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Letter: Moment of Decision Coming On Tree Policy

For those of us who have tried to draw the line on bad overdevelopment and reckless removal of healthy trees in East Hills at a house on Laurel Lane, we are coming soon to a moment of decision.

Those other East Hills residents who agree with us can lend a hand and help us get the laws changed and enforcement improved.

The key dates when residents’ and the media’s attention is needed are March 27, April 2, and April 16 (or thereabout).

The village has been operating on autopilot for too long, and desperately needs meaningful participation and oversight from residents dissatisfied with issues such as the loss of valued neighborhood characteristics. Now is the time to get involved.

On March 27 the village board will meet again and hopefully residents wishing to participate in the formulation of new construction and preservation rules will make their voices heard.

A critical public hearing, has supposedly been scheduled for the board’s to-date unannounced April meeting where “testimony” will be recorded from residents wishing to comment on overbuilding, bad design, and tree removals.

After the public hearing the board may vote on a construction-moratorium that I proposed to halt the assault on our neighborhoods while relevant laws are rewritten, hopefully within 60 days.

On April 2 the Architectural Review Board (ARB) will meet and again consider the permit for demolishing and reconstructing a house on Laurel Lane in Norgate, while cutting down healthy trees in the process to make space.

Laurel Lane Neighbors already presented a signed letter to the ARB on March 5 asking that the entire application be reopened, particularly the “pirate ship” design that clashes with Norgate’s classical styles, since no one had been informed or had a chance to comment on the proposal before it was approved, presumably in January.

Mayor Koblenz promised at the last village board meeting to begin letting neighbors know about proposed permits before the ARB so they could comment on them, but gave no specifics or deadlines.

The proposal to remove five healthy trees on the Laurel Lane property has apparently been pared back to one or two trees – but a very beautiful towering old oak tree is still targeted because the builder wants to expand the house footprint.

We now have a chance to make a long-term difference in East Hills, to tighten rules protecting neighborhood character and preserve the limited  natural environment we still have in this increasingly stressed closed-in suburb.

There has been a serious failure of the specific intentions stated in the original laws to protect architectural integrity, trees and property-lot integrity. The fault clearly lies with both the laws as written and the people charged with administering and upholding them.

Those who care about the environment they live in and the quality of life in this community can help in the weeks to come to fix these problems. I am ready to assist in any way. My website will have information when available at planet-in-peril.org/easthills.html. I can be reached at (516) 669-1741. Thank you.

Richard Brummel