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18.023 Shade tree disease control.

Subdivision 1. Definitions. As used in subdivisions 1 to 12 the terms defined in this subdivision shall have the meanings given them.

(a) "Metropolitan area" means the area comprising the counties of Hennepin, Ramsey, Anoka, Dakota, Washington, Scott and Carver.

(b) "Commissioner" means the commissioner of agriculture.

(c) "Municipality" means any home rule charter or statutory city or any town exercising municipal powers pursuant to section 368.01, or any general or special law, located in the metropolitan area; or any special park district as organized under chapter 398; or any special purpose park and recreation board organized under the city charter of a city of the first class located in the metropolitan area; or any county in the metropolitan area for the purposes of county owned property or any portion of a county located outside the geographic boundaries of a city or town exercising municipal powers; and any municipality or county located outside the metropolitan area with an approved disease control program.

(d) "Shade tree disease" means Dutch elm disease, oak wilt, or any disorder affecting the growth and life of shade trees.

(e) "Wood utilization or disposal system" means facilities, equipment or systems used for the removal and disposal of diseased shade trees which includes the collection, transportation, processing or storage of wood and which aids in the recovery of materials or energy from wood.

(f) "Approved disease control program" means the municipal plan as approved by the commissioner to control shade tree disease.

(g) "Disease control area" means an area approved by the commissioner within which a municipality will conduct an approved disease control program.

(h) "Sanitation" means the identification, inspection, disruption of a common root system, girdling, trimming, removal, and disposal of dead or diseased wood of shade trees, including subsidies for trees removed pursuant to subdivision 4, on public or private property within a disease control area.

(i) "Reforestation" means the replacement of shade trees removed from public property and the planting of any species of tree as part of a municipal disease control program. For purposes of this clause, "public property" shall include private property within five feet of the boulevard or street terrace in any city which has enacted an ordinance on or before January 1, 1977, that prohibits or requires a permit for the planting of trees in the public right-of-way.

Subd. 1a. Repealed, 1987 c 396 art 11 s 21

Subd. 2. Commissioner to adopt rules. The commissioner shall adopt and may amend rules relating to shade tree disease control in any municipality, as defined in subdivision 1. The rules shall prescribe control measures to be used to prevent the spread of shade tree diseases and shall include the following: (a) A definition of shade tree, (b) qualifications for tree inspectors, (c) methods of identifying diseased shade trees, (d) procedures for giving reasonable notice of inspection of private real property, (e) measures for the removal of any shade tree which may contribute to the spread of shade tree disease, and for reforestation of disease control areas, (f) approved methods of treatment of shade trees, (g) criteria for priority designation areas in an approved disease control program, and (h) any other matters determined necessary by the commissioner to prevent the spread of shade tree disease and enforce the provisions of this section. After reasonable notice of inspection an owner of the real property on which a diseased shade tree is located shall remove or treat the tree within the period of time and in the manner established by the commissioner. Diseased shade trees which are not removed or treated in compliance with the commissioner's rules shall be declared a public nuisance and removed or treated by approved methods by the municipality which may assess the total expense, which shall be limited to the lowest contract rates available, provided said rates include wage levels which meet Minnesota minimum wage standards, or any part thereof to the property and the expense shall become a lien on the property. A municipality may assess not more than 50 percent of the expense of treating with an approved method or removing diseased shade trees located on street terraces or boulevards to the abutting properties and the assessment shall become a lien on the property.

Subd. 3. Rules; applicability to municipalities. The rules of the commissioner shall apply in a municipality unless the municipality adopts an ordinance which is determined by the commissioner to be more stringent than the rules of the commissioner. The rules of the commissioner or the more stringent ordinance of the municipality shall be in effect 60 days from March 31, 1974. The rules of the commissioner or the municipality shall apply to all state agencies, special purpose districts and metropolitan commissions as defined in section 473.121, subdivision 5a, which own or control land adjacent to or within a shade tree disease control area in Laws 1975, chapter 253.

Subd. 3a. Grants to municipalities. (a) The commissioner may, in the name of the state and within the limit of appropriations provided, make grants-in-aid to a municipality with an approved disease control program for the partial funding of municipal sanitation and reforestation programs. The commissioner may make grants-in-aid to any home rule charter or statutory city, or any special purpose park and recreation board organized under a charter of a city of the first class or any nonprofit corporation serving a city of the first class or any county having an approved disease control program for the acquisition or implementation of a wood utilization or disposal system.

