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Lewisboro Tree Ordinance Revision Met With Skepticism

LEWISBORO, N.Y. – A proposed revised tree ordinance may be dead in the water after a majority of the Lewisboro Town Board expressed disdain for the revisions at a meeting this week.

Members of the Conservation Advisory Council came to the meeting with a plan to give a formal presentation on proposed revisions to the ordinance, which were first proposed in February , but the report never got off the ground as board members expressed their doubts and concerns before it got started.

“The current law doesn't address things like [cutting trees on] steep slopes,” said Janet Andersen, council chair explaining why she felt a revision was necessary. “We hear from people all the time who are upset [about tree-cutting in town]. A group called the Environmental Leaders Learning Alliance did a review and noted that Lewisboro is the only town in northern Westchester that has no real tree protection.”

The revision that seemed to draw the most ire from the board was a permit requirement for homeowners who wish to remove more than three trees per acre per year that are more than 8 inches in diameter. Any single tree greater than 18 inches in diameter also would require a permit in order to take it down.

“This is over-the-top legislation,” Deputy Supervisor Peter DeLucia said. “I am really hard pressed to restrict [tree removal] unless they are historical in nature or it involves clear cutting.”

The problem, board members said, was how to define “clear cutting.” Some suggested using a sliding scale, based on the number of acres on the property, noting that “one acre shouldn't have the same requirements as ten acres.”

“If you all agree that clear cutting is not acceptable that gives us some direction [in helping to rewrite the ordinance],” Andersen said.

However, clear cutting wasn't the only issue.

DeLucia said the law was “unenforceable” and the town couldn't afford the resources to properly police tree cutting. While noting that in recent years the town dealt with two notable tree-cutting incidents that resulted in successful criminal prosecutions, DeLucia said he wondered if it was a real problem in Lewisboro.

“Do we really have a lot of complaints?” he asked. “We've had two big cases, but beyond that we haven’t had anyone come here and say people are cutting down too many trees. In fact, with all the power outages we've been having, we are hearing that we need to take down more.”

Supervisor Peter Parsons said he wasn’t sure what will happen to the proposed ordinance amendment. He suggested residents should call board members and express their opinions.

“If we get a whole bunch of calls saying we don’t want one, we probably won’t go near it again,” he said. “But I don’t think this will move forward unless we can find a middle ground.”

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