In an effort to conserve and restore trees in North Hempstead, the city council recently approved changes to the tree’s code, including creating a protection fund that will ensure that trees that have been removed are replaced.
The amendments, approved 6-1 at the November 18 meeting, would also create a tree advisory board and a conservation fund, which will be funded through payments in lieu of planting residents who cannot replace trees on their property. If planting is not done within 90 days of tree removal, the city will require the applicant to deposit a performance bond or cash deposit for planting trees. All forfeited bonds will go to the custodian fund, in accordance with the new tree law.
Council member Angelo Ferrara, who cast his only dissenting vote, said at the meeting he supported all changes except for paying instead of planting trees. Ferrara — whose neighborhood includes Garden City Park, Mineola, Williston Park, Garden City and parts of New Hyde Park — said property lines in its area could be too tight for some requirements. He noted that the new law would require planting three smaller trees if a larger tree larger than 30 inches in diameter was removed. Residents will have to deposit about $300 per tree into the conservation fund, if they cannot meet the requirements.
A third resolution was approved unanimously, amending local law regarding the removal of trees from the right of way and public spaces owned by the town.
Councilwoman Veronica Lorphy, who led the effort, said the process took nearly a year after collecting feedback from local stakeholders and crafting several versions of the tree symbol.
“I am really proud to say that we were able to enact a tree law that actually works in many different ways…It works to conserve, maintain and remove trees when they have to be removed in an environmentally responsible way,” said Lorphy. .
Lorphy said the advisory committee will now include residents, township staff and an afforestation specialist. The committee will assist in providing input on a tree master plan, making recommendations on the types of trees to be planted and providing input into a new city tree inventory.
Over the past ten years, North Hempstead has been recognized as a Tree City USA Society by Arbor Day Foundation. The designation demonstrates the community’s commitment to the environment, according to the foundation.
Westbury resident Peter Gaffney applauded the new amendments and collaborative efforts to bring the legislation into action.
He added that the conservation fund is vital because it will replace trees but not at the taxpayer’s expense.
“The idea of having people crush them and not replace them [trees] Pay for it, and that makes perfect sense to me,” he said.
Margaret Galbraith, facilitator of the nonprofit Transition Town Port Washington, an organization committed to building a sustainable community, said the new law aligns with the organization’s mission.
“We see our trees as essential in helping us have a more sustainable Port Washington community,” Galbraith said. “I think this is the beginning of many needed changes.”