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Oyster Bay Town to waive tree removal fees again

Oyster Bay Town Hall on March 26, 2012.

Oyster Bay Town Hall on March 26, 2012. Credit: Nicole Bartoline

Next year, Oyster Bay Town will, for the second consecutive year, waive fees for tree removal permits and other charges associated with its tree preservation bureau, officials said yesterday. A line in the preliminary 2013 budget shows no revenue is expected from the bureau.

Heated discussions began in August between local environmental leaders and town officials over the proposed revision or replacement of a four-decade-old ordinance that mandates permits for tree removal, in part to prevent the wholesale destruction of trees.

The town board in September 2011 approved waiving the fees. The permitting process otherwise remains the same, town spokeswoman Marta Kane said Tuesday.

Supervisor John Venditto has said he wants to update the ordinance further because the fees — up to $75 per tree removed — unfairly burden residents and because the permitting process amounts to “government intrusion.”

The tree preservation bureau in 2011 brought in about $39,000 in revenue, but in the first six months of 2012 lost $225 due to refunds, according to budget documents.

Community leaders are to meet soon with town representatives about a revised tree ordinance, Ben Jankowski, co-founder of the preservation group Save the Jewel by the Bay, said yesterday. He said no meeting date has been set.

Jankowski said he did not know how the lack of fees would affect the ordinance-drafting process.

Cash-strapped Oyster Bay next year will seek, however, to raise revenue through “nominal increases” in other fees, such as those for patrons of the ice skating rink, officials said. Those changes will mostly affect nonresidents, officials said.

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