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Trustees Ponder Strengthening of Tree Preservation Laws

birchWhile lawmakers in Scarsdale are having difficulty coming up with code to preserve Scarsdale's historic homes, they have been moving forward on preserving the Village's tree canopy. Proposed revisions to the Village code on trees, grass, brush and weed would go a long way toward preventing the destruction of the tree canopy which provide so many benefits to our local environment.

According to the opening paragraph of the new code, trees provide "shade and aesthetic appeal, enhance green space, improve air quality, reduce energy use and atmospheric carbon dioxide, provide and promote habitat for wildlife, impede soil erosion, aid water absorption, inhibit excess runoff and flooding, provide screening, offer a natural barrier to noise and provide other environmental benefits and generally enhance the quality of life within the Village."

In order to preserve trees and prevent residents and developers from removing them without permission, the proposed laws would strengthen provisions on the size and kind of trees that can be removed and require permits before trees are taken down.

Village Trustees met on Tuesday September 12 to review proposed revisions to the law but time did not allow them to complete the discussion, so a second meeting will be scheduled.

In short, here are some of the changes to the provisions under consideration:

While the current code requires a permit for the removal of three or more trees exceeding six inches in the diameter of the tree trunk measured at 54 inches above the ground (DBH), the new law would require a permit for the removal of a single tree greater than six inches DBH.

Certain native trees with narrow trunks (small caliper) would require a permit if their DBH exceeds three inches. They are: serviceberry

Mountain Ash

The applicant may be required to pay the Village to retain a tree expert to supervise and "ensure that any tree removal is carried out in compliance with any permit of an approved land use plan.

New proposed code has been drafted regarding the planting of replacement trees for any tree that is removed that is 24 inches DBH or greater as well as a group of trees removed within a one year period that have an aggregate DBH of 24 inches or greater. For each 24 inches of DBH removed, a replacement tree will need to be planted.

(This should help to restore the landscape when someone removed many small trees whose individual measurements would not require replacement.)

The Village Engineer may require the planting of one or more replacement trees as a condition of granting any tree removal permit. The engineer can require that replacement trees of comparable size or species be planted where existing trees are so large and mature that it is not practical to replace them or require the planting of multiple trees. Where it is not feasible to plant replacement trees the application will be required to make a payment to the Tree Preservation Fun which will be used to purchase and plant replacement trees.

Regarding Heritage trees, the designation of Heritage Trees can be made by the Board of Architectural Review. Heritage trees can only be removed if it is dead, dying, hazardous or diseased as determined by a tree expert and certified in writing. If a protected tree is creating a hardship it may be removed.

Time ran out before the committee could review the balance of the proposed changes to the code. A second meeting will be scheduled but you can review the proposed law here.

Commenting on the proposed legilation at the end of the meeting, Mayor Dan Hochvert said, "We are trying to add value to Scarsdale by maintaining the tree canopy we treasure. We are running out of time. We need to get this going because we are losing canopy. This is a good set of recommendations."


#12 Stop the Madness!! 2017-09-19 13:34
If a homeowner wants to cut down a ridiculously large heritage tree that is overhanging their house because of the danger of falling tree limbs can the Village actually say no? Then what if a tree limb does fall and seriously injures someone or damages the house--is the Village now liable for the injury or possibly death? In this case Scarsdale Taxpayers would be ultimately responsible because the liability would come out of our taxes. We must stop this proposal.

Large trees do not belong on small plots of land. If the Village wants to protect trees on Village properties, right of ways, and open spaces then they are welcome to do so. However the Government's needs to control a property owner's trees that were legally purchased along with the house is absurd.

Lastly the Village requiring property owners to hire and pay for a "tree expert" in order to decide what can and can't be done on our property should scare the heck out of everyone. How can we know for sure this tree expert isn't just placating what the Village wants so it continues to get more jobs from the Village? Who decides which "tree expert" to use? Can I consult my own tree guy who in my opinion is a "tree expert"?

