Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 01 February 2013 00:00
A century ago, Joyce Kilmer wrote, “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.”
East Hills resident Richard Brummel apparently thinks he has never seen anything as lovely as a tree, and he is now stumping for the preservation of a 125-yerar-old tree on Roslyn Road near Jerome Avenue in Mineola.
Brummel has circulated petitions to the Mineola Village Board and the Town of North Hempstead. The tree sits on foreclosed property.
Brummel hopes new tree laws will be established in an effort to preserve older, bigger trees in the area.
“I am concerned for the future of this tree because developers in this area typically destroy all trees on the properties they build on,” he said.
For the last two decades, the National Arbor Day Foundation has dubbed Mineola as “Tree City USA” for its continuing efforts at tree planting. Mineola reported that 450 trees would be replaced due to Hurricane Sandy.
Village representatives said if tree preservation laws similar to those used in communities elsewhere were adopted, any resident that wants to remove a tree on his or her property would need to first obtain authorization from the village. This may entail some type of inspection and permitting process and might also include tree-service company licensing.
“There’d have to be a permit process, because that’s the only we could prevent people from trees being taken down,” Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss said.
In some cases, homeowners could be denied the right to remove or alter a tree on their property. Where tree preservation codes are in effect, homeowners can be denied building applications because preserved trees are in the way.
“I love trees,” Strauss stated, adding he does not relish the idea of telling people what to do with their property. “The concept with the environment, absolutely; but there comes a point where government should not infringe on peoples rights, on peoples property.”
This could, village reps noted, cause an increase in village taxes as additional personnel or outside contractors would have to conduct inspections and process permits.
Home values could be affected because preservation limits on private property would need to be disclosed during potential sales, according to Strauss. Furthermore, homeowners’ rates would skyrocket because of permit requirements and if a resident wants their home remodeled and a tree is in the way, it cannot be cut down because of preservation laws.
“What happens if we put these laws into effect, and a person can’t sell a house,” Strauss said. “What if a young couple buys a house with a tree and it’s a small house and they want to expand for kids, then we tell them they can’t and they have to cram all their kids into one bedroom?”
Speaking of the tree Brummel wants to save in Mineola, arborist Richard Oberlander of Nassau Suffolk Tree Service said the tree is “near-perfect” symmetry and has a broad crown, which grows 90 feet across. He thinks it’s a “special specimen.” The International Society of Arboriculture certifies Oberlander as an accredited authority on trees.
“The tree has a co-dominant stem but is so well balanced it has very good structural integrity,” said Oberlander. “It is a tree I can only characterize as humongous and it clearly deserves to be protected and embraced by the community as a significant environmental asset.”
Oberlander said the Mineola tree is in “very good health” and “provides value historically, aesthetically and ecologically.”