PROPOSED REVISED TREE CODE - SUMMARY OF CHANGES
The Town of Greenburgh’s Tree Code would be revised to provide for 1) protection and preservation of as many trees as possible, particularly healthy mature trees, specimen trees and/or trees of select, native or rare species; 2) replacement of those trees which are removed due to disease or development; 3) preservation of the greatest possible level of green foliage within the Town; 4) protection of suitable wildlife habitats the Town; and 5) safe removal of trees when necessary.
The Tree Code would apply to all properties in the Town. All properties would be treated equally, so that neighbors will no longer lose the ability to protect their neighborhood just because a property owner wants to cut down trees on a property that happens to not exceed an acre.
The Tree Code would permit normal pruning designed to promote the health of trees, as well as the removal on a property of up to 15 trees with diameters of less than 6 inches within a calendar year. Other requests for trees removal would be subject to a process designed to fairly balance the rights of all, including a fair appeals process.
The Tree Code would be consistent with the Town’s development of environmental laws on impervious surfaces, steep slopes and wetlands, and generally similar to tree codes adopted by other Westchester County communities.
The Tree Code would require property owners, and those otherwise responsible for the property, to protect their trees, shrubs and bushes from destructive and harmful infections or infestations. If necessary, and on notice from the Town, property owners may be required to destroy or remove any that are infected or infested. Such destruction or removal may be necessary to protect the community against infestations that could devastate the Town’s greenery and harm both ambiance and property values.
The Tree Code would prohibit any site disturbance, including the cutting, pruning or breaking of any trees or branches, until the appeal process on an application is completed. Such a prohibition is necessary to eliminate attempts to circumvent the Code.
The Tree Code would require that trees slated to be cut down be encircled with orange tape prior to the submission of an application for tree removal, to ensure that neighbors are aware of the planned changes to their neighborhood.
Penalties for violations of the Tree Code would be significantly strengthened, including a doubling of penalties if more than 15 trees over three inches in diameter on a site are cut, if any tree is injured, cut or broken while the appeal process is pending, or if offences are repeated or if any tree is sold for board. Strengthening the penalties will deter abuse, particularly by developers who might be willing to pay lower fines in order to make large profits by building on clear cut property.
A complete draft of the proposed Tree Code can be found on the Town’s website