(b) The commissioner shall promulgate rules for the administration of grants authorized by this subdivision. The rules shall establish and contain as a minimum:

(1) Procedures for grant applications;

(2) Conditions and procedures for the administration of grants;

(3) Criteria of eligibility for grants including, but not limited to, those specified in this subdivision; and

(4) Other matters the commissioner may find necessary to the proper administration of the grant program.

(c) Grants-in-aid payments for wood utilization and disposal systems made by the commissioner pursuant to this subdivision shall not exceed 50 percent of the total cost of the system. Grants for sanitation and reforestation shall be combined into one grant program. Grants to any municipality for sanitation shall not exceed 50 percent of sanitation costs approved by the commissioner including any amount of sanitation costs paid by special assessments, ad valorem taxes, federal grants or other funds. A municipality shall not specially assess a property owner any amount greater than the amount of the tree's sanitation cost minus the amount of the tree's sanitation cost reimbursed by the commissioner. Grants to municipalities for reforestation shall not exceed 50 percent of the cost, but not more than $50 per tree, of trees planted pursuant to the reforestation program; provided that a reforestation grant to any county may include 90 percent of the cost, but not more than $60 per tree, of the first 50 trees planted on public property in a town not described in subdivision 1 and of less than 1,000 population upon the town's application to the county. Reforestation grants to towns and home rule charter or statutory cities as described in subdivision 1 of less than 4,000 population with an approved disease control program may include 90 percent of the cost, but not more than $60 per tree, of the first 50 trees planted on public property with the approval of the 1979 application. The governing body of any municipality which receives a reforestation grant pursuant to this section shall appoint up to seven residents of the municipality or designate an existing municipal board or committee to serve as a reforestation advisory committee to advise the governing body of the municipality in the administration of the reforestation program. For the purpose of this subdivision, "cost" shall not include the value of a gift or dedication of trees required by a municipal ordinance but shall include documented "in kind" services or voluntary work for municipalities with a population of less than 1,000 according to the most recent federal census.

(d) Based upon estimates submitted by the municipality to the commissioner, which shall state the estimated costs of sanitation and reforestation in the succeeding quarter under an approved program, the commissioner shall direct quarterly advance payments to be made by the state to the municipality commencing April 1, 1979. The commissioner shall direct adjustment of any overestimate in a succeeding quarter. A municipality may elect to receive the proceeds of its sanitation and reforestation grants on a periodic cost reimbursement basis.

(e) A home rule charter or statutory city, or county outside the metropolitan area or any municipality, as defined in subdivision 1, may submit an application for a grant authorized by this subdivision concurrently with its request for approval of a disease control program.

Subd. 3b. Limitations upon grants to metropolitan area. The commissioner shall not make grants for sanitation and reforestation or wood utilization and disposal systems in excess of 67 percent of the amounts appropriated for those purposes to the municipalities located within the metropolitan area, as defined in subdivision 1.

Subd. 4. Subsidies to certain owners. A municipality may provide subsidies to nonprofit organizations, to owners of private residential property of five acres or less, to owners of property used for a homestead of more than five acres but less than 20 acres and to nonprofit cemeteries, however organized, for the approved treatment or removal of diseased shade trees.

Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, an owner of property on which shade trees are located may contract with a municipality to provide protection against the cost of approved treatment or removal of diseased shade trees or shade trees that will contribute to the spread of shade tree diseases. Under such contracts, the municipality shall pay for the removal or approved treatment under such terms and conditions as may be determined by the governing body of the municipality.

Subd. 5. Tree inspector. (a) Within 75 days from March 31, 1974, the governing body of each municipality shall appoint a qualified person to administer the rules of the commissioner or the more stringent shade tree disease control ordinance who shall be known as the tree inspector. In accordance with the provisions of section 471.59, two or more municipalities may jointly appoint a tree inspector for the purpose of administering the rules or ordinance within their communities. In those municipalities which have not appointed a tree inspector upon the expiration of 75 days from March 31, 1974, the commissioner may appoint a tree inspector to serve the municipality until the municipality has made an appointment. If the commissioner is unable to make such appointment, the commissioner may assign a qualified employee of the department of agriculture to perform the duties of the tree inspector. The expense of a tree inspector appointed by the commissioner shall be paid by the municipality. If an employee of the department of agriculture performs such duties the expense shall be billed to the municipality and paid into the state treasury and credited to the general fund.

