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Trustees Ponder Strengthening of Tree Preservation Laws

birchWhile lawmakers in Scarsdale are having difficulty coming up with code to preserve Scarsdale's historic homes, they have been moving forward on preserving the Village's tree canopy. Proposed revisions to the Village code on trees, grass, brush and weed would go a long way toward preventing the destruction of the tree canopy which provide so many benefits to our local environment.

According to the opening paragraph of the new code, trees provide "shade and aesthetic appeal, enhance green space, improve air quality, reduce energy use and atmospheric carbon dioxide, provide and promote habitat for wildlife, impede soil erosion, aid water absorption, inhibit excess runoff and flooding, provide screening, offer a natural barrier to noise and provide other environmental benefits and generally enhance the quality of life within the Village."

In order to preserve trees and prevent residents and developers from removing them without permission, the proposed laws would strengthen provisions on the size and kind of trees that can be removed and require permits before trees are taken down.

Village Trustees met on Tuesday September 12 to review proposed revisions to the law but time did not allow them to complete the discussion, so a second meeting will be scheduled.

In short, here are some of the changes to the provisions under consideration:

While the current code requires a permit for the removal of three or more trees exceeding six inches in the diameter of the tree trunk measured at 54 inches above the ground (DBH), the new law would require a permit for the removal of a single tree greater than six inches DBH.

Certain native trees with narrow trunks (small caliper) would require a permit if their DBH exceeds three inches. They are: serviceberry

Hawthorn
Crabapple
Redbud
Mountain Ash
Amelanchier
Birch

The applicant may be required to pay the Village to retain a tree expert to supervise and "ensure that any tree removal is carried out in compliance with any permit of an approved land use plan.

New proposed code has been drafted regarding the planting of replacement trees for any tree that is removed that is 24 inches DBH or greater as well as a group of trees removed within a one year period that have an aggregate DBH of 24 inches or greater. For each 24 inches of DBH removed, a replacement tree will need to be planted.

(This should help to restore the landscape when someone removed many small trees whose individual measurements would not require replacement.)

The Village Engineer may require the planting of one or more replacement trees as a condition of granting any tree removal permit. The engineer can require that replacement trees of comparable size or species be planted where existing trees are so large and mature that it is not practical to replace them or require the planting of multiple trees. Where it is not feasible to plant replacement trees the application will be required to make a payment to the Tree Preservation Fun which will be used to purchase and plant replacement trees.

Regarding Heritage trees, the designation of Heritage Trees can be made by the Board of Architectural Review. Heritage trees can only be removed if it is dead, dying, hazardous or diseased as determined by a tree expert and certified in writing. If a protected tree is creating a hardship it may be removed.

Time ran out before the committee could review the balance of the proposed changes to the code. A second meeting will be scheduled but you can review the proposed law here.

Commenting on the proposed legilation at the end of the meeting, Mayor Dan Hochvert said, "We are trying to add value to Scarsdale by maintaining the tree canopy we treasure. We are running out of time. We need to get this going because we are losing canopy. This is a good set of recommendations."

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