NEW LAW WOULD GREATLY LOOSEN RESTRICTIONS FOR TREE REMOVAL IN SEA CLIFF
October 1, 2014 -- The Sea Cliff Village Board has drafted a new Tree Ordinance that residents will have the opportunity to weigh in on at the next Board Meeting on October 14 and again at a public hearing in November. The new regulations, if adopted, would significantly loosen restrictions on tree removal in the Village.
While the bill's language emphasizes the many environmental and aesthetic benefits of trees to the community, the proposal is in large part a response to the impact of Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene, with the preamble stating that the board "recognizes that recent weather events, including wind, snow and rain events have impacted trees on Long Island greatly and that some members of the public have become more concerned about the safety of trees in relation to property protection."
The purpose of the new law, the draft reads, "is to strike a balance between property protection and personal safety concerns and prevention of the indiscriminate destruction or removal of trees within the boundaries of the Village and to provide for the replacement of trees that may be destroyed or removed."
The current law, adopted in 2010 requires that a resident wishing to take down a tree that is greater than eight inches diameter at a height of 4.5 feet, first obtain a permit before removing it. The Tree Committee, made up of the Buildings Superintendent, a Village Board Trustee, and two residents, has the authority to grant or deny tree removal permits.
The proposed law creates three distinct tree "classes," with different removal regulations for each. "Class A" trees are those with less than a 10 inch caliper (diameter);"B", from 10 to 20 inches; and "C", more than 20 inches, or a tree that has been designated a "Heritage Tree." There are no restrictions on the removal of Class A trees. For Class B trees, a resident can remove up to three trees without first obtaining a permit, but would be required to provide notification to the Village; A resident would be required to obtain a permit to remove more than three class B trees, or any class C tree. In addition, at the third level, the resident would be required to replace the removed tree with a similar type, or be assessed a fee.
The legislation also provides for the protection of trees that have "such a unique value or importance as to be considered irreplaceable" because of "their location, rarity, size, and/or aesthetic, botanical, ecological and/or historical value." Residents can voluntarily nominate such trees on their own property or on public property for a "Heritage Tree" designation. If the Commission deems that appropriate, the tree would be placed on a list of Heritage Trees, and would receive the same protection as a class C tree with regard to removal requirements.
Additionally, the Tree Committee would be replaced by a "Tree Commission" made up of three resident members, one of whom would serve as the chair. Two more residents would be designated alternate members. A Village Board Trustee would act as a liaison to the Committee, and the Village building Superintendent would be available to offer his advice, but neither would be voting members with regard to the issuance of permits.
The proposed legislation is the result of a year long process that began in September 2013, when the Village Board hosted a "Town Hall Meeting" to solicit ideas from residents with regard to revising the current tree policy. A follow-up town hall meeting was held this past January at which the board sought feedback on many of the proposals that would eventually end up in the draft legislation. Since that time, the language of the new law was worked out and at the last Village Board meeting, Trustee Carol Vogt announced that the proposal would be posted on the Village website so that residents could once again offer feedback - this time at the October 14 Village Board Meeting, before holding a public hearing on the law in November.
Click here for link to proposed tree legislation
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AT TOWN HALL MEETING, SC VILLAGE BOARD PROPOSES LOOSENING OF TREE REMOVAL REGULATIONS (January 29, 2014)
SEA CLIFF RESIDENTS DEBATE PROPER ROLE OF GOVERNMENT AT TREE ORDINANCE TOWN MEETING (September 29, 2013)