council, all activities of the City related to the control and prevention of tree disease or insect infestation, and the potential danger posed by significant, weakened or dead standing tree material, from any cause, situated in the vicinity of common property boundaries or travel lanes. The City Forester shall recommend to the City Council the details of a program for the control of said conditions and perform the duties incident to such a program as adopted by the City Council.
SECTION 1103.04 Nuisances Declared - Abatement:
Any tree within the City found to have Oak Wilt or other disease, insect infestation, or that poses a potential danger from significant, weakened or dead standing tree material falling across common property boundaries or onto common travel lanes, is declared to constitute a nuisance. It is unlawful for any person to permit any public nuisances as defined in this section to remain on any premises owned or controlled by him within the City of Sunfish Lake. Such nuisances shall be abated in the manner prescribed by this Ordinance.
SECTION 1103.05 Inspection and Investigation:
Between April 15 and November 1 of each year, the Forester or his duly appointed agents shall maintain a continuous survey of the City to ascertain the location of trees infected with Oak Wilt or having other disease or insect infestation, or else posing potential danger from significant, weakened or dead standing tree material falling across common property boundaries or onto common travel lanes. Each affected tree shall be properly marked and its owner shall be notified of the existence of such affected trees pursuant to Section 1103.06. A monthly report shall be made to the City Council concerning ongoing survey and notification activities.
In addition to regular inspections, the City Forester shall, whenever he deems it necessary, conduct additional emergency inspections, report the results of such inspections to the City Council, and take such further action authorized by this Ordinance as he shall determine.
The City Forester and his duly authorized agents and inspectors shall have the right to enter upon private property, but excluding private dwellings, at any reasonable time for the purpose of carrying out the duties assigned to the City Forester under this Ordinance, including inspection, treatment, cutting, burning or removal of hazardous trees or conditions thereof.
SECTION 1103.06 Abatement of Nuisances by Property Owners:
Subd. 1 Notices Following Inspection: Between April 15 and November 1 of each year, the City Forester shall notify each owner of real estate within the City upon whose property diseased, infested, or otherwise hazardous trees have been located, of the existence of such trees. Said notice shall contain the survey information with respect to the subject trees upon the property and shall further advise that, in accordance with Paragraph 2 of this section, the owner is required to remove and properly dispose of said trees within twenty (20) days of the date notice was given. Such notices shall be personally delivered by the City Forester or his agents, or else sent by certified mail with return receipt requested to the last known address of said owner. Said notice shall be deemed sufficient upon mailing.
The notices required to be sent under the provisions of this Ordinance shall be sent to the occupant of the premises upon which the subject trees are located, if those premises are occupied, and to the owner of such premises, if such owner has an address different from the subject premises and such address is disclosed by the records of the Dakota County Auditor. Reasonable inquiry by the City Forester or his agent shall be sufficient to meet this requirement, and telephone inquiry of the office of the Dakota County Auditor shall be deemed reasonable inquiry for the purpose of ascertaining such addresses. If the subject premises are unoccupied, then mailing to the address of the owner as shown by the records of the Dakota County Auditor shall be deemed sufficient.
Subd. 2. Correction of Hazardous Tree Conditions: An owner of real estate in the City who is thus notified of the existence on his property of trees diseased with Oak Wilt or having other disease or insect infestation, or else posing potential danger from significant, weakened or dead standing tree material falling across common property boundaries or onto common travel lanes, as provided in Paragraph 1 of this section 1103.06, shall within twenty (20) days of the initial notification date, remove or direct the removal of all such hazardous conditions and dispose of all associated material thereof in a manner satisfactory to the City Forester, so as to insure elimination of the hazard.
All oak trees within the City diagnosed as having Oak Wilt shall be isolated from neighboring healthy trees of the same species by chemical or mechanical disruption of common root grafts, to prevent the root graft transmission of the Oak Wilt fungus. The City Forester shall have the authority to determine the adequacy of such disruption activities.
To control the overland spread of Oak Wilt, pruning or other wounding of oaks shall be avoided during the most susceptible period from April 15, to July 1. If wounding is unavoidable during this period, as in the aftermath of a storm or when the tree interferes with utility lines, an asphalt-based tree wound dressing shall be applied.
Trees of the Red Oak group diagnosed as having Oak Wilt may be girdled as directed by City Forester, as soon as they are detected in order to speed drying and reduce spore production. Girdling shall be done only in areas where a resulting weakened tree will not constitute a hazard to life and/or property should it fall. Trees included in this group are commonly known as Red Oak; Pin Oak; Scarlet Oak; Black Oak; and Northern Pin Oak.
To prevent Oak Wilt fungus spore production and control of overland spread of this disease, any diseased material of the Red Oak group desired for use as fuel wood or to be salvaged for other purposes, must be debarked or else completely covered by heavy plastic (4 mil or greater) for a period of time as indicated by the City Forester.
