After a full public hearing and input from community leaders, Mayor Michael R. Koblenz and the board of trustees enacted new reforms aimed at preserving and maintaining the beauty of the community. The law now requires an application and permit before a tree which has a trunk of five inches or greater in diameter (or 18 inches in circumference) at a height of 4 feet above the base of the trunk can be removed. Even when permits are issued, the new law requires for replacement.
The mayor credited Jess Drabkin, chair of the Architectural Review Board, and the members of his committee for helping research, plan and propose the legislation. The members of the Architectural Review Board include Spencer Kanis, deputy chair for administration; Bruce Spenadel, deputy chair for architectural review; Dr. Kenneth Crystal, Hilda Yohalem, Sol Niego, Richard Oberlander, Brett Rosenfeld and Steven Kriger. Mr. Oberlander, a well-known arborist, was singled out by the mayor as one of the prime contributors to the project.
Besides aesthetics, the mayor and board's action was directed at ensuring that trees will continue to stabilize the soil and control water pollution by preventing soil erosion and flooding, absorbing air pollution, providing oxygen, yielding advantageous micro climatic effects, preserve and enhance property values, offer a natural barrier to noise, and provide privacy.
The new law, known as the "Tree and Preservation Act of 2006," sets forth the content of the application which will be used and the documents which are necessary in order to gain a permit.
The ARB Tree Subcommittee is composed of Spencer Kanis, chair, Richard Oberlander, committee arborist, and Hilda Yohalem.
Upon receipt of the application by the ARB, the Tree Subcommittee chair shall site, review and make an appointment with the applicant to visit and inspect the analysis with the members of the subcommittee and prepare a report to the ARB. In determining whether or not a permit should be granted, the decision hall be based upon the following criteria: the condition of the tree or trees with respect to disease, proximity to existing or proposed structures and interference with utility services; the necessity of removing the tree or trees in order to implement the stated purpose of the application; the effect of the tree removal on erosion, soil moisture retention, flow of surface waters and drainage; the number and density of trees in the area and the effect of tree removal on other existing vegetation and property values of the neighborhood. Whether any tree in question is a tree worthy of preservation due to unusual characteristics such as age, history, size rarity, financial value or visual importance to the neighborhood.
In addition to any fines and penalties which may be imposed for improper removal of trees, in the event that any tree(s) is removed or destroyed without a permit, such tree(s) shall be required to be replaced by the planting or a tree(s) with a caliper of not less than five inches, and of a type as determined by the ARB.
The penalties for offenses will be considerable. Any person who violates any of the provisions of the new chapter will be subject to a fine of $5,000 dollars per tree that has been destroyed or removed.