Tree-removal permit plan shut down by council

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POINT PLEASANT BEACH — The borough’s recent dispute over a proposed tree removal ordinance was shut down by council July 21 when the ordinance did not receive the needed number of votes for an introduction. 

The ordinance, considered throughout the summer, would have required a special permit for tree removal at new construction projects in the borough.

Councilmembers Arlene Testa, Andy Cortes, Bob Santanello and Council President Migut voted to stop the ordinance introduction, with members Doug Vitale and Caryn Byrnes voting to approve.

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The ordinance started a feud between tree and property rights advocates. 

Councilmembers including Mr. Santanello and Mr. Cortes vocally opposed the ordinance because of the implications on an individual’s property rights. They both said they fought to keep tree canopies and coverage in the borough and their “no” votes had nothing to do with a dislike of trees. 

Members of the Shade Tree Commission, who helped craft the ordinance, spoke in favor of the action throughout the summer and what it would do to protect the canopy in future construction projects. 

The ordinance, first brought to the council on June 16, required builders to receive a permit, with a fee, for large tree removal, at any new construction site, along with a site plan of proposed removed trees and their replacements. 

The council first tabled the ordinance on June 16 after because some members of the council did not have the proper time to review it. It was then put onto the July 21 agenda.

At the presentation, the mayor stated delineate trees on the edge of a property compared to the buildable area had been altered along with the size of trees compared to their estimated costs. 

The mayor also said the fee was lowered but would have been discussed by the council if the ordinance was introduced.

The ordinance would have allowed builders who do not wish to replace every tree to pay into a tree replacement program to bring more trees to the borough.

According to Borough Attorney Kevin Riordan, the ordinance is dead until the next calendar year, or if one of the council members who voted no, amend and reintroduce the ordinance.

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