A property owner is facing a potential $160,000 fine after being accused by officials in Roslyn Estates of violating village code by cutting down more than a dozen trees without a permit.
Todd Rainey, who lives in Woodbury, allegedly removed 16 trees in July from the front and back yards during renovations, village officials said.
Rainey, who declined to comment on the matter, hired Seaford-based Long Island Tree and Landscape Service Inc. to cut down the trees, according to court documents. Rainey and the company have been charged by the village prosecutor with violating village code, triggering the potential six-figure fine.
“It’s not like one tree. There were 16 trees,” said Mayor Paul Leone Peters. “It’s an egregious violation of the code.”
Under village code, no one can cut down a tree with a circumference larger than 22 inches without a permit, and a violation carries a maximum fine of $10,000 per infraction.
Joseph Richardson, the village’s building inspector, inspected the property on July 26 and measured the remaining stumps, which had circumferences from 28.27 to 75.39 inches, according to court documents.
In a receipt dated July 24, Rainey was charged $7,386.50 for the company’s service, which included removing “miscellaneous saplings” in the backyard and front yard.
Both defendants were arraigned Sept. 10 in the Village Justice Court and pleaded not guilty. Officials at the tree service company and its attorney did not respond to requests for comment.
Andrew Luskin, the village prosecutor, said the parties are in discussions to reach a settlement. He declined to disclose whether the removed trees were healthy.
Peters said no agreement was reached at a meeting held earlier this month.
“We don’t want to place any undue hardship on any resident,” Peters said. “But if you don’t make it hurt, people would continue to do it because it’s cheaper to do that rather than to obey the rules.”
Roslyn Estates, which uses a tree as its village symbol, is not alone in having laws protecting the woody plants.
The Village of Roslyn, which borders Roslyn Estates, bars removing a tree without a permit. The first offense carries a maximum fine of $1,000 or up to 15 days in jail. In Roslyn Estates' neighboring Village of Munsey Park, the fine is $750 to $10,000.
The next court hearing is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Nov. 12 for a continued conference.