A bustling economy contributed to an active year in tree removal and replacements in 2017, according to a year-end report on forestry activity in Rochester, the city council was informed at their meeting on Monday, January 8.
"We had an active tree removal season, double the last few years," said Rochester Deputy City Manager Nik Banda, who oversees the city's tree program. "For the second year in a row, we had two instances where people illegally removed substantial (non-landmark) trees without permits, which resulted in fines being issued totaling $10,640."
The city's tree ordinance requires individuals or developers who wish to remove trees to seek approval from the city and obtain a permit. Large or significant trees that add to an area's character may be considered "landmark" trees, which have additional protections under the city's ordinance.
Banda said the illegal tree removals resulted in fines of $7,280 and $3,360. In both instances, he said the parties who removed the trees chose to pay the fines by replanting trees of that value on their site, and completed the work this past summer and fall.
Throughout 2017, the city issued 81 tree removal permits, resulting in the removal of 194 trees and 47 replacement trees. The others were permitted to be removed under the exemption portion of the city's ordinance, which doesn't require tree replacement. The city issued a total of 41 tree removal permits in 2016, with 70 trees removed and 13 replaced.
Banda said a strong economy has contributed to the uptick in tree removal/replacement activity, as the process is expensive and those seeking the actions typically wait until the work is feasible.
The city also denied the removal of two landmark trees in 2017, with the petitioners choosing not to appeal the decisions to city council, as permitted by ordinance. A third landmark tree removal request on Pine Street was denied by the city and appealed to city council, which subsequently denied the removal of that tree.
The Rochester Department of Public Works planted 32 trees within right-of-way locations, six trees in Memorial Grove in the Municipal Park, and one Memorial Tree purchased for the park by a private citizen.