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Village reschedules tree-law discussion for Oct. 21

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The Valley Stream Board of Trustees on Sept. 16 again rescheduled a public hearing for Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. to discuss a proposed local law that would require a permit for residents to lawfully remove trees on their private property. The hearing will be held at Village Hall.

This is the third time the comment session has been rescheduled. In June, discussion for the law was set for Aug. 19, and in August, it was again rescheduled for Sept. 23.

The proposed law would amend Chapter 90 of the village code entitled “Tree Preservation” to include trees on private property, and require home and business owners to file a permit with the village before a tree can be removed or otherwise risk a fine.

Barbara DeGrace, the mayor’s assistant, said in previous Herald reporting that the proposal is “a work in progress,” but added that the village board is looking at Malverne’s code as an example.

Under the language of the proposed tree-removal law, residents would need to provide proof that a tree posed a health risk or that its removal is a “necessary response to an emergency,” such as a risk that the tree could damage private property, in order for the tree to be legally chopped down.

The penalty for noncompliance would depend on the number of trees taken down, and a resident could be required to replace them. Under Malverne’s law, the village board has the authority to determine whether it would be “impractical or undesirable” to plant a new tree at the location. If so, a resident may have to pay a fine of up to $1,000.

“We get upset in general when people take down healthy trees,” Mayor Ed Fare said in 2017, when the village board first considered implementing such a law. “We think that should be looked at.”

He added that Valley Stream already has a code requiring residents to obtain a permit from the village to cut down trees on medians — the patch of grass that divides the sidewalks from the streets.

The code states: “No person shall destroy, remove or substantially alter the habit of any tree located within the curbside area without obtaining a permit from the superintendent of Public Works or his duly authorized agent.” The proposed local law would extend this requirement to trees on private properties.