If you plan to cut down large trees, you may be required to replant.
This week, Scarsdale’s Law and Sustainability committees proposed changes to the village tree code to regulate the removal and replanting of trees on private property.
The Scarsdale Village Board has attempted to fine-tune the village tree code several times this year, but they had not yet nailed down regulations for clear cutting, which is the mass removal of multiple trees at one time.
In regulations set forth in the “Replacement Trees” portion of the code, a homeowner who removes a tree that is 24 inches DBH — diameter at breast height — must replace it.
“These revisions are all geared toward addressing the situations where a more substantial number, and/or larger trees, are removed,” Trustee Carl Finger told the Inquirer.
In addition, if homeowners remove a tree with a combined DBH of 48 inches, they must replace it with a tree similar in species and size up to 120 inches of aggregate DBH, and they will be required to plant two replacement trees of similar species and size for every 24 inches of DBH removed between 120 inches DBH and 240 inches DBH. Removing anything above an mass of 240 inches DBH requires three similar replacement trees for every 24 inches of DBH removed.
The tree code discussions ironed out the permit approval process as well.
Currently, the village engineer’s office approves tree removal permits. However, residents have objected to giving the village engineer’s office full control over the approval process.
Therefore, the trustees proposed a change to allow an appeal of the village engineer’s decision that would be heard by the Scarsdale Planning Board, and a change that would enhance the village’s ability to enforce the rules outlined in the code.
“Any person violating any of the provisions of this article,” reads the amendment, “shall be guilty of a violation and shall be fined five times the amount of the required tree removal permit.”
In addition, work may not continue until the violation is rectified.
Therefore, if someone is applying for a permit after a violation occurs, the permit will be denied. If someone already has a permit at the time of the violation, the village will revoke that permit until the violation is corrected.
According to Finger, an appeal to the planning board will be the only internal appeals process available to property owners.
Ron Schulhof, a member of Scarsdale’s Conservation Advisory Council, was pleased with the trustee’s latest proposed amendments.
“The CAC believes the proposed amendments to the tree code will help address clear cutting,” Schulhof said. “Clear cutting impacts the entire community and environment and it’s important that trees are replanted for the benefit of future generations.”
Schulhof also said it is important to remind residents the replacements tree requirements do not apply to trees that are dead or diseased.
“The proposed changes are to address ... where large swaths of healthy trees are removed,” he said.
Residents would still be allowed to remove two small trees (under 24 inches DBH) per year without a permit and without having to plant replacements as long as they send a letter to notify the village in advance.
The trustees plan to hold a public hearing on the proposed amendments Jan. 22.