(a) Except as provided in subsection (b), no person shall cut, remove, trim, or in any way damage any tree in any street right-of-way in the Class 2 municipality or create any condition injurious to any tree without having first made a written application so to do to the commission and having obtained advance written permission from the commission. Any governmental body or utility may, by filing an application accompanied by a certificate as hereinafter provided, obtain a continuing permission to trim, cut, or remove at any time any trees in any area described in its application for such permission. The form of application shall be as established by the commission, and the commission may delegate to one or more of its members or officers the power to grant such permission in accordance with standards set by it. The commission may in its discretion hold public hearings on any application and may approve part of an application or may approve an application upon terms and conditions as the commission may establish. In considering any application before it, the commission shall base its decision on whether the public and private benefit that will result from granting the application outweighs the public and private benefit that will result from denying it. In the event the mayor of the Class 2 municipality or public utility shall certify to the commissioners that it desires to trim, cut, or remove trees and that it is or may become reasonably necessary to do so to prevent a public hazard or to provide efficient or economical service to the public, then such certificate shall be conclusive evidence for the approval of the application, and the commission shall approve the same, and there shall be no appeal from such approval except as provided in Section 11-72-10.
(b) During a declared emergency or to eliminate an imminent danger to life, health, property, or the environment, or as required for the repair or restoration of service, a utility or utility contractor may cut, remove, or trim trees in any street right-of-way in a Class 2 municipality without having obtained advance permission from the commission.