officials said they intend to continue protecting the town's trademark trees after residents voiced concern over a code change. An announcement that the town's tree ordinance was being repealed caused several residents to plead for its reinstatement.
The town's tree codes require a permit before a property owner can remove a tree. The strictness of the code was partially inspired by an incident in 1973 involving a Woodbury man who demolished 15 acres of trees on his property. The loss devastated environmental supporters, who went into overdrive to protect TOBAY's environment by supporting the tree ordinance. When the Town of Oyster Bay website announced the apparent repeal of the ordinance, environmentalists around TOBAY were shocked.
"The thought of eliminating a tree ordinance in the Town of Oyster Bay flies in the face of my mind of reasoning out of environmental concern," said . "Don't leave it open for another developer who decides he doesn't like what you've done and you wake up the next morning to see total destruction."
Town Supervisor John Venditto corrected the notion that repealing the tree ordinance meant it would be totally abolished.
"I have no personal problem with the tree ordinance. I don't think it's unreasonable," said Venditto, adding it was an important tool in preventing the "wholesale ravaging" of TOBAY's trademark trees. A repeal, he said, would simply make way for an improved code.
The two driving forces behind revamping the code, according to Venditto, are concerns of government intrusion and economic burden.
"The $75 to take down a tree is starting to mean a lot more these days," he said of the tree removal fee. The Town's ordering a property owner to remove a tree makes the government too involved, he added, saying residents may think, "Who the heck are you to come into my backyard and take down a tree?"
Venditto clarified that the extended hearings on the matter, which continue through the Sept. 4 board meeting, will bring as much discussion and feedback as possible so the ordinance has the perfect language.
"We need a compromise between trees and people," said resident Donald Zeller, referencing a neighbor who was denied a permit to remove a tree that just weeks later, crashed into his house and caused extensive damage.
"I wish I could tell you the words for it, but I think somehow or other, we need to say that we will protect the human beings where we have to and where we don't have to, we would protect the trees."
Venditto agreed, saying the language of the ordinance has been a major concern and is a large reason why the development of a new ordinance will be so in depth.