Any diseased branch or other material of the Red Oak group not to be salvaged, shall be disposed of by burning, chipping, or removal to an authorized dump site. The City Forester shall advise accordingly. The City Council may issue burning permits on a case by case basis.
Stumps of trees of the Red Oak group removed due to Oak Wilt shall be completely covered, removed, or debarked to the ground-line to eliminate all possibilities of spore formation and overland disease spread.
Trees of the White Oak group (e.g., White Oak, Burr Oak, Swamp or Bicolor White Oak) which are diagnosed as having Oak Wilt shall be isolated by root graft disruption, as previously stated. Diseased material originating from such trees will not support spore formation and salvaged material therefore will not require special treatment to control overland disease spread. Standing trees of this group showing symptoms of minor Oak Wilt infection may have such infection successfully removed by selective pruning. The City Forester will advise accordingly. (Ord. 1988-2, 1/9/89)
SECTION 1103.07 Abatement by City:
Subd. 1 Following Regular Inspection: Upon receipt and approval of the report of the City Forester, required by Section 1103.05 hereof, the City Council shall by resolution, order the nuisances abated, but such abatement shall be postponed until after the 20 working day time limit from date of notice, given to the property owner. This period of time will be deemed sufficient for the property owner to take the necessary measures to abate the nuisances as provided in the previous Section. In the event the owner fails or refuses to abate the nuisances as so required, the City Forester, upon appropriate resolution of the City Council, after said 20 working day time limit, shall abate the nuisances of any remaining hazardous trees by having them properly pruned, treated or cut down and removed at the owner's expense. (Ord. 1988-2, 1/9/89)
Subd 2 Following Emergency Inspection: If after any emergency inspection as authorized by the provisions of this Ordinance, the City Forester finds that the danger of infection or infestation of other trees from a diseased or insect infested tree or trees is imminent, or if there is immediate danger of significant, weakened or dead standing tree material falling across common property boundaries or onto common travel lanes, he shall notify the property owner by certified mail or personal contact of the existence of the nuisance and shall further notify the property owner that the nuisance must be abated within a specified time, not less than five (5) days from date of such personal contact or the mailing of such notice. Such other and additional notice may be given the property owner as appears reasonable and prudent to the City Forester under the circumstances then existing. The City Forester shall immediately report such action to the City Council, and after expiration of the time set forth in the written notice and upon approval of the City Council, he may abate the nuisances by having the diseased or insect infested trees properly pruned, treated, or cut down and removed at the owner's expense.
Subd. 3 Request for Laboratory Testing of Diseased Tree Material: Any owner of real estate in the City who receives any notice as provided herein, may request the City Forester to obtain a laboratory test of one or more of such trees. Such request shall be made to the City Forester within five (5) days after the date of said notice. Upon receipt of such request, the City Forester shall promptly engage the services of a qualified laboratory to make such tests. If the test confirms the original analysis that the tree is diseased, notice of such results shall be sent to the owner by the City Forester as provided in Paragraph 2 hereof, and the owner shall remove such tree or trees within seven (7) days after the date of said notice.
Subd. 4 Assessment of Costs: The City Forester shall maintain a record of the cost of abatements performed under this Ordinance and shall report monthly to the City Council all work done for which assessments are to be made, stating and certifying therein the description of the land involved and the amount chargeable to each parcel. On or before September 1 of each year, the City Clerk shall list the total unpaid charges for such abatement, plus a $75 administrative fee against each separate lot or parcel to which they are attributable. Such charges may then be spread by the City Council as a special assessment against the property involved pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 429 of Minnesota Statutes, and said assessments certified to the County Auditor as provided by law. (Ord. 1988-2, 1/9/89)
SECTION 1103.08 Interference Prohibited:
It is unlawful for any person to prevent, delay or interfere with the City Forester or his agents while they are engaged in the performance of duties imposed by this Ordinance.
SECTION 1103.09 Penalties:
Any person, firm or corporation violating the provisions of this ordinance shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine, or imprisonment or both, but in either case including the costs of prosecution thereof. Each seven (7) day period, or any part thereof, following the original time limit given to abate any nuisance pursuant to Section 1103.07, during which any person, firm or corporation allows a diseased, insect infested, or otherwise hazardous tree (that has been marked as such during the annual survey) to remain on his property, shall constitute a separate violation hereunder.
SECTION 1103.10 Severability:
If any section, paragraph, clause or provision of this Ordinance shall be declared by court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such decision shall not affect the validity of this Ordinance as a whole or any other part thereof.
SECTION 1103.11 Limitation on Power of City Forester:
Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in this Ordinance, the City Forester shall not be required or authorized to inspect or direct the removal of uninfested major dead, or otherwise weakened, standing tree material located along property boundaries or private travel lanes provided, however, that the Council may by resolution authorize the City Forester to make such inspections or removal.