(b) Upon a determination by the commissioner that a candidate for the position of the inspector is qualified, the commissioner shall issue a certificate of qualification to the tree inspector. Any person certified as a tree inspector by the commissioner is authorized upon prior notification to enter and inspect any public or private property which might harbor diseased shade trees.

(c) The commissioner may upon notice and hearing, decertify any tree inspector when it appears that said tree inspector has failed to act competently or in the public interest in the performance of duties. Such notice shall be provided and the hearing conducted in accordance with the provisions of chapter 14, governing contested case proceedings. Nothing in this clause shall limit or otherwise affect the authority of a municipality to dismiss or suspend a tree inspector at its discretion; except as otherwise provided by law.

Subd. 6. Repealed, 1977 c 90 s 15

Subd. 7. Financing. (a) A municipality may collect the amount assessed against the property under subdivision 2 as a special assessment and may issue obligations as provided in section 429.101, subdivision 1, provided that a municipality at its option make any assessment levied payable with interest in installments not to exceed five years from the date of the assessment.

(b) After a contract for the sanitation or approved treatment of trees on private property has been let, or the work commenced, the municipality may issue obligations to defray the expense of any such work financed by special assessments imposed upon private property. Section 429.091 shall apply to such obligations with the following modifications:

(1) such obligations shall be payable not more than five years from the date of issuance; and

(2) no election shall be required.

The certificates shall not be included in the net debt of the issuing municipality.

Subd. 8. Deposit of proceeds in separate fund. The proceeds of any tax levied, assessments and interest collected, or any bonds or certificates of indebtedness issued under subdivision 7 and any grants received under subdivision 3a, shall be deposited in the municipal treasury in a separate fund and expended only for the purposes authorized by this section.

Subd. 9. Diagnostic laboratory. The commissioner of agriculture shall operate a diagnostic laboratory for culturing diseased trees for positive identification of diseased shade trees.

Subd. 10. Cooperation by university. The University of Minnesota college of agriculture shall cooperate with the department of agriculture in control of shade tree disease. The college of agriculture shall also conduct research into means for identifying diseased shade trees, shall develop and evaluate control measures, shall develop means for disposing of and utilizing diseased shade trees.

Subd. 10a. Experimental programs. The commissioner may establish experimental programs for sanitation or treatment of shade tree diseases and for research into tree varieties most suitable for municipal reforestation. The research must include considerations of disease resistance, energy conservation, and other factors considered appropriate. The commissioner may make grants to municipalities, or enter into contracts with municipalities, nurseries, colleges, universities, or state or federal agencies in connection with experimental shade tree programs including research to assist municipalities in establishing priority designation areas for shade tree disease control and energy conservation.

Subd. 11. Report to the legislature. On or before January 31 each odd-numbered year, the commissioner shall report to the legislature on community shade tree disease and insect control programs and any experimental programs conducted under subdivision 10a during the previous fiscal biennium.

Subd. 12. Sections 18.021 to 18.022 superseded. The provisions of sections 18.021 to 18.022, which are inconsistent with Laws 1974, chapter 355 are hereby superseded for any municipality as defined in subdivision 1, clause (c).

Subd. 13. Municipal option to participate in program. After December 31, 1981, the term "municipality" shall include only those municipalities which have informed the commissioner of their intent to continue an approved disease control program. Any municipality desiring to participate in the grants-in-aid for the partial funding of municipal sanitation and reforestation programs must notify the commissioner in writing before the beginning of the calendar year in which it wants to participate and must have an approved disease control program during any year in which it receives grants-in-aid. Notwithstanding the provisions of any law to the contrary, no municipality shall be required to have an approved disease control program after December 31, 1981.

HIST: 1974 c 355 s 66; 1975 c 253 s 1-3,5; 1977 c 90 s 1-9; 1978 c 773 s 1,2; 1979 c 50 s 5; 1979 c 257 s 1,2,4; 1981 c 261 s 2; 1981 c 356 s 97; 1Sp1981 c 1 art 5 s 1; 1982 c 424 s 130; 1983 c 289 s 115 subd 1; 1984 c 640 s 32; 1985 c 248 s 70; 1Sp1985 c 14 art 4 s 4; 1986 c 444; 1987 c 312 art 1 s 1; 1987 c 396 art 11 s 2; 1Sp1989 c 1 art 5 s 2; 1991 c 116 s 1,2; 1995 c 233 art 2 s 56; 1997 c 7 art 1 s 7