By Meg Cameron:
The City of Rye has been working for some time on a law to protect trees while respecting homeowner’s rights. This is a tricky balancing act. The City is right not to rush. Yet while it crafts the law, neighborhoods are losing more and more healthy, full-growth trees. We can’t keep losing trees at the rate if we hope to reduce flooding and preserve Rye’s environment and character.
Recently, about 40 trees were removed from a lot in my neighborhood. The razed earth is shocking to the eye. Worse, the sudden destruction of so many trees must be a shock to the ecosystem of Milton Point. I’m glad that this massive loss galvanized the City Council into setting a moratorium on tree removal while they finalize the tree law.
To that end, the Council convened a special meeting on Feb 7. Its purpose: to set a date for a public hearing at its next regular meeting. The Feb. 7 meeting was exceptionally productive. Residents shared their passion and expertise. Some offered suggestions that were incorporated into the moratorium proposal on the spot.
This meeting showed our local government at its best – and worst. The best: our elected officials and the public worked together to tackle an urgent problem. The worst: three Council members boycotted the meeting to protest the fact that it had been called hastily. One Council member spoke out at the end of the meeting to condemn her colleagues’ boycott, and I agree. Unless they’re sick, out of town, or dealing with a genuine emergency, Council members have an obligation to show up to meetings to represent the public. After all, that’s what we elected them to do.
It will be interesting to see what happens at the Feb.15 public hearing. Will the boycotters boycott this meeting, as well? Will they attend, but impede the process with more manufactured objections? Or will they work productively with their colleagues to protect Rye’s trees?
kudos to the “boycotters”!
and the Ethics Committee
Absolutely! Their responsibility is is not to show up for another feckless moratorium but to change the law.
There is never a good reason to leave ethics behind. The appearance of a conflict always needs to be dealt with up front. The Mayor should have recused himself on any discussion of the Turf property adjacent to his own.
You’re right: OF COURSE he should! He had every intention of abstaining. But then those trees were cut down BEFORE the meeting, so it became a moot point. At that point his participation presented no conflict.
Meg, the special meeting was on the 6th, not the 7th.
This conflict was about fairness, not trees. Many Rye residents can show equally shocking photos of mass tree removal over the past ten years that were not prevented. All Rye residents deserve equal and fair treatment and we should avoid demonizing those upholding that standard.