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Letter: More Tree-Cutting In East Hills

Several weeks ago I wrote about the pending demolition of 37 Laurel Lane and its negative aspects. Now there is surprising good news and bad news about this story.

The bad news is that the builder is now proposing to cut down nearly every healthy, towering old tree on the property, a total of five. This request will be reviewed soon by the village Architectural Review Board (ARB).

I also discovered that despite tree protection laws in the Village of East Hills, officials have routinely been permitting builders to cut down all or almost all the trees on each property when new homes are built. This has resulted in the virtual clear-cutting of properties.

This appalling trend can be seen right now at the construction site of 140 Walnut Drive in Country Estates where every one of the eight trees was cut down, and at 90 Revere Road in Norgate where five trees, almost every one there, was cut down.

A village official argued to me that this was justified for the economical installation of state-of-the-art new sanitary systems for storm water and sewage. But he acknowledged there are other alternatives as well.

But there is good news too.

Residents will now have a chance to oppose the tree removal and other issues because the village Buildings Dept. issued a “Stop Work” order for 37 Laurel Lane, and the Architectural Review Board will have to re-consider the application as soon as its next meeting, currently scheduled for March 5 at 8 p.m.

Neighbors around Laurel Lane have finally been informed of the full story about 37 Laurel Lane — they were not given any prior notice because in East Hills neighbors never are — and several of them plan to speak out at the upcoming Board of Trustees and ARB meetings.

Also, Village Trustee Clara Pomerantz, who was campaigning on Laurel Lane over the weekend with Trustee Emmanuel Zuckerman, expressed surprise and displeasure that so many trees were being cut down with full village approval, and she promised to look into the issue. Trustee Zuckerman also expressed some interest in the issue, and agreed to look into it.

(An East Hills “Candidates’ Meeting” March 5 at 7 p.m. the Bryant Library may give residents a chance to ask more questions about candidates’ positions on this topic.)

Finally, a member of the East Hills senior activity committee has proposed making the issue of over-building and tree removals a topic at the group’s next meeting.

Those wishing to attend the next Architectural Review Board meeting should check with village hall to confirm the date and time (621-5600). While there is not yet a designated pubic speaking period, the new Chairman Spencer Kanis has begun permitting some public statements from the floor.

Richard Brummel