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East Hills may charge for tree removal on small sites

The East Hills Village Hall is shown in

The East Hills Village Hall is shown in this May 29, 2013 file photo. Credit: JC Cherubini

The Village of East Hills is considering charging $300 to remove a tree if a construction or expansion site is too small for a required replanting.

Such a measure would amend a 2009 law designed to "prevent the indiscriminate destruction or removal of trees" and ensure trees are relocated or replaced after being removed or destroyed, according to village code.

Under the law, residents and contractors must obtain a tree permit from the village Architectural Review Board before a tree is removed. The applicant is required to plant a replacement tree at the site with a width of not less than 3 inches and of a type determined by the village tree warden or the review board.

With the amendment, fees for tree removals would be placed in a fund to provide money for the planting of trees or other greenery in public spaces in the village, or for other beautification projects.

During a public hearing Wednesday at village hall, board attorney Bill Burton said the amendment is a "work in progress."

He said changes to the bill could be made while the board reviews the proposal. No date was set for further discussion or action on the amendment.

Burton said the measure would only pertain to trees approved for removal by the board. He said that in some cases, when trees are removed for new construction or home expansion, there have been problems with the replacement of trees because of space issues.

"The idea is to create a fund and have an amount of money put into the fund in lieu of replanting the tree," Burton said.

Resident and board member Jana Goldenberg said a sliding scale for fees was best.

"I still feel $300 a tree is way overboard," Goldenberg said. She suggested a fee of $100 per tree if one to three trees are removed, $200 each for four to seven trees, and $400 per tree if eight or more trees are involved.

Deputy Mayor Emanuel Zuckerman disagreed that $300 was too high.

"If you replace a 3-inch-caliper tree, garden centers start at $450 and up, so if the homeowner is paying $300 to get something comparable, they're still getting a bargain."

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