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To the Editor: New Rochelle Needs to Protect Priceless Trees

Sweetgum trees along the fence bordering the construction

The Town of Mamaroneck recently passed a controversial Tree Law, and New Rochelle appears to have similar issues:

Letter to the Editor:

New Rochelle currently allows the killing of many priceless, large trees on private property if the property is less than an acre–that includes many, if not most, residential lots throughout the city and many in the Forest Heights and Beechmont communities where I live.

Case in point: 156 Beechmont Drive. For the past 6 months a local developer, The Young Companies, has maintained an ongoing construction site where several large trees have systematically been taken down on the property, which is about .80 of an acre. Meanwhile, the developer’s heavy equipment, trenching, digging, excavation, and removal of tons of earth also is severely damaging the critical root zones of several giant Sweetgum trees– perhaps over 150 years old– that happen to border the construction site on my own property. This will lead to their weakening and possible death.

In general, these large, older trees are essential to mitigating the dangerous effects of climate change– they store carbon, clean our air, and provide cooling shade. As a New Rochelle resident and horticulturalist, I find it outrageous that the City allows these trees to be destroyed and has done nothing to require their protection.

Over the past 6 months, I have written to the former and the new mayors of New Rochelle to protest the lack of regulation. In fact, our city council representative Sara Kaye has also tried to change the regulations, but to no avail. She notes:

“We do have tree regulations for private property but they only apply to properties over 1 acre, so the exception swallows the rule. I’ve tried to have the City’s environmental advisory committee work on this issue and provide recommendations, but being a volunteer board, I think the task proved too time intensive. I’ve heard Greenburgh has one of the best tree codes and could serve as the model.”

By now our Sweetgum trees are probably beyond saving, but I hope the City will review Greenburgh’s codes and take immediate action to protect so many other trees that are so valuable to our environment.

Joyce H. Newman, New Rochelle


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April 26, 2024 7:55 PM

I agree. How can we get the cutting down of trees without regulations to stop?

Lisa B
Lisa B
April 26, 2024 6:00 PM

I totally agree. There must be a more environmentally aware approach to development in New Rochelle (and all of Westchester County).
Once these majestic giants are gone, they’re gone. It would be a travesty.

April 26, 2024 3:20 PM

Thank you Joyce, for your passion and concern for the wonderful trees in our neighborhoods. They are vital to the beauty and health of a thriving community. I hope the city will listen. And I hope your sweetgum trees survive the damage.

Madeline Gilbert
Madeline Gilbert
April 26, 2024 11:02 AM

Happening in Larchmont too. Larchmont, named after a tree, ruthlessly cuts down its beautiful heritage of trees. Years ago I made an effort to stop this but all in vain.

People buy houses and the first thing they do is cut down old stock trees. They are indifferent and unaware that trees are what make their home and neighborhood beautiful. Perhaps they consider trees dangerous and intrusive.

Also it is sad to see how many trees are being strangled to death by ivy which ignorant property owners allow to grow unabated.

I’ve lived in Larchmont for 70 years and have watched its beauty decline over time.

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