The remaining trunk of one of the stately trees cut down at 183 Grace Church Street last week.
After a City Council meeting (March 15) in which public debate on the subject was canceled, and one Councilmember identified himself as a golf, not a tree enthusiast (“Some of you are passionate about trees, I’m passionate about public golf”), I came away with the strong impression that trees in Rye had become political.
I had a chance to meet this week with Arborist Laura Sarzaba of Bartlett Tree. She told me that most of the communities around Rye have tree laws in place that are much more stringent than Rye’s. At her suggestion, I looked up tree laws in three nearby towns.
The Village of Scarsdale (https://ecode360.com/6439529) allows property owners to cut two trees up to 24 inches in diameter in twelve months. Any tree removal beyond that requires a permit, and the Village may require a Landscaping plan with contours, and all trees identified, as well as costs for tree experts, and a performance bond to cover “planting and restoration work”.
In Harrison’s code (https://ecode360.com/8313670), “No live tree shall be removed” except for cases “endanger(ing) the public or an adjoining property owner” or demonstration of “hardship”, or “recommendation of the Town Tree Committee.” Plans, purpose of tree removal, and “effect of the removal on ecological systems” are required in the application.
Laura suggested the Village of Rye Brook (https://ecode360.com/10844325)
might be the best place to look at tree codes.
Rye Brook provides the only definition I found for “Clear Cutting” as “removal of 30% or more” trees 10 inches or more in diameter over a period of 5 years; and defines a special category of “Significant Tree”: 30 inches or more in diameter.
Permitting begins at a threshold of 10 inches.
The Rye City Council is mired in unfortunate events surrounding tree removal near the mayor’s home. Meanwhile, tree removal continues unabated around the city. On my street, Grace Church, this week, a contractor cut and mulched a red oak that looked to be about 4 feet in diameter at breast height (dbh), along with four or five trees around 2 feet dbh. There were few other trees left standing on the property, so that would qualify as “Clear Cutting” (Rye Brook’s law), and as of this writing they’re not done yet (183 Grace Church St.).
How long is the Council going to wait? How many “significant trees” will be chopped down before the Council acts?
The Council should not reinvent the wheel on tree law or be influenced by politics. Pick one of the existing codes, from nearby, and stop the destruction.
- Jim Langley