JANUARY 12 SEA CLIFF VILLAGE BOARD MEETING HEADLINES:
-VILLAGE RECEIVE DONATION FROM BEACH COMMITTEE
-PUBLIC HEARING ON TREE ORDINANCE
-SEWER PROJECT BEGINS
-GRANT FOR PHASE 2 RESTORATION OF VILLAGE HALL
BEACH COMMITTEE GIVES DONATION TO VILLAGE TO REPAIR BENCHES
The Sea Cliff Beach Committee presented the Village with a check to repair and restore eight of the benches on the boardwalk leading from Tilley's steps to Sea Cliff Beach. Trustee Carol Vogt and Mayor Kennedy thanked the members of the Committee for their donation and their efforts in support of the beach, including the annual Sea Cliff Palooza and the Pub Crawl. Michelle Capobianco, Marcie Denberg, Jenna DiPietro, Justin DiPietro, Elaine Neice, Joan Accolla, Lauren Brennen, Joady Feiner, Daria Mazzeo
PUBLIC HEARING - TREE ORDINANCE
The Village Board held a public hearing on the new Tree Law. Trustee Carol Vogt explained that the tree ordinance was the culmination of two years of work. A town hall meeting was held in September 2013, to get input from the community, and then after a first draft was written, a second meeting was held in January 2014. Based on that input a second draft was developed and posted on the website in October, giving residents the opportunity to offer their thoughts through e-mail or during public comment at Village Board meetings.
Trustee Vogt said the "goal was to find a balance between individual property rights . . . and the good of the community and the importance of having a treed village." She explained that tree removal permit requirements have been liberalized to a great extent (see chart). Residents can take down an unlimited number of trees that are under 10 inches. For the 10-20 inch category, residents are required to notify the village for the first three trees that are removed and that there will be an online registry on the Village website to do so. A permit is required to remove a fourth tree in that category or a tree greater than 20 inches. Residents who take down that fourth tree or a tree greater than 20 inches are asked to plant a new tree or to contribute to a "re-leafing" fund.
Trustee Vogt also explained that a Tree Commission would replace the current Tree Committee. The Commission would be made up of three community members with a board Trustee serving as a liaison to the Commission. Additionally, a resident can choose to have a tree on his or her property designated as a "Heritage Tree" for its age, historical value, or if it is a specimen tree. A permit would be required to remove a Heritage Tree. The legislation also includes a statement that the tree commission shall take into consideration, among other criteria, how the removal of a tree may impact a slope or hillside in making determination for issuing tree removal permits.
Resident Lou Gasser said that he believed it was unfair that he needed a permit to take down a 21 inch tree while a neighbor can take down three trees with 16 inch diameter with no permit. He said he shouldn't have to go through the permit process "for one lousy tree." He suggested that residents be able to cut down one tree, that would be registered with the Village, and that there should be a moratorium on cutting down any more trees on their property for three or five years. "You're taking the ability away to do what I want to do on my private property," he said. He expressed concerns about tree on his property posed a danger to a car or house - he said that that law would not allow him to address the issue.
Trustee Vogt replied that there is an emergency tree removal provision in the law.
"If I want to take down a tree, why should I have to listen to anybody's opinion?" he asked.
Under the current law, Trustee Vogt responded, you need a permit to take down any tree - not just one over 20 inches, and that that has been the case for the past five years. She said the purpose of the new legislation is to make the requirements "less onerous within the balance achieving the goal of keeping Sea Cliff a treed village."
Mayor Kennedy said that the "last thing anyone up here wants to do is to make the law more onerous. We want to be as lenient as possible while still maintaining that purpose of ensuring that people just don't move into Sea Cliff and start clear cutting." When you take a look at the tree laws in the surrounding villages, he said, they are much stricter than this one. Some require a permit for every tree removed with permit fees ranging from $500 to $1500. We're not looking to do that. We're looking to maintain that character of the community that existed when we all came here. If a tree is sick or dying, it falls under a whole other category. We're not interested in having a tree falling on your house or your neighbor's house. The safety of the residents comes before the tree."
Trustee Vogt added that the permit process is not an onerous one, with permits being granted just a few days after the inspection by the Tree Committee.
Mr. Gasser asked about the "preferred list of trees" that the village provides for tree replacement. Trustee Vogt said that the list is informational - "it's not that people are being told, 'you have to plant this tree.'" The purpose "is to help residents make decisions - but we don't decide what kind of tree to plant."
The resident said that he had heard from others that more than one tree would have to be planted to replace a removed tree. Trustee Villafane read a section of the statute that said "for each tree removed the resident shall re-plant a tree."
Mr. Gasser returned to his original argument that he should be able to remove one tree, no matter what the diameter, without a permit.
Resident Victoria Bjorkland of Cliff Way said that she had taken down two trees on her property and that working through the tree committee for the permits "was a very easy process and we did not have any problems." She said she had safety concerns about the trees and that the tree committee had come right away and we didn't have any difficulty." She said it was expensive to take down the trees but that the permitting process was easy.
The Board then voted to close the public hearing.
SEWER PROJECT - Mayor Kennedy said that the sewer project was now a reality and that work would begin shortly, and that the contractor would be holding a information session the following afternoon with residents and businesses directly affected by the construction as well as any other interested members of the community. He said the digging would be as deep as 17 feet and would cause disruptions on Sea Cliff Avenue. "We will be moving as quickly as possible," he said. "There will be some inconvenience for a short period of time. Being a business owner in the business district I do have my own concerns. But, it's going to go smoothly, it's going to go quickly, and the end result is going to be great for all the local businesses and homeowners and property owners. He said that people on 10th and 12th Avenues could expect increased traffic. CLICK HERE FOR NORTHWORDNEWS ARTICLE ON THE SEWER LINE.
GRANT FOR VILLAGE HALL The Mayor announced that the Village had received a grant for $350,000 from the New York State Office of Parks and Recreation for "phase 2" restoration work to Village Hall.