The Town of Mamaroneck Board adopted the controversial Town of Mamaroneck Tree Law by a vote of 5-0 Wednesday night, despite organized opposition by residents.
The law, scheduled to go into effect in about 90 days, will require residents to apply for a permit to take down healthy trees on their property that have a diameter of six inches or more. There is no restriction in clearing trees for brand new construction on a vacant parcel, but there will be a limit on the number of trees that can be removed from a lot during any twelve-month period. The limit will depend upon the size of the lot.
A petition signed by over 400 residents of the Town and the Village of Larchmont urged the Town Board to make further revisions to the draft Tree Law to ensure that it met the “stated Town goal of preserving the tree canopy, following the guidance of tree experts, and the model of strong tree laws in other Westchester municipalities such as Greenburgh.”
These recommendations included protecting mature trees with a diameter of 24″ or more, establishing clear criteria for homeowners considering tree removal and decreasing the maximum number of trees that may be cut down in any year. It is estimated the Town lost 7% of its tree canopy over the last several years.
In a packet of comments and petition signatures (signatures begin on page 60) that was submitted to the Board, residents also express the need to preserve and plant trees to stop flooding, address the climate crisis, modulate temperature, and support wildlife. Nor, they say, does it explicitly address the loss of the tree canopy in recent years.
Also included in the packet is a letter from the Town of Mamaroneck Sustainability Collaborative, which expresses disappointment the Board did not consult with them.
“(The Board) had clearly decided before the hearing.” says Jenny Geer of Larchmont/Mamaroneck Indivisible, a local grassroots group dedicated to promoting civic engagement. “No acknowledgment was made of the comments made at the hearing, and afterward during the resident comments, when I asked them what I should tell the 400 people who signed the petition, they didn’t have an answer.”
One resident writes, “The proposed law is weaker than the current law, allows for unfettered tree removal, selective enforcement, and essentially ignores, rather than embraces, the science for the public good. It was crafted behind closed doors, with minimal expert input, and without public input, even from the oft-offered support of the Town’s own Sustainability Collaborative.”
theLoop reached out to members of the Board for comment.