The City of Rye has a sweeping new law to protect trees on private property. After years of discussion, and deep rancor among council members during recent debate on the topic, the Council voted 6 – 1 to adopt the new law – Chapter 187 in the city code late Wednesday evening.
The law defines protected trees (with a diameter at breast height of eight inches or greater) and significant trees (with a diameter at breast height of 30 inches or greater) and institutes a process where private property owners must follow an application and approval process before removing any protected or significant trees. There is also a tree restoration process where residents must replace trees that have been removed (or in some cases pay a fee to a City tree fund. Fines for non-compliance range up to $1,000.
Tree Removal Allowed by the Building Inspector in a 12-Month Period:
|Private Property Lot Size||Permitted Tree Removal by Building Inspector|
|Less than 10,000 square feet||Up to 3 Protected Trees, not more than 1 of which can be a Significant Tree|
|10,001 square feet to 20,000 square feet||Up to 4 Protected Trees, not more than 1 of which can be a Significant Tree|
|20,001 square feet to 2 acres||Up to 6 Protected Trees, not more than 2 of which can be a Significant Tree|
|Greater than 2 acres to 10 acres||Up to 13 Protected Trees, not more than 3 of which can be a Significant Tree|
|More than 10 acres||Up to 36 Protected Trees, not more than 6 of which can be a Significant Tree|
All removals must be permitted. Procedures start with the building department, but the City will also be hiring a part time arborist and the Planning Commission will handle certain review and appeals issues. The law does not mandate but encourages homeowners to plant native trees over non-natives or ornamentals. It also encourages planting a diversity of species.
The law prohibits the planting of specific invasive tree species: Sycamore Maple (Acer pseudoplatanus), Amur Cork Tree (Phellodendron amurense), Gray Florist’s Willow (Salix atrocinerea), Norway Maple (Acer platanoides), Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia). These and many others are on the New York State Prohibited and Regulated Invasive Plants list and it is already against the law to “sell, import, purchase, transport, introduce or propagate prohibited invasive species” in the State.
Not all, but most people speaking prior to the vote yesterday evening – including residents, local businesses and representatives from the Conservation Commission/ Advisory Council and the Rye Sustainability Committee – were supportive. The Council noted its intention to review the law in 14 months to consider feedback and improvements.
Read the law (this is the marked version from the Council packet, there were some non-material changes that will be viewable in the final version).