From the Mayor: Update on Tree Ordinance

By Mary Marvin, Mayor of Bronxville

June 29, 2022: Though we take a short hiatus from our public trustee meetings, the Trustees and I continue to work on projects so when the Village is back to its full complement of citizens in September, we will be ready to go with a variety of initiatives. One item that is front and center is the crafting of a tree ordinance.

This column will serve as background as to what the Trustees and I are thinking and researching as well as an opportunity to solicit your opinions.

We are very aware that tree ordinances are always a balancing act between the rights and desires of private property owners and the needs and the benefits to the greater community. Members of the Village’s Green Committee did extensive background research for us by reviewing many ordinances in Westchester with a very comprehensive investigation of the ordinances in Scarsdale, Irvington, Rye Brook and Tuckahoe.

Due to the loss of some of our tree canopy most directly relating to the frequency and ferocity of the storms we have been receiving as well as some choices made by property owners that have impacted their neighbors, we felt it was the opportune time to act.

After a great deal of study and review, it appears the most objective standard to trigger a tree removal permit is the size of the tree diameter at breast height or approximately 4 1/2 feet off the ground.  As background, with this as the metric, permit removal diameters range from 6 inches in Scarsdale to 8 in Irvington and 10 in both Rye Brook and Tuckahoe.

In addition, many communities also have a different set of rules for trees in special locations such as on steep slopes or when used as riparian buffers.

Nothing is more beneficial to a community than its tree stock.  The benefits of trees are so multi-faceted: aesthetic appeal, cooling properties, improvement of air quality, reduction of energy use and atmospheric carbon dioxide, habitat for wildlife, reduction of soil erosion, excess runoff, and flooding, water absorption, a barrier to noise, and a natural screener.  All of these factors contribute to a significant increase in home values.

In terms of our streetscape, the beautiful abundance of trees truly defines our Village. It is a natural resource we must protect for the generations to come.

Since trees are becoming more vulnerable to disease, it is critically important at this juncture to use diverse native plants. Scarsdale and Irvington have ordinances that prohibit the planting of invasive tree species.

A permitting process alone will not stop the decrease in our canopy; rather we also need a strong policy of replanting trees that have been removed.  Irvington addressed this issue by a Preferred Species List for required replanting.

Based on preliminary discussion, the Trustees are predisposed to have the law we craft administered by the municipal staff, rather than a volunteer tree commission that engender concerns that the volunteers may be more subjective and less schooled in tree expertise vs the Village retaining expert arborists and/or landscape designers to assist in the permitting process.

It is clear from our research that any ordinance we enact must allow invasive trees and plants to be removed without a permit with a prohibition on the re-plant of any invasive species.

In addition, clearly any tree would be allowed to be removed if it is a danger to health and safety to persons or property, if its structural integrity is compromised or if diseased.

If replacement of a tree is not practical, almost all ordinances provide for a required donation to a tree fund to be spent on municipal trees. A donation is also required to a tree preservation fund as a penalty if a tree is illegally removed.

We continue to research and extract what we think are the best and most objective provisions in tree ordinances that have stood the test of time and we welcome your input.





Editor's note:  As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes press releases, statements, and articles from local institutions, officeholders, candidates, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff. 

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Bronxville Overview

Bronxville is a quaint village (one square mile) located just 16 miles north of midtown Manhattan (roughly 30 minutes on the train) and has a population of approximately 6,500. It is known as a premier community with an excellent public school (K-12) and easy access to Manhattan. Bronxville offers many amenities including an attractive business district, a hospital (Lawrence Hospital), public paddle and tennis courts, fine dining at local restaurants, two private country clubs and a community library.

While the earliest settlers of Bronxville date back to the first half of the 18th century, the history of the modern suburb of Bronxville began in 1890 when William Van Duzer Lawrence purchased a farm and commissioned the architect, William A. Bates, to design a planned community of houses for well-known artists and professionals that became a thriving art colony. This community, now called Lawrence Park, is listed on the National register of Historic Places and many of the homes still have artists’ studios. A neighborhood association within Lawrence Park called “The Hilltop Association” keeps this heritage alive with art shows and other events for neighbors.

Bronxville offers many charming neighborhoods as well as a variety of living options for residents including single family homes, town houses, cooperatives and condominiums. One of the chief benefits of living in “the village” is that your children can attend the Bronxville School.

The Bronxville postal zone (10708, known as “Bronxville PO”) includes the village of Bronxville as well as the Chester Heights section of Eastchester, parts of Tuckahoe and the Lawrence Park West, Cedar Knolls, Armour Villa and Longvale sections of Yonkers. Many of these areas have their own distinct character. For instance, the Armour Villa section has many historic homes and even has its own newsletter called “The Villa Voice” which reports on neighborhood news.

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