Members of the Roslyn Harbor Board of Trustees aired disagreements last Thursday over a possible limit on a resident’s capacity to cut down trees.
The difference of opinion centered on the mayor’s proposal that next-door neighbors be notified if a resident requests a permit to remove a tree that provides significant screening, or protection from outside view, for the neighbor’s property.
“If the Tree Committee makes the determination that a tree removal will have a significant adverse effect on screening then it will let the neighbor know,” Mayor Louis Badolato said.
The committee is made up of five volunteers who assess whether a requested tree removal falls within the guidelines of village policy, Trustee Sandy Quentzel said in an interview.
Jeremy S. Rosof, the deputy mayor, said Badolato’s proposal “invites problems where there might not be problems.”
“Once you’re inviting feedback, what do you do if the neighbor does give feedback? he asked. “It’s creating a long process for a homeowner to cut down trees on his own property.”
Badolato said the process would allow a neighbor to seek a decision from the Village Board of Appeals.
He then referred to a recent dispute involving tree removal at 78 Scudders Lane, in which neighbors Catherine and John Convey said that several trees had been removed despite their not being listed on a permit.
They also said that the removal had dramatically changed the view from their property, according to minutes from the Oct. 19 board meeting at which the dispute was discussed.
Badolato visited the site with the Tree Committee and confirmed that the homeowner had removed only trees that were listed on his tree permit or that were unregulated by the village, according to minutes.
The neighbors remained unsatisfied.
Badolato said he has since met with both parties and resolved the dispute, though he did not disclose the terms.
“I want to make sure we don’t have the same problem popping up over and over again,” Badolato said. “It happened once; let’s make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Rosof expressed doubt about the proposed change.
“I’m not sure this change to procedure adds anything to protect the neighbor,” Rosof said. “And it may get the neighbor involved in a way that isn’t constructive.”
Quentzel said neighbors should only be informed in “extreme circumstances” left up to the discretion of the Tree Committee.
“Present procedure doesn’t prevent problems,” the mayor responded. “I want to make sure if a removal affects screening, then neighbors get an opportunity to know about it beforehand.”
Village code requires a resident to request and receive a permit to “substantially alter, prune, cut, girdle, remove or destroy any tree” on his or her property, unless the circumstance is “an emergency situation.”
The trustees agreed to table the discussion until a later date.
“We need to come to a place where we’re all in agreement on an appropriate measure,” Badolato said.