The Yorktown Town Board unanimously voted last week to enact a new and more restrictive Tree and Woodlands Preservation Law.
The highly applauded action came after 18 months of review that spanned 17 Town Board meetings.
“This law has a lot more protections than any other law that we’ve had,” said John Tegeder, Yorktown’s Planning Director.
Yorktown’s first tree law was put on the books in 2010. That law was revised in 2016. The new measure protects 4,000 acres of town-owned land and limits the number of trees that can be cleared in a calendar year.
“The new law is an important step forward in natural resource protection because in addition to protecting individual trees, it also recognizes woodlands as valuable, functioning ecosystems, crucial in this time of diminishing wildlife habitat and climate change,” said Linda Miller, a member of Advocates for a Better Yorktown, a group of residents that was in the forefront of making changes to the former law.
“This law is the result of input from citizen advocacy and environmental groups, town departments, committees, commissions and advisory boards, neighborhood associations, and individual Yorktown residents,” continued Miller, who helped craft the 2010 law. “Above all, thanks is due to Supervisor Gilbert and the Yorktown Town Board for bringing all this input together into a strong, balanced law.”
Resident Paul Moskowitz said another important component of the new law was the mitigation stipulations it contained.
“I think we need this new law,” he said.
The law also mandates that a town permit be obtained for any tree clearing above six percent of what exists on a property. The former law allowed 30 percent clearing before a permit was required.
Real estate agent and town resident John Kincart, a member of the town’s Planning Board, said he didn’t feel the new law was fair to large property owners.
“Clearly you’re never going to make everyone happy,” said Mohegan Lake resident Ken Belfer, who encouraged the board to “err on stronger protection of the environment.”
Supervisor Ilan Gilbert agreed, saying “You want to pass a law that will pass the muster and make it bullet proof so it will stand up to appeal. We are protecting woodlands that were never protected before.”
Councilman Tom Diana, a former police officer, noted as with any law that is passed, the Tree and Woodlands Preservation Law will be as effective as the enforcement of it can be.