All of Scarsdale should be up in arms about this new proposed ordinance. It's all about getting more money from the residents with permits and getting more control over all of us. Soon the govt. will tell us what color to paint our houses. Let's stop this madness and take back control of our government! THEY WORK FOR US. Not the other way around.
#11 Out of Touch or Does Not Care 2017-09-19 10:59
Did the Village Government not learn anything from the last election? The reason many long term residents, like I, decided to vote row B and break with years of Scarsdale tradition was because the alternative party was at least listening to the needs of the residents (even if they were heavy in on one big issue) while traditional Scarsdale government were becoming more and more out of touch with the needs of all of the village's residents. With this move it's hard to excuse maybe they're out of touch and being swayed by a vocal minority to do something most of the village does not want done. Mayor Dan definitely has been making efforts to listen, but he is putting aside residents' concerns around the skyrocketing cost of living here, requests to fix roads, the need to revitalize our village center and improve security in order to drive his own personal agenda. This proposal does nothing but push bureaucracy and cost to homeowners and puts substantial liability risk onto the village for trees in private yards. The first time a tree destroys property or injures someone in a storm that the village didn't allow or the permit process delayed removal on, how much will that cost the town? It's individual homeowners just trying to maintain their yards that will be impacted, not developers. It's expensive to remove trees and no one does it just for kicks. The only time wholesale removal of trees is a problem is when renovations and tear downs are going on. Additional controls on tree removals related to renovations should be built into the building/zoning laws (like they've done with the paving and driveway restrictions, which is a fair and properly targeted) as the proper control point to curb that practice.
#10 Tree lover 2017-09-18 14:26
The proposed legislation begins with a statement about how the aging tree canopy will probably decrease in the near future naturally and then goes on for pages outlining all the outrageous things that the Village should make private property owners do to preserve it. These people are nuts.
#9 Not accurate 2017-09-18 12:01
This love affair with trees is absurd. There are waay too many trees in Scarsdale which creates insect problems and mold. Trees aren't meant to live forever. In fact having large dense trees inhibits growth of new healthy trees underneath. This is just another way to control the taxpaying citizens and create more work and dollars for the village employees who need to justify their existence.

Everyone need to stop reading the book "Giving Tree" to our kids. It's such a fairy tale premise comparing trees to humans and implying they have feelings and compassion. Such nonsense.
#8 Very concern resident 2017-09-18 10:55
Every homeowner in Scarsdale should read the new proposed the new law:

This village is out of control!!
#7 anonymous 2017-09-16 11:17
The Mayor says "We are running out of time." What a ridiculous statement. Trees are a renewable resource, just plant some more of them and wait a few years. There was much less tree canopy in Scarsdale 100 years ago then there is today.
#6 Sherry Hock 2017-09-15 16:53
It's about time someone stops this crazy wiping out of trees. We are looking more and more like the urban cities! With developers buying older homes on larger lots and clear cutting so they can make a buck! I've seen in the last 10 years cutting down of 200 years old trees. Someone has to care about the environment and if private owners won't then the village should step in. There should be a huge fine for someone cutting down trees. How do people think droughts and global warming take place?! It starts with chopping down the trees, removing green and replacing with concrete.
#5 Maria Donatello 2017-09-15 13:39
Does the Village also want to tell me what way to hang my toilet paper? This place is becoming a nanny state at taxpayers' expense.
#4 Scarsdale resident 2017-09-15 12:08
Interesting that the Village of Scarsdale is only interested in what private property owners are doing. Taking 66 tress down on Post Road and Mamaroneck Road, is OK?? I wonder if Scarsdale will assume liability on a tree that falls on a house during a storm...
#3 Jane Schroeder 2017-09-15 09:46
When will the Mayor and Trustees pave roads, fix sidewalks, install lights that work, and fix the reval where the lawsuit is still ongoing? Telling residents what to do about trees should hardly be the first priority.

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