NHP weighing tree law changes

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The Village of New Hyde Park is looking to extensively rewrite its village code governing trees in the coming weeks as it aims to become more tree-friendly.

The village Board of Trustees will hold a public hearing Oct. 18 on a new law replacing its current 77-year-old code that will bring it more in line with other local villages, Mayor Robert Lofaro said.

“I thought that ours was grossly inadequate,” Lofaro said.

Village officials are still finalizing the new law, but it will address in detail topics such as why the village plants trees, which species of trees it allows and regulations and fees for removing trees, Lofaro said.

First adopted in 1939, the current code has only three sections and broadly says residents cannot “mar or injure” trees on village property without permission from the Board of Trustees or a now-defunct Street Committee.

The village amended it in 2009 to add penalties starting at $2,000 for removing trees illegally.

Tree codes in the villages of Mineola and Williston Park and the Town of North Hempstead have specific criteria and standards for removing or altering trees on public and private property.

The village now has a tree committee, Lofaro said, part of its effort to join the Arbor Day Foundation’s “Tree City USA” program. The Town of North Hempstead, the Village of Flower Hill and the Village of Floral Park are listed as members.

The distinction requires a tree code providing “clear guidance for planting, maintaining and removing trees,” according to the program’s website. Muncipalities must also have an Arbor Day observance and spend at least $2 per capita on planting and maintaining trees.

New Hyde Park may not look to regulate trees on private property, Lofaro said, but is “trying to get our code in line with the work the tree committee’s attempting to do.”

Becoming a “Tree City” would help New Hyde Park get grants for items such as a tree inventory database to track the number, species and age of village trees, Lofaro said.

The village spends about $16,000 per year on tree trimming and removal and about $12,000 a year on tree planting, Lofaro said.

“Honestly, we probably need to do even more on tree trimming,” he said.

By Noah Manskar

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