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Roslyn Harbor trustees to vote on changes to tree removal code

The village’s proposed amendments include clearer guidelines on permit applications and the creation of a beautification fund.

Tree-lined Dogwood Avenue in Roslyn Harbor. Village trustees

Tree-lined Dogwood Avenue in Roslyn Harbor. Village trustees will vote on code amendments that will outline when and where a homeowner can remove a tree and whether they are obligated to replace it. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Village of Roslyn Harbor is proposing changes to its tree removal code, one of which would feature a beautification fund for sprucing up the area.

The changes, which board trustees could approve next month, will outline when and where a homeowner can remove a tree and whether they are obligated to replace it.

“If someone wants to take down a tree and an arborist says it’s a living tree, then either the board is going to say ‘No, you can’t or you have to replace it,’ ” Marla Wolfson, the clerk-treasurer, said during a trustees’ meeting on Tuesday. “Right now, that’s not the case.”

The village’s current code instructs residents to apply for a permit if they want to remove a tree on their property that is more than 15 feet from their home. Once filed, a member of the tree committee visits the home and renders a decision. Residents do not have to apply for a permit if they want to remove a tree that is less than 15 feet from their home.

Wolfson said at Tuesday’s meeting that Roslyn Harbor sees an uptick in tree removal permit applications in the spring and that it would behoove trustees to pass more detailed guidelines before residents start sending requests.

Village attorney Peter MacKinnon is drafting those amendments, village officials said.

One of them stipulates that any resident who removes a living tree more than 15 feet from their home must replace it with a sapling that is 4 inches in diameter and is from a village-provided list of tree species. If the homeowner doesn’t plant a new tree, they can either petition trustees for an exemption or pay into a newly created beautification fund. The village hasn’t determined the amount of potential payment.

“If you give the choice of the replacement tree or a replacement fund that can be used for beautification, the community is going to benefit one way or the other,” MacKinnon said.

Another proposed amendment would not require replacement of dead or dying trees. Wolfson said the village is planning to hire an arborist who can make that determination.

Abby Kurlender, Roslyn Harbor’s planning board chairwoman who spent three years on the tree committee, said the proposed changes will help the committee make more uniform decisions about who can remove trees.

“Everybody needs those tools to help them be consistent when making determinations,” Kurlender said. “This way, it’ll be all spelled out.”

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