At its last regular meeting, June 13, the City Council did not move ahead with proposed amendments to the City tree ordinance.
By Robin Jovanovich
At its last regular meeting, June 13, the City Council did not move ahead with proposed amendments to the City tree ordinance. Given that there is still not consensus on the Council, Mayor Doug French closed the public hearing, but promised to reopen it once a revised draft of the law is ready.
Carolyn Cunningham, one of the community members who have worked on the revised ordinance for the last three years, stressed the importance of passing a revised law soon.
After the Council meeting, she said, “The land-use boards working with new building application plans know indeed that there is a need for greater protection for our trees.”
Cunningham, a former City Councilwoman, currently serves on the Planning Commission and is a member of EAGR (Environmental Advocacy Group of Rye). She continued, “It’s always possible to improve legislation, but we feel many of the provisions would be an improvement and protection to Rye’s current situation.”
The Council has received a number of letters from residents in favor of the proposed revisions. In her letter, Sarah Barringer wrote: “In the eight years my husband and I have lived in Rye, we have been amazed and sickened by the frequent clear cutting and removal of mature trees in favor of construction and barren grass lawns.” Longtime resident Ellen Deixler wrote: “During the past few years I have been dismayed to witness every single tree being cut down on sites where a new home will be constructed — even when the trees are growing nowhere close to the structures being built. A number of these lots are on Forest Avenue, or what I now refer to as ‘what used to be Forest Avenue.’ It is negligent to allow the unnecessary cutting of healthy trees with no policy enforced, and I believe it is time to pass an updated tree ordinance which will bring us in line with those of surrounding communities.”
Many residents have also expressed concern about the proposed amendments. They’ve stated their case at Council meetings, primarily asking that their property rights not be infringed on with further restrictions.
As Councilman Rich Filippi noted, “This ordinance has created a great deal of dialogue.”
The next step is for the proponents of the amendment on the Council —so far Laura Brett, Filippi, Peter Jovanovich, and Catherine Parker — to propose a revised version of the statute that addresses the concerns raised in the public hearings.
Cunningham said, “I hope that any rewriting will involve working with EAGR, which has worked on this for three years.”