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Adoption of Town’s New Tree Law
The Greenburgh Town Board unanimously adopted a new Tree Law on December 19 2019. It will become effective in late March of 2020. [Note: Law becomes effective 90 after filing with NYS Sec of State under Home Rule law.]. The new law replaces a law adopted 40 years ago, which only applied to less than 10% of the properties in Unincorporated Greenburgh..
The new Tree Law is the product of substantial work by the Department of Community Development & Conservation and the Conservation Advisory Council, and comments received from the public at the four public hearings held by the Town Board. It applies to all properties in Unincorporated Greenburgh. Below are some of the main features of the law and application process.
A permit from the Town’s Forestry Officer is required to remove a tree in excess of 25” circumference.
No Permit Required for Pruning: A permit is not required for normal pruning to care for a tree.
The Dept of CD&C and the CAC have recommended to the Town Board a fee of $ 50 per tree.
$25 Fee for Most Resident Activities: The fee is cut in half if a resident removes only one or two trees per calendar year.
To help restore the environmental value of a tree removed in terms of pollutants removed from the air and stormwater absorbed, tree replanting will typically be required.
Discretion to Address Special Property Features: If special features on a property prevent a replacement tree being planted, the Forestry Officer has discretion to modify the tree replanting requirement.
A plan or schematic of where the applicant wants to plant the tree(s) should accompany the application for review by the Forestry Officer.
Professional Landscape Plans Not Required for Most Resident Activities: A professionally-prepared landscape plan is not required unless the homeowner is proposing to remove more than 10 trees.
The Dept of CD&C will be posting substantial information and guidance on its webpage to assist applicants. Applications will be available on the Town website, and the webpage will outline the application process, step-by-step. The Department’s staff also will be available by phone or in person to assist residents.
Neighbors can comment on the application. Any input will be forwarded to the applicant for comment.
Neighbor Consent Not Required: The process is administered, and the application determined, by the Forestry Officer, who is the Town official with the authority to grant, grant with conditions or deny an application, after consideration of all inputs.
Parties Have Right to Appeal: Parties have the right to appeal a decision by the Forestry Officer.
There are special rules for invasive species with toxic organisms which can spread to and kill trees on other properties; trees which due to age or storm damage are dangerous to persons or property; trees in wetlands and their buffers; and trees on excessively (35% gradient) steep slopes. These special rules will be highlighted on the Department’s webpage.
Thank you to those who took the time to provide the CAC and Town Board with the benefit of your thoughts. A number of changes were made as a result of public feedback. The Conservation Advisory Council will be conducting community outreach in 2020 to educate the community about the law.