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Indian Hills Country Club faces $375 fee for removing trees

Indian Hills Country Club in Fort Salonga is

Indian Hills Country Club in Fort Salonga is seen on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Owners of the club recently removed 25 trees on the property without a permit. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The owner of the Indian Hills Country Club face a $375 fee imposed by the Town of Huntington for taking down 25 healthy trees without a permit.

Jim Tsunis, managing member of the Hauppauge-based Northwind Group that owns the Fort Salonga property, will now have to pay for the violation, which amounts to triple the normal permit fee of $25 for every five trees removed.

“As part of regular golf course maintenance and for the safety of our members we routinely take down trees,” Tsunis said in a statement. “We have over 5,000 trees on the golf course and took down 25 as part of that process.”

Town spokesman A.J. Carter said area residents told Huntington officials that trees were being cleared from the property around the time a representative from the Northwind Group sought a permit to take down 58 trees on March 2.

On March 9, a representative from the town’s planning department, which issues the permits, visited the site for an inspection and found that 27 trees had already been removed.

“They determined two of the trees appeared to be dead or dying — were hazards — and 25 appeared to be in good condition and should not have been removed without a permit,” Carter said.

The town has a policy of tripling the fee if someone takes down a tree and then applies for a permit after the fact, Carter said. “So we will tell the current owner [of Indian Hills] the fee for taking down those 25 trees without a permit will be $375, triple what it normally would have been.”

Additionally the owners will have to submit a letter from a certified arborist saying a tree is dead, dying or poses a danger before any other trees are removed.

Tsunis wants to build 108 town homes for residents age 55 and older on the grounds of the golf club. Neighborhood residents have opposed the project, saying they prefer single-family homes.

Tsunis has applied to the town to change the zoning for the property from 1-acre single family to Open Space Cluster District and the application is pending.

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